Sedge hooks

I wrote last time about some keel hooks I had acquired and now I want to discuss another oddity, the sedge hook. I first became aware of these in the 1980’s when they were marketed as ‘Yorkshire sedge hooks’ and they appeared in a number of patterns tied by the foremost reservoir fly fishers of their generation. The idea was the curved shape of the hook would give a gentle bend to the finished fly, resembling that of a caddis pupa. The slightly upturned eye added to the unusual shape. Although designed to copy caddis pupa, these hooks were incorporated in buzzer patterns too. Even early on they divided anglers, some loved them and considered their shape a real plus, others shunned them citing poor hooking as a big problem. Three small boxes of sedge hooks came into my possession lately so it was time to think about them in more depth.

I used them extensively towards the end of the last century but fell out of love with them. I caught plenty of trout on flies tied on sedge hooks you understand, but they always caused me problems with line twist. It seemed to me that the design of the hook caused the flies to spin in the air when casting, leading to droppers which were frequently tangled or flies fishing in reverse. It was solely for that reason that I gave away all the flies I had tied on sedge hooks and until now had not bothered to try them again. Now I owned some of the bare hooks again I tried to think logically why I had suffered so badly with them in the past.

The 1980’s were a time of rapid change in fly fishing with new fly lines and leader materials making their mark. One invention which I tried hard to master was ‘double strength’ leader materials. These thin lines claimed to be nearly invisible to the fish so became very popular. It is only now when I look back that I can see that my issues with sedge hooks may in fact have been caused by my flirtation with double strength nylons around the same time. Thinness, the main selling point of double strength line, led me down the wrong path. I tried out ever skinnier leaders which were in turn less stiff. Tangles galore ensued, frequently featuring involving flies busked on sedge hooks. I blamed the hooks as much as the leader material, possibly erroneously. Double strength leaders were dropped and so were the flies tied on sedge hooks. Maybe after this lengthy passage of time it was right to re-evaluate sedge hooks after all.

These days it is easy to buy sedge style hooks, even though the originals were discontinued a while ago. Kamasan B420’s are a popular hook and there is the Sprite S2170 if you prefer a barbless version. I suppose the natural prgression was into a more progressive bend which are so popular these days with hooks such as the Partridge K12ST for example.

The hooks now in my possession were in sizes 10, 12 and 14, all useful with the 12’s probably being the most versatile. The style of Dr. Bell’s old creation, the Amber Nymph, looks good dressed on these hooks. Tied thickly, the dubbed abdomen with feather fibre pulled over the back, darker thorax and a wispy beard hackle provides a template which is easily adapted to match different caddis pupa. Using the same style but changing colours gives you a range of very good sedge pupa patterns which will catch you a few trout from May right to the end of the season. Adding embellishments such as wing buds, thorax covers, legs and even antenna will jazz up the otherwise quite drab appearance.

Untried so far, I’ve made some pupa versions of my ginger sedge on these hooks too. A wonderful fly for Mask in its normal dressing, I simply omitted the wings and wound cock hackles. The body of bright ginger seal ribbed with medium oval gold tinsel, some grey herl from a Canada Goose feather over the back and a thorax of seal fur dyed sooty with a single turn of a ginger hen hackle makes a fly which looks like it should do the business.

Hatching buzzers also work well on sedge hooks, adding a bit of ‘life’ to what can sometimes look pretty bland and lifeless patterns. The usually patterns can all be tied up, giving you something different to try on those days when the trout are being picky. The shape of buzzers is different to sedge pupa so aim for thin abdomen with a rib which stands out. The thickly tied thorax can sport wing buds made from goose biots, floss or similar materials. Just think of the dressings tied on normal hooks and transfer them to sedge hooks. The usual colours apply, black, olives, grey and browns mainly. I used to tie a red buzzer on these hooks with clear horse hair wound over a fl. red floss abdomen. White biots on each side and a red seal’s fur thorax with a red hackle was all it was made from.


2 thoughts on “Sedge hooks

  1. The reason for the poor hook up rate with upturned eyes is anglers use the wrong knot. The blood knot is alright on down turned eyes but the turle knot should be used on upturned eyes.


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