top dry fly hooks

Top Dry Fly Hook Choices

Choosing the Correct Hook for Tying Dry Flies

Top Dry Fly Hook Choices
Top Dry Fly Hook Choices

When it comes to tying flies in today’s industry, the hook choices are almost unlimited and in many cases overwhelming. New Branding continues to increase the number of hook choices available in today’s market. However, if you pay close attention to some of the more important variables for good Dry Fly Hook choices you can eliminate most of the confusion. The purpose of this discussion is to help you think through your choices and to highlight a few of my preferred hook choices for tying Dry Flies. You can also check out the video where we covered some of our favorite hook choices on the Mangled Fly You Tube Channel.

Key Characteristics to look for in Hook Choices

Some important hook characteristics to consider in selecting an appropriate dry fly hook would be; hook eye orientation, hook gap, hook wire diameter/length, hook bend shape/point. Hook strength and hook up efficiency are very important aspects of hook choice and are directly related to the primary characteristics of the hook. The orientation of the hook eye, the length of the hook shank, and the width of the hook gap are all important components of hook design. that dictate your success. Finally a good range of hook sizes is also important in determining hook choice. If more hook sizes are available for a particular hook then you will have more variety of sizes to tailor your fly selection needs.

I prefer a down turned eye on my Dry Fly hooks. The biggest reason for this relates back to the hook setting angle of a Dry Fly presentation which is typically straight up. A down turned eye offers exceptional hook up efficiency with this type of hook set. For comparison a straight eye hook offers greater hooking efficiency with a strip set. Understanding presentation and how the hook will respond to the typical presentation you will be fishing with will determine how efficient your hook up percentage will be.

Whenever possible I will choose a wide gap hook for most of my Dry Fly hook selections as well. A bigger hook gap will tend to give you a better hookup percentage and more room for error while fighting hooked fish. Consider the style of fly you are tying as well. If you are tying extended body or foam patterns I prefer the wide gap hooks. Wide gap hooks have more of the hook point exposed and provide a bigger area for hook penetration. Most of the hooks I tie on are also chemically sharpened, this seems to be an industry standard, but hook penetration is very important.

The hook wire strength/length are important considerations too. Some of the larger insects we imitate require longer hooks to complete the platform for that bug. Longer wire hooks tend to give the fish an advantage for escape. Matching the length of the wire to strength, 2x or 3x heavy, and a wide gap would be my preferred choice. I don’t tie Dry Flies on a lot of long shank hooks basically for that reason. However, with that being said there are a few hooks available in this size combination that I have had great success with and I tend to use these hooks while tying my larger Dry Flies. Hoppers, Hex, and larger Stonefly patterns sometimes require that longer hook shank to get the appropriate size in your imitation. The TMC 5263 and Ahrex FW 570 are two of the long shank dry fly hooks I like for these larger bodied imitations.

Some of my Favorite Dry Fly Hook Choices

Here is the short list for the most commonly used Dry Fly Hooks that I prefer to tie my Dry Flies on. Feel free to substitute your own selections, these are just the hooks that I have the most confidence in for their performance on the water. You can check out the specs on the full Line of Tiemco Dry Fly Hooks

Tiemco TMC 100


The TMC 100 is the most commonly used hook for my Dry Fly tying. It is a standard Dry Fly hook that has a downturned eye, 1x fine wire, and a wide gap. This hook is available in a multitude of sizes from #8 to #26. I have used this hook in a number of flies and personally have a lot of confidence in this hook. The TMC 100 allows me to imitate countless hatch specific insects. I use this Dry Fly hook for most of my Parachute Mayfly imitations, Mayfly spinners, Mayfly/Caddis emergers, and Stonefly/Caddis adults.

Tiemco TMC 102Y


The TMC 102Y is a unique hook that has an unbelievable hook up efficiency! It was designed for fishing in Japan for quick striking trout. The TMC 102Y is a Dry Fly hook with a downturned eye, 1x fine wire, and a wide gap. This hook is available in sizes #9 to #19. The odd sizes are intriguing, but we do have some hatches here in Michigan where the insects are actually smaller than the even sizes commonly found in most standard Dry Fly hooks. The male Hendrickson Mayfly is one example that comes to mind. I have used this hook in Parachute Mayfly, Mayfly emerger, Stonefly, and Hopper imitations. It really shines as a great hook to use in a lot of my Mayfly extended body patterns, especially the All Day Dun series. This hook has quickly become one of my favorites for the majority of my Dry Fly tying.

