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Ronan's report

Sunday 27th, November 2011

I've been thinking a lot about hooks this week.

Firstly I saw a brilliant display of primitive fish-hooks at the newly refurbed and quite splendid National Museum of Scotland. Secondly I saw a news item about how some Australians have found the oldest fishhooks ever (between 16000 and 23000 years old if you're interested).

Most of these hooks seem to look quite similar to a modern circle hook, and were probably used in bait fishing, but some of the ones in the NMS had feathers tied to them as lures.

I've never used a circle hook for fly fishing and it's on my list of stuff to try. In fact I do have a box of Mustad C71 SSS in 1/0 somewhere in the pile of junk that I like to call my fly-tying area.

I have got lots of other hooks, too many probably. But I seem to settle on a few favourites. Despite quite a few people saying they're soft, I do like Kamasans (B100, B110, B400). I like the traditional look of the old Mustad 94840 too, and even though they do feel a little springy they seem to hold well enough.

I used to like the Partridge Klinkhammers, but I do worry about their short-ish points.

My all round favourite hook for trout is probably the TMC 200R. It's not the perfect hook for everything (DHEs for instance are better on a Kamasan), but I generally reach for a 200R for other emergers and light nymphs. I just love it. It looks so fishy! I love the curve of the shank, dead sexy.

The point of a 200R is just the right length. It doesn't have a wide gape though, and I suspect that the shank-length:gape ratio should mean that hook holds would be poor (I hate most long-shank hooks for trout). But the good old 200R seems to stick really well. I wonder if the curve of the shank compensates for its length?

For Pike I really like the Sakuma Manta. Again a lovely looking hook with great shank length/gape ratio, and they seem tough as old boots.

Given the hook's generally vital role in proceedings they don't get talked about much, and when they do everyone seems to have a different opinion. I've been party to some hilarious hook conversations among salmon anglers. Party A. swears that Loop Doubles are brilliant. Party B. thinks Loop Doubles are a disaster and only ever uses Partridge BMD's. Party A. nearly collapses in apoplexy at the mention of BMD's and, Party C. says A. and B. are both idiots and that, anyway, single hooks hold better and are easier to unhook.

I bet they were having exactly these conversations 23000 years ago, somewhere in the Pacific.


PS - Disclosure: My partner works at the NMS, so I'm slightly biased. Entrance is free though - and it's brilliant!

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