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From NAFA - National Australian Fishing Annual
(used with permission)

Mustad Signs-off on a New Concept in Fly Hooks
Mustad's best brains have developed an outstanding new fly hook range and a fly hook classification system that actually makes sense.
by Alex Julius

Mustad Signature Fly Hooks

Simple, revolutionary and complete. That's how Mustad has described its new Signature Series fly hooks. These hooks are due for release in Australia during 2002 and NAFA was given a special sneak preview in time to make this issue. The Mustad Signatures were released in the USA in 2001 and keen flyfishers who prowl the internet might already have seen them on the Mustad web site at

The signature in question is that of Hans Mustad himself, the sixth generation owner of the company. Yes, there really is a Mr Mustad, and his signature appears on the trade packaging and public relations material. Mustad spent a great deal of time consulting with fly fishers around the world before coming up with the Signature range. Apart from the hooks themselves, the whole system has been re-jigged, including the packaging and the hook classification system.

Cracking the Code

Mustad's Signature hooks comprise both a Freshwater and Saltwater range. But before going into the details of all the hook types in those ranges, I should tell you about the new Mustad Alpha Code fly hook classification introduced with the Signatures.

Until now, there has been no standard for classifying different fly hooks with regard to gap, length, wire diameter and bend. Terms such as 2 extra long or 2 extra heavy have only had meaning when talking about one and the same hook pattern. There has never been a logical system across different hook patterns to define what a standard hook looks like. Mustad's Alpha Code HookSelect system was developed by Geir Sivertzen, Product Manager and leading hook boffin at Mustad Norway. Sivertzen (known in Mustad circles as Dr Hook) has come up with a simple solution that makes sense. Unlike Mustad hook reference numbers used over the years, the new Alpha Code can be deciphered to reveal important facts about the hooks - in particular, shape, wire thickness, hook length, eye type and finish.

For Shape, R denotes Round, C is curved, S is O'Shaughnessy bend (mostly used on saltwater hooks) and CK is curved with a kink (popper hooks for example).

Wire thickness and hook length are denoted by numbers. The number 50 represents the standard (or the centre of the universe so to speak) - standard weight wire and standard length shank. The standard eye configuration is turned-down and the standard finish is bronze. These don't carry any special code, but if a hook has a non-standard straight eye, the letter S is added and if it has a non-standard finish, an extra symbol will be added eg SS for stainless steel, BLN for black nickel, D for Duratin and so on.

I can assure you, it gets easier once you start actually working with the hooks. In the Freshwater Signature range, the standard pattern is the R50 - Round bend, standard wire diameter and standard length with turned-down eye. This is the classic all-round dry/wet fly hook. If you want a heavier hook with a longer shank, you might go for the R72 - Round bend, 2 extra heavy, 2x long, turned-down eye, bronze. Alternatively, if you're looking for a very fine hook for delicate dry fly work, you'd go for the R30 - Round bend, 2x fine wire, standard shank length, bronze, turned-down eye. Are you getting the hang of it?

All Mustad's Signature fly hooks will be packaged in lots of 25
in these user-friendly,shatterproof polypropylene boxes
which can be clipped together at the sides
to create a handy storage system.

In the Fresh
Thus, in the Freshwater Signature range, you'll find round bend patterns R30, R48, R50, R70, R72, R74 and R90, and curved patterns C49S, C52S, CK52S, C53S, C67S. If you've been following me so far, you won't need any further explanation of what they are but they cover all the recognised freshwater fly requirements from ultra-fine dry fly hooks to long shank streamer hooks, curved nymph and caddis hooks, popper hooks and stinger hooks. Based on the samples I saw, the quality and consistency is outstanding. All hooks in the range feature chemically sharpened Signature Points with precision micro-barbs. Eye closure and finish are excellent.

In the Salt
It's the Saltwater Signature range that really got me interested. Here, we find a range of hooks that opens up new possibilities for Australian SWF fishers. Up to now, there has been a very limited choice of good fly hooks in stainless steel or at least a serious saltwater-resistant finish. In stainless steel hooks, it was often a choice of an old-time O'shaughnessy pattern or nothing. Mustad is the undisputed boss of stainless steel hook making and, in the Saltwater Signature range, it has finally given full rein to its skills. Creative fly tyers now have a much greater choice, with less need to improvise.

