As salmon anglers, we all hate losing fish. It is often hard enough to get a take, so when you end up losing a fish it inevitably feels like a lost opportunity. Tackle companies are constantly developing different hook designs and trying to capture us with catchy phrases like “chemically sharpened” and “cutting point”. Nowadays, there are many different styles of hook to choose from, especially if you are using tube flies. Ten years ago most anglers would use a treble hook when fishing with a tube. However, times have changed and now more people prefer to use doubles or even in some cases single hooks. On certain rivers and beats, the use of treble hooks has been banned, as it can often be more difficult to remove a treble, especially if the fish has been deeply hooked.

There is nothing worse than losing a fish

As catch and release is being practiced more widely, this combined with using barbless hooks make perfect sense. What if though, there are no restrictions on the type of hook you can use when fly-fishing on a beat? In such circumstances, which style of hook, the single, double or treble provides the most secure hook hold when coupled with a tube a fly?
Salmon flies were traditionally tied on single irons. You can still see some wonderful old photographs in fishing books of stunning flies like the Jock Scott and the Silver Doctor tied on these types of hook. This was of course before doubles and treble hooks were devised. When it comes to tube flies, using single hooks is a relatively new concept. More and more anglers are now resorting to using single hooks in combination with a tube fly, even when there are no hook restrictions on the beat that they are fishing on. 

The traditional single iron (Image kindly provided by J F Molloy)

When you consider the physical forces applied on the hook when playing a salmon, you can understand why using a single might be the best option. If a fish is hooked on a single, then all the pressure or force going through the hook itself is through one point. This in effect gives you one very secure hook hold. If however, you decide to use a double or treble hook the same pressure is spread over two or three points, resulting in either two or three weaker hook holds. Another obvious advantage of using a single hook with a tube fly is that it usually causes a lot less damage to the fish, especially if the fly has been swallowed. Removing a single hook from a fish can be much easier compared to a double or treble. 
Nowadays, doubles are probably the most commonly used hook when fishing with a tube fly. These seemed to have replaced the traditional treble that has been preferred for decades. Indeed, double hooks are now becoming so popular that certain hook manufacturers have stopped making trebles. Again, this is because nowadays we are all becoming more conservation minded. 

A tube fly coupled with a double hook


In certain circumstances, a double hook is preferred to a single. If for example, you are fishing with a fly, which has a long wing like a Sunray Shadow or a Monkey, the wing has a propensity of getting caught around the three points of a treble hook. This is not the case when using a single or a double.
The treble hook has been used in conjunction with the tube fly for years. Indeed, before anglers became conservation minded the treble hook was always used with a tube fly. Partly this was because the Waddington fly, which is similar in size and design to a tube, always had a treble hook attached to it.
If, however, you take into account the pressure when using a treble hook is spread over three points compared to one (when using a single hook) you would think if anything the treble hook would provide the weaker hook hold. Many of the older generation prefer to use trebles and will continue to use nothing else when fishing with a tube fly.

Much depends on the take, over which we have no control

It is impossible to say which type of hook provides the most secure hook hold when using tube flies. For years we have used treble hooks and thought nothing more of it but as we now have more options when it comes to hooks, we often wonder what hook we should be using. If the fish takes the fly in an aggressive manner, then it is more likely that you are going to establish a secure hook hold, regardless of the hook type. Unfortunately, as anglers, we have no control over how the fish will take the fly. The most important thing is to use a hook that you have utmost confidence in and believe is a good hooker!