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Hooked in 2012


Fly fishers and tyers know the important role hooks play in their craft. We want hook models and sizes to be suited to the fish we pursue, of fine quality, and to be readily available at reasonable prices. Our hooks should stay hard and sharp, have well-formed tapered eyes and resist bending under stress.


Popular hook manufacturers O. Mustad & Sons and Partridge of Redditch have produced fine hooks decades. Let’s see what’s been happening recently with these hook makers.


Partridge of Redditch


Partridge of Redditch has been an innovator and technology leader in the manufacture of hooks since its beginnings in the late 1800’s, in those days the company manufactured for the top names in the business like Farlows, Hardy Bros., Ogden and more recently Veniard.

As the name implies, Partridge of Redditch was based in Mount Pleasant, Redditch, in central England. Both the town and the district have been renowned for its specialized metal work throughout many generations, needle making and hook making in particular. It is not easy to establish when this started, but according to one likely theory it started with the existence of a large monastery at Redditch. The monks were reputed to have been skilled artisans, and when Henry VIII dissolved the brotherhood the monks were taken in by leading Catholic families in the area, who obviously put their skills to use. From there processing of steel and specialized metal work were developed and refined.

In the early days needle making and hook making went hand in hand; the techniques developed for making needles could be applied in making hooks as well. Steel wire was drawn in Birmingham and then sent out to needle and hook producers in adjacent towns such as Studley, Alcester, Henley-in Arden and Redditch. In the middle of the nineteenth century Redditch seemed to establish itself as the main hook-producing centre. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the transition from pure handwork to industrial production made Redditch famous for excellent fish hooks throughout the world. In this period they actually dominated the world market.

The early history of Partridge is somewhat obscure. We know that it was started on the basis of existing hook manufacturing shortly after the turn of this century, but no one knows the exact year any longer. What we do know, however, is that it has been the only British sport hook manufacturer who has been able to survive and create a name for itself in the twentieth century. Partridge of Redditch bears its name from the founder Albert Partridge. He left the firm to his son Ted, who sold it to Alan Bramley in 1970 when none of his children were interested in taking over the company.

Alan Bramley further developed the company, and in the 1970s he extended the production to include exclusive split cane rods as well as continuing to develop and improve hook production. Thanks to him Partridge of Redditch has become an internationally acclaimed fish hook brand.

In 1996 the Norwegian hook manufacturer O. Mustad & Son bought Partridge of Redditch from Alan Bramley. As far as Mustad was concerned, one might say that the circle had been closed. When O. Mustad & Son started their production of fish hooks in the 1870s, they soon realized that the hooks coming out of their machines were not fit to fish with. They were too soft and rusted after a day in water. The founder, Hans Mustad, then summoned specialists from Redditch, England, to help him solve the problems. They were specialists in tempering, design and fly-tying. Partly thanks to Redditch expertise, Mustad is today the leading manufacturer of fish hooks in the world.

Mustad clearly realized and appreciated the traditions and quality of the Partridge-of-Redditch brand.

Most recently Mustad sold Partridge of Redditch to FishingMatters LTD who now control distribution in the UK & Ireland and continue to have dealers and distribution around the world.

Partridge of Redditch looks forward to continue its co-operation with fly-fishers and sport fishermen all over the world and keep its obligations to the continuously increasing number of fans who, throughout several generations, have been enchanted by the magic of our Finest Handmade Fish Hooks.

O. Mustad & Sons

Norwegian based investment company and energy and engineering services company Borre Nordheim-Larsen, NLI Utvikling has issued a standardized notification to the Norwegian Competition Authority for its bid to purchase O. Mustad & Sons hook company. This motion was filed on Nov. 21 and they have until Dec. 12 (2011) to provide formal details on the purchase to the competition authority.

Rumors have circulated for months about Pure Fishing and Rapala purchasing Mustad and this seems to be pretty solid evidence to the contrary. NLI Utvikling is a $2.3 Billion NOK company with 1,300 employees worldwide. They have interests in gas, solar, wind, rainwater and other renewable energy sources as well as having engineering, fabrication and business development arms.

Angling International Editor Mel Bagnall reported in his recent newsletter that it was all but a done deal now.


What’s Next?


These developments have created a period where models and sizes are being dropped, supply issues have arisen, and there have also been serious quality issues as well. A good example is the Partridge hooks manufactured in China a few years ago. Their popular Bartleet Supreme salmon hooks were barely recognizable and other models were unavailable for a year or so. Customers simply had to do without.


This led our local River Magic Fly Shop to search for some market stability, better model selection, improved supply and high quality, “the way things used to be”.


Enter Tiemco and Daiichi. Both of these Japanese hook manufacturers easily fit our criteria, demonstrating that in a few short decades the Japanese have become hook industry leaders, as they have with electronics, cameras and so on. The saying “You get what you pay for” is appropriate here as both are quite expensive, similar to Partridge prices.


Recently we’ve found a supplier of hooks that meet our criteria AND sell for a very reasonable price. They are very similar to the hooks made by Tiemco. We now buy these hooks in 1000 packs, repackage them in 100 packs, and sell them under the River Magic brand.


River Magic currently stocks these hooks in dry, wet, salmon, nymph, natural bend and streamer models. Having recently purchased 36,000 of these hooks, the shop can once again supply great quality hooks to customers at reasonable prices.


April 1st Looms!

This week’s fly is excellent for fishing trout in early spring. It can be tied in any color, but dark shades like black or olive are the most popular. It is best fished slow and deep in cold waters when fish are lying near bottom. Large flies weighted with bead, cone, skull or dumbbell heads are effective in these conditions, getting the fly down and providing a bit of flash as well.

Later in the season, when the water warms up, smaller unweighted versions are productive when for sea-trout or brown trout. 

Wooly Bugger

Thread:                GSP thread or MonoCord, any color

Hook:                   River Magic 4XL streamer or 2XL nymph hooks,

hook sizes 2, 4, 6

Tail:                      Olive marabou, slightly longer than hook shank 

Body Hackle:      Olive grizzly cock hackle, folded and palmered over body

Body:                   Black or olive Ice Dub

Head:                   2 coats of head cement.


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