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MUSTAD Z-STEEL FLY HOOKS ~ JULY 2010


The Mustad S71S SS is an all-purpose, stainless-steel, salt-water, fly hook. 

With a shank that is 1x long, it produces better proportions on certain patterns - such as my Jelly Belly Minnow – than do hooks with shanks of standard length (e.g. the TMC 811S).

In 2009 Mustad introduced a high carbon steel version of the S71S SS with a Z-steel alloy coating, the S71Z-34007, purported to be 30% stronger and 8X more corrosion resistant. Mustad’s decision to replace both the S71S SS and S74S SS (long shank version) with Z-steel equivalents, in their USA and Europe, Africa and Middle East catalogues, was a clear statement they regard Z-steel to be superior to stainless steel.   

Although Z-steel fly hooks are not yet available in Australia or New Zealand , the Mustad Area Manager (for Australia and New Zealand ) was kind enough to arrange me some samples, destined for the American market. 

Mustad S71Z(top) and TMC811s (bottom) fly hooks (both #2) 
Note the slightly longer shank, slightly smaller gape and tiny barb on the gunmetal S71Z

 

My first impression of the gunmetal S71Z was not great.  The hooks did not look quite as smart as the shiny stainless equivalents and despite being chemically sharpened, they were also not quite as sharp as the TMC 811S, or at least not consistently so.

It was not until I got onto the water that the S71Z began to 'shine'.  To begin with the hook seems to retain its needle points forever.  I recently caught more than two dozen kahawai on a Jelly Belly Minnow and the hook point seemed as sharp after the last fish as when I made the first cast.  Had I been using a stainless hook I would have sharpened it at least twice.

Most of the many kahawai caught on the size 4 and size 2 hooks, were hooked very well and I never experienced a single hook breaking or opening, even though I pulled hard enough at times to pop a 12lb tippet.

To test the corrosion resistance of the S71Z I did not rinse the flies off in fresh water after fishing with them.  Three months later they remained coated with a sticky, salty residue, but, quite remarkably, there was no sign of corrosion anywhere on the hook.  Stainless hooks treated similarly had brown spots at the point where the hook emerged from the stretch cord body.  Six months after the S71-Z hooks were used in saltwater they had tarnished somewhat, regardless of whether they were rinsed off in fresh water or not, changing from the original gunmetal to a dull oxidised grey.  There was no sign of any rust, however. What is impressive about Z-steel is that even if some of the coating is removed - when sharpening the hook for example – the exposed carbon steel remains protected from rusting. 

Mustad are understandably reluctant to describe this protective mechanism as it would provide clues to the composition of the “secret” Z-steel coating. 

According to Mustad the S71Z should appear on the Australian market toward the end of 2010, with availability in New Zealand depending on demand.

 

 

A veteran Jelly Belly Minnow (tied bendback-style) with tarnished S71-Z hook, 
but no sign of rust



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