Generally, hooks used to tie winter steelhead flies will be larger, and heavier wire than flies used to tie, say, summer steelhead flies. There are as many exceptions to every generalization, though, and every tyer and fly has its own quirks. The Caddis Fly Shop only stocks hooks that we will tie and fish with confidence.
This is the general category where we list hooks manufactured by Tiemco (TMC), Daiichi, and Gamakatsu. We carry also an extensive line of hooks designed by Alec Jackson, including the Alec Jackson Heavy Wire Spey fly Hook, the Alec Jackson Steelhead Irons, and the Alec Jackson Tube Fly hook. Although they are not actually hooks, per-se, we stock Partridge Double Waddington Shanks sizes from 20mm to 45mm.
Where does one start with selection of a hook for tying salmon and steelhead flies? We start with quality, form and performance. Thirty years ago, the Mustad 36890 fly hook was the hook of choice, unless one chose an Eagle Claw 1197-B for shape or cost considerations. Today, we have hooks manufactured by TMC, Daiichi, and Gamakatsu that are absolutely top-notch in terms of point sharpness, low profile barbs, finish, quality consistency, grace, and fish-hooking performance.
The best place to start tying a salmon or steelhead fly is to choose one of the most basic hook styles; for this purpose we should suggest starting with a TMC 700, TMC 7999, Gamakatsu T10-6H, Daiichi 2441, or Daiichi 2412, or Alec Jackson Steelhead Irons. For starters, also, we would suggest hook sizes about #2 to #6. TMC salmon and steelhead fly hooks usually have a black finish. Daiichi salmon and steelhead fly hooks generally do also. Gamakatsu T10-6H offer some additional color choices including red and green. Silly, but fun, and we use these, especially on some of our summer steelhead flies. Gamakatsu hooks tend to have the lowest barbs, but the barb on all of these hooks have barbs that are delightfully low compared to the hooks of former years; and all of these barbs may easily be pinched-flat.
We also note that fly hooks listed in this section are VERY useful for tying flies for other species, especially large lake and river trout. We tie mouse and lemming patterns, crayfish flies, sculpin patterns, buggers, leeches, double bunny flies, egg-sucking leeches, string leeches, articulated leeches, flash flies, and spankers on one or more of these hooks. Final thought: consider tying a caddis fly imitation to be fished in British Columbia lakes for giant Kamloops trout, tied on a #6 or #8 steelhead hook. Uh-oh. Sad to admit it, we almost forgot to mention that these flies are well suited to tying sea-run cutthroat and sea-trout flies. Going to Argentina? These are your hooks. Norway? Yes. Chinook in New Zealand? Yep.