Well, It doesn't mean I do drugs. (There's already enough of those kind of "tweakers" around!)
Basically, it means that I re-work existing fish hooks to fit my own desires and asthetic ideals. In our craft of tying and reproducing flies from the 1800's, it is important to have a hook that looks the part. A modern hook just doesn't look right on a classic fly. Kind of like putting Neon Lights on a horse drawn carriage.
People have been reworking hooks for tying atlantic salmon flies for a long time. Gene Sunday was probably the most famous hook modifier in recent times. His hooks had a great look and finish. He also was kind enough to detail the process in Mike Radencich's book "Tying the Classic Salmon Fly" . This book lead me on the path to reworking hooks. Let me say, its been a long path, filled with pitfalls. I've probably taken years off of my life inhaling noxious laquer, enamel, and turpentine fumes. I've bloodied my hands, impaled myself with barbs, broken files, and just about burned my house down in the process! But...was it worth it? I'm going to say yes. But only because of the satisfaction I get from creating something from scratch and knowing that I figured it out myself. I now am able to offer my Black Japan Finish for sale. This is the culmination of all of my efforts in one easy to use hook finish. You'll still have to bend, file and temper the hooks you wish to finish (or just clean up an old antique). This is a hook I finished with minimal file work to barb and point, but you can see that it still has a wonderful, traditional black japan finish.