Page 1 of 3

Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:39 pm
by rmercado
OK, I'm a believer in midges for the Guadalupe. While this is a very productive type of fly, my fish landing ration has gone down dramatically. Today, I hooked and played 17 and landed 9 - about 50%. I'm using size 20 and 22 midges tied on TMC100's. Do most people use scud hooks for thread midges? Does this even make a difference. I lose the fish after the initial headshakes and first run, else I'll play them for 30 sec or more and one specific turn of their head and the fly is off and headed strait for my head! :lol:

I'm sure it's my hooking and fighting technique, but I decided to ask the experts. Most of the time, I see a piece of cartilage or scale on my hook after the beat down.


Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:49 pm
by Matt Bennett
I use TMC 200Rs for my own midges. Usually 22s.

I wish I had your catching skills through. Landing 9 fish is a pretty solid day. You're doing something right! 8)

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:18 pm
by rmercado
Thanks Matt... I'll try a pack of those.

Per my fishing skills, I think this year, I dared to go as deep as I needed. Sure, I hang up and lose rigs, but I'm getting a lot more bites! Or, it's all luck - I can believe that too... :lol:

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:38 am
by mickmcco
I sometimes use TMC 200Rs for annelids, but find their long shanks (which give the fish more leverage) and narrow bites can lose me a lot of fish. For thread midges, I use a TMC 2488H (heavy wire scud/emerger hook). If I am going to add a glass or metal bead, I'll switch to a TMC 2488, since the 2488H is not "bead friendly." I really like the TMC 2499SP-BL, but they only go down to a size 18.

With any small hook, though, it is easy to lose fish. 50% is not a bad landing percentage. If you end up with a scale on your hook, you were probably foul-hooked in the first place.

Stay aggressive, stay deep, and you'll stay lucky.

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:59 am
by rmercado
Thanks Mickfly, I'll check those out too. I understand about the scale thing now, those are probably the ones that just shoot strait off without headshakes. I'm glad that 50% is not a bad ratio. Seems some of the members land a higher percentage.


Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:21 am
by Danny S
I have almost exclusively used, in the last couple of years, the TMC 2457/87 hooks for midges. I used TMC 100s a lot in New Mexico and for the LMF in SE Oklahoma. Can't say the loss rate is any higher with the 100s. Their wide gape helps. In fact, I am thinking about going back to the TMC 100 just for a change in how the midge looks. As Mick said, the landing rate is cut any time you use smaller hooks. If you're not landing because the hook breaks off during the process, then you have a hook problem and should change your hook "brand." Sounds like the fish are just getting good at getting rid of the hook. Also, using barbless hooks, IMHO, offers the fish a better chance of dislodging the hook.

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:28 pm
by rmercado
Alright Danny, thanks for your input. I'm already using the TMC100's and maybe the profile is why I'm doing well with it. Shhhhhh....... lots of hooks to review. I'll just get a pack of what I don't have and experiment.

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:35 pm
by bhigdon
What Mick said......

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:44 pm
by TexasBAD
Good tip can be found here:


Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:55 pm
by Jimbo Roberts
First of all they don't call "20 on a 20" an accomplishment for nothing. This of course refers to landing a 20" or larger Trout on a size 20 or smaller fly.

I might add to the above useful information, try striking sideways with a strip and sweep, keeping your rod low and parallel to the water. This is not how most fishermen are taught to strike. Even many flyfishing shows (and other fishing shows for that matter) show the hosts and their guests striking in a straight upward motion. But if you watch the pros especially those fishing for Tarpon and other big gamefish you will see them striking sideways and low to the water. There are several reasons for this.

Sometimes I feel that by striking in an upward motion, especially when fishing deep with nymphs, that the upward motion tends to result in fewer hookups. If you think about it, in most cases the hook point is riding down below the fly while it is drifting. If you pull up on this, as you would when you lift the rod upward to strike, you will lift the eye of the fly first and at the same time rotate the hook point upward but being blocked by the hook shank thereby effectively reducing the hook's gap (unless the fly rotates so the point is facing backward or to the side). You also almost eliminate, or make it difficult, to hook the fish in the lower surface of it's mouth or lower jaw. That's 50% of your possible hooking areas. So when the hook point is riding below the fly, this actually makes getting point to catch some part of the fish's mouth that much harder, without it rotating first to expose the gap.

