You’ll need to start your fly tying activities with a hook. Hooks are what holds the fur, feathers, and any other material you will use to make your fly. If you choose the right hook, your fly will be better proportioned and thus perform better in use. If you choose the wrong hook, you’ll have a flawed fly and your success with that fly will likely be less than the success you would enjoy with a properly tied fly.
Let’s take a moment to look at the anatomy of a hook. First, the hook has a “gape” or gap. That’s the distance between the shank (the part of the hook you tie flies on) and the point. Hook sizes are usually rated by the size of the gape. Second, the hook has a bend.
Depending on the shape of the bend, it will have different qualities and be more suitable to certain types of flies. Third, the hook has an eye. The shape and angle of the eye help determine the possible uses for the hook. Finally, the hook has a shank. As I mentioned earlier, the shank is the length of the hook where the body of the fly is usually tied.
Dry fly hooks come in a variety of shapes and size. Some will have a straight shank and some will have a curved shank. Plus, some are longer than others to accommodate the type of fly you are trying to tie.
Wet fly hooks are usually heavier than dry fly hooks. Hook bends and shank lengths vary depending on their intended use.
Nymph hooks vary in design more than any other type. Some are designed to tie scuds, others lend their design to stonefly nymphs and some are just good hooks for common nymphs like mayflies and caddis larva. Try to select a nymph hook with a shape similar to the natural nymph you wish to imitate.
Streamers usually imitate minnows, leaches, crayfish or other swimming critters. Their hooks are usually longer than the rest and often have specific bends to accommodate the swimming pattern of the subject being copied. Some hooks are designed for use in poppers for bass and pan fish. These have a hump in the shank to prevent any turning of the popper body.
Salmon, Saltwater, and Steelhead hooks are larger and made of stronger material. They are larger to accommodate the materials used to tie the larger flies. They are made of stronger material to be able to control the larger fish.