Difference Between A Dry Fly Hook And A Wet Fly Hook

When getting into fly-fishing, one of the first things that you should learn is the main difference between a dry fly and wet fly hooks.

That can be hard to learn at first because it seems very basic, which is a fact among most long time anglers. However, everyone starts as a newbie, so it is a good place to start.

The type of fly hook you choose to use will dictate the type of fishing you will practice. So, when choosing between the two, you have to think of the angling style you are planning to adopt.

Wet Fly Hooks vs. Dry Fly Hooks 

Fly fishing is of two types – dry fly fishing and wet fly fishing. In most magazine articles, movies and books, the form of fly-fishing you will find portrayed is the dry fly fishing. 

Some anglers consider it the purer of the two types but there is no reason for that. It is the type of fishing, which requires the fly to float on the water surface, whether you are fishing in a river, lake, stream or creek.

The fish has to hit the bait on the surface for you to catch them. The fly should resemble a bug that is jumping on the surface if you want to entice more fish to hit it. 

As you might expect, the bait used in wet fishing is different from that used in dry fishing. A wet fly should go underwater and some of the baits can sink to the bottom – only those designed for the purpose.

The flies are also designed for mobility below the water surface so that they can move with the water currents and mostly, wet fly anglers use many flies at the same time to increase the chances of success. That is about fishing, here is a short description of each type.

Wet fly hooks

Wet fly hooks are available in three main grades – the lightweight, medium and heavy grade. They are also available in many shapes, the commonest being the Sproat bend and the round bend.

Round bend hooks boast a bend that is perfectly round from the hook point to the shank end. On the other hand, sprout bend hook flattens out while its bend progresses to the point.

The purpose of this manufacturing is to help increase the hooking power and to add strength. 

Wet fly hooks in the medium weight category are robust and heavy enough for tying wet flies and nymphs while being light for dry flies, particularly those that consist of many CdC, hackle-turns, and foam to make the float.

Those in the lightweight category are an anomaly because it is hard to differentiate them from those sold as the standard dry fly hooks. Most anglers will consider the weight when buying a wet fly hook.

Dry fly hooks

If you are not certain about the type of fly hook to use, a dry fly hook will be a compromise. Logically, you could argue that the hook should be made of fine wire so that the fly can float on the water.

There are problems with that but most fine wire floats are not strong. They are only a good choice when chasing the small wild brown trout on upland streams.

But if you are after big reservoir rainbows, you will need a different approach. For Stillwater applications, you should never go for anything finer than a lighter than a wet fly hook.

And because you have to be realistic, match the hook to the tackle you will use and your target environment. That way, you will never go wrong. 

Within the last few years, manufacturers have designed specialist dry fly hooks. The most popular specialist hooks are the Klinkhamer and the Terrestrial hooks.

The later have a long, curved shank that makes them ideal for big dry flies, including the Stimulator or nymphs like Damsel Fly Nymph.

When looking for the best time of the year to succeed with dry fly fishing, you should use them during summer. Insects are many during summer and fish will feast on mosquitoes, so you should ensure that your fly simulates the insects.

The fall also offers adequate time for the style. All you need to do is choose the right weather, location and know the bugs that are doing. A wet fly is not restrictive because the bait goes below the water surface allowing it to look realistic at many times of the year. 

How to fish with a dry fly hook vs. a wet fly hook

Fly-fishing employs many techniques. The techniques are what make most beginner level anglers nervous. However, some of the techniques are universal and perfect for beginners.

The technique is everything when it comes to dry flies. Trout do not want to dart out from the hiding places. They will do that when the food is irresistible.

So, your first step should be to search for the foam on the water because it is where the food is situated.

Keep the cast to around 15 feet plus the leader. After making the cast, watch carefully and complete the first mend after seeing the fly line pulling your fly downstream.

Mend the fly line upstream to allow the fly to take control. Generally, you will get 8-10 feet of drift before recasting. 

The fly should drift from several feet in front across your body – shorter casts will make that possible. 

Do not worry if your casts are not perfect. If it is not, you can spook all types of fish if you pull it out of the water.

Before trying again, you should allow it to drift past you. The field of vision of trout is 320 degrees and casting nearly 20 degrees from them, you will be in the blind spot and therefore less likely to spook them. After hitting a good spot and drifting over it several, take several steps upstream and try again. 


Fly-fishing can be hard. So, do adequate research to know the areas you should target and choose between a dry fly hook and a wet fly hook. 

After you get to the river, look for the hatched flies near the bank, grab some and compare them to your flies. If nothing is hatching, woolly buggers and pheasant tail nymphs are worth consideration.