Product Reviews
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Mustad Hooks

by Al Campbell

Those who have been following the Beginners Fly Tying series have no doubt noticed that I suggest several hook brands to use with each pattern. Truth is, I'm not totally sold on the idea that one brand is totally superior to the others. In fact, I frequently use hooks that some tyers have deemed inferior to some of the others on the market.

When I started tying many years ago (in the 60's), the only hooks available to me were from a company called Mustad. I suppose most fly tyers my age started with Mustad hooks. For some reason, they seemed to work fine with only an occasional failure due to a poor tempering job. As the years passed, the hooks seemed to get better and fewer failures occurred.

I won't try to tell you I only use Mustad hooks now. I occasionally use hooks from several other manufacturers including Tiemco, Daiichi, Dai-Riki, Fenwick and Eagle Claw. Most of these other hooks seem to perform fine, and some have unique colors and taper s that lend a special touch to some of my patterns. Still, I tend to use standard Mustad hooks for the bulk of my tying. I guess it's hard to break away from my roots.

When Mustad offered to send me a few hooks to try and asked if I'd write an honest review, (the only kind I will write), I expected to receive some of the same models of hooks I already use most of the time. With that in mind, I was a little surprised to see only chemically sharpened hooks in the package I opened.

I'm familiar with Mustad's chemically sharpened hooks; I've been using them since the first ones hit the market. So, what can I say about these hooks? I could say they're sharper than the standard hooks; they are. I could say they have a finer barb than the standard hooks; they do. I could say they are much tougher than the standard hooks; by far. But, that wouldn't be much of a review, would it?

I decided the best review would be a comparison to the other chemically sharpened hooks I use. After all, Mustad boasts a three step tempering process that they claim makes their hooks tougher than the rest. We'll see if that's a truthful statement.

I put similar samples of each brand in my vise and tried to break or bend them with kevlar thread. One brand (no names) broke several times. Another brand bent easily. In fact, one brand was too flimsy to apply much pressure at all without bending the hook (not nearly as strong as a standard Mustad hook). It wouldn't do very well if hair spinning was the task. Mustad chemically sharpened hooks performed at least as good as the best of the other brands, and outperformed the rest. These are truly strong hooks with a great temper.

I compared wire diameter on the dry fly hooks. Mustad was as fine as the finest, except the hook brand that was weak and bent easily. One other thing I noticed was a consistent length in the Mustad hooks that several other brands didn't seem to have.

All of the hooks I compared had a fine point that was very sharp. They all had a very fine barb. They all had a well designed eye. Conclusion - Mustad was as good as the best, and superior to most. Mustad also cost less than the only other brand that equaled its performance.

I wasn't done yet. I compared the chemically sharpened Mustad hooks to the standard Mustad hooks I had been using for years. How would standard Mustad hooks compare to the best Mustad hooks? How would they compare to the other hooks?

I found the standard hooks to be stronger than two of the other brands. They didn't break or bend as easily as the two brands I had trouble with earlier. However, they didn't hold up to the standards of the chemically sharpened Mustad hooks. In fact, the temper of the chemically sharpened hooks was stronger and more consistent than the standard hooks.

Mustad Hooks

Mustad's chemically sharpened hooks were sharper, had a finer point, a smaller barb, and had a better formed eye than standard Mustad hooks. The dry fly hooks were lighter and the streamer hooks were much stronger that their standard counterparts.

Conclusion - Mustad's chemically sharpened hooks are as good as the best, and better than most other hooks on the market. In all, they are good hooks at a better price than the other brands I compared them to. They are better hooks than Mustad's standard hooks. I'll be including these hooks in more of my tying in the future.

You can identify Mustad's chemically sharpened hooks by their 80000 series number. You'll find some of the specialty tapers you associate with other brands in Mustad's chemically sharpened hooks too. ~Al Campbell

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