“A Bite is success to the angler, no matter what fishing method employed or the species sought.
The more Bites - the greater the success and the greater the opportunity there is for the angler to catch a fish.
This simple principle defines success in all fishing methods. Be a Bite fisherman. Use whatever fly that is needed to get the Bites.”
All Hook-Point-Up (HPU) patterns have three components. First, lead or
brass eyes placed below the hook-eye. Second, some sort of tying material such
as deer hair, feathers, fur, or hanked material tied in above the hook-eye.
Third, a sturdy and often large streamer hook. The popular Clouser Minnow is an
example of such a pattern. Its best attribute is to ride hook-point-up (h.p.u.)
in all types of waters - but at what cost to the angler? When using large hooks,
the amount of weight in the eyes creates problems. First it limits the size of
rod that can be used to cast the fly. Smaller weight rods, five weights and less,
perform poorly casting large weights, thus the angler is forced to use a heavier
rod. Second, in shallow, debris, and/or weedy water - whether the
water is moving or not - the heavy-eyed pattern often finds the bottom too
quickly. If the angler does not retrieve the fly swiftly then it bumps along the
bottom or becomes fouled in the greenery. Letting the fly glide slowly off of a
log to the bottom or lazily swim over a weed bed is an impossibility. While the
Clouser is a good pattern, it offers the angler little versatility in the
retrieve or fishing depth. Let’s take a look at the components of a Clouser and
with a little reasoning, common sense, elementary physics, and simple
hydrodynamics we can come up with a better functioning
pattern that achieves unbelievable results.
First, the large weighted eyes and their placement is a very critical
component of a good Clouser. The reason for the eyes is to
counteract the leverage of the hook-bend and hook-point. The hook-bend and
hook-point are not extremely heavy, but, because they are far above or below the
hook-eye (depending upon the hook’s position) they have considerable leverage
that influence the pattern’s posture. Placing the eyes below the hook-eye or
hook-shank overcomes this leverage. The eyes can be placed up near the hook-eye,
as in a minnow pattern, or at the hook-bend, as in a crawfish pattern. No matter
which end of the hook-shank they are on, the purpose is the same.
The second component of a HPU pattern is the tying material which can
decrease the leverage of the hook-bend and hook-point and lessen the amount of
weight needed in the eyes. If the tying materials are non-buoyant and tied in
below the hook-eye then the weight of the materials help to counteract the
hook-bend and lessen the amount of weight needed in the eyes. Thus, using
buoyant materials above the hook-eye helps to float the pattern upright and also
lessen the effect of the hook-bend. Buoyant materials below the hook-eye tend to
increase the leverage of the hook-bend and increases the amount of lead needed
for stability. However, I rarely, if ever, use buoyant material like deer hair for
my HPU’s. I find that synthetic materials are tougher, have richer dyed colors,
and come in a larger selection of both colors and textures.
The third component of a good HPU pattern is the style
of hook that is used. The use of light wire and small hook-gaps can also
decrease the leverage of the hook-bend and the hook-point, but the overall hook
style is the best component of a light-weight, large, hook-gaped pattern that
rides h.p.u. The straight-eyed or flat-ring-eyed streamer hook is not an
advantage to a good HPU pattern. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these
are not good hooks. My point is that because the hook-eye is between the lead
eyes and the hook-bend and point, there is no advantage in using this style
hook. Turned-down-eyed or turned-up-eyed hooks are worse. The hook-eye is the
guiding edge of the pattern. The hook-eye should be either perpendicular to the
plane of the hook-bend (as in a straight-eyed hook) or in the same plane of the
hook-bend (as in a flat ring-eyed hook). Turned-up and turned-down eyed hooks cause
the pattern to spin in swift current or when jerked suddenly because of the
oblique angle of the hook-eye. Spinning also occurs in other streamer patterns
that are tied on turned-eyed hooks. I have often wondered why more tyers don’t
chose straight or flat-ringed hooks instead when tying non-Clouser style
streamers. Twisted or turned hooks (those where the hook-bend is not in
alignment or same plane with the hook-shank) also cause a streamer to spin.
