The 7 Best Fly Tying Hooks: For Dry Fly, Nymphs, and Streamers

Great fly tying hooks are found on flies like these professionally tied nymphs.
My client’s fly box with custom tied flies tied by a local fly tier.

As a fishing guide and a commercial fly tier who has been tying flies for over 30 years. I’m going to be brutally honest about tying hooks.

First, it doesn’t matter if a fly pattern calls for a specific hook; find something close and use it. You do not need ten variations of dry fly hooks, streamer hooks, or nymph hooks. One or two variations of good-quality hooks are all you need.

This is one of my client’s flies. You can see the bend of the hook, which is opened and bent out, and the hook point is also bent out. I’m not sure what brand of hook he is using, but cheaper hooks do this often. This fly is unlikely to hook a fish like this.

Second, bad hooks can bend, break, and even decrease hooking ability. Therefore, use good-quality hooks.

The best fly tying hooks will be thin but strong, have a gap size that will enable better hookups, have a thin and very sharp point, and will be the right shape and size for the fly pattern you want to tie.

You also want a fly hook that can handle the size of fish without breaking or bending.

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What Are The Best Fly Tying Hooks?

A trout that ate one of my favorite spring trout flies
A brown trout caught on a custom guide-tied fly using a good quality hook.

The best hooks for fly tying come from reputable brands that use high-quality metal wire, excel in wire technology, have extremely sharp points, and are proven by guides and anglers not to break.

In my opinion, the best fly-tying hooks I have tested come from:

Other quality brands I use and would recommend are:

Dohiku fly tying hooks and some tied flies.
These are my hooks and flies. Dohiku is a good brand of fly tying hooks used by guides, competition anglers, and regular fly fishermen.
  • Fulling Mill
  • Firehole Sticks

These are the hooks you will see competition fly anglers and top guides using.

If you want a great hook that will provide more hookups and one you can rely on, stick with these proven companies.

An assortment of fly-tying hooks from my fly tying station. I have hooks for all types of fly patterns.

A fly hook includes elements such as the gape, point, shank, eye, bend, throat, and thickness.

The fly hook you use will depend on the fly pattern you want to tie, which means different fly patterns will require a different shape, size, and strength.

How to Buy the Best Fly Tying Hooks

To find the ideal fly tying hook, consider factors such as;

  • Type Of Hook: You want to pay attention to the material of the hook since you want saltwater hooks when fishing in salt water, but not when fishing a local freshwater trout stream. A standard trout hook with a typical bronze coating will rust and be destroyed by the salt water after only 1 or 2 uses.
  • Regulations: your local fishing regulations may require or limit hooks by size or type. In some areas, barbed flies are not permitted.
  • Personal Preference: your personal preference matters; guys like me prefer certain hooks, and I prefer and use barbless hooks 95% of the time or pinch the barb in the vise with fly tying tool or pliers. Some guys also prefer a certain shape or hook color.
  • Quality and Reputation: stick with known quality brands that fit within your budget.
  • Chemically Sharpened: Chemically sharpened hooks are known to be the sharpest hooks available, and sharp hooks improve hooking percentage.
  • Size: buy your fly hook based on the fly pattern and the size of the natural fly you are trying to imitate. Meaning, if all the March Brown mayflies on your local river are a size 14, then tie on a size 14. I will discuss sizes in more detail below.
  • Species Specific: Buy species-specific hooks, which means if you are fishing for trout, buy trout fly hooks. But, if you are fishing for steelhead, salmon, bass, pike, musky carp, or other big species, those little trout hooks will likely bend or break.

What Makes a Good Fly Tying Hook

The preferred choice of good anglers are hooks that are sharp, penetrate well, hold well, and don’t bend or break even with flies in smaller sizes.

Best Hooks for fly tying nymphs
These are my custom nymph flies. The best Hooks for fly tying nymphs will have a wide gape.

Fly-tying hooks are made from metal wire that is bent to shape, and there are dozens of shapes and types.

