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Steelhead fly question.


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13 replies to this topic

#1 DarrellP

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 10:34 AM

When looking through old fly plates, the really old steelhead flies are tied on heavy down eyed trout hooks. Most modern "traditional summer" flies (oxymoron?) are tied on up eyed Salmon/Steelhead hooks. Does anyone know why or when this happened. Better hooking/ hook gap or aesthetics? Does anyone know who started the trend?
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach

#2 mikechell

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 11:09 AM

When looking through old fly plates, the really old steelhead flies

I've never tied those kinds of flies, but I've looked into them for years, since so many people DO tie them.  Many of the "really old" flies I've seen, don't have eyes on the hooks.  They have spade tipped hooks and there's a loop of mono (or other line) tied on before the fly is tied.

Just my observation ... I don't know any answer to your actual question.


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#3 utyer

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 11:14 AM

I have not done much Steelhead fishing, but I would suspect that the up-eye hook performs better with surface skating flies.  


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#4 Rocco

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 12:11 PM

It depends I suspect on where you fished for steelhead. 

 

Out West in Canada many old timers were influenced most by British salmon fishing traditions -- hence,  more two handed rods; up-eyed hooks; and fancy -- ornate?-- patterns.

 

Further south in the US West -- one hand rods and simpler heavy patterns on down eye hooks were more in use.  

 

Over time the two styles blended...but the stronger up eyed hooks became more dominant. 

 

ddb



#5 flytire

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 01:18 PM

in the many books i have, the flies are tied on both up and down eyed hooks. some are tied on straight eyed hook

 

as to who, why, when etc, may need more google machine research


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#6 tidewaterfly

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 01:52 PM

My experience with Steelhead flies is very limited, not having fished for them, and only tied flies a few times for others. I agree with Rocco, it may be more about the geographic area and old traditions than anything.

 

I recall seeing Steelhead flies in an old Orvis catalog, back in the 70's and some of the Steelhead flies were tied on stout, down eye tin plated or nickel plated hooks. I presume so that they could be used in saltwater areas such as along the Pacific coast. They also were basically large versions of wet flies. Patterns such as Skykomish Sunrise, Skunks, Thor, or Polar Shrimp. Not like some of the more elegant flies used today such as the various Spey or Intruder patterns. 

 

Some of the hooks that Jim Teeny was marketing, were stout, down eye hooks, and had a black finish. They looked to be Sproat style hooks typical of many wet fly trout hooks. 

 

Randall Kaufmann wrote a book about Steelhead & Salmon patterns and many of his flies were tied on the more traditional up eye Salmon hooks. 

 

I have tied flies for folks fishing streams in PA & NY and they wanted strong & sharp nymph hooks, which was their only requested requirements. Size & style of the flies used will have some affect on what hooks are best. 

 

As some of these flies have evolved and greater interest in targeting Steelhead developed, folks may have found that specific hooks suited their needs best in their area. Hooks have certainly improved over the years. 

 

Also very possible much of it has to do simply with personal preferences and that can be tradition related rather than an actual need for a specific style of hook which is inline with what flytire has said.



#7 tjm

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 04:52 PM

Way back when, I'd venture to say the hook chosen was the kind you had on hand or that was stocked locally, even in the '70s my primary source of tying hooks and materials or tools was the Bait Shop, he had Universal Vice stuff and a Raymond Rumpf catalog. In the larger sizes, salmon fly hooks and low water hooks were the only  "fly designated" hooks he carried in stock. I can imagine this being more of a factor in the prewar years or through the '50s-'60s.   By the late '70s other sources were (maybe before that and I was just unaware of them) abundant by mail and around 1980 (I think) a couple of pro shops opened within driving distance.



#8 DarrellP

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 08:47 AM

I see a lot of fly patterns tied on both. Then there is the whole aspect of reduced dressings, like putting a size 2 pattern on a size 1/0 hook.
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach

#9 Piker20

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 10:48 AM

Over here when I first started buying hooks, down eyed patterns for salmon flies was not so common. The hooks that were long enough were either too narrow in gape or too heavy in wire.
But now more and more streamer hooks are suitable and I tend to own more down eyed.
Personally I don't think it makes any difference at all
Matthew 25: 35-36 "Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldnt even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back. "No man ever steps in the same river twice"   Heraclitus, 5 B.C

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#10 fishingbobnelson

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 11:22 AM

My friend, Dave McNeese, who designed the Blue Heron hooks, http://blueheronspey.com/hooks designed them with a slight up eye.  The theory is that the leader forms a straight line with the hook shank.  This prevents the line from pulling on the head of the fly on retrieval.  I think some of the first up eye hooks I bought for steelhead were some doubles and low water hooks I ordered from England many years ago.


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#11 Piker20

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 12:59 PM

My friend, Dave McNeese, who designed the Blue Heron hooks, http://blueheronspey.com/hooks designed them with a slight up eye.  The theory is that the leader forms a straight line with the hook shank.  This prevents the line from pulling on the head of the fly on retrieval.  I think some of the first up eye hooks I bought for steelhead were some doubles and low water hooks I ordered from England many years ago.


Far less a consideration with fewer people using turle knots. But if you do turle then the up eye is really necessary
Matthew 25: 35-36 "Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldnt even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back. "No man ever steps in the same river twice"   Heraclitus, 5 B.C

Based Scottish Highlands. UK

MUSTAD The wise anglers choice.

#12 flytire

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 04:44 PM

hook_book_2.jpg

 

hook-book.jpg


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#13 vicrider

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 08:52 PM

I have not done much Steelhead fishing, but I would suspect that the up-eye hook performs better with surface skating flies.  

My understanding for using the up eye salmon hooks is just that. You tie the fly only up to the point where the cut shank eye ends. Your final tie off will just cover that point where the split hits the shank. This leave the space behind the eye itself to tie the hitch knot for skating flies. This was done so flies could be either skated or fished standard. The problem with tying right to the eye was not leaving a spot to half hitch for skating. This is what I read once and since all my years of steelheading up north was down and dirty with eggs or spinners so I'm not qualified to discuss "real" steelheading.



#14 DarrellP

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Posted 14 November 2019 - 09:52 AM

I just started reading John Shewey's book, Classic Steelhead Flies. According to him, before 1920 down eye hooks were used, and then Salmon hooks came to be used more afer the 20s. In the 70s, steelhead specific hooks were developed by Dave McNeese and Alan Jackson. The first flies used were evidently large wet flies from the East, and the flies designed specifically for Steelhead were developed at the turn of the century.

Shewey's book is very interesting if you are interested in Steelhead flies and their history.
"Calling fishing a hobby is like calling brain surgery a job." John Geirach