Tiemco 5263


The TMC 5263 has a downturned eye, 3x long shank, and a 2x heavy wire. This hook is actually a Nymph and Streamer hook, but I will commonly use it in some of my larger Dry Fly patterns. I prefer to use this hook in some of my Hex, Hopper, and Stonefly patterns where I have a greater chance of encountering larger fish. This hook has a good hookup percentage and is tough as nails. I have not had one fail or bend while playing larger fish. Confidence is the name of the game with this particular hook. This is one of the long shank hooks that has a good balance of length to strength and hook gap width. This is important when it comes to hookup efficiency and battling larger fish.

Ahrex FW 570


The FW 570 is a 2x long Dry Fly hook with beefed up wire and a large gap making it a great hook choice for big fish flies. This hook is available in sizes #4 to #14 and the smaller sizes are still beefy enough to manage larger fish easily. I haven’t been using this hook as long as some, but so far it has been a great hook for some of my larger foam extended body mayfly and hopper patterns. It’s quickly finding its way into more of my tying and my confidence in this hook continues to grow. This is another great long shanked hook that has a great hookup efficiency.

Gamakatsu B10S


The B10S is a 1x strong Stinger hook that can be found in sizes #5/0 to #14. I have successfully used this hook in the smaller sizes from #6 to #14 in some of my Dry Fly patterns. It is a great hook for some of my larger foam extended body Mayfly and Stonefly patterns. It is very strong and has a pretty good hookup percentage. It has a wide gap which is great for extended body Dry Fly patterns. It meets a niche I needed to fill with a short shank hook paired with a wide gap.

Hook selection is a very important component to fly design. As you start to play with new materials and develop some pretty unique and effective fly designs, make sure you pay close attention to the hook selection. A fly is only as good as the hook it is tied upon! If you are struggling to hook fish with a certain pattern consider the hook choices available when you go back to the drawing board. Trial and error are all part of the game. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different hook types to find one that works better with a specific fly design.

Invasive Species New Zealand Mud Snail

Invasive Species

INVASIVE SPECIES AND THEIR IMPACT UPON AQUATIC HABITATS

Invasive Species

Invasive Species the New Zealand Mud Snail

There are countless threats to our aquatic ecosystems that have long lasting impacts upon our Great Lakes Ecosystems. Water pollution/sedimentation, habitat loss/degradation, connectivity, are a few examples and the list goes on and on. One such threat that usually doesn’t get immediate attention until a problem arises is the impact of Invasive Species. These invaders are often responsible for lost species diversity and changing food web dynamics within their new habitats.

If left unchecked, the consequences are often disastrous as ecosystem functionality is either lost or greatly impaired. Invasive Species introductions into our aquatic habitats typically result in dire consequences that can’t be fully understood. Most Invasive Species are undetectable at low population densities and by the time they are discovered problems are already starting to fester. This demonstrates the importance of early detection and the need for forward thinking approaches to minimize future introductions.

Human Travel

In today’s world, people have the ability to travel and visit just about every corner of the globe.  Sometimes a foreign hitchhiker can find its way into new habitats often causing unfavorable consequences. Albeit most of these introductions have been unintentional. However, there are some serious repercussions associated with their establishment. These aquatic invaders are usually left unchecked by the lack of natural control mechanisms. Unfortunately, the end result is usually the proliferation of foreign invaders and the ensuing negative impacts upon native flora and fauna.

Predicting the outcomes of an Invasive Species introduction is often difficult.  In most cases there are cascading effects that ripple through the ecosystem favoring the introduced organism. The absence of natural population controls on Invasive Species usually results in a competitive advantage for competition and survival.  As invasive populations grow, ecosystem sustainability is often lost or greatly impaired leading to reduced Native Species diversity.  In the Great Lakes, this could ultimately result in reduced numbers of highly desirable game species.

Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region has a growing number of Invasive Species concerns. Some notable examples are the Sea Lamprey, Alewife, Spiny Water Flea, Zebra Mussels, Quaga Mussels, and the New Zealand Mud Snail. All of these examples have consequences that go well beyond the physical parameters of water quality. Often these invaders have substantial impacts upon the trophic structure of our aquatic communities.

The Sea Lamprey almost wiped out the Lake Trout Populations thru uncontrolled predation. Alewife and Spiny Water Fleas had direct and indirect impacts upon Native Zooplankton populations and Juvenile Fish Survival. Zebra and Quaga mussels have changed the trophic cascades in the Great Lakes from the bottom up. This has lead to increasing water clarity, increased light penetration, deep water warming, increased Algal blooms, and reduced Salmonid populations. All of these consequences have direct effects upon the Economical value of our Great Lakes Recreational Sport Fishery.

