Have you ever had a problem trying to find a comparable fly fishing hook? You’ve used a certain manufacturer for a while, but can’t get that hook now and want a similar model? Or you found a new fly pattern you’d like to tie, but it references a hook you don’t have. That’s one of the reasons Fly Tying Hook Conversion Tables exist.
I’m slowly switching to Daiichi hooks. Why? These hooks are incredibly sharp right out of the package. Secondly, I’d like to use hooks from one manufacturer to eliminate the multiple brands I now have in my hook drawer.
I’ve used Dai Riki hooks for many years because they were cheaper. I used them almost exclusively, except for a few Tiemco hooks I like – the 102Y and 206BL.
The Dai Riki hooks have been OK. I hooked and landed lots of fish using those hooks over the years, but I definitely see a difference in sharpness between the Dai Riki vs. Tiemco and Daiichi hooks. I wonder if I might have missed some fish because a lack of hooking power.
I ran into a big problem with size 14 Dai Riki 300 hooks last year where I found the hook temper was terrible. I was able to bend them easily in the vise, which was not good at all. I had a few hundred between my inventory and that of my fly club. I sent them back to Dan Bailey and they happily replaced them with no questions asked. But it wasn’t very convenient because I was tying and filling fly orders for my clients. The replacement hooks were much better, but I still had a problem with a few of them. And occasionally, you’ll find a hook without the eye closed. This problem can be found in several models.
One local fly shop dismisses the quality control issue by saying “they are a lot cheaper than other brands, so you can afford to throw out the bad hooks”. Their statement is very true because the Dai Riki hooks can be half the cost. In the early years of using Dai Riki hooks, I didn’t see much of a problem. Now it seems to be different.
But back to the subject of today’s post trying to find comparable fly fishing hooks.
Let me start with a disclaimer. I’m not an expert in the subject. These are just my observations and I’ve talked with friends who experienced the same problems.
You’ve probably run into differences between hook manufacturers and trying to find comparable Daiichi hooks is no different.
I’ve been using Daiichi 1180 for a standard dry fly hook, but am settling on the 1190 which is the barbless version. Why barbless? Well, I crimp the barbs on all the flies I tie anyway, so why spend the time crimping hooks when a barbless version is available?
I like these hooks and have replaced the Dai Riki 300 with them. If you place them side-by-side, both hooks are very close in size. Problem solved!
Another example is the Daiichi 1280 that I use for my Beetle Bailey flies. These hooks have replaced the Dai Riki 280 hooks. They aren’t curved and are lighter wire, but work fine for my needs of a 2XL hook. These will work as well!
Now on to a replacement hook for the Tiemco 206BL and 102Y models.
I tie lots of flies on the Tiemco 206BL in sizes 16, 18, and 20. Here are two of them.
These hooks are not available below size 20. Many Fly Tying Hook Conversion Tables (mine included) reference the Daiichi 1140 as a comparable hook. The problem is the largest size Daiichi makes is a size 18. I thought this model might work, so I ordered them in sizes 18, 20, and 22. The up-side is I would have an option for a smaller fly, but the downside is I needed a size 16 hook.
After receiving the Daiichi 1140, I was quite surprised. The size 18 looked much smaller than the Tiemco hook I was trying to replace!
I tied a fly to see if I liked it. I do…
I found another option available, the Alec Jackson Chironomid Trout Fly Hook made by Daiichi. These hooks are available in sizes 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17. Why odd sizes? I don’t know the rationale, but wanted to try them.
Here is a picture of three different hooks under the size listed on each package.
Row 1 – Tiemco 206BL – 16, 18, 20
Row 2 – Alec Jackson Chironomid Trout Fly Hooks (Daiichi hook) – 13, 15, 17
Row 3 – Daiichi 1140 – 18, 20, 22
There is a lot of similarity between the three hooks. The Alec Jackson has a slightly longer shank, but you can see the biggest issue is the size differences between them.
Let’s take a closer look.
This picture compares the Tiemco 206 BL and Daiichi 1140.
Row 1 – Tiemco 206BL – 18 & 20
Row 2 – Daiichi 1140 – Both hooks size 18
I looked several times at the Tiemco size 18 vs. 20 and I have to say there isn’t much difference at all. This tells me I can use the Daiichi 1140 size 18 for both hooks.
The Daiichi 1140 isn’t available larger than size 18, so I must find another option, which looks like the Alec Jackson Chironomid Trout Fly Hook (made by Daiichi).
