the Klinkhammer (Klinkhåmer) special and variations, and “klinkhammer” hooks

The “Klinkhåmer (Klinkhammer) Special,” originally Hans van Klinken’s “LT (light tan) Caddis,” originated as a caddis emerger pattern inspired by a large curved emerging caddis pupa Hans found in the stomach of a grayling in 1984. Evolved over time to its present form, this has proven to be a highly successful and popular pattern for grayling, trout and other species that will take a fly on the surface.

This pattern lends itself well to impressionistic immitations of caddis and mayfly emergers (as stoneflies typically do not “emerge” in the surface film, but rather crawl out on rocks, snags and vegetation as nymphs, dry “emerger” immitations are not appropriate for stoneflies), and serves as well as a general attractor or searching pattern.  With the body hanging below the surface film, suspended by parachute hackle on a highly buoyant and visible post, it is highly visible both to the fish below, and the angler above.  The “klink” makes a good “mule” fly for dry/dropper (“klink & dink”) technique, with the dropper to a small suspended nymph tied to the bend of the hook; Fulling Mill offers a “Klinkhammer Duo” variation which incorporates a small tippet ring tied in at the hook bend for dropper attachment; tho I do fine tying in directly to the hook bend, even with a barbless hook.

I don’t enjoy fishing with floating indicators (no judgement on that, just not my personal cup of tea), but I’ll often use a dry/dropper arrangement with a #10-16 Klinkammer suspending a small, 2.0-2.5mm beaded nymph early in the day when searching on a stream,  & remove the dropper once I catch a few decent fish on the dry, else switch over to tight-line nymphing.  Most commonly I’ll fish these rigs on a leader-to-hand setup (yes!  dries and dry/dropper rigs!) or using a 3-4 wt line on larger water or into more of a breeze.

I’ve seen the name “Klinkhammer” applied to generic curved-body parachute flies; however Hans van Klinken’s pattern is a rather specific one (given color variations).  Rather than initially offering my take on the pattern, I’d refer you first to “the source”:



The Klinkhåmer Special fifteen years later

klinkhammmer hooks

“klinkhammmer” hooks – click on image to enlarge

Hans tied his original “LT Caddis” on  a Partridge K2b (Yorkshire Caddis) hook, at the time made of lighter wire than the contemporary version of this up-eye caddis/grub hook.  He subsequently worked with Partridge of Reddich to develop a straight-eyed curved hook of lighter wire to his designations, the Partridge 15 BN and subsequently the 15 BNX; with a change in the ownership of Partridge, accompanied by changes in the design of these hooks, he subsequently teamed with Daiichi to develop their D1160 and D1167 (these two differ in finish only, the D1160 in bronze and the D1167 in black nickel finish) according to his original design specifications.  It is the Daiichi 1160/1167 which Hans currently recommends for his pattern.  Respecting Hans van Klinken’s careful development of this pattern, I suppose that the term “Klinkammer” should be reserved for flies tied to pattern on hooks of this shape.

My concern with the Partridge 15B, BNX and the Daichii 1160/1167, is that these are all barbed hooks.  At first glance it would seem that this might easily be solved at the vice or with a pair of forceps on the stream, but a de-barbed hook  is not the equivalent  of a well-designed barbless hook in hooking/holding ability.This is of particular significance in smaller sizes, with shorter needle-length.  The original Klinhammer is meant to be boldly used in larger (#8-10-12) sizes, but the pattern lends itself as well to smaller flies (#14 & smaller) such as blue-winged olive emergers, and for these, in particular, a hook with wide gape and long needle designed as barbless comes into its own.

pupa/grub hooks - click on image to enlarge

pupa/grub hooks – click on image to enlarge

This has sent me on a search for barbless alternatives.  I’ve tied Klinkhammer-inspired patterns on a range of standard barbless caddis pupa / grub / czech nymph hooks closer in  shape to the originally-used Yorkshire caddis hook, such as the Hanak H300 BL, DohikuHDG/P644,  Hends BL 554, Fulling Mill(Hayabasu) 35065, Demmon G600 BL, 601BL and DGS900BL, Knapek P, Akita 745BL, 755 BL and 539BL, FishOn light-wire curved nymph hook, and Partridge light-wire Czech nymph hook.  Many of these are of heavier wire, more suited to nymphs & wets, but will suit to a dry emerger if dressed appropriately; I’ve posted images of these (fig. 2) to help with sizing translation among various manufacturers, as there is rather considerable variation among these in sizes as well as in shape.  The Dohiku HDP 644 is a particularly nice hook for dry emergers, and is available down to a #16.   

