Leaving Urban Flyfishers with 1,200 hooks in various models, I broke out into a cold-sweat as my OCD went into overdrive calculating the amount of flies I would need to tie to prove, without an inkling of doubt, that these new Mouche Hooks can be trusted when hooked into that trophy. Richard Simpkins explained that he wanted to bring in a range of good-quality barbless/competition hooks that were both light on the pocket and those fish we so poignantly release. Sure, professionally packed and clearly marked in their packaging, Mouche hooks most certainly looked the business, but the critic in me would not relent and how can I, dear reader, risk advocating a hook that might cost you the fish of a lifetime?
Timing was perfect as I was about to slide behind my Vagabond Fly J-Vice and tie up a storm for a trip with Tourette Fishing chasing reel-busting Yellowfish in the Lesotho back-country. I tied up just over 100 flies in 2 days exclusively on Mouche Hooks. The hooks I used in various and appropriate sizes for the patterns of choice were:
The fishing was off-the-hook (see what I did there?) with countless Yellows landed and though the vast majority of these were caught on either The Guru or The Gun, I managed to catch several fish on each hook used. Anyone who has ever done battle with the Yellows of Lesotho will know that they by no means hold their punches and test both the angler and his tackle to the nth-degree. I landed two fish over 8lbs after running what felt like a marathon after both of them.
Remember that scene in A River Runs Through it with Brad Pitt drifting after that slab of a fish; yip my odyssey was similar but in contrast, it was over boulders, bushes and through several raging torrents.
I even spent a few precious minutes casting (read smashing) a tandem rig consisting of a heavily weighted control fly (The Gun) and a soft-hackle (The Guru) at a rock pile next to the river. Why? Well one does this on several occasions on any given day out on the river, so why not speed up the experiment. The beads and materials of these showed undeniable wear and damage, but surprisingly the hook points were still in-tack, straight and sharp. I proceeded to land over a dozen fish on this exact rig – impressed?
Unbeknownst to them, I handed out several of these flies to the rest of the party of 5 and they fished these equally hard over the four days and not one of them complained or commented on fish lost due to the hooks; no accounting for human error though.
I have to date landed over 200 Yellowfish and several carp up to 10lbs on Mouche hooks and I have yet to break, open or fault any one of the hooks within the range. Their finish seems to hold up very well only showing some wear after a few hard fighting fish, but nothing that will diminish its performance. I personally repacked a 1,200 Mouche hooks into my hook boxes and I was unable to find a single hook that was not masterfully crafted – no skew eyes or tweaking required here.
At R45.00 for 25 hooks across the range and various sizes, you get a flawless hook at a price point that will neither dampen your tying-ambition nor see you shed a tear should you have to break one off.
Mouche hooks receive the Vagabond Fly thumbs-up as a range of hooks that will cater for the majority of freshwater scenarios and species you will encounter.