One of our favorite ways to fish for rainbow trout in our neck of the woods is with mouse patterns. What’s our favorite pattern? Basically anything with an up-riding stinger hook. Why? We’ll tell you.
Many commercial mouse patterns available are tied on large, wide-gapped hooks designed for staying put in tough-mouthed critters like bass, pike, and so on. These hooks can do a lot of unnecessary damage to the soft mouth of a trout. Furthermore, most of these patterns are tied so that the hook bend will ride downward as it is fished. Because trout can only strike a surface fly from below, this results in a lot of tongue hooked fish, which can lower the fish’s chance of survival once released.
By tying our mouse flies with an upward riding stinger hook, we’re able to do two things..
- We’re able to tie big flies with small hooks. By using a stinger-style hook, we’re no longer dependent on the size of the hook to determine the size of our fly. We can tie our mice as large as we want, and still use a more appropriate ‘trout-sized’ hook (such as a size 4 or 6 Owner SSW).
- We Get Safer Hook-Ups. Because the hook point rides in an upward direction, the majority of hook-ups are located in the upper lip, OR in the outside corner of the mouth as pictured in the photo above. Both of these areas are safer for trout than the tongue.
Contrary to popular belief, most mouse patterns can be tied with a stinger hook. However, one of the few commercial mouse patterns available today that feature an upward riding stinger hook is Jeff Hickman’s Mr. Hankey, which was developed around this very premise. If you’re planning on chucking mice for trout this summer, consider picking a few up here, OR tie your own instead!