Video: How to Handle Tiny Hooks Without Going Crazy

A few years ago, we launched a new series of videos called “One-Minute Fly-Tying Tips and Techniques” from Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions. Each video will teach a single tying skill, from the most basic to the advanced. Ultimately, the series will serve as a sort of encyclopedia of tying skills that will be a valuable resource for anyone who sits down at a vise to create a fly.

For those of us with fat fingers, tying tiny patterns can be a real trial. Just getting the hook from the package to the vise can be frustrating. Here, Tim shares his secret weapons: plunger-style hackle pliers¬†and a magnetic strip glued to a popsicle stick. As you’ll see, this combo works much better than fingers for getting everything in the right place, so you can start the tying process.

8 thoughts on “Video: How to Handle Tiny Hooks Without Going Crazy”

    1. Put your steel dubbing needles, sizzors etc. on a strong magnet and leave overnight and they will become magnetized! Easy as that! Then all can be used to pickup hooks!
      Works well!

  1. I use earth magnets…about the size of a dime…to control my midge hooks. I also file off the barbs in the vise, with the eye up and the point outward. Finally, I add tippet on the vise after tying (Davy Knot), and lace this through the flutes of waxed corrugated “cards” (4 X 6 inches) with a foam strip to hold about 10 flies per card.

  2. Tim and Bob (March 2018) – good tips for the fly tying bench with plenty of good lighting. As I get older, and my eyesight gets weaker, on the stream, I’ve found getting the tippet through the eye of those small hooks more and more problematic. Yes, doing the fly to tippet knot while still on the vise is a good solution. At the other end, do you use a blood knot or double surgeon’s knot to attach to the next section of leader, or does perfection loops and loop-to-loop connections work without messing up the leader, drift, visuals, and water disturbance to the trout?

    I just carry too many flies with me. The thought of carrying 10 or 20 or 30 with tippets attached just boggles my mind. I guess if I could limit those pre-rigged to 10 or so zebra midges, RS2, etc. I would probably be adequately prepared to match the midge hatch, but would be miss the befuddlement of being faced with the choice of too many flies. I know that black, red, brown zebra midges and BWO RS2 will cover just about any midge situations.

    Thanks for the tips and suggestions,


    1. Peter,
      I have been through all of your experiences and it all changed once I had cataract surgery. I could see again.
      But, I still use some of the tricks I learned or devised while going blind. I use to carry a flashlight that had a flexible neck. It would attach to either the waders or the vest. That small beam of light really allowed me to see to tie on a small fly at dusk on a tailwater with size 20 midge. Also, once a friend introduced me to the “Davy knot” I could almost tie it in the dark it is so simple. It has never been a problem. Just make sure the tag end comes off the hook eye at 90 degrees and you have tied correctly.
      Finally, I was introduced to tippet rings. 2mm is most common size I use for trout. If I am going to fish two small nymphs my set up would be as follows. Since I tie my own leaders, I would tie in a TR at the 4x terminal.
      From that TR I tie a 18-24 inch tippet and tie on a fly. I would go back to the TR and tie in a 6 inch dropper and add a second fly. Once the TR is tied to the leader all other knots are Davy knots.
      One other benefit…. I will seldom change the TR as it becomes the terminal end. Fewer knots to tie in the long run. Not bad for a 77 year old, old fart.
      Good luck, and just remember; light, knots and steal all the good ideas you can find.

      1. Thanks, Clint for your hints and suggestions.

        I’ve been a fan of tippet rings for the last few years. They do make the main part of the leader last a long time and adding tippet much easier. The small TRs even work with dry flies. Somehow, I never thought of adding the dropper to the TR. I’ve also been using the Davy knot on small flies.
        We all should share and uses each other’s tips. As an old song says, “Plagiarize, plagiarize. Let nothing evade your eyes.”

        Good Luck this Fishing Season,


  3. Or you can just use tweezers to grab hooks from the package and place them in the vise. In this case, you don’t want tweezers that have been magnetized because it becomes difficult to grab just one hook at a time.

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