Heads or Tails: Hook Placement on Swung Flies for Trout


Active Member
Through this Spring I have started swinging more streamers for my local trout. I normally fish articulated streamers that have a hook near the back, and I know that steelhead flies often have a similar trailing hook design. However, my hookup ratio seems to decrease when swinging these flies as opposed to stripping them in. One part of this equation is the difference in hookset between swinging streamers and stripping in streamers, but I can't help but think there is a theory on fly design and hook placement when swinging for trout.

Relevant quote from the OPST blog: "If you swing for trout for long you will probably find that they can be damn hard to hook. At times, when using small trailing hook style flies like Sculpzillas, we have had a 10%-20% hookup ratio on 10-14 inch trout- not very good at all. It seems the trout may be hitting the head of the fly. In any case, a smallish fly, no bigger than a size 6, seems like the way to go. We suggest flies that are tied on to the hook itself, or very small intruders where the hook isn't too far back."

Any thoughts? The water I fish is selective gear (1 hook per fly), so a hook at the head and the tail isn't an option.
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Geriatric Skagit Swinger
You know, sometimes the fish wins...

The answer is in your post. If you don't like that one then put it in the middle. :)
What little I know about how trout feed on bait fish is. The trout like to eat head first.
For big browns and Dollies cast up stream strip and swing down into the fish.
I wish I knew more, I could catch more


Active Member
I'm a big fan of having the hook in the head. Generally speaking I experience decent to excellent hook-up rates with that approach even with some relatively large flies. At times when I find that I'm "missing" fish it usually from tentative takes however with a fly change to something more desirable (what they want to eat) can be magically in converting takes to hook-up rates.

Perhaps the following illustrates what I'm talking about. While chasing sub-adult bull trout (fish from 12 to 20 inches -avg of 14-16") with my standard baitfish streamer - a 3 1/2 inch fly tied on a # 2 hook at the head I only hooked 5 out of a dozen takes landing 4. However I noticed that two of the fish regurgitated 6 inch smelt. I returned two days later after tying up some 5 to 6 inch smelt versions of my bait fish streamer on the same # 2 hook. In 4 hours had 20 takes and landed 18 of them. At the time a surprising result - clearly using a fly with a single hook at the head of fly while targeting fish that were 1/3 of the length of fish being targeted was more than successful!


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