In straight shank hooks, the hook-eye is at the top of the hook-bend. This is
the main reason so much weight is needed to counteract the leverage of the
hook-bend and hook-point. If the hook-eye was in the middle or slightly above
the middle of the hook-bend then no weight is required to counteract the
forces created by the hook-bend and hook-point. As you can see the style of
eye and its placement in the hook configuration is the most important aspects of
building a great h.p.u. fly.
The best hook for a HPU would be a style that rides in the h.p.u. position
before we tie anything on it and has a flat ring-eye or a straight-eye. Then the
amount of lead or brass needed to stabilize the pattern would be minimal or
possibly not needed at all. Which hooks available to tiers fits this description?
There are several hooks that ride in the h.p.u. position. Few however are
used regularly by fly fisherman. Jig hooks are the first that comes to mind, but
they will spin. Jig hooks aren’t very stable without some sort of weight.
Several plastic worm hooks ride h.p.u., some are very stable without weight and
some aren’t. For example, the new Gamakatsu G-Lock Worm hook is stable without
any weight, but when large amounts of materials are added it will often wobble
or run tilted. This is especially true of the smaller size #4. Larger hook sizes
of this style don’t experience this problem. Lastly, the old fashion, Off-Set
Worm hooks are very stable. Even a bare Offset Worm hook will ride h.p.u. in
the swiftest of water. Weighted eyes and materials don’t change this asset.
Off-Set Worm hooks come in sizes from #2 to #5/o. It is too bad they don‘t come
in smaller sizes of #4 and #6. Some are cheaply made and others are expensive,
but you get what you pay for. Different brands and styles come with different
attributes such as: light, medium, or heavy wire; stiff or not-so stiff wire;
large barbs or micro barbs; cutter points, extremely sharp points or duller;
closed or not-so closed hook-eyes. Whatever you desire, it is out there.
In summary, the components of a great HPU pattern starts with a hook that
rides h.p.u. before adding materials. I suggest a style that has the
hook-eye in the middle of the hook-bend like an Offset Worm hook or a G-lock
Worm hook. Second, if you are going to use buoyant materials, use them only
above the hook-eye. Third, because of the assets of using a h.p.u. style hook,
eyes have become more of a decoration and less of a necessity. Smaller, lighter
(not necessarily lead) eyes can be used to give the pattern unbelievable
stability. I find that a 5/32 inch brass hour-glass eye is enough weight to
create a very stable #2 HPU Brite-Eyed Shiner. Be
intelligent about your streamer patterns. The lighter your streamer patterns the
better it can behave like a baitfish. And the lighter streamer patterns make it
easier for most species of fish to inhale your imitation. That’s called a bite
and I design my flies to improve that result. HPU’s are not limited to
streamers. The following are examples of patterns using the principles of a good
HPU pattern and some examples of their productivity.
Patterns using Off-Set Worm hooks allow the tier to be very creative. Such
things as weight, beads, flashy materials , hanked materials can be added to the
shank. A minnow pattern can have a gut sack in the space behind the eye, a short
chin, and more.
HPU Golden Redhorse Brite-Eyed Shiner #2 Gamakatsu Offset Worm
Hook, 5/32” Real
Eye, Spirit River Fluoro Fibre body.
HPU Gut Sack Brite-Eyed Shiner#2 Gamakatsu Offset Worm Hook, 5/32” Real
Eye, Spirit River Fluoro Fibre body, Holographic Mylar Motion silver flash and
Poly Bear gut sack.
HPU Policeman Brite-Eyed Shiner#2 Gamakatsu Offset Worm Hook,
5/32” Real Eye, Spirit River Fluoro Fibre body and Holographic Mylar Motion
Just because Offset Worm Hooks do not come in sizes smaller than #2 doesn’t mean that you can’t make your own. Some hooks can be bent to make very adequate small offset hooks. I prefer Eagle Claw 214 Aberdeen bronze hooks because they come in the hook-shank proportions that make very good #4 and #6 offset hooks. With a small pair of needle-nose pliers bend the eye portion of the offset then the drop or down section. Surprisingly, the self-made offset worm hook in these sizes are stouter than the original Aberdeen and the bend of the hook is less apt to the straighten under pressure. The bent hook reduces the leverage of the long hook shank and the repositioned hook-eye centers the fish’s weight in the hook-bend. HPU patterns tied on these smaller hooks can be cast with a one weight rod and are great for trout, sunfish, and the basses.
