What Size Hooks Do You Need for Saltwater Flies?

Saltwater fishing is a fun, exciting way to spend your days on the water, but there are plenty of roadblocks for beginners just getting into the sport. One of the most common questions from the novice fisherman is, “What size hooks should I use?” If you’ve ever fished before, you’ll know hooks come in various sizes. 

When fishing for saltwater predators with a saltwater fly, you’re more likely to utilize a larger hook than freshwater fish because they are generally larger and stronger. The smallest hook size you should use is typically a size 1. However, in some cases, you may need to use a hook as large as 5/0.

Fishing with the wrong-sized hook can have disastrous effects on your results. On the one hand, a large hook can easily be seen or get caught up on underwater structure. A small hook won’t be able to properly hook set large species and in some cases can bend out. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what size hooks you’ll need for your saltwater flies. 

Hook Size Is Important

When it comes to fly fishing for saltwater fish, you’ll find the subject of hooks covered in great detail. You’ll hear about the best kinds of hooks, what hook to use for specific applications, what flies should be used on each hook, what type of thread to use, and so on.

While several factors impact your overall success rate when fly fishing for saltwater fish, one factor that often gets disregarded is the size of the hook.

Hook size is an essential factor to consider when choosing a saltwater fly. You don’t want it to be too big or too small. The hook size will affect how your fly behaves in the water and how easy it is to land (or not land) a fish.

Smaller hooks work better when targeting smaller fish, but they are not ideal for catching larger game fish. This is because small hooks can also be challenging to get set in the mouths of these large fish. Additionally, hooks that are too small for the fish can be swallowed whole – causing fatal injury.

If you’re targeting a saltwater predator fish, you’ll probably have to utilize one of the largest fly hooks. Sizes ranging from 3/0 to 1/0 are often your best bet. If you’re targeting a smaller fish, you can go for sizes 6 to 1/0, depending on what best suits the fish’s size. 

Stainless Steel Hooks Are Always Best

Saltwater fly fishing requires strong hooks that can withstand corrosion from salt water. Fly fishermen were once limited to bronze hooks, but today’s world has given them stainless steel hooks as a more practical alternative.

Your best bet for saltwater fly fishing will be stainless steel hooks. They don’t corrode or rust nearly as quickly, so they’ll last much longer than your typical hook. That will be important if you spend a lot of time saltwater fishing – it saves you money.

Saltwater fish have tougher mouths and are also relatively stronger than their freshwater counterparts. Stainless steel hooks are your best bet because they are also strong enough to handle almost any type of fish you might come across.

The strength of your hook will obviously play a vital role in whether you reel a fish in or not. Steel is an excellent material because it’s strong enough to prevent the hook from bending out of the fish’s mouth.

Great Hooks for Saltwater Fly Fishing

Regarding saltwater fly fishing, hook selection can make or break the morning. There are various hooks out there, and they serve different purposes. Selecting the best hook for your fly is an essential step that some people don’t get right. 

This section should give you some insight into some of the best fly-tying hooks to use and tie your flies to. This way, you can make an informed decision about which hook to use for your next trip.

Gamakatsu Sl12S

Being one of the most versatile saltwater hooks on this list, the Gamakatsu SL12S is stainless steel and equally as strong as it is dependable. 

The SL12S is available in sizes 1-4/0 and is the perfect hook for various species from redfish to large tarpon. This is one of the best tarpon hooks on the planet, as it’s very strong for its small size. The wide gap allows for a good hookset on fish with large mouths.

The SL12S is an excellent option for large species that require a strong hook, yet may be hook shy. I have never had a SL12S bend out or fail.

Gamakatsu SI45 Bone Fish Hook

This hook is perfect for saltwater flies because it offers a straight eye and extreme sharpness. 

While it’s common for a saltwater hook to have a shiny silver finish, the Gamakatsu SI45 Bone Fish Hook has a black finish. It has been designed this way because it is intended for flats flies that don’t sparkle. 

This hook is excellent value for money, considering how strong and thin they are. They’re also incredibly sharp and hold their point surprisingly well. They’re great for fly patterns such as:

  • Crazy Charlies
  • CXI Specials
  • Shrimp patterns
  • Small bonefish
  • Redfish flies

However, they are forged, and unlike their stainless steel counterparts – they will rust if not taken care of appropriately. To avoid this, rinse them in fresh water and let them completely dry after use. 

It’s important to note that this type of Gamakatsu hook is generally sized to the smaller end of the hook scale, so they may not be as suitable if you’re going for something big. 

Mustad C71SSS Circle Streamer Hook

Circle hooks are not usually recommended for fly fishing because they can be challenging to tie flies on due to the shape of the hook and their short shanks. However, thanks to the Mustard C71SSS, this is no longer an issue. 

While the benefits of fishing with this hook are well-known, Mustard has developed the C71SSS with a longer shank to be suitable for the fly fisherman. 

This hook has been designed with specific attention to fly fishing. 

It’s a stainless steel hook that is perfect for saltwater. This, accompanied by its chemically sharpened point and micro barb, makes it the ideal hook for your saltwater fly fishing adventure. 

Sizes range from 3/0 to 10, and you can practically tie any fly onto it – adding to its versatility. 


The right hook can make a huge difference when working with saltwater flies, and numerous factors determine which size hook is best for a given pattern.

While you’ll generally use hooks between 1 and size 5/0 for saltwater fly fishing, there is no one-size-fits-all regarding hooks. You have to select your hook based on several factors, including the size and weight of the fly and the type of fish you are fishing for.

The most versatile hook for saltwater fly fishing is the TMC811S. For the added benefits of a circle hook, utilize Mustad’s C71SSS Circle Streamer.