Varivas fly hooks
reviewed by Viking Lars
About half a year ago, the UK Varivas-dealer sent me a set of Varivas-hooks - nice fellow, eh? Fishingmatters has a Directory-listing too. I've been tying flies and fishing with the hooks on and off since.
Varivas make a lot of different hooks and has some very interesting designs along a lot of "standard" looking hooks. They have two series, Freshwater hooks and Saltwater hooks. The overall, general impression is very well made hooks, supersharp points and small barbs and even non-present barbs, as in barbless hooks. I was sent a stack of different models and some in several sizes, and I haven't found one to be flawed.
Stacks of boxes
The boxes are neat and opens in two ways, a small lid in the cover and the cover itself opens and the boxes interlock when stacked, which is a nice and easy way to keeping track of the different models and sizes of hooks.
I've tried the following freshwaterhooks: 2100, 2200, 2400V, 2500V and 2510WB and in the saltwater range I've tried the 2600 ST-V and the 2610 ST-V.
Varivas 2100 Standard Dry
Yes, the name says it all, doesn't it. A standard, straight shank dryfly hook. The buzz says "2x fine, microbarb, long taper point", which describes the hook quite well. I found this hook to be suited equally well for parachutes, standard dries and topwater nymphs.
Varivas 2200 Curved Shank
This is an all together very different hook, even though it might not look it. The curve the hook describes is almost a section of a circle, which makes it stand out from most other curved shank hooks. I've tied emergers, nymphs and gammarus on it. Gammarus and scuds really come out with a nice appearance on this hook. Initially, I had some concerns with the strength of the wire when fishing heavy and deep as I bent one pulling it free from a snag. However, I have it on good authority that the 2200 will hold large trout! I think the 2200 is one of the gems in the Varivas range.
Varivas 2400V Wet
Depending on size, this hook is 2x to 1x heavy wire and long taper point. A nice, sort-of-Limerick-type bend on the hook lends itself well to wetflies with short bodies. Nice hook for classic wetflies for both streams and stillwaters. I like the fact the gauge of wire is varied after the size of the hook! The V in the identification signifies that the hook comes with Varivas' V-cut point, which is extremely sharp and hooks extremely well, but as all really fine, long points it's also sensitive. There are pros and cons to most things in life, hookpoints included!
Varivas 2500V Streamer
A straight forward, long shank streamerhook made from 3x heavy wire featuring a nice, round bend and classic downeye. Looks good dressed in a Mickey Finn :-).
Varivas 2510WB Keel Streamer
Here's a bit of an oddball. It's one of the very few keelstreamer hooks on the market without a barb. For those of you who might wonder, the idea of a keel streamer hook is to present a fly hookpoint up, primarily through the design of the hook. I've tried tying bucktails on this hook with no weight, and they do swim hook point up, most of the time. To make sure, either add a strip of lead or tungsten to the underside of the hook right near the bend, or tie in beadchain- or dumbelleyes - that'll almost guarantee the fly rides hookpoint up. A drawback with this type of hook is that some of the bend and the point (depending on dressing) will be or can be hidden in the wing. The good side to that is that you can fish the fly through weeds. The downside is that securely hooking and holding fish is harder and my experience says to set the hook with a very slow, but firm strip-strike. The alternative is not fish those troublesome areas which tend to hold fish :-). In the autumn on the coast here in Denmark, we have some large, tall weedbeds that tend to hold fish. I've fished sandeel imitations through them, tied on the keelstreamer hook, with only a few snags. I've also lost of couple of fish, but that's the game..... Made from 3x heavy wire, the unavoidable occasional snag isn't a problem. A Clouser Minnow tied on this hook is virtually snag-free! Especially if you splay the bucktail just a little.
This is a saltwater hook by design, and preferred by many of the top saltwater flyfishermen in the US! I've tried the smaller sizes for seatrout here in Denmark, and while I don't need the holding power of the heavy wire, the hook design really suits me well. I've tied different fish imitations on them with epoxyheads - a style that suits the short shank and straight eye well. The special thing about this hook is the setting of the hookpoint - pointing slightly upwards towards the eye of the hook. The result is a straight penetration in line with the line of pull from the leader, or in other words, damned good hooking! The V in the ID-number reveals that the point is Varivas' V-cut, which is mentioned above. I lost a few fish in the spring because I was to quick and pulled the hook out, but quickly I learned that simply letting the fish hook itself as it turned was more than enough! I've tried the stainless steel versions (revealed by the ST in the identification number), but they are also available in high-carbon steel. I have a few friends who fish for tarpon once or twice every year, and they praise the hooks, and they are certainly my preferred hooks for sandeels and other fish imitations for the salt. This is another gem in the Varivas-series!
Pretty much the same hook as above, only in streamer-style - i.e. long shank. I've tied shrimps, palmers and small fishimitations on it, and much the same can be said about it as directly above! If you're after a longshank hook that'll hold a train, this is it :-).
Addition - April 2008:
Recently I was sent two new Varivas-hooks, which are also deinitely worth mentioning here. One is a barbless version of the 2200 - identical in every way, but barbless. Small difference, but significant! Other than that, every bit as nice as the "original" 2200.
Another very interesting is the 2410V. Length and wiregauge more or less categorises this as a wetfly hook, but the real difference from most other hooks appear in the point and design of the hookbend. The point is Varivas' *extremely* sharp V-cut point, which is short and has a nice, small barb. Should you wish to do so, the barb can easily be squeezed down without harming the intergrity of the hook. The bend as you can see on the pictogram, is rather special. The best way to describe it is maybe to call it a "dropped Limerick" :-). The idea behind the design is the same as in the saltwaterhooks. When the hookpoint comes into contact with something (ie. fishjaws :-), the angle of pull from the leader creates a direct penetration, in-line with the hookpoint, sp to speak. It's a bit hard to explain, but I hope you understand! A very nice hook for any kind of wetfly - I've tied Black Zulus on them and small Red Tags, and the hook works great!
Lars Chr. Bentsen (Viking Lars) (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a medieval archeologist
flyfisherman - possibly the first. When not plundering, he either flyfishes the salt "concentrating at all times" or else
investigates ruined castles, abbeys and burial mounds (this is true-life stuff). He is an FFF Certified (or at least certifiable) Master Flycasting Instructor and has a bag fetish. Lars lives with Pauline and their daughters, Anna and Elvira, and they try to live with him.