The Fly Tying Hook Guide

Everything You Need to Know to Select the Right Hook

When I first started tying, I’d just take the fly shops advice on what hooks to buy.  That got expensive fast as there are so many options and as my learning increased, I found there were about 2-5 hooks that I could tie everything on that I tied for trout.  As my tying developed even further, I found that some patterns just didn’t look as good as I wanted them to and no matter how much I worked on proportions or getting the perfect materials, my problem was in the hook choice.  I also found that they didn’t fish as well as the ones I bought in shops and as I later learned, the problem wasn’t in my technique, but in my hook choice.

In this guide, we’re going to teach you about the composition and properties of fly tying hooks so you can look at any hook and understand it’s applications for fly tying.  After we teach you the 9 major properties of any fly tying hook, we will show you a hook guide comparison chart that we put together that lists these properties with descriptions and then the names the 6 top manufacturers use to name these hooks.

In this guide we’re going to teach you:

  • The 9 Major Properties of Any Fly Tying Hook
  • The Purpose and Application for Each Value in Those Properties
  • How to Use Our Hook Comparison Chart to Find Hook Substitutions

The Importance of Choosing the Right Hook

The foundation on which we tie, understanding what fly tying hooks are best for what patterns is an essential tool for tying quality flies that work.  There are over 50 hooks designed for fly tying from about 5 major companies.  Though every company has a little different recipe, there are about 50 standard recipes out there and then about 10-15 specialty recipes for each manufacturer.  That’s a lot to learn and memorize.  Luckily, we’ve found a better way to understand and choose fly tying hooks and we’re going to teach you that in this guide.

Hooks Determine Shape, Behavior and Profile of Your Patterns

Hooks are the foundation of fly tying and any foundational element needs to be understood in order to master a skill.  Hooks determine the shape, behavior and profile of the fly.  These are very important to properly fooling trout.  While a curved shank bend may look good for a caddis larva, a swimming curve with a rearward curve provides a much more realistic insect profile on the hook.  The shape and profile of this fly is determined by the hook.  Additionally, a jig style hook and a standard hook will behave differently in the water as well.

Now that you understand the purpose of good hook selection, let’s get to it and learn how to understand, choose and tie with the right hooks for any fly pattern you want to tie.

The 9 Hook Properties

Understanding Hook Differences and Commonalities

There are 9 major hook properties or sections of a hook.  These properties below are listed in order of importance.  You can refer to the diagram to see the location of the properties on a hook, though most are self-explanatory.

Understanding these 9 properties will help you understand the hooks purpose and then understanding your pattern with the information we provide in our fly tying membership, the fly explorer, helps you choose the best hook for the fly.



Hook Guide Comparison Tool

We Got the Hook Ups

Hook Guide Comparison Chart

Now that we’ve showing you the major components of a fly tying hook and the pros and cons of each options, here’s a great cheat sheet to help you understand your hooks from different manufacturers. If you’re super into fly tying, memorizing these would not be a bad use of your time. It’s not the sexiest part of fly tying, but hopefully after reading this article, you’ve realized why it’s important to know your hooks well.

This comparison chart was left in an excel spreadsheet with filters so you can filter off any of the 9 properties, or use a simple CMD+F or CTRL+F (PC’s) to find a hook size.

How to Compare Hooks by Company

Example Usage

Lets say we want to find a good streamer hook that is similar to Tiemco’s 300, but you don’t want tiemco cause they are too expensive. Open up the chart and you can do any of the following options to find the hook comparisons:

  • Use the Search Function: CMD+F on macs or CTRL+F on PC’s will open the search box. Type in 300 and search until you find the 300 number under the tiemco column. Then view the columns to the right to see company-specific comparisons.
  • Use the Filters: Go to the tiemco column and click the arrow drop down on the column. Use the search box in the filter box or navigate to the 300 value and select it keeping the others de-selected. This will remove the other rows and just leave the row for the 300 hook from tiemco and show the other hooks that are similar in other companies (the columns to the right).


How to Find Hooks by Their Properties

You’ll also notice that on the furthest right columns, we also have all the 9 properties we went over. You can use that to find hooks that meet certain properties as well. If you need a straight shank, down eye, dry fly hook, you can filter your options to find the hooks that work for you. In this example, that would give you over 13 different options. From there, you can filter down further to only 2x fine and it returns a single column starting with a Tiemco 103BL.

If you have any questions on using the spreadsheet, you can contact us here and we can help.

Download the Hook Comparison Chart