NAFA - National Australian Fishing Annual
(used with permission)
Signs-off on a New Concept in Fly Hooks
best brains have developed an outstanding new fly
hook range and a fly hook classification system that
actually makes sense.
by Alex Julius
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 www.mustad.no/signature.
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
|Visit the NAFA website: www.nafa.com.au
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
||Pink Thing on
#1/0 C71S. The curved C71S hook shown features a refined
point and small barb for easy penetration on hook-up.
on #8 R72.
on #6 C85S.
||Polar Fibre Minnow on #3/0
||Glo Bug on #6 C49S.
||Craig's Night Time on #8
||Clouser Minnow on #2 S71S.
||Royal Wulf on #10 R50.
||Wooly Bugger on #10 R74.
||Deceiver on #1/0 S71S.
||Epoxy Prawn on #2 S71S.
||Epoxy Minnow #1/0 C71S.
||Mrs Simpson on #8 R72.
||Red Tag on #10 R50.
||Stone Fly Nymph on #10 C53S