Fort Collins Beginner Fly Fishing Lessons: Hook Size

I grew up thinking, the bigger the lure/hook, the bigger the fish.  I suppose if you’re fishing for large toothy species, that rationale may apply.  In the trout game, large hook thinking is mostly unfounded, and in many situations, could sev…

I grew up thinking, the bigger the lure/hook, the bigger the fish.  I suppose if you're fishing for large toothy species, that rationale may apply.  In the trout game, large hook thinking is mostly unfounded, and in many situations, could severely effect your success.      

Size Does Matter -- Read On.


Tippet Size
Tippet Diameter
Approximate breaking strength in Super Strong nylon (pounds)
Balances with fly sizes:
8X
.003"
1.75
22, 24, 26, 28
7X
.004"
2.5
18, 20, 22, 24
6X
.005"
3.5
16, 18, 20, 22
5X
.006"
4.75
14, 16, 18
4X
.007"
6
12, 14, 16
3X
.008"
8.5
6, 8, 10
2X
.009"
11.5
4, 6, 8
1X
.010"
13.5
2, 4, 6
0X
.011"
15.5
1/0, 2, 4
.012
.012"
18.5
5/0, 4/0,3/0, 2/0
.013
.013"
20
5/0, 4/0,3/0, 2/0
.015
.015"
25
5/0, 4/0,3/0, 2/0



Since the above graph features typical trout hook sizes, let's take a closer look. The below picture accurately describes the hook's features, but how do we determine the size of a hook?  Hooks come ins all sizes and shapes.  The largest hooks range from a monstrous 18/0 to 1/0, and the smallest hooks range from 1 to the eye squinting, barely visible 32. 



The size of the hook is simply determined by the width of the gape (the measurement between the shank and the point). 


Initially, the system may seem confusing, but always remember to start at zero.  As you progress up in the numerical numbers (1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14,16,18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32) the gape becomes smaller, thus the hooks become smaller.  As you decrease from zero (1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0,10/0,11/0,12/0,13/0,14/0,15/0,16/0,17/0,18/0) the hook gape becomes wider, thus the hooks become larger (not necessarily longer). 


By now, in the above chart, you'll see how smaller or larger hooks match up with smaller or larger diameter leaders and tippets.  For example, you would never match a size 2 hook with an 8X leader. Why?  the diameter of the 8X tippet will not be strong enough to cast or turn-over the larger fly. Thus your casting and presentation will suffer, if not be impossible; and the likelihood of your tippet breaking increases significantly. Try it on the water...you'll understand immediately!


The 'X' Factor: Strength and Length


Your at the fly shop and you see hooks labeled Size 2, 2X/2XL or Size 4, 2X/4XL...now you are really confused.  To keep things simple, all this means is the hook is stronger and has a longer shank (when compared to standard hooks noted in the above graph).  To be a bit more precise, 2X simply means the hook has a thicker-stronger diameter; and the 2XL simply means the length of the shank is two times the length of a standard hook.  Applications for stronger and longer hooks usually means you fishing deep for bigger fish (large streamer flies).


Converting from the world of lurers, worm and bobbers, and 8 lb test line, will take some time.  But once you master it, you'll soon realize how simple and effective it is.