Fly Tying Step by Step – Hooks #2 – What do all these Xs mean?

In the last post, we discussed cross referencing hook brands, and the four parameters important for hooks. Here we’ll continue that discussion, beginning with a discussion Shank and Weight.

Fly Tying – Hook Weight

Let’s pick a #12 Dry Fly hook as the basis of this discussion. A #12 is made with wire of a particular size (diameter). Let’s say that diameter is 1 unit; It will be simpler to talk in terms of units rather than 0.002 in. or so. A bigger hook, say a #10 will require a bigger diameter wire, say 2 units.Silver Fish Hook With Barb Isolated

A 2X Heavy hook uses wire the same size that a hook 2 sizes larger would use. A #12 hook made the same as a dry fly hook (with Perfect bend and down eye) with 2X Heavy wire and standard length is usually called a nymph or wet fly hook. These hooks are heavier so they sink. A 2X Fine (2xF) hook is made with wire from a hook 2x smaller. In the case of a #12 2XF, the hook would be made with wire sized for a #14 hook.

Fly Tying – Hook Shank

Hook shank length works the same way. If a #12 dry fly hook is the standard, a #12 2X Long would have a shank the same length as a #10 dry fly hook. A 2X short (2XS) would have a shank the same length as a #14 hook.

Easy, no?

What Type of Hook Should You Use?

Most dry fly hooks have Standard (S) Weight. A “Standard” dry fly hook is the common hook for tying dry flies, and is standard weight and standard shank length. A TMC 5212 is used for longer body dry files, and is 2XL, 2XF (meaning that the shank of a #12 is the length of a #10 and the weight of a #14).

As I mentioned in the last post, you should choose a hook that is the right size for the bug (or minnow) you are trying to tie. Whether you use a 2X or a 3X makes little difference, since there is very little difference between the lengths anyway. Some people use a 3X hook to tie Woolly Buggers; I prefer a 5X.

But more on that later.

For now, tie more flies and visit us at Father’s Fly Shop.

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