Where we stumble across the Good Old Days, and buy a couple of armloads of the stuff

Mustad 3116A As today is the much dreaded “Tax Day” I thought I’d interrupt that lethal mix of sulk and stress with a return to the 1950’s – more importantly, a return to 50’s pricing…

I stumbled on the Motherload of antique Mustad and Sealy Octopus hooks from a vendor on eBay, tracked down his store and wielded MasterCard’s Terrible Swift Sword to lay in a significant supply.

… we’re talking 1950’s Mustad iron; sharp as razors, with long lethal points, strange hook numbers you’ve never heard of and never seen except in picture books featuring flies by Darbee and his ilk, who bemoan the loss of all that quality iron common to the “good old days.”

They’re here, now – and you’d better jump on them before they’re all gone.

The smallest lot the vendor sells is 500 hooks (5 boxes) and the cost ranges from $6 / 500 to about $12 /500, unless you want salmon doubles ($49 /750) or something really large.

Mustad 36712 Grab a cup of coffee and settle in – there are hundreds of variations available and you’ll need to look close and read the description to get what you want – as the hook style numbers will be unfamiliar.

If it says “reversed” or “offset” it’s a Kirbed hook, whose point is offset from the shank (like many of the Czech nymph patterns). “Offset” means the point is 5-10 degrees to the right, and “reversed” means a similar move to the left. As most of you are unfamiliar with Kirbed hooks it’s something you may not appreciate, and therefore should be avoided.

They even have the old “Sneck” bend dry fly hooks (#10, #8) which are the old square bend hook that were popular circa WWII. The hooks and boxes are largely pristine, with no rust – the occasional discoloration of the paper bindle – but even collectors will be enchanted by their condition.

They have a lot of hooks in 2X strong – and I loaded up accordingly. Contemporary hooks have lost so many of the specialty styles used for steelhead and shad that these are completely irresistible. Today’s vendors are nearly mirror images of each other – having dropped the marginally or seasonally popular hooks for the consistent sellers.

Sneck Bend Dry Fly wire (offset) Take a close look at the 3116A, 36712, and 3667 styles, as these are superb hooks.

Many of these have only two or three sizes available – and some of those are the old odd designations; #7, #9, #13. There are plenty of hooks in the 12-13-14 range, so they must’ve found an old warehouse full of hooks, rather than a picked over, former fly shop inventory.

It’s  furrowed brow material. The fellow across the creek inquires what you caught that last fish on and you blow the water off it before busting his bubble, “ … it was a #13 Adams..”

This is one of those finds that isn’t supposed to happen, so look through all those bends and styles and jump on something, hard. It’s 20 twenty-five packs for less than a sawbuck – and I’ll guarantee to use most of them in future posts – insisting the hook is the real difference.

Eyeball the points on the above pictures – it should be enough to make you reach for the wallet. Be sure to look at the Sproat, Limerick, Round, and Viking categories – most of the fly iron is contained there.

Tags: Harlee Rod, antique Mustad hooks, limerick bend, sproat bend, sneck bend, offset point, reverse point, kirbed point, fly tying, bulk fly tying hooks, Harry Darbee, 2X strong, jump on it

7 thoughts on “Where we stumble across the Good Old Days, and buy a couple of armloads of the stuff”

  1. I’ve been using some of these, I’m relieved to see you’ve purchased some of them. I won’t think it was a bad investment.

  2. that website is painful to navigate. I give up.

    And what do I care? I’m tying nothing but stimulators and forest ants these days.

  3. @Ed – purchased some? I’ve got a semi headed my way from New Jersey. The final lesson of fly tying is in the rare instance you’re in the right place at the right time – you mash your opponent flat.

  4. Harlee has been around for a while. You need to keep visiting his site because new items show up unexpectedly. He must have a treasure trove. Another place to look is Ken Hook in Sweden, http://www.kenhook.se/. All kinds of funky styles you never saw here in the states at good prices. The service is good too.

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