Ancient Iron Revisited

bothfeetThe next time someone mentions fly tying you can print the picture at left and insist that rehab is more than you can bear…

I’d said, “jump in with both feet” – and meant it, until the vendor plopped another 300,000 hooks onto eBAY. Now I’m hoping you’ll save me from myself, and scoop them up before I do.

I had mentioned last week about the spectacular ancient Mustad iron being blown out by Har-Lee Rod of New Jersey, and just as I think things are winding down, out comes another load of some incredible old hooks – at prices you’ve never seen – nor will again.

“Both Feet” for us hardcore types was about 50,000 hooks (shown above), most were purchased at $0.99 for 500, about twenty cents per 100 hooks.

A cup of coffee costs more

Many are kirbed or reversed and digging through all those styles revealed some outstanding gems, most of which have attributes unavailable in the current Japanese iron.

As I watch and bid, I’m surprised at the brainwashing that’s occurred. Traditional fly tying hooks without kirbed point and equipped with the familiar down eye are moving smartly, but most of the other hooks are loved only by the occasional odd duck like myself.

As the fly tying forums have asked the question many dozens of times – and most of the answers are dead wrong, indulge me …

A Kirbed or Reversed hook is merely a method to make the hook gape larger. That’s all.

Offsetting the point to the left (Kirbed) or right (Reversed) makes the distance from shank to point longer than if the point was directly below the hook. Think of a right triangle with a line dropped perpendicular from the shank to where the point should be (in non kirbed hooks), if we draw a horizontal line from that spot to where the Kirbed point is – we’ve formed a right triangle. Everyone knows the hypotenuse of a right triangle is the longest side … therefore the gape is “wider” than a traditional hook.

Outside of forgetting about that offset point and pricking yourself, tying on these “bait” hooks is unchanged.

As quite a few packages are labeled in French, it appears few shoppers are translating the labels. “Hamecons Irlandais” isn’t something exotic, it’s merely French for “Irish Hooks” – and “Hamecons Ronds” translates to “Round Hooks.”

While the obvious fly tying styles are disappearing us continental types are picking up everything ignored or … gasp … foreign, for dirt cheap.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the sweeter flavors available, but as sizes are starting to disappear it’s entirely first come first serve.

Mustad 234B, Hamecons Irlandais 234B

  • Premiere Qualite = Premier Quality
  • Noirs a anneau   = Black Ring (Japanned finish, Ring eye)
  • Tige courte         = Short Shank (at least 2X short)
  • Renforces           = Reinforced    (at least 2X strong)
  • This is a KIRBED hook

    234B I’ve already burned through a couple of boxes of these gems, tying both Czech nymphs and Shad flies. I’m using the #4’s for a hook that looks like a #6 – hence it’s at least 2X short. I bend down the last quarter of the shank about 10° and it becomes a Czech nymph hook, yet has appropriate extra-strong to go with a fly that is fished amid  snags and rocks.

    The hook is unforged, so if you don’t like the offset point, bend it back. It’s already twice as strong as the weak Czech wire and you’ll sacrifice nothing in reliability.

    Note: It’s only safe to bend an unforged hook, forged wire is much more brittle and is weakened considerably.

    The Hamecons Irlandais 267B is the same hook but with normal wire and bronze finish. It is also a Kirbed hook.

    Mustad 91300 Mustad 91300 – Superb fine wire Bass Popper hook, with no takers due to the zig zag in the shank. The eBAY audience either doesn’t recognize what to do with it, or doesn’t fish Bass – and you get 500 for $0.99.

    Just cut hobby foam into the right shape, slit it down the side, slide it over the shank and throw some rubber cement into the “slice” to hold everything together … add a pinch of saddle hackle and marabou, and you’re done.

    4450 Mustad 4450 – A nice Mustad 9671 or Tiemco 3769 substitute. Unforged Model Perfect bend, ring eye, looks like about a 2X long shank (although it doesn’t say as much).

    I am a huge fan of ring eyed nymph hooks and despaired that my vanishing supply was all I was ever to see . Now I’m covered for the next couple of decades, including both even and odd sizes.

    No physical reason for “ring-eyed versus down-eyed” – I just like ‘em.

    Mustad 9143 The crowd is wise to the Mustad 9143 Dry Fly hook now – but not before I scored a couple thousand for $0.99 per thousand. Offered in the thousand-pack in size 16, and in boxes for size 18 and 20.

    This is a Redditch scale hook and is much smaller than the training-wheels 94840 (Tiemco 100) standard. Recent fly tiers would call the #16 a #18 – so allow for the size difference if you’re used to Tiemco’s or any current dry fly offering.

    57552 What the crowd doesn’t know is the Hamecons-Ronds 57552 is even better than the 9143, and available in the odd sizes which will make less of a size difference than a full even number. I stocked up on the #15’s as it is a superb size for my fishing.

    For a great nymph hook, look at the Mustad-Limerick 31250. It’s a 3906B lookalike with a Limerick bend, and most of the small sizes were available.

    Mustad 31250 There’s not too many sizes left of the Mustad 3116A, but there are plenty of size 9 and size 2 left. This was my favorite, 2X strong, down eye, Limerick bend, short shank, equipped with needles for points. Absolutely bestial sharpness. All of my Shad flies are being swapped to this iron immediately. Good strong steelhead and salmon hook, strong enough for big Carp – and was available in all the even and odd sizes until I saw them.

