A Fly Foundry look at the

physics of fish hook design. Learn how to make your hook work for your fly pattern’s success.

PT.1: Tales of the Terrible

PT.2: Mind the Gape &

          Leverage and Lost fish

PT.3: Close to Ideal

above: History’s Maori Fishhooks and a modern Gamakatsu design


Probably no aspect of fishing has been explored to the degree that hook design has experienced. Man can be a persistent creature, if hungry, and not catching!

Fly anglers, through the experience of losing hooked fish, often develop strong likes and dislikes when it comes to hook types.

Some hooks perform so poorly that contract fly tiers are warned by fly marketing companies that any flies tied on these hooks will be rejected.

The poster child of troublesome hook designs is the Tiemco 200R. (Oops, just lost the Tiemco sponsorship! Just kidding, I hope.)

The 200R design experienced a spurt of popularity when it was introduced, because it is, admittedly, one sexy looking piece of metal. While Tiemco produces outstanding hooks, time has shown the 200R has a number of design faults that can cause your fly to become unbuttoned. And as Mom always said, that’s an embarassment.

Note: The TMC 200R design is available from other manufacturers in a similar hook: Mustad 80050BR, Daiichi 1270, DaiRiki 270, Orvis JA1510, Partridge K12ST.

What are the characteristics of a TMC 200R? It is a slightly humped, straight-eye, 3XL, standard wire hook, with a Limerick bend and what is called a semi-dropped point.

Note that the hook is standard wire, not lightwire (as erroneously described by the angler in the discussion at right). What causes a standard wire hook to bend is not the wire, but the leverage caused by the 3 extra long (3XL) length. Couple that with a weak-holding bend design, and a point that had to be bent downward to improve hooking qualities, and you have trouble.

The problems are magnified with the smaller hook sizes, where leverage overwhelms the strength of the smaller diameter wire. A guide and fly tying mentor said he only uses the 200R in size 8 and larger, which is advice worth taking. In a supporting historical note, Limerick bend hooks were noted as best for hooking large fish on large hooks.

Choosing a good hook as a base for your fly pattern is just a matter of understanding hook physics. That’s the subject for the  NEXT PAGE


Take a look at these comments from a couple of Web flyfishing discussion boards:

“I can say I have never had a hook snap on me, however, I have had two fish in Cheesman Canyon that added an extra 45 degrees to the bend of the hook. This was using the 200R #16.”

“I found myself losing fish with a Tiemco (200R) hook because of the light wire in the hook. The fish San Juan River rainbow was large and in very fast, strong current. Consequently, the hook bent and the fish went away. Lesson learned.”

“Only TMC hook that has straighten(ed) on me has been the 200R in a #16. It's has done this twice! Big fish and 200R hooks are a bad combo.”

‘I'd absolutely agree. I'm not fond of 200R BL's at all, on anything.”

If you are reading this, you are viewing the content outside of the surrounding page and navigation. Click here to see the page on the Fly Foundry site.