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Curved vs Straight: What Are The Best Hooks For Buzzers?

Curved vs Straight: What Are The Best Hooks For Buzzers?

Curved vs Straight Buzzers

Numerous contentious debates float around fly fishing circles. One particular debate that divides opinion is the use of curved vs straight hooks when fishing buzzers. Some argue that the hook types represent the different stages of the buzzers' ascent to hatch, with curved being more effective when the buzzers are wiggling to the surface and straight hooks when they rest and descend. In addition, some feel that straight hooks have a higher hook up rate while curved hooks have the benefit of a more reliable hook hold - particularly barbless variants. I have never considered this, and have always tied my buzzers on straight shank hooks. Although we do not believe there is a right or wrong. A poll we ran accross our Upavon social media platforms concluded that 57% preferred curved Buzzers vs 43% voting for straight hook Buzzers, so we were intrigued to see if there was a difference in success. Time for a live experiment! 

Our venue for the day was the phenomenal Farmoor Reservoir. Although not the most picturesque fishery, what it lacks in scenery, it certainly makes up for in the quality of the fishing, especially this time of year. Arriving at the water, we were greeted with a light Easterly wind. Perfect for drifting along the shelf that runs parallel to the causeway. A prime spot for buzzer-feeding fish that will often patrol the deeper water along the drop off.

Although buzzers were hatching with fish moving readily on the top, we agreed that the majority of the fish would likely be holding deeper due to the bright sun. It is often the case when fish are seen feeding on the surface there is another layer of feeding fish deeper down which are normally easier to catch. Reports suggested that lures fished deep was the flavour of the moment, however we did not let this distract us from our plan. Instead, we just set our Buzzers to fish deep with 4 flies on a long 22ft, strong leader using 9.5lb Seaguar Grand Max. To ensure the test was fair, we set up with the same lines, leader spacings, flies and their positions on the cast. The only difference was that Ben’s buzzers were tied on curved hooks and mine on straight. We opted for 4x #10 black buzzers on a Cortland 444 floating line which casts a nice long line and allows time in the drift for the flies to acheive depth. Although they are all different patterns, in reality, depth is far more important. Glued or epoxy Buzzers sink quickly through the water with little resistance, and fishing the straight line approach (only nymphs) would allow them to cover multiple depths as they descended through the water column. I have always pondered depth vs pattern, if depth is all that matters then why are there so many patterns? I suppose it all depends on people’s confidence, but on this day achieving a specific depth was paramount.

Our casts of buzzers, finished with a couple of coats of Upavon Hard Coat Varnish to prevent damage to the ribbing material after multiple hook ups.

We started our day drifting down the causeway from marker 2, down to the harbour. The wind was light, so we did not use the drogue on the first drift. We opted to cover as much water as possible to find the fish. Once we located pods, we used the drogue on the subsequent drifts to hold us on them longer. We found fish down the causeway, with both anglers finding consistent sport with all fish coming to our point flies or 3rd dropper. These fish were holding deep, proving that there were two layers of fish as suspected. Those rising on top, holding in the top few feet, and another set of fish around 12-15 feet down. We continued to pick fish up along the drift, again to the same flies. By 11 am the score stood at straight 6 fish vs curved 9 fish with an equal number of missed takes. A definite lead but not substantial. A slight change in conditions saw the sun dip behind some clouds with the fish rising in the water column. A quick switch to the washing line with a Pure FAB saw 3 more fish in 3 casts grace the net for straight hooks as the three buzzers were held perfectly in the taking zone. As soon as the sun had gone, it returned, and the fish dropped. By lunchtime, the score was straight 14 and curved 11 with 3 fish lost to straight hooks and 2 to curved.

Cracking Buzzer feeding Farmoor Rainbow caught as the flies lifted from the bottom at the end of the retrieve. 

