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I don't use hook keepers, ever.  I feel they are detrimental to the functionality of the rod, and prone to provide that rod with a shorter life span.  (Harry Boyd)

    I agree on the hookkeepers.  I don't even bring it up when someone orders a rod, it's not on my order forms anywhere, and the ONLY ones I put on are for those that really work their ass off talking me into it.

    Personally, I have never used one and NEVER will.  I consider them to be a bit like tits on a boar hog. Decorative, possibly, but useless!!!  Typically, my rods are 8' or less in length, and with a short leader, 7', and 3 or 4 feet of tippet, you're still going to have the fly line below the tip top using a hook keeper.  I just hook mine on a guide and loop the line around the reel foot.  Do that with an 8 foot rod and you can comfortably keep 12 feet of line from the end of the fly out of the tip top.  Even with my 5'6"er, you can still keep a 7' leader and 3 feet of tippet out of the guides. No time wasted trying to pull your line out of the guides so your rod will cast.  (Bob Nunley)

    I like the looks of a winding check and hookkeeper, but the rods I build in the future will not have hookkeepers.  At least for now.  A friend that guides says that his experience is that most people hook themselves because of the hookkeeper.  The fly is too close to the hand when picking up the rod or handing the rod to another.  I don't have any experience with that but it makes sense.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    I dislike the traditional strap and hoop hookkeeper because they always crush the hackle of a dry fly against the rod.

    I form my own keepers from a 2/0 black snake guide by using a couple tiny pliers.   I bend one of the feet  down and back to lie parallel the other. Then I shape the remaining "loop" into a very small, narrow oblong.  In profile, the keeper now looks like an open "J" lying on its side.  Lastly, I grind the feet down to form sharp, flat edges so that (with my little pliers) I can slide the feet under the first cork along the surface of the cane.

    To mount the keeper, I use a dab of 5-minute epoxy, and slide the keeper several times into the little slit, pushing the epoxy in along with the feet.  I wrap the protruding keeper (which curls upward to hold the fly off the cane) tightly with binding cord just to hold the small portion next to the cork flat while the glue cures.  Then I remove the string and I'm ready for the wrapping.

    For this, I begin at the cork and make six or eight turns right over the keeper until I reach a point where the keeper begins to curl upward.  Then I spiral the thread ahead and make several rather loose wraps.  With my fingernail, I keep sliding these wraps back tightly against where I "left off."   When varnished, the whole arrangement looks very smooth and neat.

    Because it is sort of tucked into the "corner" formed by the first cork, the keeper seems not to be at all vulnerable.  Some of my rods with this kind of keeper are now more than a decade old, and show no sign of wear or loosening.  (Bill Harms)

    Interesting comment re: functionality and viability impact. Care to expand? I for one would like to know your thoughts here.  (Gerald Buckley)

      First, a hook keeper on the shortish rods so many of us build these days allows the semi-standard 9 foot leader to have its butt end inside the tip top.   Many folks are too lazy to reach out to the tip and pull the leader-line connection out, so they just yank.  With the profusion of braided loops, nail-knotted amnesia sections, and so forth joining line and leaders, something hangs, the tip is bent 90+* in six inches, and "snap" goes the tip.  Same thing goes with 12 foot leaders and longer rods.  Several years ago I broke a graphite rod, twice (yes, same rod), doing just that.   I urge my customers to never, never reel the line-leader connection through the tip top.

      Second, when carrying a rigged rod from place to place streamside, I tend to hold the rod just above the cork grip, right where a winding check would be. Garrison's book has a story about a female customer engorging herself while doing just that.

      Without a hook keeper, the angler is forced to loop the leader around the reel and place the hook bend around the stripper or one of the lower guides.  In my mind, that's a much safer position for both the rod and the angler.  Now if one wanted to place a hook keeper just below the stripping guide.... naaah....that would look stupid.

      Third, I just plain don't like the way hook keepers look.  Only the strap and ring type look even decent to me.  And they tend to flop around, making a little tiny clicking sound as I cast.  I just don't like them.  Therefore, I don't even offer them as options on my rods.  (Harry Boyd)


A while back there was discussion on the relative merits of using a hookkeeper. I've always had hookkeepers on my rods and never had a problem with sticking myself on one but when I read the responses it did make a lot of sense to take the line and wrap it around the reel and back up, effectively keeping the leader/line join out of the tip. It seems that to do this you need to hook the fly to a post on the stripping guide. What about including an inverted hookkeeper of sorts on the stripper or next to it in order to keep the hook point away from the cane? I know it flies in the face of convention but if artfully designed it might just fly. Funny thing is that when I started fly fishing 12 years ago I never saw or read about wrapping the leader around the base of the reel. Now, I won't do it any other way.  (Bill Walters)


I've run across a few really neat little rings which will make unique hookkeepers.  All I need to is provide the strap.  Trouble is, I don't typically use a hook keeper on my rods and don't know what those little straps are traditionally made from.  Are they nickel silver?  If so, where do you find paper thin sheets of NS?  Are they brass?  Any wisdom out there?  (Harry Boyd)

    I've seen both, brass and nickel silver I would try my luck with a jeweler near you, or eBay. Some even sell square wire you could use.