Row 1 – Tiemco 206BL – Both hooks size 16
Row 2 – Alec Jackson Chironomid Trout Fly Hooks (Daiichi hook) – Sizes 13 & 15
The Tiemco size 16 would be equal to about size 14 in the Alec Jackson hook, if there was one. I think I can get by using a size 15 in the Alec Jackson hook.
It would simplify my life if the Daiichi 1140 was made in size 16!!!
You might ask if I would consider switching to a different hook for these flies. I might tie a few flies using the Daiichi 1640, which is 2X-short shank hook. But then again, it only goes down to size 18. However, with a 2X-short shank, it will likely be equal to a size 20.
Now on to a replacement for the Tiemco 102Y I’ve been using. Many of the RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripples are tied on this hook.
Here is a picture of two different hooks under the size listed on each package.
Row 1 – Tiemco 102Y
Row 2 – Alec Jackson Soft Hackle Trout Fly Hooks (Daiichi hook)
Big difference in sizes, isn’t there?
Here I’m trying to match comparable sizes.
Row 1 – Tiemco 102Y – 15, 17, 19
Row 2 – Alec Jackson Soft Hackle Trout Fly Hook – 11, 13, 15, 17
It looks to me that a Tiemco 15 = AJ 11, Tiemco 17 = AJ 13, Tiemco 19 = AJ 15.
I need to tie a few flies on this hook and see if I like it.
So you can see how trying to find comparable fly fishing hooks isn’t necessarily an easy task.
It’s an ongoing process, but I think I’m making progress.
Hi John, very good comparable chart, I am 82 years young and I tie mostly in sizes 12 to 16 (my eyes arn’t as good anymore) Your chart compares odd sizes to odd sizes. I would like to try the 102Y hook, but they only come in odd sizes. I don’t know what odd size would be camparable to the size 14-16 that I tie in. What do you think.
Thanks for leaving a Comment Darrel. You are the second person asking questions about hooks. The short answer is go down a number, so a size 15 would be a 14. I think it will become a blog post in the near future…email sent.
John, I just came across this blog on hook comparisons. Very informative. I used Dai Riki hooks in 135 and 075 for places where fly loss was high — Crooked River. However, I found that the eyes were either not formed or slightly open. Trying to close them resulted in a broken eye in the pliers. I also found that they bend in the vise and on the river. I’ve missed many fish because the hook was bent open. Ive used Daiichi and TMC hooks for a long time, but the latter are getting expensive. Unfortunately, in my recent experience, finding a reliable source for 100 packs of Daiichi hooks was difficult. I always try to buy local and was pleasantly surprised that the Bend Fly Shop can order 100 packs of Daiichi, but have yet to order any so pricing is unknown. As to 102y and 206BL, there’s a certain aesthetic about them that I just love, and a 100 price point of between $0.28 and $0.33 per hook is something I can live with. I recently discovered the TMC 226 which is a heavier version on the 206. Beautiful and functional, but a minimum of $0.40 each. I should search your blogs before I remake the wheel!
Thanks for the Comment. Happy to hear you found it useful.
I have had difficulty with fly hook sizes thanks for your comparisons.
Great it’s not only me who has this problem.
I noticed some of your hooks have an offset (barb to shank), I’ve always sore out the hooks that lie flat or fly tying. Are there any problems with using hooks with an offset in fly tying and fishing them?
Thanks for your comment. Offset hooks are like many other things…some people like them and others don’t. I think offset hooks were designed for better hooking power, the design allows the point to penetrate better. As I recall, they are generally seen on nymph or scud hooks and not dry fly hooks. Many bait fishermen use offset hooks with great success. I’m guessing if they are used for wet flies or streamers, the offset may not allow them to track properly as the hook may lay over.
Thanks for finding RiverKeeper Flies!
Really valuable article. I learned so much with the combined discussion and images.
Have you seen flyhooks.org. A site dedicated to measuring and photographing as many brands and sizes of flyhooks as possible. Still growing and could use some samples.
Thanks for your kind comment about my post. I have’t heard about the flyhooks.org site. I’ll have to check it out.
Thanks for the information. Hook comparison charts drive me nuts. I know your research will help many of us. Your web site is always very informative. Thanks.
Thanks for the nice comment. I agree with your comment about hook comparison charts. I don’t think mine is any different than others. Obviously, hooks aren’t standardized across manufacturers. Some I’ve found to be very close, but not all. I’ll go back into mine and add a few words about them being “guidelines”.
Great reasearch. It make sense that I have had so much trouble with sizing hooks.