If you strike the fish with a sideways motion it tends to pull the fly sideways. This minimizes the hook lifting and the shank blocking the point. If the fly moved sideways everytime the full gap of the hook would be exposed and allow for a maximum exposure of the point of the hook for good penetration to the bend of the hook. I learned this lesson while fishing Bass tournaments on the bottom with soft plastics that were Texas rigged, Carolina Rigged, or just fishing Jigs on the bottom. Sideways sweeps with the rod worked better than upward sweeps of the rod.

This of course assumes the worse case senario where the fish is not tightly gripping the fly while you are striking. Thinking about it, they are usually in the process of chewing on it, and working at swallowing the fly, they think is food. So if it is bouncing around in it's mouth and if you strike when it's in the middle of nothing but the hollowness of it's mouth and the water there, then the hook gap is very important in the hook point being pulled into some surface like the inside of it's mouth or jaw. You can easily just jerk it out of it's mouth.

If the fish is gripping the fly tightly, then of course point has a much better chance of being in contact with a surface, and catching something, holding on inside it's mouth or it's jaw reguardless of the striking motions.

This changes if the fly rides hook point up like some streamers do. Here lifting upward with the rod and therefore the fly, does not block the hook gap in the same way.

More importantly sideways sweeps and strips work better, than upward motions, at giving the angler a greater ability to apply pressure to the hook point in (relative) horizonal presentations. In general sideways sweeps and strips transmit more effective power through the rod, down the line, to the hook point, allowing better hook penetration. There were some studies examining this effect and they mostly came to the conclusion that a sideways striking motion resulted in less lifting of the fish in the water resulting in more pressure applied to the hook point. You can imagine the worse case senario where you strike upwards, and the fish swims up or jumps at the same time, thereby decreasing the pressure you can apply to the hook point for penetration. Poor penetration results in more lost fish.

So I recommend that when you are flyfishing try sweeping and strip setting downstream and to the side, instead of downstream and upward when possible. Try and see if it works for you.

***There is an exception to this rule. It really does not apply to most flyfishing situations which are relatively horizonal presentations. If you are fishing straight down below you, so called vertical presentations, in deep water then upward strikes are the most effective way to drive the hook home. This is important in vertical presentations such as when fishing jigging spoons for deep water winter Bass or bottom fishing off shore for species like Red Snapper.***

Then again you can just call me a lucky so and so and I will be happy with that too!

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:11 pm
by d ayer
As usual, Jimbo, a plethora of information.
Good insight into hook setting physics.

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:12 am
by rmercado
Thanks David I'll read that article....

Thanks Jimbo for an explanation of why you set the hook low and downstream. This is actually a lesson I learned when I started fly fishing. It was taught to me by my guide while fishing the Middle Provo in Utah. At the time, I had never fished with size 22 and 24 buffalo midges and he told me that I must set like that to get the fish hooked up well. He never really explained why but it took some time to get used to. I had since forgotten that lesson. He was a very good guide and worked hard: he showed me the difference between the sizes of bugs on different sections of the river using a stomach pump. He also showed me how to fish for rising fish with dry flies. Anyways, I'll try setting the hook differently.


Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:15 am
by wiscoy
Just to chime in here with another approach. I usually tie my midges on an oversized hook. For example smallest midge hook I use is #18 wide gap, I just measure size of midge to be tied - #22, #24, etc. - then wrap thread on hook ending where it would be on the smaller hook. This serves two purposes - first, do not have to buy tiny hooks or use 6X tippet material and secondly, much easier when tying midge patterns, to tie onto leader material and has holding/hooking power provided with larger hook. Have had really good success following this aprroach and usually maintain a 75% hooked to landed ratio when midge fishing with very few breakoffs.


Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:22 am
by Danny S
Wiscoy--I've heard of that approach before, but never tried it except for soft hackles, e.g., tying a #18 sized on a 16.
Will have to try it for midges--thanks!

Re: Type of hooks for midges

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:19 pm
by mickmcco
Wiscoy, steelheaders do that alot. They'll tie their "full dress" patterns for the deeper, heavier water while winter steelheading, then the more sparsely dressed patterns, on the same sized hooks, for the lower, clearer water conditions of summer steelheading.

Another option is using the Orvis Big Eye hooks for the smaller flies, giving you an easier target when threading your tippets and allowing for larger-sized tippets than you would usually use on the smaller hooks.

When Frank Smethurst was here filming his Guad episode he gave us two other tips -- always use a loop knot to give your flies more action, and always use flourocarbon tippet. He contends that doing those two things will increase your hit rate 20-50%.