I received an email from a friend recently asking for help understanding dry fly hook comparisons. Then someone left a Comment on my RiverKeeper Flies website about a compatible hook for the Tiemco 102Y. In fact, I read a similar question in an online forum about a Tiemco 102Y hook.
I thought it was a sign to write another post about hooks. I wrote a post in April 2017 about Comparable Fly Fishing Hooks. You’ll see my thoughts have changed a little since I wrote it.
My apologies in advance for the detailed, geeky post today. If you aren’t a fly tyer, you might ask why I should read this. I think you’ll get a better understanding why flies are tied on certain hooks. At least I hope you will.
I moved to Daiichi hooks a few years ago to replace the Dai Riki and Tiemco (TMC) brand hooks. Turns out it was a good decision because Dai Riki isn’t made anymore. In addition, I thought Daiichi was a higher quality hook and much sharper too in my opinion. I have nothing bad to say about Tiemco hooks, except they are expensive. When you tie over 2,000 flies a year, the additional hook cost adds up.
I tied lots of flies on the Dai Riki 305, which I found out later was a 1X short shank hook. I tied most Sparkle Dun mayflies on that hook.
If I wanted a standard shank length, their Dai Riki 300 fit the bill. I tied parachute flies and caddis imitations on this hook. It was very similar to the Tiemco 100, but much cheaper (turns out the hook was cheaper as well).
For some reason that I don’t recall, I started tying all my RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripple flies on the Tiemco 102Y. I think I first found these hooks while shopping at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, MT many years ago. They probably used that hook on one of their flies. They were a considerable influence on my fly tying with their simple, but effective flies. I liked the hook because of the larger hook gape and thought that translated into better hook-ups.
When I began selling flies, I needed to find a place where I could obtain hooks and other fly tying materials at wholesale. Around that time, I met Wayne Luallen who ties with Daiichi hooks. He, as well as a couple other tyers, recommended them for their quality, and I ended up making the move. Having a consistent high-quality sharp hook was important to me as I began my custom fly tying.
Switching hook manufacturers can be a troublesome experience. There is no hook size standard in the industry. You’ve seen fly pattern sheets which recommend a specific manufacturer and model number. What happens if you don’t have that hook? If you were like me, a trip to your local fly shop was in order…and they didn’t have what you needed. They carried a different brand. What to do now?
That’s why I developed my own Fly Tying Hook Conversion Table. There are lots of these on the Internet. I created mine with the hooks I used and needed to convert to a different manufacturer. A lot of people find my RiverKeeper Flies website through the hook conversion page, so it must be helpful to them as well.
Initially paging through the Daiichi catalog was a bit overwhelming to say the least. It was like learning a new language. I was used to a couple of brand and hook models. Which Daiichi hooks models were comparable to the hooks I tied with?
There are a couple of Tiemco hook models I still like, the 102Y and 206. Why? The only reason is I like the way the fly looks on these hooks.
Be sure to read my Comparable Fly Fishing Hooks post where I discuss alternative hooks for these two models. Here is my RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripple tied on an Alec Jackson Soft Hackle Trout Fly Hook made by Daiichi.
And the same fly tied on a Tiemco 102Y.
I found fishing the fly directly above tied on a black Tiemco 102Y hook muted the body color when wet on lighter colored bodies. That’s why I’ve changed to an Alec Jackson Soft Hackle Trout Fly hook in those circumstances. I still have a few Tiemco 102Y hooks in stock and will use them for darker flies, like BWO’s. Once they are used up, I’ll switch over to the Alec Jackson Soft Hackle Trout Fly hook for all my RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripples as well. Plus, I like the way it looks. You’ve got to have confidence in the flies you fish!
I thought the Daiichi 1180 standard dry fly hook was where I was headed. Daiichi also makes a barbless version – 1190. I tie on them but have moved to the 1182 with a “LowViz” silver finish that I thought looked nice when the fly was finished. I started replacing my 1180 hooks with the 1182. Then I looked at their 1100 with a wide gape.
The Daiichi hook descriptions are as follows:
Model perfect bend, oversized down-eye, 1X-fine wire, wide-gape, “mini-barb”, bronze. (sizes 16 – 24)
Round bend, down-eye, standard wire, standard shank length, ‘mini-barb, bronze. (sizes 8 – 24)
Round bend, down-eye, standard shank length, mini-barb, “LowViz” silver finish. (only difference with this hook and 1180 is the color) (sizes 10 – 22)
Round bend, down-eye, standard wire, standard shank length, barbless, bronze. (sizes 8 – 24)
Round bend, down-eye, 1X-short, bronze. (sizes 8 – 22)
Note: A 1X fine hook is made with wire that would be standard for a hook one size smaller. A 1X short hook has a shank the length of a standard hook one size smaller.
These are the hooks I’ll be using in the following comparisons.
The hooks in the remaining images are all size 16. We’ll concentrate on shank length and gape size.
Here is an image comparing the Daiichi 1100 with 1182. I thought the only difference between the two hooks was a little wider hook gape in the 1100. Is that important? When tying size 16, 18, and 20 flies I’ll take all the extra hooking power I can get! But looking closely at the image below shows the 1100 is a little shorter shank.
The next image compares the standard length shank of the Daiichi 1182 with the 1X-short shank of the 1310. Notice the larger hook gape of the 1310.
