52 Tying Tips #10, File Your Shank

Week 9 –  File Your Shank for Better flies
 
Lacquered Hook
Have you ever had a fly, one you tied or bought, that after a few fish starts to spin on the shank? It behaves as though it wasn't quit tied on the shank of the hook tight enough. Which might be the case but sometimes this phenomenon is a factor of the hook itself rather than how well the fly was tied. There is a way to safeguard against this. Simply file the shank of the hook before you start tying your flies.
 
 
File the Lacquer off the hook shankAll modern hooks are made out of steel. However, steel itself corrodes very quickly when exposed to water. Because of this, hook manufactures apply a lacquer coating to the steel hook (I am talking about the freshwater 'bronze' hooks here, first image) to make them more corrosion resistant. If you tie your fly right on top of this lacquer coating then your fly will not really be attached to the hook if the lacquer coating breaks away from the steel. This is the case sometimes when your flies start to slid around the hook shank for no apparent reason.
 
Lacquer and No LacquerThe easy solution is to file away the lacquer coating before you start tying your fly. There are files for sale through fly shops that are made for this job but you can also use a common steel file you get at your local hardware store. Take a few swipes at the hook shank trying to remove just the lacquer around most of the hook shank. The second and third image show the hook with the lacquer coating removed on half of the hook shank. When you start tying your fly, cover the now bare shank with a layer of thread. This will provide better friction and keep the resulting fly from sliding around the hook shank. 
 
 
Thread Layer Over Bare HookKeep in mind, if your going to loose most of your flies in trees then the added step to make longer lasting flies might not be worth it. But if you want a better tied fly then start with a bare shank and your fly will stay the way you want it.
 
 
 
 
 

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