Number Wang!

Number Wang!

Martyn White | Sunday, 13 December 2020

I wish hooks sizes were standardised. I know it'll never happen between manufacturers but it would be nice if it was even consistent within a single manufacturer's range. And I'm used to it, I suspect a lot of folk on sexyloops are too.
Recently a friend from home, who's recently taken up fly fishing, called me complaining about a problem caused by just this issue. He's fished for a long time with conventional gear, throwing lures for pike so he knows how sizes work. He had been out trying unsuccessfully to catch grayling in a local river, met some other angler on the way back to the car and got some tips about fishing nymphs on a french leader and a look in a fly box and a couple of bugs to copy. This was all great until he ordered a few hundred jig and Czech nymph style hooks only to discover that they were massive compared to the sample flies. About 2 or 3 sizes bigger was the report... "what does 14 even mean?" was the lament. And I sympathised, well after a bit of light hearted abuse anyway. At least he noticed before tying hundreds of flies....

These things happen but we get more used to the different models and makers we settle in and hopefully these problems are less likely to happen. I'm always amazed at how long a TMC 100 is for the size, for example, but I'm not caught unaware. If I always used tiemcos it wouldn't even matter unless converting from someone else's size using different hooks.  Except in lots of literature you can see insects and other fish foods described by hook sizes, a good example is Pat O'Reilly's Matching the Hatch. It's a good book, but it still leaves my mate Stevie in danger of stocking a box with flies that are considerably off in size. Which can make all the difference.  The same is true when planning a trip to a far flung destination, whether fresh or salt, you'll often see recommendations of flies listed in hook size. Admittedly it's not often a huge problem, but people do end up in places with unsuitable flies (and gear) often enough for outfitters to be making videos, podcasts and information packs about it.


So what's the answer? Well for imitative tying I think there's not much to beat a good field guide that lists species with a size in milimeters Malcom Greenhalgh's book Trout and Grayling Food  is a nice one. And I recently stumbled across a Norwegian site with some beautiful photos of insects and descriptions of sizes along with suggested imitations-ideal for beginners and more advanced anglers alike. Of course you still need to know which size of your preferred model hook you need, but 7mm is 7mm whether it's a 14,16 or 18.  Similarly 15 cm is 15 cm whether 1/0, 3/0 or 5/0


Maybe the mistakes are all part of the process though, but I sometimes wonder if there are unnecessary pitfalls awaiting newer anglers that could be got rid of.