Stillhead and stillnook Hooks, and flies!


Active Member
I need your experience or advice with level leech hooks and their strengths?

I will give my experience so far and problems and what I just ordered for tying over the winter!

I first used old 1980's mustad 3 to 6x long #10 hooks and bent the eyes up myself last year and did fairly well on steelhead using leaders to 10 pound fuoro and playing fish to say 12 pounds on a regular bases without much problems with bending the hook points or braking the bent up eyes where the bend was! This year I went to a #8 hook and ran into all kinds of problems! First the hooks seemed brittle and would snap when bending the hook eye up! Than when I did get a bunch bent without braking when fighting fish they would brake right where I would do the bend and I would reel in with this 2014 summer chinook! 009.jpg This happened a few times with steelhead and when I switched to chinook the problem really rose it's ugly head! I also was braking leaders which I very seldom do even though I fight fish very hard I have been doing this for quite a few years and something didn't seem right???? One day I broke 4 steelhead off out of the 5 I hooked and I was stumped! Every time I would reel in and check the leader after losing a fish the knot would still be intact???? and the line around the hook eye was broke. I tie a improved clinch knot so I started tying a double improved (twice around eye of hook) and still lost fish with the twists of the knot and tag still intact and line broke where it had went around the eye of the hook "GRRRRR" These flies take me at least 20 minutes to tie let alone losing fish after fish. So a young friend came with me and I handed him a fly and he noticed a very small "GAP" where the eye met the shank of the hook! This was cutting the line as I would play fish as soon as the line would be pried in that area from running, jumping, crazy, chrome summer steelhead in stillwaters. His not yet aging eyes caught it right away and I had to trash all the flies in my box and start all over again "GRRRR" The reason I was so set on using these hooks was I was given a few 1000's by another fly fisherman they had quit the sport so I tried to make my own - LESSON LEARNED

The other problem was flies getting torn to bits by these big fish! First would be the red flat holographic tinsel was braking so the body wrap round the dubbing would be gone first fish hooked most times or hanging down. Than there was the bead eyes twisting around the shank of the needle because I hate using heavy epoxies because of the time and mess.

A friend told me to fix the tape problem I could use red wire and follow it around to help make it stronger and when it broke it would just be in one area and the whole tape wouldn't unwrap ruining a big feature of the fly! This worked but I still had the problems of the moving eyes around the needle! Then one day I left a bunch of wire out and figure 8ed the eyes with wire. It seemed it didn't matter how many times I figure eighted the eyes with tying thread and dressed with glue they would still eventually start turning but the wire wrap fixed the problem, at least with the steehead!

Now when the Chinook moved in and I started targeting them hooks really started getting bent and I had to change! I found jig hooks at a local sports store but they only came in sizes as small as a #2 and they were long shanked so the flies would be much bigger than what I had been hooking fish on! I thought the salmon would take these bigger flies but after testing with the smaller weaker hooks I was wrong! To hook salmon
on a regular basis the #6 and #8 hooks won hands down - they like small flies and I tested for weeks!

Now my problem is finding hooks that can stand pressures of using 20 pound fluoro leaders with cranked down disc drag reels to fight to the max of that leader strength in a #6 or #8 for salmon to 25 pounds and even #10's when it comes to steelhead.

So we have the Allen jig hooks? I just ordered 100 of them from sizes 8 to 12, I really wanted #6 and #4" but with a lot of these kind of hook makers the largest they sell are a size 8.

Than you have the Umpqua competition jig hook which claims (heavy wire) which I just ordered 50 of these hooks in size 8 and 10 because those again are the largest they make! "GRRRRR"

Than I found that mustad had a new jig hook in black nickle (which I prefer for strength) in sizes above size 8 so I just ordered #4-6-8 from them to test!

These are the hooks I am going to test next summer and fall for these hook bending - leader snapping - rod braking brutes but I would like to hear from anyone that might already be using these different companies hooks and what you think of them!

Here are links to the hooks!
J100BL - Jig, Nymph, Barbless, Thin WIre - Allen Fly Fishing Store


Mustad 32833 90º HD Jig Hooks - Black Nickel

I did have to order the Umpqua hooks through the caddis fly because they are only wholesale!

The flies I used this year changed from last year and the reason being was new red eyes, using a full red fly and black and red were the only two flies I used! Here are some pics of my box and the difference in size of lies from a #2 and a #6! Doesn't seem like much but it made all the difference in the world to the fish - smaller was better! I also quit putting marabou tails on them because it seemed to make the forked rubber leg tails stick together and also gave a profile of a larger looking fly! I have a lot of tying to do this winter and a lot of testing next summer!