And the Daiichi 1100 with the 1X-short shank of the 1310. Remember the 1100 is a wide-gape hook. The 1310 ends up being a larger gape than a standard size because the shank is 1X-short.
I’m always keeping my eyes out for new hooks. These include Ahrex, Firesticks, and Kona. I purchased Ahrex and Kona standard dry fly hooks to see what they are like. Here are images comparing them to the Daiichi 1182.
The Kona BDF model is a barbless hook in black nickel, but has an extra-fine wire and 2X wide gape. I’ve not fished it and am curious if it will bend out. I plan to tie some X Caddis and give them a try on the Madison River, MT this next summer to see how they hold up to these strong fish. I’ve bent some of the Daiichi 1182 hooks on these fish.
The Ahrex FW 501 is a heavier hook. It too is a barbless hook. This is a black nickel hook available in sizes 8 – 18, so I’d need to find a different brand for size 20 and smaller. Here it is compared to the Daiichi 1182.
And the Ahrex FW501 compared to Kona BDF.
The last item I wanted to highlight is the hook gape. The hook gape is measured from the shank to point. As I mentioned above, the Daiichi 1100 is listed as a wide-gape. The 1X-short Daiichi 1310 ends up being a wide-gape as well. The image below shows two hooks with red lines from the eye to point of hook. (To be clear, this isn’t the definition of hook gape. I’m trying to illustrate how shank length and gape affect the opening.) Admittedly, these differences are subtle, but it’s something to consider when choosing hooks. Many newer hooks have a large gape, but look at the opening. It might affect if you get a good hook set. And adding a body of some type makes the distance from the shank to point smaller.
This last image compares a Daiichi 1310 size 16 with the Daiichi 1182 size 18. Notice the opening of each. They are very similar. The 1X-short 1310 has a larger gape, but with the shorter shank is equal to the size 18. I use the Daiichi 1310 to tie my small Improved Sparkle Dun flies and believe I end up with better hooking percentage.
Lastly, let me discuss the Tiemco 102Y, a down eye, 1X fine wire, wide-gape, sproat bend, black hook. Because of the sproat bend, the point has moved back slightly for more secure hooking. The opening is bigger.
I don’t know the reason, but these hooks only come in odd sizes. Scroll up to the first image and see them in sizes 13, 17, and 19 (I’m out of size 15). Let’s focus on a size 17 Tiemco 102Y. The natural question is should I go up or down if using a “normal” even sized hook. I always try to match the shank length. Personally, I would use a standard length Daiichi 1100 size 18 with the wide-gape. In other words, just go down one size and they would be fairly close.
If you are like me, you’ll go back and look at the images of these hooks to understand the nuances.
Are these all the hooks I use to tie my flies? No. Here are a few more:
- Daiichi 1280 (sizes 6 – 16) – Round bend, down-eye, 1X-fine wire, 2X-long shank, mini-barb, bronze. I use this hook to imitate larger mayflies like Green Drakes, Beetle Bailey.
- Daiichi 1260 (sizes 6 – 20) – Round bend, straight-eye, standard wire, 2X-long curved shank, bronze. I use this hook to imitate Golden Stoneflies, Chubby Chernobyl.
- Daiichi 1270 (sizes 4 – 22) – Round bend, straight-eye, standard wire, 3X-long curved shank, bronze. I use this hook to imitate Golden Stoneflies, Salmonflies.
I hope this post helps in understanding dry fly hook comparisons and hook selection on the wide variety of flies you tie.
But overall, will the fish care?
Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!
Super timely for me, I was about to start a round of dry fly tying and was considering some different hooks.
I am curious why you don’t include the Daiichi 1640 in this comparison, you do in your comparison table. As you know it is a 2x short as apposed to the 1x short of the 1310.
I have been wondering if the relatively larger hook bend of the short hooks can cause any problems. The two issues I imagined are if the larger bend might spook fish or if the larger bend might cause sparse flies to sink. Are there any issues that keeps you away from the shorter shanked hooks?
Thanks for leaving a Comment.
I do have some 1640 hooks, but for some reason haven’t used them much. I just pulled one out and placed it next to a 1310…very similar. As you noted, it is shorter AND slightly offset. I didn’t include them in the post because I haven’t used them. Some of the other brand competition hooks utilize a wide gape, sometimes 2 – 3 X wide. I just don’t have any experience using them. The Daiichi hooks seem to work well for me.
Really appreciate your expertise. Your experience with fly material and fishing is something that would take years to replicate, no substitute for time doing it!
It seems like you are saying that the hook gap in the 1310 gets the job done and you have not had to move to the wider 1640, is that about right?
To be clear, I pulled out a size 16 of the 1310 and 1640 to compare them. The gapes on both hooks are the same. Since the 1310 is 1X short and 1640 is 2X short, the 1640 would be a larger gape compared to a 1310 size 18 shank. Hope that answers your question.
Ah, roger. Thanks for the follow up. I did not get that the first time.
john, great article of hooks. Your comment that the fly color changing with the hook color, that is true, it does change. In fact there was a study done through the FlyFishing FlyTying UK magazine that I tout as one of the best out there, where they tested just that issue. They even went as far as using a white thread under coat to see what affect it had on color and it was dramatic the difference, especially with silk flosses. They used a white paint to see how what affect it had, and again it made a difference, the colors held true to what they looked like dry. I have learned through my years of tying that water testing does wonders for learning what flies look like, once the fly gets wet. jerry