A great hook for fly tying is one that is made from a hardened tempered metal that is very strong for its size and shape and has a chemically sharpened point.

Head Guide Graham From Trout and Steelhead .net
This is me with huge brown trout caught on a small barbless nymph.

It also needs to be as thin as possible so it’s not seen by the fish while still maintaining its strength. Thin hooks also enables the fly to drift more naturally.

A good fly hook matches your specific needs and preferences. It should be made from high-quality materials, have a reliable construction, and offer the right size and shape for the type of fly you’re tying.

Types of Hooks Required For Fly Tying

The type of hook you need depends on the fly patterns you’re tying. You will need a different shape, size, and length for some fly patterns.

Some common hook categories include:

  1. Hooks for Dry Flies
  2. Hooks for Nymphs
  3. Hooks for Streamers
  4. Hooks for Wet Flies
  5. Long Shank Hooks
  6. Scud Hooks
  7. Grub Hooks
  8. Egg Hooks
  9. Saltwater Hooks

Best Dry Fly Hook

Competition Dry fly hook
Competition Dry fly hooks are my preferred hook and are being used by competition fly anglers and by more and more guides.

When it comes to tying dry flies and dry fly fishing, it’s all about finding that perfect balance between the hook’s weight, durability, and design to ensure the fly stays afloat while still being effective at hooking the fish.

After tying and fishing thousands of dry flies, I’ve found that the traditional standard dry fly hook is not always the best hook. These are things I now look for in dry fly hooks.

For dry fly hooks, you’ll want to go for lightweight hooks with fine wire construction that will help your fly to float higher and for longer.

Elk Hair Caddis flies tied on a small gap fly hook.
These store-bought Elk Hair caddis are tied on a hook with a close gap hook, and when used, over 50% of the trout missed the hook.

You also want to use a straight shank dry fly hook, with a wider gap. A wide gap provides a better-hooking percentage, especially on heavily hackled or bushy-type flies.

Some dry fly hooks will come as 1x long or 2x long, but often, this means you get the right length but with less of a gap so I do not recommend them.

Hook sizes can vary, but generally, you’ll find that sizes 10 to 22 work well for most dry fly patterns.

The correct hook matters and a tip for you is when fishing smaller flies, a medium weight or thicker wire hook is often best to prevent the hook from bending with large fish.

Daiichi 1170 standard dry fly hook
Daiichi 1170 is a good standard dry fly hook with a 45 degree angle hook eye.

With a big fly on the surface, you want a thin wire hook so it doesn’t weigh the fly down and sink it.

Hook Eye: Make sure to consider hooks with a down-eye or straight-eye design, as they allow for easier tippet attachment and give the fly a more natural presentation. Most down-eye hooks are about a 45-degree angle, but anything from a 25 to 45 degrees is generally good.

Unless you are skating flies like buzzers and bomber flies like those used for Atlantic salmon, an up-eye hook is not used often.

A few dry fly hook models that I use, starting with my favorite are:

Best Nymph Hook

I prefer this type of competition style nymph hook
I prefer this type of competition-style nymph hook over the traditional nymph hook shown below. This is the Tiemco Nymph hook.

I may be a little different because I like to tie my nymphs on both straight nymph hooks and on curved scud or sedge hooks.

I’ve seen plenty of nymphs drifting down the river, and they are not always straight bodied, so a slight curve is OK.

Traditional or old-school nymph hooks were designed with a closer gap, so I rarely use and recommend them. There is a reason the top competition anglers in the world all prefer wider gap competition style hooks.

AHREX Curved Nymph Hook
I like to tie some nymphs of Curved nymph hooks like this AHREX Curved Nymph Hook. It also works great for scuds, caddis Pupaes, and Isopods.
Standard old-school nymph hook
Standard old-school nymph hooks like this one have a smaller gap, and I find they don’t hook and hold as well.