These eagle claw hooks were bent like butter in the mouths of Chinook! stillhead flies 009.jpg They were the only hooks I could find over the counter at the time in sizes 4 through 8.

Owner and Gami both make these hooks down to a size 2 but they are long shanked and just to large stillhead flies 011.jpg

The flies that worked this year stillhead flies 005.jpg

In my palm for size difference in #6 to #2 stillhead flies 013.jpg

Side view of new eyes from rivers wild stillhead flies 006.jpg

Thanks for any feedback on hooks!!!
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jeff bandy

Make my day
I'm thinking you should tie those on tubes. Then you can go with some nice owner hooks. The flies will last longer as they can slide up when you hook a fish.


Active Member
Well, these hang level or horizontal under indicators so I don't know how I would tie a tube fly and get it to hang level? I was looking more for how strong are the Allen jig hooks compared to other hooks anyone has used! And I thought someone said they had used the Umpqua competition hooks before? Also, using the wire for on top of the ribbing and around the eyes made them a very strong fly! I will be tying my trout flies this way now Like the bloody Mary!

Anyone use the new Mustad jig hooks yet? They are actually a good price but the umpqua competiton hooks cost an arm, and leg, and left ---
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Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
Also why do you bend your hooks when you can buy hooks with the bent up eyes. When I tied flies I had hooks with the bent up eyes or the bent down eyes. Never had to bend any eyes either way. Also bending your eyes with the metal cold will weaken them.


Indi Ira
WFF Supporter
First of all, how the heck does this post not have more likes! Excellent run down and massively informative.

Now, super glue those eyes! I have used the Allen hooks and the Umpqua competition hooks in lakes and for steelhead. I know that the Allen jig hooks had some problems with bending when they first came out, but I believe they have fixed that problem now. I'm not sure if the problem has been fixed enough though to deal with stillnook. I still have some of the older ones thrown in with my newer ones and they do bend out at times. The Umpqua hooks are better, but again I'm not sure how well they will work for big big fish. I have not tried the Mustad hooks, so I will be curious to find out the results.

Now I think I have an idea for how to make this work, but I will need to try it first and then let you know. If it works, I'll send you a couple.


Indi Ira
WFF Supporter
Also why do you bend your hooks when you can buy hooks with the bent up eyes. When I tied flies I had hooks with the bent up eyes or the bent down eyes. Never had to bend any eyes either way. Also bending your eyes with the metal cold will weaken them.

Jim, he is tying balance patterns and the hook eye is not bent up or down enough on regular patterns to move past the material that is wrapped around it. Thus the need to bend it up. If you look closely at his patterns, you will see that the eye of the hook is not at the head of the fly, but in the middle of the fly.


Active Member
Drifter - I think you've found a blind spot in the jig-style hook market. By that I mean a truly heavyweight hook in the size 6-10 range. Obviously the materials exist to do this because people tie traditional patterns for big fish in that size range all the time - just not on jig hooks. The only hook on your list that I've personally fished is the Umpqua competition 60-degree hook. I've not tried them for steelhead/salmon but did use the #10's on a trip to Montana targeting large trout and had no issues with fish up to 24" that pulled very hard. The Mustads look good as well but I've bent out #12 Mustad streamer hooks (3XL, 2XH wire) on trout. I haven't tried the Allen hooks but that fact that "thin wire" is in the description would make me skeptical about using them for big fish. Good luck out there!


Active Member
Thanks Ira for the experience, Trout, I hear what your saying!

One thing about both the Allen and Umpqua competition jig hooks are they are "SHORT" shanked. All the other jig hooks seem to be a 3x long shank which makes it hard to make a smaller fly with a larger "WIDE HOOK GAP" For holding as much lip or jaw as possible when fighting larger fish! The 8's and 10's even if I did find any strong enough to not bend on large fish they don't hold enough jaw to hold while fighting fish to 25 pounds!

The mustads are listed as a new hook for them and are in black nickle! they come in all sizes but are a longer shanked hook making a #6 look large when the fly is done after putting the needle out front of the bend. I was looking for at least a #6 hook gap for meat grabbing ability's! But both Allen and Umpqua's hooks only come as large as a #8 "GRRRR" If I could get these short shanked in a #4 or even #2 I could tie them very short making the fly short with a bigger hook gap for holding power and the larger size would be stronger!

I did order the new mustads in #4 #6 basically because there seems to be a gap in size with all these hook makers! Owner, gami, and many other companies only make them down to a #1 or #2 than when I did find the smaller sizes like Allens they only went as big as an #8 GRRRR. I need hooks right in the #6 to #2 in short shank jig hooks. I did a bunch of site jumping looking before I ordered and for right now settled on the three companies I listed hooks and will give my opinion when they arrive and I tie with them but testing for the job at hand will not be til next summer!

