Nicholas’ Review of Gamakatsu SL 12s, SC 15 2H, SC17, and 811S fly tying hooks

Jay Nicholas Gamakatsu Hook Review

Hooks pictured above:
top row left-right 811-S_ 3/0 – 2/0
second row left-right SL 12S_ 4/0 – 2/0
third row left-right SC152H_ 3/0, SC15_ 2/0
bottom row left-right SC 17_ 3/0-2/0

I have found a few hooks that I particularly like and trust when tying very heavy estuary flies and saltwater flies. This post is my effort to share a few of my thoughts on each of these hooks.

I am absolutely confident recommending all of these hooks to anyone tying the very best flies.

Shared qualities: all of these hooks are durable, saltwater resistant, strong, and have sharp points right out of the package. All have nicely formed eyes.

Thoughts on sharpening these hooks. Compared to some estuary and saltwater anglers, my angling experience is limited. Many fellow anglers fish under more varied conditions than I do, so I expect that my remarks on sharpening these hooks is likely not the whole story. In general, however, I do not usually use a hook sharpener on any of these fly hooks. My experience with other hooks that are built of stout diameter wire is that it is difficult to sharpen them properly if they become dulled. My fly hooks become dulled so very rarely, that I just do not see the point (oops) of trying to re-craft a new sharp point. The hooks I,m reviewing here all have extrememly sharp points out of the package, and all of the points are durable and remain sharp after days of fishing in saltwater. If you will be fishing under circumstances where your hook may become dulled, I’m sure that these can be restored with use of a good hook hone or hook file.

Of the three hooks reviewed here, the 811-s is the most easily restored, because the wire is the smallest diameter. The S12-S is the next easiest to restore, and the SC-15 2H and SC 17 are the most challenging to sharpen because their wire diameters are larger. Makes sense.

Hook finish:
811-S: dull silver stainless
SL 12S: shiny saltwater resistant finish
SC 15 2h: shiny saltwater resistant finish
SC 17: black nickel shiny saltwater resistant finish

Hook wire diameter (relative):
811-S: finest
SL 12S: moderate
SC 15 2h & SC 17: heaviest

Hook shank length: in order from the longest to the shortest shank:
811-S: longest
SL 12S & SC 15 2h: miderate
SC 17: shortest

The length of the two middle hooks is practically indistinguishable, but the first and last hook listed are definitely the longest and shortest shanks.

811-S: This is my favorite fly for saltwater flies that require a long shank hook and — with the reservation that the wire on this hook is not nearly as stout/strong as the other three hooks noted in this review. I have felt felt very comfortable using this hook with #30 lb leader but I would not if I was fishing a species like tarpon with a very hard bony mouth. While the hook is super sharp, I would not feel like the wire is quite up to the task of penetrating bone. I have not seen experienced tyers recommending this hook for species like tarpon, and I would be interested in hearing what others think. This hook seems suitable for Roosters and Dorado under all but the most extreme conditions of heavy tippets and monster fish.

SL 12S: My favorite all-around hook. I use this hook for clousers, Coho Bucktails, Tube Flies, and all manner of baitfish style flies. For my tying style, this hook has the nicest combination of wire diameter, hook bend style, shank length. My largest objection is that there is no size 1 in this hook because I would love to have this hook larger then the 2 and smaller than the 1/0. Oh well. Tyers more experienced than me say that the 1/0 and 2/0 in this hook are entirely sufficient to hook tarpon on smallish sized flies, and that the hook wire is up to the task for fighting hard with #30 leaders.

SC 15 2H: This is my go-to choice for vary large clousers, and saltwater baitfish patterns, and tube flies that require super-tough hooks with a moderate-length shank.

SC 17: This is my go to hook for tying modest and large size tarpon flies, not because I’ve ever caught a tarpon, but because this is the hook recommended by the vast majority of tyer/anglers who specialize in tarpon flies. I also like this hook for tying my albacore and skipjack casting flies. This hook has the stoutest wire, shortest shank, and will track true when stripping the fly very fast on the retrieve. I would feel comfortable using this hook with the toughest fish and the stoutest leaders – that’s how strong the wire and overall hook is.

I hope you find these remarks helpful.

Jay Nicholas August, 2017

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1 Response to Nicholas’ Review of Gamakatsu SL 12s, SC 15 2H, SC17, and 811S fly tying hooks

  1. Dennis Marquis says:

    I read your article, thank you. Could you send me the relative gap size from smallest to largest of the hooks reviewed.

    I’m looking for a wider gap hook for my gurglers.

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