The Gamakatsu GAM-C15BV (fig. 1, row 4) is an interesting hook, with very wide gape and light wire, with a very small vertically-turned eye.  I have difficulty tying on these as the wire is extremely light, bending easily with minimal thread tension; perhaps they’ll work better for others with a more delicate technique; and the eye is tiny and nearly impossible for me to thread on the stream.  Hanak has recently introduced their H390BL “Klinkhammer” hook (fig. 1, row 5), with fine wire, a very wide gape and long barbless needle, which is now becoming my favored hook for emerger-style dries including Klinkhammer-inspired patterns.  The wide gape of this hook makes it especially well-suited to smaller mayfly emergers in sizes 12-16.

Although Hans is likely correct in suggesting peacock herl as the optimal material for the thorax, particularly for caddis immitations, I’ve found this to be a bit delicate in the teeth of my local cutthroat & ‘bows, rarely suviving a few fish even when tied in by the tips and twisted with the tying thread; I prefer to substitute a more durable dubbed thorax, and use either Jan Siman or Arizona Synthetics (John Rohmer) artificial Peacock dubbing (in Peacock, Bronze Peacock, Black, or other dark shades), dubbed in a tight dubbing noodle.  A slim abdomen is essential, and I’ll most often use squirrel from the pelt, natural or dyed olive, either dubbed from rear to front or dubbed from front to rear and ribbed back with tying thread as in the Deer Hair Emerger.  Light grey, cream, light tan, ginger or olive are the standards, but there is great room here for variation in color to immitate your local bugs with other dubbing materials.   Jack Mickievicz Hare’s Ear Masterblend with Anton or Antron & Flash makes a great abdomen.  Although originally tied as a caddis emerger, color and size variations to represent various mayfly emergers work nicely as well.   I’ve tied variations with stripped peacock quill, Hends body quill or tying thread abdomens ribbed with Sulky tinsels (similar to Kevin Compton’s tungsten torpedo nymph) &/or fine wire or contasting thread,  which fish well.     I have some favorite “Adams gray,” “blue-winged olive,” “March Brown,” “Green Drake,” and “purple haze” variants; and for folks back east, have seen some nice Sulphur versions.  A highly buoyant material is necessary for the post; I like the ultra-dry yarn from FishOn Productions, or Tiemco’s aero-dry poly yarn in a highly-visible color for my aging eyes (the fish will not see this), and have used Bryan Hostetler’s “Bry’s Bunny Vis” high-visibility snowshoe hare foot blend in white or dun for a wing/post on smaller flies (esp. nice for BWO emergers).  As Hans suggests, don’t skimp on the hackle – use a good-quality rooster neck hackle, one you’d use on a Catskill-style fly, to keep things afloat, and don’t skimp on the number of wraps, esp. if intended for use in heavier water or if using a heavier hook or as the “mule” for a dry/dropper rig.  I’ve dabbled with CDC hackle, prepared with a dubbing clip and tied in split-thread , with some success, tho I suspect that Hans might groan at the thought.

An intertesting article on Klinkhammer-inspired mayfly patterns:
 Tying and Fishing the Mayfly Klinkhammer

You’ll find many Klinkhammer tying videos on a Youtube or Google search –
here’s a good one from Davie McPhail:

and a link to Hans himself tying his pattern:

These hooks lend thenselves well to other dry emerger patterns, some inspired by the original Klinkhammer, such as deer or snowshoe hare hair-winged “sedgehammers” (see, e.g., the Balloon Sedgehammer), and  many of the patterns detailed in Jim Schollmeyer’s Tying Emergers: A Complete Guide.

I’ll post some of my favorite Klinkammer & Klinkhammer-inspired patterns, along with other dry emerger patterns, in posts to follow.

See also ..

tag “emergers”

balloon sedgehammer

deer hair emerger 2.1

deer hair emerger 2,2

5/19/2015 – see addendum at

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