Ira it's nice to know Allen changed to make a stronger hook because I also read the "THIN WIRE ADD PART" and was not going to order any but love the short shank style and can use them for trout flies anyway if to weak!

I've got the pattern figured out and now just trying to fix problems I'm running into before next year! Hooks are my only problem right now! I also have to come up with another color to test for next season so I have three patterns for color changing if the fish need it! The all red did very well this year and it seems the black and red works any and everywhere for all three - trout - salmon - and steelhead! Testing to me means having a fly and technique that "WORKS" on a consistant basis like in the right conditions hooking 4 to 5 fish before noon just about every time I go. Last ime I went the Chinook were pretty dark and I was trying to target the chrome silvers that were also in the area at Drano lake and ended up out fishing my bait chucking buddy that was throwing good eggs and sandshrimp! I landed 4 Chinook and he only landed 2 my biggest for the day going to 25 pounds but they were more of a pain in the ass being dark and were just getting in the way of hooking silvers! I would have to rebend the hook points out everytime I landed a fish using #6 eagle claw jig hooks but I call them "BUTTER HOOKS" because they bend so easy! Those damn silvers don't like anything I hang under the indi in stillwaters GRRRR---HA
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Bob Newman

Active Member
Daiichi makes a couple of jig hooks that they claim are strong. Not sure about the shank length but they do have them down to a size 8. Haven't looked at them but it might be worth it.

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
I am not sure if I caught all the details you provided in your posts above about the hooks you are looking for. I think I understand you are looking for a heavy wire, size 10 jig hook or 60 degree hook. Yes, that is one I don't know about.

As for heavy wire size 10 hooks, I wonder if the Teeney hooks (made by eagle claw) would work well for you with the pin extending forward for the head of the fly.?. Braid/Flat Tinsel Wrap&productname=Hooks

They look to be a heavy wire hook with proportions that could work.

Thanks for the informative post. The fishing you are tying for sounds like a
Reoccurring dream I have!


WFF Supporter
Drifter, I've been thinking about this and came up with an idea that would create a balanced fly and allow you to use any normal hook you wanted and not have to use jig hooks and pins.

Take a normal hook and snell leader material to the middle of the shank. Don't go through the eye like a normal snelled hook. Position the front tag so it's on the bottom of hook. Tighten knot and trim rear tag. Bend tag end to 90*. (I colored mono used just for photos)


Tie on dumbbell eyes. (Obviously if beads are used, they go on first.) Pick up fly by the snelled leader and slide the knot fore/aft so the hook is balanced. Superglue knot in place and secure with thread wraps.


Tie the rest of the fly like normal, making sure the leader stays 90* to hook.

Depending on your preference, you could tie the fly's leader straight to your main leader or use a Perfection loop. The snelled knot should hold up to any salmon if done correctly and moving it to the hook shank should also reduce the leverage of a long hook. I hope this idea works as I want to try it for my trout flies as well as steelhead bugs!
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Active Member
Mr. Dodd, I actually have some teeny hooks from the 80's and some other traditional black "STRONG" hooks already and oldman-jim made a good point about heating the hook before bending to help with them snapping and becoming weak!

The problem with bending your own hooks is the time it takes - grab channel locks - grab needle nose pliers - grab hook - bend slowly at exact spot - all this takes time and you still have to tie a fly with rubber legs and bead eyes and glue - now it's a major time consumer to tie one fly which I am also trying to tie these and any flies as simple and fast as possible and still do the job!

I have thought though that if need be "for the Chinook" I may need to do exactly that and bend some "super hooks" with heat but what a pain in the arce!

Freestone, that looks like a great idea! That could solve the Chinook fly problem ;-)~I already have hooks that I could use and tie them in this style. I also this summer tried to find stronger pins because they were getting bent in front of the upward hook bend from the extreme pressures the Chinook were putting on the flies. I could not find any "super pins" when going to a large fabric store? I fish eggs alot and already do a very easy snelled knot to hook shank for bobber fishing so this could be fast and easy. I could just tie in that fashion for the Chinook and keep using the jig hooks for stillhead and trout! ----- I LIKE IT!!! The only fall-back would be I would have to tie flies strictly for Chinook and strictly for steelhead, having to have two completely different fly box's and tie alot more flies "GRRRR" with a good jig hook I can use them for both stillhead and stillnook which takes away alot of time and effort at the tying bench---- but we can't have everything can we!!!

I wonder if the fly would foul the leader in the air while casting or while sinking much more than the jig hooks do which seems to never happen with the jig and pin style flies???

Some very good ideas and points being made here! "THANK-YOU VERY MUCH! For all the thought process on these problems and sharing them!

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