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Hook History

The oldest known hooks seem to be the ones that have turned up in Czechoslovakia during the excavation of the skeletal finds from late Palaeolithic times. Ancient hooks have also been found in Egypt and Palestine. The oldest, found in Palestine, is believed to be 9,000 years old.


Hook Anatomy

To understand hooks, it is best to start with a bit of anatomy.

There are only three basic considerations for selecting a hook: size, lenght, and wire size. Other considerations are minor, and usually subjective.

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Hook Sizes, Lengths and Diameters

Hook Sizes

Hook sizes are numbered and almost always even (though a very few hooks are sized by odd numbers). The tiniest of hooks have the largest numbers - a size 14 hook is about average for trout flies, a size 20 is tiny, and a size 26 is so small that most anglers will never tie or fish with one. Big trout hooks start size 8, but past size 1, the sizing starts at 1/0 and from that point on, hooks get larger as their numbers get larger. From 1/0 on up, the "/0" follows each number. Hooks typically run as small as size 32 and as large as 19/0.

Hook Length

Hook length is signified with a number, followed by an "X" followed by a "long" (XL) or "short" (XS). The explanation is that there is a standard length for each hook size and that the numbers, "x's" and "long's" and "short's" tell you how far, and in which direction, a hook deviates from the standard. If the hook is "standard length" or "regular length" then the length is obvious. However, if you hook is 1X long (1XL), that means that your hook is one size longer than regular length - but what does that mean? In theory it means that the hook is the same length as a hook one size larger; but in fact, it means whatever the particular manufacturer says it means. What is significant is that a hook 1X long (1XL) is slightly longer than normal, a hook 2X long (2XL) is slightly longer yet, and a hook 8X long (8XL) is really long. All of this works in reverse for the "short" designations - "1X short" (1XS) is slightly short and a "2X short" (2XS) is slightly shorter again. Hook length does not affect the hook's bend or gape and the hook's eye isn't considered in determining length.

Hook Wire

Hook wire is usually chosen to help a fly sink or float - thick wire is heavy and makes a fly sink; thin wire is lighter and helps a fly float. Occasionally, thick wire is chosen for strength; this usually means big, powerful fish - bass, tarpon, and the like. Thin wire is called "fine" and thick wire is called "heavy." The fineness or heaviness of wire is determined, once again, with "X's" and once again, all this begins with assumption that there is a model, an acknowledged norm - in this case, a standard hook wire for each hook size. And "standard" is the word for it - a hook with wire between fine and heavy has "standard wire." Hence, "1X heavy" means a hook with wire meant for a hook one size larger, "2X heavy" for a hook two sizes larger, "1X light" for a hook one size smaller and so on. This can also vary from one manufacturer to another.

Hook Nomenclature

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Hook Removal

This technique can be dangerous and is presented as a possible technique for removal of a hook. Use this method at your own peril


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Hook Size Comparison Chart

Hook comparison charts are at best fickle or at worst too confusing and inaccurate to use. It is critical to remember that this chart does in no way list equivalent hooks but attempts to list hooks based on similar applications.

Far too many variables exist today to compare hooks in any other way. Even with this in mind individuals will undoubtably find comparisons that they will disagree with. Much of the variation that exists is mainly due to the fact that little, if any, standardization exists today within the hook manufacturing fraternity. .....Roman Scharabun

Dry Fly HookPartridgeMustadTiemcoDaiichiDai-Riki
Wide Gape DEYAR301001100305
Wide Gape SEK14stNone1011110310
!X-Short DENoneR489211310305
1X-Short UENone94842500U1330None
Curved HooksPartridgeMustadTiemcoDaiichiDai-Riki
Heavy ScudK5AC49S24571120135
Scud Down EyeYK4A80250BR24871130135
Midge EmergerK14STNone206BL1140None
Curved ShankYK12STC53S200R1270270
Wet/NymphPartridgeMustad TiemcoDaiichiDai-Riki
2X-Long WetYG3AR703769153075
Standard WetTWH5409300155070
1X-Long NymphINR52S3761156060
2X-Long NymphYH1AR7252621710730
3X-Long NymphSH3None52631720710
Stonefly NymphNoneNoneNone1730None
Swimming NymphNoneNone400T1770None
Streamer HooksPartridgeMustadTiemcoDaiichiDai-Riki
4X-Long SED2STC52SBLN93951750None
4X-Long DED4AR74None2220700
Special HooksPartridgeMustadTiemcoDaiichiDai-Riki
Egg FlyNone95231051510None

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