Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Fly 20,000 Years in the Making

Royal Sakasa Kebari using mammoth ivory hook

Before carbon fiber and bamboo rods there were simple sticks and branches.  Before braided nylon coated with PVC and monofilaments there was horse hair. Even before chemically sharpened hooks and bent needles there was bone and ivory hooks. Materials such as bone, antler and ivory were used
thousands of years before our modern metal hooks came into existence.  I enjoy tying my own flies and making my own equipment such as horsehair lines and line holders from moose antler.  One can derive extra satisfaction from knowing that a trout was brought to hand with things made by one's own hand and not in some far off distant factory. So for fun I decided to use some left over Woolly Mammoth Ivory I had from several years back when I used to practice scrimshaw (entirely another post would be need to explain this).  Mammoth ivory is a beautiful material that is fairly easy to carve and is pretty strong.  Since mammoths departed this world at the end of the last ice 10,000 to 20,000 years ago their ivory, found in tusks, have been found throughout Siberia and Alaska.  Man has used this material for artistic creations as well as functional items such as fish hooks. The hook I fashioned is roughly equivalent to size 6 Mustad scud hook with an extra long shank.  I still need to drill a small hole in the end where the eye should be.  I'm confident that I could land fish with this hook but I don't think I would try it till I have made several more (I'm afraid to loose one to a "rock fish" or tree).
I think the next few I try will be with moose antler because it's not as expensive to obtain.  Ultimately, I think I will have to try a fly fishing trip using only a primitive hook, horsehair line and a stick and see how I compare to our distant ancestors.

Top view of bare hook
Bare Woolly Mammoth Ivory Hook


  1. That is an absolutely awesome idea. Takes fly tying to an entirely different level. Love it.

  2. Thanks Atlas. I personally can't wait to fish with one.