If you’ve been following along on our blog/newsletter or have spent any time with us at our lodges in Alaska or British Columbia, you know we love fishing stinger/trailer hook style fly patterns for everything from king salmon, to steelhead, to resident trout and char.
For years, the majority of stinger style ‘shank’ flies constructed in our guide quarters had been spun up on standard long-shanked hooks (with the hook bend cut off) or traditional Waddington style shanks. The problem? Long shank hooks produced sharp edges that needed to be filed down to protect cutting trailer loops and shank lengths were very limited for larger profile flies, while the articulated bend located at the back of Waddington style shanks did not accept hardware like beads or cones.
Thus, when our friends from OPST first released their Steelhead Shanks, the first ring-eye straight shank of its kind, we were extremely pleased. That being said, while the shanks worked great for flies with beads or cones, the lack of a return eye had a tendency for dumbbell shaped eyes to roll around the shank, leaving many of our guides to ask; wouldn’t it be great if there was a similar shank in both a ring-eye and a return eye?
Well, there is! Our friends from Aqua Flies recently released a new line of fly tying shanks in three great sizes in both ring-eye and return eye options, and needless to say, we dig ’em! Why exactly? We’ll tell you.
- They’re super strong. Regardless what you’re fishing for, we have a hard time believing they could ever bend or warp. Seriously.
- No sharp edges. The ends of each shank are polished down to ensure no sharp edges to damage trailer loops. That’s one less step at the vise, and that’s a really good thing.
- Three great sizes. Both the ring-eye and tapered-eye models are available in three different lengths to cover a vast majority of fly sizes; 27 mm, 33 mm, and 51 mm shanks are available in ring-eye models and 27 mm, 43 mm, and 51 mm shanks are available in return-eye models.
- Tapered return eye. Unlike some return-eye shanks, Aqua Flies’ return-eye shanks are tapered meaning the eye of the shank smoothly tapers back to the body of the shank for a tidy tie in point when covered with thread. That might not seem like a big deal to some, but tapered return eyes are actually very difficult to produce yet make for marginally better looking flies.