With the post-lunch scores sitting at Straight 16 vs Curved 13, with several lost by both of us, it was clear there was not much in it. The afternoon saw a drop in the wind, and we opted to fish the bung to see if it affected the results. Although it is a Marmite method, it is arguably the best way to present a buzzer naturally, static and vertical with the added benefit of a specific depth. I set 3 buzzers at 3, 7 and 12 feet, knowing that the top buzzer could likely pick out the better fish that were rising. 7ft was somewhat no mans land, but if the fish rose slightly when the sun went behind the clouds, it may pick up the odd one and 12 ft being the most likely to perform. 

It did not take long for us to both get in to fish, with the bungs sailing away almost every cast. Both straight and curved hooks produced fish. As expected, 12 ft produced the most fish, with 7ft picking out the odd one or two and the 3ft buzzer taking the better fish that we could see moving on the top. The key difference was the number of fish lost on straight hooks under the bung vs curved, a ratio of 5:1, user error? Maybe, however we switched rods and saw similar results.

To conclude, we found no advantage or disadvantage to fishing curved vs straight buzzers when not fishing under the indicator. An important factor to note is the amount of fish lost in play using straight hooks under the indicator. Some fish took the buzzers with confidence, the classic arm-wrenching buzzer takes we all love. However, the majority of takes were soft, just a subtle lift of line at the rod tip or the indicator barely dipping below the surface. In most instances, you would not feel these takes, and in some cases it's likely the hook hold was affected by this. Interestingly, straight hooks lost far more fish than their curved counterparts under the indicator, not something we predicted. It could be argued that this was down to the angler ability!

What's your experience with curved and straight hooks? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tight lines,

Ben Beckwith.

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John Franklin - April 9, 2024

Great article and a very interesting read for me, just starting my second season fly fishing. Lots of tips for me, thanks v much

Alan John MASTERS - June 13, 2023

Like your article – interesting debate . Have fished for big reservoir trout for over 50 years – the modern patterns are so good compared to what we fished in the 70`s and 80`s but I have days when curved buzzers are what the trout want and vice versa with straight hook buzzers .
I would not want to go fishing with just one choice .
Farmoor is a brilliant buzzer fishing venue and the fish are exceptionally hard fighting – well worth a visit !
Please write more of these kind of articles .
Best wishes

Jon Petterssen - May 9, 2023

Talking resin type chironomid patterns.Curved in points make a difference. The needle points do not hold so well.Crushed barbs on straight point hooks have the same issue.Offset points are the leader ’’spinners’’.Curved shank/straight shank not noticed any difference but I tend to fish straight shank deeper and curved higher when straight lining a team of four buzzers.

Paul James - May 6, 2023

I found one of the most interesting things about your article was the mention of small movements of the bung which had you not been using it would have been undetectable.

I’ve recently been trying to explain this to some who just don’t believe that on some occasions fish are nipping at the flys in a way that you wouldn’t detect without the bung.

We find it a bit of fun on those days trying to concentrate enough to pull into a few of those fish.

Another thing we found when bank fishing with the bung and buzzers was that when the fish had moved in close it was often quite deadly to let the line drift round on the wind until the point fly just snagged the bottom weed. Invariably a pretty savage take came pretty soon on one of the droppers.

Clive Turner - May 4, 2023

My preference when tying buzzers is to use curved hooks as they show a rising buzzer through the water column fishing a straight line static or slow figure of eight
When moving flies at a quicker rate some say straight hooks are better as the curved hooks spin in the water and May tangle your droppers
I am still not sure if this is true as I get tangled on both methods!
Any body else had any experience of both hooks tangles or not?

Ron Howard - May 4, 2023

I use curved on the point and straight on the droppers. Works for me. Enjoyed your article like exploring ideas like this. Thanks

John Hartland - May 3, 2023

I have found that mixing straight hooks and curved hooks as I used to do with the curved hook on the top/ middle dropper of the straight hook on the middle dropper/ point, causes more tangles.
I no longer mix them but I am quite happy to use a team using one type of hook.

Pete Mogford - May 3, 2023

I enjoyed that article. I tie using both curved and straight hooks. Curved when I want a full pattern and straight when I want to tie short. Have similar results on both although the straight is my go to for the washing line

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