This is one of those subjects that always opens up a can of worms, to excuse the non fly fishing pun. Every saltwater fly angler will have their own favourites and all will have a good reason through experience for these hooks to stand out above the rest.
I am going to talk through some of the qualities that make a top quality saltwater hook. Below I have also recommended some hooks for big game fishing and saltwater fishing.
Strength is a must when picking a saltwater hook. This is because many saltwater species are extremely strong and put huge amounts of pressure on a hook. Anything inadequate in their makeup will be found out very quickly.
The other thing to consider when picking a saltwater hook is that you never know what is going to come along and take your fly. You may be targeting a smaller species that a cheaper less robust hook could potentially handle. However, you need to be prepared when a larger and stronger species eats your fly, as this happens often. You still want a realistic chance of landing the species on the end of your fly.
Many saltwater species have bony, hard to penetrate mouths that require an ultra-sharp point to get a good hook hold. It isn’t just a case of starting sharp either, you need a good quality hook to stay sharp in amongst all the dulling objects that it is likely to meet on each retrieve.
Although it is wise to pick a sharp and robust hook, all hooks can become blunt so it is also wise to check flies regularly so that you don’t get caught out by this and lose a golden opportunity.
After the first two qualities mentioned, you’re probably imagining a hook that is about two inches thick and needs to be sharpened with a grinder. However, modern hooks can actually incorporate both of the above points without needing to be too thick. The problem with having a hook that is thick is that it can be a deterrent to any finicky fish, especially in clear water. It is also true that thick gauge hooks can be harder to set and result in more missed takes.
The usefulness of each hook make and pattern is governed greatly by the types of flies that are being tied on them. I have listed a few of my favourites below for a range of different species and fly types.
Big Game Hooks:
- Gamakatsu Big Game SL12s
- Owner Aki 5170
- Tiemco TMC 784
- Tiemco TMC 600SP
- Partridge STS Tarpon Stinger
Around Saltwater Hooks
- Daiichi 2546
- Tiemco 8115
- Gamakatsu SL11-3H
- Tiemco TMC784
- Gamakatsu SC15-2H
- Partridge Attitude Extra