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Fly-Fishing: Using jig hooks in fly-tying will point the hook up, avoiding snags

Thursday, January 31, 2013
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Thank goodness for innovations in fly-tying, or else we’d be forced to continue catching fish on the same flies, season after season.

This winter, I’ve decided to climb aboard the jig hook bandwagon. In case you haven’t heard, many of the latest must-have nymph patterns are tied on small jig hooks, with the hook eyes at a 90-degree angle to the shank.

The reason usually given for employing jig hooks in fly-tying is that it ensures the fly rides with the hook point up instead of down. Because these are almost always heavy flies — featuring beads, often tungsten, and lead or lead substitute wire wrapped on the shank — having the point up should make the fly less likely to snag on obstructions as it bounces along the bottom.

Of course, most bead-head flies ride with the hook pointing up, anyway, whether they’re designed to or not. But I guess the jig hook makes it a certainty.

I also imagined the angled eye allows the fly to float along in a more horizontal posture, but exper­iments in a big bowl of water didn’t bear that out — jig-hook nymphs hung pretty much the same way as nymphs tied on regular hooks.

They may, however, swim along more horizontally when they’re being led through the water, as in Czech- or European-style nymphing.

In fact, the jig hook is yet another innovation ripped off from the Czech, Slovak and Polish anglers who’ve been cleaning other countries’ clocks at international competitions for the past couple of decades.

Umpqua Feather Merchants even calls its jig hook for nymphs a “competition hook.” (This model, the C400, actually has an eye angled 60 degrees, not 90, but the effect is pretty much the same).

I guess the appeal of the jig hook is the same as that of the other innovations taken from the European tournament anglers, such as the “hot spot,” the woven body, the use of flat lead tape for a slim profile, the lack of descent-slowing hackles and wings, etc. If it helps the pros catch enough fish to win international tournaments, it should certainly help me catch more fish on my local streams.

At the very least, it will save me having to fish with the same flies as last year. Yes, they caught fish, but come on — where’s the fun in that?

Oh, one other thing — your old beads won’t work on jig hooks, or so we’re led to believe. These hooks require slotted beads to fit correctly.

I searched high and low for jig hooks at The Fly Fishing Show last weekend in Somerset, N.J., and finally found them. But it never dawned on me to search for slotted beads, too.

Curious to try my new hooks, I tried a regular un-slotted bead, and it didn’t look too bad at all. But I’ll send away for a package of the slotted kind. anyway. Either you’re on the bandwagon, or you’re not.

TABLES AT TU FLEA MARKET

It’s almost time for a rite of spring: the Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited annual flea market, March 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tables are available for anyone who would like to sell products, used tackle, books, videos, clothes, artwork and any of the other stuff that fly-fishers love.

After many years at its old loc­ation, the flea market this year has a new home — the Albany Ramada Plaza Hotel, 3 Watervliet Ave. Ext. Tables are $20, plus 10 percent of sales. Second or third tables are $15 each. Contact Bob Mead at 399-9000 or email rmead1@nycap.rr.com to reserve a table.

 
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