J. Stockard Pro Tyer: Justin Bowman

I anticipated the release of the Firehole 718 for quite a while. I noticed over a several month period that Joe, the founder of  Firehole Outdoors, left me a couple of comments on social media posts that suggested something was in the works. However, there were never any real details released and his comments were somewhat cryptic. I recall one that was similar to “just you wait” on a post of a stimulator on a TMC 200R. Well, I waited. Turns out that I waited longer than Joe had anticipated. He recently told me that hook mold modifications added 5 months to the release date, but it is what was needed to get the hook that he wanted.

What Joe designed is a barbless, extended length, natural bend hook. This is a barbless solution to the Daiichi 1260 or a TMC 200R. I thought stimulators, hoppers, stoneflies, and terrestrials when I first saw it, but long nymphs shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, the 200R is a personal favorite midge hook of mine. I’ve long loved the bend in the shank of the 200R for nymphs because of the great profile/realistic shape it creates.

The Firehole 718 has a straight eye, 2x+ gape, and is made from a medium-heavy wire. It is initially available in sizes #4 to #18. The hook is made from a high strength carbon steel, which is properly hardened and tempered. Further, the hook is chemically sharpened and finished with a black nickel coating.


I received samples of these hooks several weeks ago and have tied several dozen flies on the #4’s through #18’s. I should point out the longer hook point and large gape, as I believe these make the shank appear shorter. If you compare the 718 to the 200R in their respective sizes, you’ll find these hooks are essentially the same lengths (see photo). As with all other Firehole products, I’ve found these hooks make for a fantastic looking fly. But more important than looks, these hooks are well constructed, strong, and SHARP.

The Firehole 718 is now in stock at J. Stockard. Try them. I hope you like them as much as I do!



  1. Very nice shape to this hook. Shaft curve resembles the Daiichi 1260 & TMC 200R as you say, but it’s also a lot like the little unsung-hero J2-430 from J.Stockard, which I always liked a lot because it has a great shaft curve (more natural than “perfect bend” hooks) and also it doesn’t *quite* line the point up with the eye (I think that improves hook-ups compared to “york bend” hooks).

    This 718…the 2x+ gape should further improve hook-ups. Could you say a #14 is more like a #12 due to the gape?

    Do you think the longer hook point is intended to keep the hook from falling out quite so easily? Or is it just a function of there being no barb, so that a longer section of wire can be called “part of the point”?

    If it’s there to help keep the hook from falling out, how is that much different from a micro-barb, as far as “giving the fish a chance” goes?

    Just curious–I do like the looks of this hook. The straight eye is also a plus in my opinion.

  2. Michael,
    I hope I answer what you’re asking here –

    Yes, the #14 does look like a larger hook due to the wider gape and extended hook point. The length of the “3x” shank matches up with shank length almost identically to the length of the matching 200r. When I tied my first few nymphs on the 16 and 18 718’s, it was tempting to upsize the bead and treat it like a larger hook. After I tied these with large beads, I downsized beads and treated it like a longer, more slender nymph. I think it could go either way —- whichever you prefer.

    The longer, upturned hook point is mainly for keeping fish on. The hook is forged from mid shank through the bend, which is done to increase strength and avoid bend outs. I, too, am a fan of the J2 430 and the 200r. However, there are complaints of the hook (the 200r specifically) breaking near the bite of the hook, which I believe is a consequence of the sharp bend where the hook flattens out on bottom and the narrowing wire diameter through this section. So, between the longer hook point and the increased gape, I believe the 718 hook is stronger and less susceptible to similar breakages. I should have mentioned this in the original blog post, but didn’t want it to sound like I’m putting a specific hook down. Also, I’m curious if the exceptionally small gape in the 200r in smaller sizes, 18-22, accounts for the occasional missed hook set.

    Lastly, as compared to a micro barb, I think the barbless hook is just friendlier on releases throughout all hook sizes. Easier on the jaw/mouth, faster hook removal, better hook penetration, and less fish handling time.

    1. Thanks Justin, for the thorough response. The forging thing is interesting–I suspect it does more to avoid bending than to avoid breakages since hard tempering gains rigidity at the expense of some brittleness…and then the 178 avoids the breakage issue just by having a smoother overall curve.

      The only time I ever bend a hook is when I’m trying to open the gape up a little on the vise…and the only time I ever break one off is when I go too far trying to bend one. I wish I could say I’m bending them out left and right on fish, but I tend to always use 6x tippet and most of the fish I catch (Chinook aside) aren’t hook-benders anyway. Wish they were.

      But I think the 718 just has a nice shape regardless. I’m tempted to try some. I do like long-shanked hooks, and gapes that are real gapes. (Never liked the “york bend” style.) I rarely fish in barbless-only waters and I lose so many feisty rainbows even even with help from a microbarb that I’ve never been moved to go all-barbless. But that shape is great and the length of the point might also help my bring-to-net percentage. So thanks for a very informative article; enjoyed it.

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