New Zealand Mud Snail

The newest Invasive Species that is spreading throughout the Great Lakes Region is the New Zealand Mud Snail. The effects of this new invader are not yet fully understood. Researchers believe this invader will have adverse effects upon native snail species diversity by outcompeting native snails for space and food resources. Concerns have also been raised regarding how the New Zealand Mud Snail may effect the primary production elements of stream ecosystems which will more than likely have dire consequences for macro-invertebrate communities and ultimately stream fish populations. In a trout stream this could be detrimental to trout populations as food resources become greatly reduced by their increasing presence.

As we enter a new fishing season I encourage everyone to take extra precautions in sanitizing your fishing equipment.  We all need to be more diligent as we move between watersheds to help prevent further spread. For further information regarding the New Zealand Mud Snail and other invasive species, please check out the upcoming webinars from the newly formed Great Lakes New Zealand Mud Snail Collaborative. Join the fight, stop the spread, and get informed.


Tight Lines,

Ed

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020
Best Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a “best of fly fishing” collage from 2020 from our Instagram Feed. These are the highest liked images from 2020. If you’re not on Instagram or do not follow us via social media, here is a chance to see some of our best liked images. I thought I would go thru a couple of images and expand upon their meanings to us this year.

  • First Muskie – The top row muskie image was probably one of my best images of the year. Shooting underwater images is by far my favorite way to shoot photography, but the time, equipment prep, and special conditions add difficulty to making it work. While on our Northern Michigan Muskie adventure this past fall, everything fell into place. First and foremost we had a muskie eat our fly, then the water we were fishing was absolutely perfect for getting crisp images, and the sun was at a great angle. With shooting underwater there is a lot of luck involved and this image definitely fell into that category.
  • Sorry Brook Trout – The top row right side. Beautiful brown trout laying peacefully in my hand. This image was captured by Ann Miller as we were fishing together that day. We were fishing during the Sulphur hatch in May. One of the underrated hatches and a great time to be on the Upper Manistee as a dry fly angler. Ann made a great cast into a perfect seam next too an undercut bank. As the dry fly floated you just knew it was going to get eaten. Suddenly a brook trout smashed the dry fly, how did I know it was a brook trout? As we were fighting this little guy you could see it thrashing underneath the water trying to get away. Very classic brook trout behavior. As we brought the fish towards the side of the boat, a huge swirl devoured our brook trout. The 5wt rod suddenly buckled and we were not connected to a brook trout any longer. Mr. Brown trout had eaten our brook trout! Ann did a great job landing this beautiful brown on very light tippet. This is one of those stories I will not soon forget.
  • Middle Row Browns – Each of the brown trout picks in the middle row were caught on dry flies and really do represent some of my favorite hatches. The middle image is a short video we did of Ed McCoy and I getting a chance to fish Hendrickson’s. We had some great activity during high spring water. The far left is a slob of a brown trout that was caught during the day during the Hex Hatch. I love hunting these big fish with dry flies, so exciting watching them come up and slurp a big meal. Last but not least is an image of why you don’t need to always have your dry fly drifting perfect. I really like working with clients and twitching our dry flies in those likely spots. Having a brown trout blow up on your dry fly just like a bass does on a deer hair popper leaves you longing for more!
  • Kean Oh – Kean puts in his time and gets rewarded. The bottom right image is of Kean enjoying a day fishing with Ed McCoy hunting post spawn brown trout in November. Kean scored a great fish that had eluded Ed earlier in the year. One of the coolest things about big browns is how they hunt an area. Ed had a great chance at this fish during May and then did not see this fish again until November. Kean was rewarded with a great brown trout at the end of the year, summing up the best fly fishing of 2020.

Honorable Mention

Above are the best of fly fishing 2020 chosen by our followers on Instagram. Here are a few additional images chosen by the guides at Mangled Fly representing their favorite image of 2020.

Fall Steelhead Double Header
Double Header Fall Steelhead

Steve Pels with a father son double header. Not only to hook two at once but to land two is a true feet. Very special day and great image well done guys.

Best Fly Fishing of 2020
Kids First Steelhead

Jeff Topp with a young man’s first steelhead. Carson with a Birthday gift from his dad, landed his first steelhead. Is there a better gift?

Lake Trout on the Swing
Lake Trout on the Swing

Ed McCoy with a first in his guide career. A Lake trout on the swing, might sum up 2020 as a whole. Not what we were expecting, but roll with the punches and keep casting.