I would say 70% of my nymphs are tied on straight hook shank hooks like the:

I do not like the shape of hooks like the curved Nymph Long Hooks seen below simply because of the small hook gap, which I have found to miss a lot of fish. Instead, stick with hooks with a wide hook gap.

I do not recommend this type of curved nymph hook as I find the gap is small and they do not hook up well.
I do not recommend this type of curved nymph hook as I find the gap is small, and they do not hook up well.
Another type of curved nymph hook I do not like and will no longer use.
Another type of curved nymph hook I do not like and will no longer use.

Scuds, Caddis Pupae, Grubs, Isopods, Shrimps

This is my favorite Isopod / Scud pattern which is one of my most consistent big fish flies.
This is my favorite Isopod / Scud pattern which is one of my most consistent big fish flies. I usually tie these on a size 16 or 18 scud hook.

Many streams have caddis, scuds, and isopods, and in my area, scuds account for a lot of the big trout my clients land each year.

For these nymph patterns, a scud hook or a sedge hook will work well.

These hooks are strong even in smaller sizes and are readily available in the market.

Jig Fly Hooks

A competition-style jig fly hook is great for most nymph patterns.

In recent years more and more anglers are tying their nymphs on jig fly hooks.

The advantage to using a jig fly hook is that the hook point rides up which is great for dragging flies across the bottom and for preventing fewer snags.

I’ve been using competition-style jig fly hooks for about five years, and I find the wider gap and slight downward hook point hooks and holds the fish better than standard jig hooks.

In fact, if it works for the pattern, I now prefer to tie most of my nymphs on jig hooks.

Jig hooks to consider are:

Streamer Fly Hooks

A copper flash streamer fly
A large flashy trout and steelhead streamer fly that would likely catch just about any species of predatory fish in the river.

Traditional streamer hooks suck!

Yep, you heard me. They are long, but the hook gap on them is small, and often, the gap will get smaller once you add all that bulky body fly-tying material to it.

My advice to you is to go with a larger gap, more modern streamer hook, and I promise you will miss fewer fish.

Consider these streamer hooks.

For simple Wooly Buggers, Zonkers, and more traditional streamer patterns that don’t require such a large hook gap, I use Daiichi 1750 Straight Eye Streamer Hooks

For barbless streamer fly hooks, check out the Hanak Competition 970BL Streamer Wave Hooks.

Best Fly Tying Hooks For Egg Patterns

Daiichi 1510 Glo-Bug Hook
Daiichi 1510 Glo-Bug Hook

Whether you fish steelhead and salmon or trout, an egg pattern is hard to beat at times, and they should be in every river angler’s box.

You don’t need to get too in-depth just be sure you go with a shorter shank hook with a razor-sharp point and a wide gap.

The gape or “gap” is important because the fly-tying materials used for an egg pattern can clog up the gap on some hooks, which can prevent hooking the fish.

When tying egg patterns, I use:

NOTE: This is the short version of this article. The full version includes:

My mouse fly pattern tied on an appropriately sized fly tying hook.
My mouse fly pattern tied on an appropriately sized fly tying hook.
  • What Makes A Good Fly Tying Hook
  • Barbed Hooks VS. Barbless Hooks, Does It Matter
  • Store Bought Flies And Cheap Hooks
  • Hook Material and Construction
  • Long or Short Hooks?
  • Temper: Do you need to know?
  • Types Of Hook Finishes
  • What is the Ideal Size of Fly Tying Hooks?
  • What is the Ideal Tying Hook?
  • More About Fly Tying Hooks and Their Construction
  • Hook Sizing and Gape
  • FAQ

See the full article here

Related Articles:

If you have a question or some tips about fly tying hooks or you want to share your favorite hooks, let me know in the comments section below.

Tight Lines,


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  1. hey graham. what would you recommend as the best hook for worm pattern flies? specifically bead head squirmy worms. your expertise are much appreciated!

  2. Thank you for this very informative discussion on hooks. As a new fly tyer/fisherman, I was befuddled by the varying specs given to tie flies with my local fly-fishing club.