    For the light wire long shank dry fly, it’s Christmas. There’s a beautiful long shank, fine wire, dry fly hook in the perfect sizes for stonefly dries and big October Caddis. It’s the Mustad 32800, and there’s nothing like it on the current market.

    There’s also the occasional 4x Strong or 3X Strong (Mustad 802) hook that have been unavailable for years. Those old codgers in “Rivers of a Lost Coast” have secrets – one of them was to downsize the fly in bright, clear conditions. A 20lb salmon on a contemporary #8 may be ridiculous, but those old hooks with 3X-4X strong attribute were something special.

    The rest is up to your avaricious nature. I don’t cover too many subjects a second time, but these are extraordinary prices and will not happen again.

    Tags: Mustad hooks, Harlee Rod, long shank, short shank, extra strong, salmon, steelhead, fly tying materials, bulk fly tying hooks, Tiemco, October Caddis, popper hooks, eBAY deals,

    23 thoughts on “Ancient Iron Revisited”

    1. Get in there and throw some elbows. Even if rival bidders show most are selling for about $2.50 for 500 hooks.

      Fifty Cents a box? Izaak Walton would have been excited over them prices …

    2. Plus Shipping Keith!

      Haha, even still, I just paid $4.03 for 500 size 14 hooks. Less than a penny a hook? Sure, I’ll buy that.

    3. Quite true. While they list $2.99 as the shipping charge on every sale, they collapse the charge when ordering en masse. The most I was billed was $9.95 for nearly 12,000 hooks.

      I lump the shipments together as you might have auctions won on multiple days. Pay for them every couple of days and they’ll send all the purchases in one monstrous bag – which cuts down on the shipping charged.

    4. I am taking advantage of those kink-shank Mustad’s. I tie tons of poppers so I recognize what they’re for.
      Thank’s for the heads up!

    5. If you were a dog in my kennel I would put a muzzle on you…now I have to compete with EDUCATED fellow tyers.
      thanks buddy.
      Thre goes the price and the neighbrhood

    6. @Monty – how many thousand have you squirreled away already? ( and you’re probably the SOB that outbid me on 10 or 12 thousand …)

      I have only one unshakable rule; never reveal another fellow’s secret spot, or secret river. Everything else is only slightly above Celebrity gossip – and I’ll post the upskirt If’n I had them.

    7. I think most of my orders have cost me more for shipping than actual product. I wish they would have combined shipping for me.

      And yes, they all came in one box.

    8. Same here. Shipping cost was about the same as the cost of the 7,000 hooks I ordered. Wish I could have gotten a better break on the shipping. Still a great deal though….less than a penny a hook!

      Thanks for the heads-up on these.

    9. If I win auctions over a couple of days, just hold payment until the second day. The postage will combine for both orders – and be a bit less than two orders with postage for each.

      Win some on Saturday, win again on Sunday – pay on Sunday and they all come as a single shipment.

    10. Prices seemed to have been trending up as word has gotten out (presumably in Fly fishing circles), and strangely, I’m finding it hard to bid upwards of $3 to get 500 hooks. Its sure going to be tough going back to the sports chalet when I need hooks, you know, RIGHT NOW.

    11. Wade in there and throw some elbows. At $6 per 25, a box of 100 is $24.00.

      I would not even blink at scoring them at $6 per box.

    12. I know I know… A guy just gets used to a certain price point. Even at $10 shipped for 500 hooks, its silly cheap.

    13. I’m up to just over 17 thousand hooks for just over $100. Thanks Keith for so generously sharing the wealth on this great source!

    14. It’s astounding to me that while the occasional size is now missing, the bulk of the hooks offered show no slackening in volume or the amount offered each week. I cannot imagine what this guy must have found – but it’s not a normal warehouse.

      There was 816 offers (of 500) this weekend, nearly three weeks after I debuted this article – and some five weeks since I started seeing them.

    15. Yuriy,

      I laid in a goodly supply, but I don’t think I’ll sell any – it would be looking a gift horse in the mouth. I’ve noticed some of the other purchasers are reselling the Har-Lee hooks on eBay, for additional cost. This kind of find happens about once in a lifetime, so I bought a lifetime supply – I’ll never need to purchase a nymph hook again, ditto for streamer and many dry fly sizes.

      I just hope most of my readers followed suit …

    16. Yuriy, Hopefully you activated the “Notify me of followup comments via email” option. Har-Lee still has some of the Mustad 254B #5 hooks in 500 piece lots for a starting bid of $5.99, (currently, as I type). The 254B’s are basically identical to the 234B’s, only bronzed, not black. You might contact Har-Lee before hand about shipping, as it appears their international shipping options may have changed.

    17. Hey guys, I had the enormous luck to hook into Harlees auction earlier than most of you, let loose, and have amassed a serious collection, some of which I may part with. My hooks are specially chosen for fly tying for trout. Over 200 types. I will send a list that includes measurements and fotos to those interested.

    18. Hi there, you mentioned that you prefer ring eyed hooks over down eyed hooks. So do I, but my preference is for functionality. IMO
      The best shape of bend to hold onto a fish is the limerick. The worst bend is a round where the fish can roll off. Therefore worst fish holding is a barbless, short point, round bend. The best fish holding is a limerick, large barb and long point. Some of the Mustad limerick hooks from the 1950s are superb especially if they have a ring eye. The ring eye ensures proper movement through the water with the best knot [loop knot]. A down or up eye will twist the fly at speed. My favourite hooks have an non forged limerick bend, heavy wire, long point, ring eye and a big barb.

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