Fly tying: Choosing the right hook!

Which hook should I use for which model of fly? Which bead should I use to rig my nymphs or sinkers? These are questions that many anglers ask themselves. The wide range of flies on the market does not make our choice easy. We’re going to take a look at the different types of JMC hooks to help you make up your mind: each hook has its own use!

The trio!

We’ll be concentrating on hooks designed for salmon fishing. We’ll only be talking about the barbless hooks in the range because what interests us here is their shape. Whether they have a barb or not simply depends on the use the angler wishes to make of them and the regulations.

Fly fishing hooks fall into three broad categories:

  • Straight shaft.
  • With curved shaft.
  • Jig hooks.

Straight shank hooks:

These JMC hooks include some of the best known names:

The DR30bl has a classic shape with a straight tip. It can be used everywhere and is suitable for all types of traditional fishing. However, I find it very effective when the fish tend to follow the artificial lure and grab it with their lips. This is the case when you’re casting/ramming or drifting downstream such as drowning, lake nymphing or streamer fishing. Using a hook with a straight point makes it easier for the hook to penetrate the water.

The DR40bl has a re-entrant point. It’s the hook I’ve been using in competition for many years and it’s never let me down! It’s ideal for nymph fishing with line requiring the use of light to medium-heavy nymphs (up to 3.3 mm), for dry fishing and sight nymphing. For heavy nymph fishing in fast rivers (3.3/4mm balls) and on big fish, I use the DR45bl, the strong iron version of the DR40bl.

As far as the balls to use on these different straight shank hooks are concerned, it is preferable to use classic balls for tying drowned fish, nymphs for sight fishing and streamers, as the tilting effect of split balls can in some cases cause the fly to stall due to poor fly positioning.
For nymph fishing with thread, I use split balls, which give a slight “jig” effect to the fly. As a result, in most cases the fish is hooked at the top of the mouth, which limits stalls. What’s more, with this rig the fly is always positioned in the same way when drifting.

Curved shank hooks:

The barbless bent hooks in the JMC range include two types with a small detail that makes all the difference: the orientation of the eye.

  • The CA10bl with its straight eyelet was mainly developed for tying dry flies. It is perfect for tying emerging flies such as Klinkhamer, Tabanas, Puppa and various mayflies. In action, its shape limits misfires and ensures a better position of the fly on the water.
  • The CA20bl has a ‘classic’ eyelet that slopes slightly downwards. It’s perfect for rigging nymphs of hydropsychs, gammarids, mayflies and chironomids. It’s the perfect hook for NAV and static lake fishing such as “Bung” or silk.

As far as balls are concerned, it’s best to use only classic balls, which give nymphs good positioning in the water column. As well as being attractive, the position limits misfires and stalls during the fighting phase.

Jig hooks :

Introduced a few years ago, jig hooks have made a name for themselves in the tackle boxes of competitors and nymph anglers the world over!

This makes the JIG100bl ideal for long drifting and heavier fishing, Czech style or jigging, i.e. fishing with nymphs.

Slotted tungsten balls are always used when tying flies on jig hooks, as these balls were designed specifically for this type of hook. The slit allows the ball to be inserted perfectly, so that the point is positioned towards the surface. When fishing, this makes it easier to prospect as close to the bottom as possible, limiting the risk of snagging.

A little tip: It is quite possible to obtain the rocking effect of the jig with a straight shank hook by using a drop bead. This is particularly interesting as it allows you to obtain jigs on small hooks and also to standardize the hooks in your fly boxes.

Some hybrids :

There are hybrid hooks that don’t fit into any category. They are often developed for very specific approaches. These include the CR 30bl and N5y, which are neither straight nor curved.

The CR30bl is a rather fine iron hook with a short, straight shank. It has a large opening with a long point. I particularly like this hook for tying nymphs when you want to tie small flies with a wide hook opening. I also use it a lot for tying my mayflies with “Spanish” type exuvia by slightly increasing the bend.

The NY5 is a little stronger in iron. It is also designed for tying small flies with a wide opening. I use it to make imitations for NAV, drowned water and lake fishing. The straight eyelet considerably reduces stalls by positioning the fly in the line axis.

In conclusion

I hope that this will help you to see things more clearly and to be able to tackle your different fly tyings with peace of mind. There are obviously specific situations where certain types of hook will be superior to others, with cases where practice will outweigh theory. That’s the magic of fishing and that’s what makes it so charming. It’s up to you to adapt your rigs to the situations you encounter in the field. But with what we’ve seen here, you’ll be able to deal with 90% of situations!


By Julien Lorquet, member of the Belgian fly fishing team.