    Or try here.  (Danny Heus)

    I've made a few strap 'n ring keepers from brass tubing found at hobby stores.  Slice a ring from a tube of about 1/8" ID using a jeweler's saw. Polish the edges w/ 6-800 grit.  Then cut a piece about 1/2" long from a larger tube with wall thickness that is appropriate for the strap.  Then slice this lengthwise and flatten.  Then cut off a slim strip appropriate for the strap, polish and bend around a small drill bit to form the loop. Bend the "feet" back flat. Whole thing takes longer to write than to do.   (Carey Mitchell)

    I make these type of hook keepers by silver soldering the rings together, then I use ns sheet cut to thin strips, I simply take a piece of wire or a small drill bit and use a flat blade screw driver on each side to press the small hump into the N/S strap. I found some N/S at the local jewelry supply house. You could also try a hobby shop. How about some stainless sheet found at ace hardware (may be to stiff?) if you are going to oxidize it, brass will work. That's all folks.  (Joe Arguello)

    I've used silver plater copper radio hookup wire for many years. Works great, but may not satisfy the cosmetic perfectionists.   (Bill Fink)


I like my rods with keeper rings for our little part of the fishing world, the Northeast, sorta. We use lots of small, and even smaller size hooks with light tippets and they are difficult to hook up to a stripper guide  so I  buy the  smallest split  rings available  from spin-lure sources. For the flat binder strap I use silver plated copper radio hookup wire pounded flat on the anvil of my big vise. (Have I heard this before?) It works for me.  (Bill Fink)


Anybody know where I can get material to make straps for strap and ring style keepers?  (Lee Orr)

    This old post was sent out a few months ago

    Another source for NS rings, by the way, is They sell NS rings for chain mail. A lifetime supply for 10 amateur   rodmakers   is   less   than   $10.   Tom   Kerr recommends them.  I think the smallest gauge ring is the one to get.

    (Aaron Gaffney)

    Well, I looked at monsterslayer and the knife company and they have a lot of usable rodmaking materials.  In fact monsterslayer has closed rings that look exactly like what is being sold elsewhere for a lot more.  Anyhow, I ordered some nickel silver sheeting for strap material, and some pretty neat looking closed sterling silver rings.  It cost less than $15 total for 100 keepers.  (Lee Orr)


Some discussions got me thinking that maybe a ready source of wire for the strap on flip ring keepers might be the shank of a stainless hook. I tried it this weekend. It's nasty stuff, and you have to bash it hard to flatten it. I have never been happy with hook keepers. I don't like the idea of the traditional flip ring flopping around on my rods, and the inverted "U" keeper has little class.

Looking at the stainless hooks, however, made me realize that an eye is already formed. I could make a keeper by carefully grinding the  top of the hook shank and the eye to half round, cutting to length, and then bashing the round side to a tapered flat. The eye is then  bent up, and a hook keeper is born.

Smithwick, Tom Keeper

The keeper could be browned to match traditional guides by carefully toasting it with an alcohol lamp,  well away from the flame, or  blackened by heating red hot with a torch, immediately water quenching.

It rained buckets here yesterday, no fishing. I took a ride with a friend to the Woodcraft store, and noted that they came out with a  bronze version of the Stanley 100, the squirrel tail palm plane. I liked the heft of the thing and bought it. The body of the plane is  nicely made, and seems more hand filling than the Kunz version, which I also own. The difference is more in the weight than the dimensions.  There's nothing wrong with the Kunz. The blade of the Woodcraft version turned out to be a do it yourself kit. It took me a couple  hours of hand grinding to get the back of the blade flat. The blade is apparently just 1095 steel, which is fine for a roughing plane, I  was not expecting tool steel. You would think for the money, however, that they could grind the thing properly.  (Tom Smithwick)

    I like the hook keeper, and the butt cap on that reel seat looks nice, too.  I did something similar once with a silver dime.  Picked up about $10 worth of silver dimes to repeat the process, and never have.  (Harry Boyd)

    I make a small Inverted U as you describe it, out of small diameter Nickel Silver wire I got at a Jewelry supply store. It's pretty soft in the roll, too soft you would think, but as a hook keeper it's just fine. I bend it around a nail, straighten the feet out with long nosed pliers and cut the feet to length, then pound the tips flat with a small ball peen hammer. I like it. I made a couple rods with no hook keeper after I was told by someone that "classic" rods didn't use hookkeepers on them. It is so unhandy NOT to have a hook keeper (yes I know, wrap the line around the spool and fasten to the striping guide) that I decided to put one back on.   (Martin Jensen)

      Years ago, when I made some UL plastic rods, I used a similar technique, but instead of NS, used nichrome wire.  This is the wire in heating elements, a bit harder than NS, does not rust or tarnish and works easily.  Flattened the "feet" by filing, stuck the ends under the cork and wrapped about 1/2". Everybody loved them - simple and quick.  (Carey Mitchell)

    I regularly heat Stainless (and bronze finished) hooks to red hot to make eyeless Salmon fly hooks one advantage is that the areas that have been heated to red hot and allowed to room cool are easier to reshape (bending, bashing etc.) I also 'warm' them with the oxy torch them quench them in Megablue for a cool dark gray satin finish.  (Nick Kingston)


Can someone point me to a source for nickel silver straps used on ring hook tenders?  I don't need the rings, just the straps or some suggestions as to what else can be used.  Golden Witch has a very small strap but not sure if it can be bought in that form or if it needs to be cut from a sheet of NS.  (Scott Bahn)

    I rarely use hook tenders so I can't be bothered looking for a small quantity of strip.  I've found that NS wire is readily available from wire jewelry suppliers and the soft annealed material they supply flattens easily with a small hammer on an anvil giving just what you want.  (Gary Marshall)


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