New Fly Release McCoy’s All Day Spinner

McCoy's All Day Spinner
McCoy’s All Day Spinner

McCoy’s All Day Spinner – Isonychia

I am excited to announce a new fly pattern to be released by Montana Fly Company in 2021! The McCoy’s All Day Isonychia Spinner is very durable, has a very realistic profile, can be fished all day, and is a must have pattern for our Northern Michigan streams. This fly will be available in two sizes, #10 and #12, and will complete the Isonychia lineup in a series of foam based dry flies that I released through MFC in 2019.

The All Day Isonychia Spinner is a great searching pattern and is one of my go to favorites to target rising trout during an Isonychia Spinner fall. Make sure to check with your local fly shops for availability and I expect we will have a limited quantity available here online at Mangled Fly. Read more

muskegon river brown trout

Big Brown on the Muskegon – Pic of the Day

Most years Kevin Feenstra will post some sort of Monster Lake-Run Brown he has guided too and this year is no different great job Kevin. Awesome fish.  Make sure to follow Kevin on Instagram for more amazing images.  Also click the link to see both images of this enormous Lake-Run Brown Trout.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

An amazing bonus fish today that made tough fishing seem not so bad…congrats Mark! #puremichigan #browntrout #ontheswing

A post shared by Kevin Feenstra (@kevinfeenstra) on

SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity

SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity

SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity

brown trout picture

Day Time Hex Eater

A new line was introduced in the past month the SA Amplitude Smooth Infinity  and have had the pleasure to test it out over the last month.  Line showed up during Hex Season, even though my go to line for Hex is the Glow Line , but I have a few days each year that allow daytime fishing of the Hex Hatch.  Turning over big dry flies into tight quarters is a must and the New Smooth Infinity was up to the task.

Location, Location, Location

During the last thee weeks the line continues to bring it’s A game to Northern Michigan. With the foam bite (hoppers, ants, and beetles) mixed in with twitching (small streamers on a floating line) these two methods are a huge part of my summer program for trout.  Having a line that can deliver dry flies to within inches of a log, but still has the energy to turn over a small weighted streamer with a tungsten cone head into a deep pool.  Is a must for me, nice to have confidence that the SA Smooth Infinity can do both without missing a beat.

Local Fly Shop

If you have ever spent much time with me in the boat, and we talk equipment you know how I feel about fly lines, it is the most important part of your equipment!  Make sure to stay on top of the latest technology and check them out at your local fly shop.  Also if you see me on the water and want to take a test cast just ask.

Amplitude Smooth Infinity from Scientific Anglers on Vimeo.

There’s a reason we call this line the Infinity: there is no end to what you’ll be able to do with it. The Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Infinity taper is a half-size heavy freshwater line built for everything from panfish to pike. With a long rear taper and extended front taper, it’s delicate for dry flies, has enough power for streamers, and can mend line for nymph rigs with equal ability. Built with the AST Plus slickness additive, Infinity lines are 50% slicker than any other SA line, and will last, on average, eight times longer than any line from the competition.

Remember: REAL NERDS GET ALL THE FISH.

Mangled Fly Stickers

Nervous Net Job

Not too often a trout makes me nervous when I’m in charge of the net, but a new PR on a Michigan Brook Trout.

Huron Drifter Boats

Huron Drifter

Excited to announce that 2018 I’ll have a new drift boat in the arsenal, working with Jason and Tracy I’ll be rowing a Huron Drifter this year.  I want to share a few pictures during the process as its being built.  But if your looking for a new drift boat make sure to give the guys a call.  During the test row last summer I was very impressed, and look forward to putting more time in the rowers seat in the coming months.  Will have a few custom touches that I’m excited about, especially for the dry fly angler. Follow along as the new 15″ Huron Drifter is being built.

Check out the Huron Drift online

Step 1: Laying out of the 15″ Foot Drifter

Step 2: Front Casting Brace

Step 3 : Working on the Floor

Figure Eight Super Light Video

With it being streamer tying season we have a new video on our Vimeo page to share.  Russ Maddin shares another streamer that is a must tie.  Using Egg Yarn for the head gives this Maddin creation great action.  Add a few of his techniques to your box and have a great trout season.  Make sure to watch until the end, as Russ breaks down what line and leader setup to use when fishing this great fly.

muskegon river brown trout

Pic of the Day – Underwater Mouse Eater

Photo by Ed McCoy of a Michigan Brown Trout snacking on one of his new mouse patterns.  Thanks for sharing the pic Ed.  Nice work.