I have the next couple of weeks off from tournament fishing to stay home and spend some time with my wife and daughter, so I won’t have any tournament reports, but I will have some info that I think you will find beneficial. This week, I want to talk about hooks, and more specifically, treble hooks. Treble hook selection is something that too many anglers overlook. Whether you are a casual weekend angler, or seasoned tournament vet, proper treble hook selection will help you put more fish in the boat.
The first key to any treble hook may seem obvious, but it is one that we tend to forget about after we tie on a crankbait. The hooks have to be sharp!! Grinding a crankbait in rocks or getting hung on a stump, can dull hooks very quickly, and cause lost fish. It is difficult to remember during the course of the day to check your hook points and make sure they are still razor sharp or don’t have a tiny bend on the end of them, but it is very important. When a fish comes unbuttoned and you get your lure back to the boat only to find that one of the points is bent, it makes for a sick feeling in your stomach. Trust me. It happened to me last year in a tournament, only it was with a spinnerbait. Same principle though. My rule of thumb when checking hooks for sharpness is to see if they are “sticky”. When you grasp the points of them, do they stick to your fingers, or just fall off? If they aren’t “sticky”, they need to be replaced.
Then the question becomes, what do I replace them with? Round bends? EWG’s? Short shanks? There are many different hook selections to choose from. My brand of choice is Gamakatsu. They are “sticky” sharp out of the pack, and I think they hold their sharpness longer than some other brands. If you prefer something else, that’s fine too. As far as round bend versus an extra wide gap, I prefer the wide gap over the round bend under most circumstances, because I feel that over the years, I don’t lose as many with them. There are certain scenarios though, that I feel the round bend is a better choice. If I am having fish “slap” at my plugs, I will switch to a round. This is typically early in the year or in a high fishing pressure situation. The round bend offers more opportunity for a fish to get hooked if they are timid towards the bait. Also, you might try switching crankbaits, but that is for another time.
So we’ve covered round bend versus wide gaps, but what about short shank hooks? There is a time and place for those as well. I typically reserve those times for when I want to upsize my hooks and not affect the action of the bait. This is the most important aspect of upsizing your hooks. You cannot change the action of the bait, or upsizing the hooks is doing more damage than good. You should be able to look at the bait in the water and tell if there is a diminished action. The advantage that the short shanks have is that they have a little less weight that affects the bait, and they tend to not get “handcuffed” or tangled with each other resulting in bait that does donuts on top of the water all the way back to the boat. Larger baits can typically accommodate an upsized hook. It’s some of your shallower running baits that you want to pay close attention too.
I hope that you will read this and think more about your treble hooks and checking them more often over the course of your day. It may just put one extra fish in the boat, but that one fish could be a 5 pounder that wins the tournament or the fish of a lifetime. Until next time…. Tight Lines- Tim
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