Welcome to Fly Tying

Hook Sizes and Fly Types, An In-Depth Look

By Richard Komar


When I first started flyfishing and then flytying, I searched far and wide for a guide on selecting a proper hook size for a particular fly type like a dry fly, a soft hackle, a midge, etc. Recently, while sorting through my fly boxes to take stock of what I had and what I needed to tye for an upcoming fishing trip, I wasn't sure if I had the proper fly sizes for the patterns in my inventory. And I still did not have a guide to select fly sizes. Sure, everyone has their opinions on what sizes one should tye for a particular kind of fly and for their particular home waters, but the concise guide was still elusive.

I have an excellent book in my personal library by Randle Scott Stetzer entitled Flies The Best One-Thousand. As I was thumbing through it, marveling at the large collection of flies Mr. Stetzer had compiled, I also noticed the wide expanse of different fly tyers from different parts of the country. Here was a compilation of one thousand flies sorted by fly types and with hook sizes listed for each pattern. Here was the guide I have been seeking! All I needed to do was statistically arrange the data in bar graph form so it would be visually easy to read at a glance.

Each fly type chart plots the hook size on the horizontal axis and the number of patterns tyed in that size on the vertical axis. The beginning and experienced fly tyer and flyfisher now have a guide that shows what are the most common fly sizes for a particular fly type. This makes the task easier to select flies to tye and flies to fish.

Please keep in mind this is only a guide. It is based on one source, but that source covers an impressive cross-section of flies. There are always exceptions. For example, being primarily a warmwater flyfisher, I tend to have more larger size flies that fall outside the "normal distribution" depicted in some of the graphs. Experience will dictate when it is necessary to "think outside the chart." The beginner now has someplace to start and the experienced angler now has a guide to aid in refining his collection. Enjoy! - Richard in Plano, Texas

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