One of the stars of the range is a superlative forged stainless Tarpon-style hook, the C68S SS (S for straight eye, SS for stainless steel, in case you've forgotten). Sized from 6/0 to 6, it is a short shank, compact alternative to the standard stainless O'Shaughnessy. Equipped with a deadly chemically sharpened point and small barb, the C68S SS will become many flyfishers' hook of choice for everything from the Crazy Charlie to numerous baitfish patterns, large and small.

The S71S SS is the Signature range's universal 2x strong SWF hook, a traditional O'Shaughnessy shape, in sizes 3/0 to 8. It is similar in shape to Mustad's 34044SS pattern, which it supersedes but it features a more refined point and smaller barb. Its longer shanked variant is the S74S SS stainless Streamer hook in sizes 3/0 to 6 (which supersedes the 34039SS). The CK74S SS is a 4x long stainless saltwater popper hook.

The stainless Signature hook that really grabbed my attention was the C71S SS. Described as a Circle Streamer, this is the first stainless circle hook I've seen that is purpose-designed for fly fishing. Many flyfishers will have been looking forward to a hook like this. Others will be wondering whether a circle hook has the same relevance to fly fishing that it does to bluewater bait fishing but field experience from the USA suggests that the C71S SS stays hooked up better than just about anything else and gives the angler a distinct edge on hard-mouthed, aerobatic fish. So, in our waters, mark the C71S SS as worth a try for such targets as queenfish, tarpon, giant herring, Australian salmon and barra. The C71S SS has a medium-long shank which will take many fly patterns including Deceivers and other baitfish flies. It comes in sizes 3/0 to 10.

The Signature saltwater range also has some great hooks in Mustad's saltwater-resistant Duratin finish. The C70S D Big Game Light is an excellent all-rounder in standard shank length and a size range from 4/0 down to 10. Another hook I really like the look of is the C47S D Shrimp pattern, made in sizes 3/0 to 10. It's a bit like a saltwater version of a curved caddis hook. This is a wonderful shape for many flies, great for many crustacean patterns and it ties up really well on pillie flies and polar fibre minnows.

Like their freshwater counterparts, the Saltwater Signatures are made with super-sharp chemically sharpened points and micro-barbs. Thanks to Dr Hook and his team we can now access some genuine stainless hooks for a big range of flies without having to improvise so much by bending, twisting and manipulating conventional hooks. Right down to size 10 mullet flies, we now have a real choice of purpose-built SWF hooks - and darned good ones at that.


Packing Up
To the great relief of flyfisher and retailer alike, Dr Hook has also taken the knife to Mustad's fly hook packaging. The superseded Mustad 80000 freshwater fly hooks were housed in pesky little hard-plastic boxes that were almost impossible to prise open and which often exploded in a shower of hooks when they eventually did. Those boxes will never contain a Mustad Signature fly hook. The Signatures will be sold in 25-packs throughout the range and come in cleverly designed, user-friendly, shatterproof polypropylene boxes which can be clipped together at the side. Flyfishers can use this system to make their own personalised hook collections, and the boxes can be re-used to store all sorts of things like gold beads, dubbing and other flyfishers' knick-nacks. Labelling is concise and informative with a colour coding scheme (blue for freshwater, orange for saltwater) and the label shows an outline of the hook.

The Mustad Signature series is not just an outstanding collection of fly hooks but a well thought-out system in which all the components, including the packaging, are put to the best possible use. Dr Hook has done his job well.


Visit the NAFA website:  
With its new Signature fly hooks range, Mustad has completely re-jigged its whole system including the packaging, the hook classification system and the hooks themselves.

Mustad's new Signature hooks are a fly tier's delight:

1. Pink Thing on #1/0 C71S. The curved C71S hook shown features a refined point and small barb for easy penetration on hook-up. 7. Nobby Hopper on #8 R72. 13. Crazy Charlie on #6 C85S.
2. Polar Fibre Minnow on #3/0 C47S. 8. Glo Bug on #6 C49S. 14. Craig's Night Time on #8 R72.
3. Clouser Minnow on #2 S71S. 9. Royal Wulf on #10 R50. 15. Wooly Bugger on #10 R74.
4. Deceiver on #1/0 S71S. 10. Epoxy Prawn on #2 S71S.    
5. Epoxy Minnow #1/0 C71S. 11. Mrs Simpson on #8 R72.    
6. Red Tag on #10 R50. 12. Stone Fly Nymph on #10 C53S    

All content © Copyright 2005. O. Mustad & Son A.S.
Use of material only in agreement with O. Mustad & Son A.S.

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