#4 HPU Dazl-Eyed Shiner in Spirit River Fluoro Fibre Neon pink
#4 HPU Dazl-Eyed Shiner in Spirit River Fluoro Fibre dark
green and electric yellow body with Gliss'n Glow gold flash.
Crawfish style patterns are extremely stable, light, and
effective. HPU Crawfish can either have their eyes at the hook-bend, at the bottom of the off-set, or just wrap lead around the hook-shank. Of these three choices, placing the eyes at the beginning of the hook-bend like the example below is the best performer all around. Lead wrapped around the hook-shank is best used in fast water when the pattern will not rest on the bottom (there are no eyes in this choice to hold the crawfish upright when resting on the bottom). The eyes tied in the off-set of the hook-shank of any style pattern is the most durable eye placement. In the limestone streams and rivers of the Ozarks this is most evident.
HPU Mudbug #2 Gamakatsu Offset Worm hook, Swiss Straw back,
Pheasant feather pinchers, Spirit River I-Balz eyes, Tarantula rubber legs and
antennae, and sparkle yarn body
HPU Willow Worms made with rabbit, pine squirrel, and/or mink can also be very different. Willow Worms with more than one tail, with a tail and a wing, with a body and a disjointed tail, and several more possibilities exist.
HPU Willow Worm #2 Gamakatsu G-Lock Worm hook, Spirit River I-Balz
eyes, Fluoro Fibre wing, Wapsi Pine Squirrel body.
HPU Willow Worm #2 Gamakatsu G-Lock Worm hook, Spirit River I-Balz
eyes, Bodi Braid body, Wapsi Pine Squirrel tail.
Floating HPU’s made with floating eyes and/or foam strips are
just as weedless and snag-free as sinking HPU’s. Floating eyes can be made from
round-ball Styrofoam indicators and a toothpick, tied in above or below the
hook-eye. Foam strips can be applied most anywhere. Try this - Floating eyes, a
foam strip around the hook-shank with rubber legs, and a foam wing on top makes
an easy, effective, weedless grasshopper pattern.
HPU Floating Grasshopper
HPU Floating Beetle
HPU Floating Willow Snake
HPU Floating Topminnow
On a recent trip to British Columbia, my HPU Brite-Eyed
Shiners and Willow Worms prove to be the flies of choice. Because of their h.p.u.
posture, in the swiftest of waters, very few fish were snagged in their dorsal
which is a common occurrence in salmon fishing. Snagged fish are like hooking a
rock and don’t fight well. Mouth-hooked salmon are like hooking a rocket and
fighting a bulldog, at the same time. Even the local fisherman, who weren’t fly
fishing, were impressed with how few salmon I snagged using these patterns.
Because British Columbia fishing laws allow that only mouth-hooked salmon can be
taken for consumption, effective patterns such as these were of great interest.
A male Chum Salmon caught on a Chartreuse-Fluorescent Pink Gilled HPU Willow Worm.
A male Chum Salmon caught on a Fluorescent Pink-Fluorescent Orange HPU Brite-Eyed Shiner.
Same male Chum Salmon caught on the Black-Olive HPU Brite-Eyed Shiner.
A male Chum Salmon caught on a Policeman (black, natural glow-n-the-dark, and silver) HPU Brite-Eyed Shiner.
A female Chum Salmon caught on a Glow-n-the-dark Yellow-Gold-Dark Olive HPU Brite-Eyed Shiner
HPU’s are great patterns for generating more bites and less hang-ups. This means less “Not Fishing Time” and more “Quality Fishing Time“. Their lightness and stability increase their versatility which aids the angler in making better natural presentations. Remember that any type of fishing is simple statistics at work. The more time the fly is fished naturally in the strike zone, the more opportunity there is to get a bite. More bites increase the chances of catching more and bigger fish - so fish for the bite.