Care of Hooks and Flies

You bought a fly or are tying a fly? How are you handling your hooks? We have all heard the sayings about hindsight. Us old-time fly flingers have usually ruined equipment in the past by learning the hard way. How many times do you place a damp fly back in your box after you just cut it off of your tippet? When you dropped your fly box in the river one day, what did you do with it afterwards? When you handle your flies or hooks, how do you pick them up?

I cannot tell you the number of times I looked into my fly box and found a fly that was placed there 15 or more years ago and suddenly decided: “This is the day to use this one.” I pulled the fly out only to find the hook so rusty that it was literally falling apart at my touch. Do you get the picture?

  1. 1.Biology lesson from an old biology teacher- Your skin has salt and corrosive oils in it. If you handle a bare hook with your hands, eventually the hook will show signs of some amount of corrosion. The point may still look sharp, but magnification will show damage. The longer that improperly handled hook waits to be used, the more time that moisture and air have had to do their deeds. If you handle flies with really sweaty hands or you have just eaten potato chips by the streamside with those same fingers, how long do you think that hook will last?

  2. 2.Keep your flies DRY! Do not store them in a damp basement. If they have come in contact with any amount of water during the day, they need to be carefully pulled out of the box and dried over a heat register or some other means of dry, moving air. A hair dryer may blow them into orbit, so that may not be the answer. If the box was dunked into the river, all flies need to be removed that day and thoroughly dried. Don’t wait !

  3. 3.When selecting flies at a fly shop, use TWEEZERS to pick out the flies from the bins. Don’t use your fingers! Any good fly shop that has any experience will place tweezers near the fly display.

  4. 4.If you tie your own flies, I strongly suggest the purchase of one of these plastic “Hook Boxes” with the rounded bottoms. Take the small box of hooks you purchase and empty into one of the compartments of the larger hook box. Place a label sticker on the lid describing the model and size of hook. Now, place about 3 drops of 3-in-1 oil or a light motor oil on the small pile of hooks and stir it up with a toothpick. This places a protective coating on the hook that will be there for a long time. I make every effort to handle bare hooks with tweezers or fingers that have a tiny amount of oil on them when I select them for tying. You might even go to the fly boxes in your vest and lightly rub this same oil on the eyes, bends, and points of the hooks.

  5. 5.When storing a fly that you have just cut from your tippet, place the fly in a foam pad such as found in the Ketchum Company’s “Fly Trap” for drying. Sheepskin patches also have salt !

  6. 6.Lastly, don’t tie that expensive fly on your tippet with bare fingers. Use hemostats to clamp onto the bend of the hook, turn 51/2 to 6 turns and complete a clinch knot. Why crush the hackles?

Follow these tips above and your hooks and flies will last longer and be in good shape for your use for years.

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