This section of Old Hooks deals with snelled fish hooks. Snelled hooks were in wide use likely since man used fish hooks. It wouldn’t come as a big surprise that like modern hook makers, hook makers hundreds and even thousands of years ago would find a ready market for their hooks with a bit of line already attached. It is a fairly fussy job to attach a line to a blind eye hook whether it be tapered or flatted. One must make wrap after wrap to do so and let’s face it, not all fishermen are all that handy. Plus, a snelled hook could save time when fishing. If all there is to attaching a new hook is to attach the snell to a loop on the end of the leader, fishing time is increased. A fly or bait in the water stands a much better chance of attracting a fish in the water rather than out.
Most fly fishers these days don’t use snelled flies but it was common only a few decades ago.
Virtually all hook makers made loose and snelled hooks for all manners of fish. We’ve all seen the paper packets that hold usually six snelled hooks. These days the snells are nylon but not too long ago, silk gut was used. As you might imagine there are hundreds if not thousands of different packages of snelled hooks. A great many tackle and hardware stores had their own packages made up and hook companies often put out more than one line of packages. A hook collector could just focus on snelled hooks and end up with a huge collection of hooks over time. As you would expect, the graphics on many of the packages is really art and it changed as times did.
Unfortunately, time and the environment is not always kind to silk gut and old paper. Fish hooks were and are usually kept in a garage or basement where humidity can be a problem. Humidity and heat are terrible for these fragile items. Often the paper crumbles and the gut breaks. Add to that that the hooks themselves will be prone to rusting even when one thinks humidity is not a problem. The old tinning that was used on hooks might as well not even be on them. I have hooks that had been tinned that have never been used and still, they have rust and much if not all the tin is off the hooks.
Like everything else in the collectable world, the survivors are special and the fewer the number, the higher the value.
What follows are gut, nylon and wire snelled hooks. Most of the wire snelled hooks will be found in the saltwater section but there are some here as well.
Where does one start a section on snelled hooks? I guess just reach into the bag and pull out a packet of hooks. I think most of us have a soft spot in our collecting hearts for the triangular hook packets. Usually containing six snelled hooks, these and of course other packages too, these were made by virtually all hook makers. What is more important, these were usually made under the hook maker’s name and label while the more common folded paper packets were made under countless different names, usually especially made for the store where they were sold. This means a collector could have a never ending quest for every last packaging made.