Our good friends from Aqua Flies have teemed up once again with our pal and Alaska West alum, Jerry French, to bring the latest in hook design with their new AquaTalon Swing Hooks designed specifically for swinging flies for salmon, steelhead, trout, or anything for that matter.
Although he needs no introduction, Jerry is arguably one of the most influential anglers of modern ‘spey fishing’ as we know it today. He’s spent a lifetime guiding others into salmon, steelhead, and trout on the swing, and he’s used that experience to develop some of the most innovative gear and fly patterns of our time.
Therefore, we didn’t hesitate to ask Jerry for the nitty gritty on why he designed the AquaTalon hooks the way he did, and today we share his words with you.
Take it away, Jerry!
AquaTalon Swing Hooks – From the Designer
As a fly fishing guide for salmon, steelhead, and trout in both Alaska and Washington, it goes without saying that I have made contact with a very large number of fish. By contact I mean; hopefully hooking them in a place in the mouth that will cause the least amount of damage and bleeding.
Over the years, I have witnessed enough fish caught that it became very important to me to try and understand what is really going on when a fish eats a swung fly, and what we as anglers can do to increase the probability of hooking the ideal location of the fishes mouth (the corner) without any life threatening damage.
Here we are 20 years later and I have seen (and used) pretty much every hook and rigging out there. Contrary to popular belief, not all hooks work the same. Moreover, how they are rigged has a large effect on the hook’s performance as well. Most of the popular stinger hooks available are designed to penetrate the moment the point makes contact and using these hooks on swung flies resulted in very random points of penetration, some of which were fatal.
The common similarity between the majority of stinger hooks on the market is a long straight point with an up turned eye. This basically makes the hook function like a plow; the fly is swings across the current, the fish grab the fly and turns away, and the hook point drags across the mouth until penetration.. Wherever that may be. For years, I couldn’t find the hook I was looking for, and from this the design for the AquaTalon hook was born.
The AquaTalon swing hooks are designed to be what I call a semi circle-point hook. The hook is designed not to penetrate at the first point of contact, but instead to travel across the mouth and roll into the corner. This is made possible by the continuous round shape with a slight drop point combined with a slight up-turned angle (20 degrees to be exact) of the eye.
When rigged in a fixed yet flexible way, such as a twisted hitch as used on my Dirty Hoh or via the Ultra Rig used on the Ultra Squid, this hook performed so well that we observed multiple fish hooked on a straight hang-down (or dangle) and still found the hook set perfectly in the inside corner of the mouth. In fact, fish hooked anywhere in the swing were hooked right in the corner with zero to very minimal damage.
I will be the first to admit that there are too many factors at play to speak in absolutes here. However, I can say this with the utmost confidents; The AquaTalon swing hooks are the most positive hooking and fish friendly hook design available.
When manufacturing the AquaTalon hooks, we used a top-tier hook manufacturer to create the highest quality hook we could conceive with a super-hard gun metal finish and a perfectly closed and detailed up-turned eye for the perfect girth hitch or tube rigging, along with a small but present ‘micro barb’ for those that need one, but one that also smashes down flat with ease.
So, if you love the fish you fish for, do yourself (and the fish) a favor and try the AquaTalon. Hooks are currently available in size 1 and 2 and are packaged in 25 or 100 hooks. For more information, visit your nearest Aquaflies dealer, or pick them (and all my personally designed products) up today by clicking right here.
Looks very similar to the Raven specialist hook