Hooks are the backbones of most artificial flies, and we fly tiers tend to get kind of emotional about this particular piece of steel. Sure… we choose hooks out of practical purposes. We want them to be strong, light or heavy, have a sharp point and lots of other features – depending on their actual use.
But… let’s be honest. We also want our hooks to look good – and to be just right for a specific pattern or tying style. Flies can be pieces of art, and they deserve the best canvas. And then there is a tradition to deal with as well.
Often I find myself a bit challenged, when choosing a hook – especially for tying old and classic flies. At the moment I’m totally into classic steelhead flies. I want authentic looks – but I use my flies for fishing… not framing.
Some of the classics were tied on salmon hooks, but then again… quite a lot were tied on heavy wire wet fly trout hooks. Some of the most popular models back then were the Mustad 7970 and the Eagle Claw 1197 – which both were heavy wire, modified limerick bend down eyed wet fly hooks.
A couple of days ago I found a package of the Mustad 7970 in my hook drawer, and I wanted to tie some steelhead flies on the old hooks. They looked great, but the point was not sharp compared to contemporary offerings from most manufactures – and well… the barb was pretty fierce.
So I chose an Ahrex NS115 – Deep Streamer instead. This hook is a deadringer for these old hooks: Same overall design and good looks. And with the added bonus of a super sharp point, micro barb and probably a stronger wire.
The Boss, Green But Skunk and Silver Admiral all looked right on this hook. Combining classic design with cutting edge technology is pretty cool. There is some truth to the old saying: fashion changes – but style endures.