I use the nickel AJ's when tying flies like the Glasso Orange Heron, Brown Heron, or Polar Shimp because I don't have to put an underbody of silver tinsel on them to keep the florescent floss from losing its brilliance when it gets wet. I also really like the AJ hooks in blue; in fact so much so that unless I am tying flies with florescent or light colored floss I use the blue AJ hooks almost exclusively. The blue finish holds up better than the black and looks very good on flies.
Alec Jackson himself uses the gold finished ones (and some very good long time steelhead fly fishers in this area do too) for flies he is going to fish in low-water in the late summer and fall, especially for evening fishing. Alec says the gold hooks provide a little bit of glow without being garish and thus serve to help attract fish in late summer and fall in the afternoon or evening.
I'm not convinced from a results point of view that it makes much difference but I fish the smaller nickel AJs on my summer patterns. I especially like the look of darker patterns like my Hotep tied on this hook. For winter I rarely use anything but black but I have had some success in the past using the gold AJs. I can't say I like the look of them so I don't use them much.
I use the bronze AJ's a lot, especially the heavier wire ones if I can get them. They're not thick enough to be hard on the fish and I think they give the body a bit more bulk and for some reason the hook point always looks straighter to me than the black.
Marc LeBlanc in QC ties his Picasse, a dark pattern, on the nickel hooks and does well with them. I've never really asked him about that, I like the darker fly on the darker hook. I'll use the nickel ones if I'm not underwrapping the body with silver tinsel. Other than that I stick to the bronze when I can.
I've also had a few of the nickel ones open up on me.
Well, hook color is one of those things... Research on trout seems to indicate that they look for positives, not negatives. For example they look for legs on insects, not a specific number of legs, so a soft hackle will work as well as a photo-realistic pattern. If keyed on a color they look for that color, but other colors don't seem to put them off as long as the key color is there, hence the "spectrum" style of flies that pop up every once in awhile.
So should the presence of a hook bother a trout, or its bigger cousin the steelhead? Theoretically no, so concealing the hook appears unecessary. But what about accentuating the hook by making it shiny silver or candy-apple red? At a distance, a flash will definitely alert the fish to the flies presence sooner, but will it put it off in striking distance? You'll have to ask the fish. I tend to believe it doesn't have a negative effect, but a mis-timed flash right as the fish is committing could. My personal solution is to tie flies that look right on a silver hook on a silver hook if I have one. Gotta please somebody, and it might as well be me :saevilw:
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