I suppose that this post should note that my Tube hook favorites have evolved over the years, and next year or next week could possibly find me smitten by the bliss of having just discovered some new favorite hook. But for now, these are my best-of-the-best Tube fly hooks.
Why straight eye hooks? All of the hooks I suggest for Tube Flies are essentially straight-eye hooks because they fit nicely into the junction tube (Protube calls these Hook Guides). The slight exception is the Daiichi Boss Fly Hook, and the eye on this hook is so close to straight that it functions perfectly for the tubes. Tubes with hooks that hang loose behind the Tube may use an up-eye Octopus hook like the Gamakatsu, secured with a double Surgeons or Uni Loop knot. But this review is focused on straight-eye hooks that are inserted into a hook keeper. I am not familiar with anyone using down-eye hooks for tube flies.
Hook size comparison. Do not for an instant think that the size any of these hook sizes can be compared easily. There may be some science involved in hook sizing between and among hook styles, but holding these hooks in your hand leads one to doubt this proposition. Five different size #2 hooks can look like they are from different hook designers, and I wonder if they were all falling-down-drunk when they decided how to size these hooks. The best way to select a size of your own liking is to use this review as a general guide, but then trust your own eye and judgment for application to your flies.
Gamakatsu C14S – Glo Bug Hook. This is a sleeper hook for Tubes. Sticky sharp, short shank, straight eye make this hook in a #2 one of my dependable. For smaller tubes, I will fish this hook in sizes 4-8 and it works. Nickel Black and relatively heavy wire, this hook still penetrates easily.
Gamakatsu Big Game Hook – #2 only. This is a fantastic hook for many uses, and Tube flies are among these. That said, I am not likely to choose this hook for a freshwater Tube, because the wire is a little heavy for my liking. And I am deliberately noting the Size 2 here. Personal preferences rule these choices, but I find the 1/0 in this hook has wire that is too heavy for me; and gosh I think the points are not as sharp as the #2s. I routinely use the 1/0 fishing silvers and kings in the ocean with 10 wt. rods, but I fear that the heavy wire requires a lot more pressure to seat in a fish jaw. I would never fish a Tube using a 1/0 in this hook on a 7 wt. rod. Even the #2 is heavier wire than, for example, the TMS 811-S or the Daiichi 2571, so it probably fishes best on 8 wt. rods to assist hook setting. Final note on the Big Game hook: this is a tinned (saltwater resistant) hook, and the point is beaked (curved-in).
Gamakatsu B10S Stinger. This is a black nickel, fine wire hook that is sized rather large for my tastes, so I tend to fish this excellent hook in a #4 (comparable to a lot of #2s) or a #6 (comparable to a lot of #2s). As I mentioned, the hook sizing “party” must have been pretty wild. This is an elegant, easy penetrating Tube hook that I also use on my Poppers. last note on this hook, it looks rather unusual in terms of the fly hooks most of us are accustomed to, but it is a winner, so don’t let its looks scare you off.
TMC 811-S. This is my Tube hook of choice if I want to go to a 1/0, because it has finer wire than the Gamakatsu Bug Game hook and a sticky sharp point. This stainless steel hook has a straight point and also fishes very nicely in sizes smaller than 1/0, but I love the graceful curve of the Gamakatsu Big Game hook, Daiichi 2571, or Alec Jackson 1648, or Owner SSW, so I chose the latter over the former in Size 2.
Owner SSW Straight Eye Tube Hook. This is a rock solid performer for larger salmon and steelhead Tubes. I prefer #2 for my steelhead tubes. This hook has a black Nickel finish, a cutting-edge beaked point, relatively modest wire diameter, and low barbs that make this a hook that will penetrate with little pressure.
Alec Jackson’s 1648 Tube fly Hook. This fine-wire nickel hook has a short shank and a slightly offset straight hollow point – it is offered in the off-scale sizes of #3, #5, and #7 that are characteristic of all Alec Jackson hooks. This is a wonderful tube fly hook for smallish Tubes. I fish the #3s for my King salmon tubes and the smaller sizes for steelhead and sea runs. If you freak about the bright nickel shank, use the Daiichi 2571, but if you actually want a touch of extra sparkle, reach for this elegant Tube hook.
Daiichi 2571 – Boss Steelhead Hook. This is a wonderful Tube hook and I fish this one in sizes 2 – 6 depending on the size of my fly. I do not know why Daiichi created this fly hook with a “slightly turned down eye”, but it is so close to a straight eye that it functions like same, and as such is perfect for tubes. This is a black hook, and Daiichi classifies it as 2X heavy wire, but to me it seems like light wire and it penetrates very easily. The hook point is straight, hollow point, and slightly offset.
Hope this Tube fly hook review is useful the next time you wonder which hook might be right for you. These are the Tube hooks that I am most familiar with, and I expect that there are other good options out there that I have not discovered yet, so please let me and our readers know about the Tube fly hooks that you fish and have confidence in.
JN, June 2012