The Eagle Claw 253 hook is the traditional choice for tying the flatwings, bucktails, and soft hackles made popular by Ken Abrames. It is a 1x short, O’Shaughnessy style spinnerbait hook with a non-offset point.
Ken didn’t choose that hook by accident. In Striper Moon, he writes of the 254 1x short, a similar hook, “The wire is light and does not cause the hook to sink unnaturally…the shank of this hook is one size short…this does two things: first, it makes the hook lighter and second it makes the point longer in relationship to hook size. I believe this gives me a mechanical advantage when fighting a fish.” Those same attributes apply to the 253, which is the dominant hook in his book of fly patterns, A Perfect Fish.
“To fashion a fly from tradition is an honorable practice.” — KA. I did my best to honor that practice with the Rock Island, tied here on the Eagle Claw 253, size 3/0.
The Eagle Claw brand holds a special place in my heart. It was the snelled hook we used when my father taught me how to fish for trout in the early 1970s. For years now, I’ve been tying most of my striper flies on the Eagle Claw 253. I usually buy them in lots of 100, readily available at any number of online retailers. Most of those 100 are sticky sharp right out of the box; those that aren’t are easily sharpened with a few strokes of a mill file. Eagle Claw makes a version of the 253 called “Lazer Sharp.” Ironically, I’ve found many of the Lazer Sharp hooks to be pencil-eraser dull, and difficult to sharpen. Stick with the regular 253 hook.
The biggest striper (probably between 30-35 pounds) I ever caught on the fly from shore took this Razzle Dazzle flatwing, below, tied on an Eagle Claw 253. At the time of the catch, the fly was at least 3 years old, and seen multiple seasons of use. I had sharpened the hook the night of the outing, as I had done many times before with Eagle Claw 253s, making sure it had enough sticking power to hold a junior cow.
Most of the Eagle Claw 253s I use are size 1/0 and 3/0, although I will tie some of my larger flatwings on 4/0s. A word of caution: on larger stripers, I’ve had the 1/0s begin to open (I tend to put a lot of pressure on a fish when fighting it) although I have never lost a striper to an opened hook. If I suspect there are bigger fish around, I’ll go with a 3/0 and up. I have never had an issue with those sizes.
My favorite hooks for flatwings, bucktails, and soft hackles, fresh from a 100 count bag, ready for the vise.