Every serious angler knows the value that quality hooks add to a lure. Whether you’re throwing topwaters, crankbaits, suspending twitch baits, or any other lure, the hooks play a pivotal role in getting the fish to the fisherman. They need to be strong, durable, and sharp in order to do the job they were made for correctly, and unfortunately, many of the stock hooks that some lures come with don’t quite live up to their expectation. They rust, or they bend/break, or often become dull after only a few trips to the salt.
The above mentioned factors are all good reasons to change out the hooks on most of your new lures before hitting the water. This cost friendly task only takes a few minutes of your time and will help ensure that you don’t lose that fish of a lifetime or miss out on big money during a tournament. A few things you should consider before purchasing your new hooks include brand, size, and whether to stick with trebles, or replace them with singles.
Single or Treble
Before worrying about what brand or size of hooks to get, you should really ask yourself if you want to stick with treble hooks, (similar to the ones the lure probably came with) or if you should make the switch to single hooks. To answer the question that’s going through your mind right now, no, your hook up ratio will not suffer by making the switch. Ask some of the top anglers or guides that have made the switch, and they’ll confirm it. Not only will you hookup with just as many fish as before, you’ll also benefit in several other ways as well.
For starters, single hooks work great when fishing around grassy areas. Whether the grass is just below the surface, or small pieces that have broken off are floating through the water, single hooks fail to hang up as much since the grass passes right around them. This gives you the option to throw a topwater lure around certain areas where you probably couldn’t before.
Another problem with treble hooks is that they tend to hang up with everything in sight. Clothing, nets, and fingers are three things they seem to catch other than fish, and they can be a pain to remove. Just about the time you get one hook out, another seems to grab a hold of something else, which starts the process of removing it all over again. With single hooks, you are working with two sharp ends instead of six, which lowers the odds that the business end of the hook grabs a hold of your gear or body parts. This holds true for the fish as well. Treble hooks can do some real damage to a fish that you intend to release if they end up in their eyes, body, and/or gills, which in some cases, can lower the odds that they will survive. Anglers that practice catch and release the majority of the time have become big fans of single hooks of this reason.
If you’ve decided to make the switch to single hooks, you’ll need to make sure you purchase the right style of hooks. Short shank live bait hooks with rings are your best choice, because they will require the least amount of work when attaching them. The short shank prevents the front and rear hooks from tangling with each other and the included ring prevents you from having to add an additional one to ensure the hook faces the right way. Without two rings, the hooks will face sideways instead of running in line with the lure.
When it comes to brands, some companies have proven themselves to be reliable makers of quality hooks. When you hear names like Owner, Gamakatsu, and Lazer TroKar, you know that you’re using some of the best hooks money can buy. Sure these hooks may cost a little more than others, but they will probably outlast most of your lures by resisting rust, staying sharp, and holding up to some of the biggest fish in the bay.
For those looking for something a little more cost friendly that will get the job done, the VMC hooks from Rapala have served me well. As far as strength goes, they do a great job of holding up to the abuse big redfish dole out and keep a nice sharp point for the better part of a year. They will require you to replace them about once a year, due to eventual rust, but you definitely get your money’s worth out of them.
Size can be tricky when it comes to hooks, depending on whether you are sticking with trebles or replacing with singles. The hooks that come with the lure were chosen for a reason, so careful consideration should be taken when replacing them. One of the main things to consider is the size/weight of the hooks. Without the correct weight, the balance of the lure can be thrown off, causing it to not function properly.
Most full sized topwaters like She Dogs, Top Dogs, and Skitterwalks, require #2 trebles. If you decided to go with single hooks, a 3/0 hook on the front, followed by a 2/0 hook on the back makes a great combo. By placing the smaller hook on the rear, you provide the lure with a little more freedom, which increases it’s action. For smaller topwaters like the Super Spook Jr, and MirrOmullet, #4 trebles or 1/0 singles work well. For even smaller crankbait type lures like the Strike Pro Hunchback or Manns 1-Minus, you’ll want a #4 treble on the front with a #6 on the rear or a 1/0 single hook on both the front and rear if you decide to go that route.
Changing Out the Hooks
Changing out hooks takes no time at all and only requires a pair of split ring pliers to do so. It is possible to complete the task without the pliers, but you’ll spend more time doing so and probably poke your fingers a few times during the process.
Treble hooks are easy to change out because all they require is for you to remove one, and add another. Single hooks aren’t quiet as simple because they can either face the front or the rear of the lure. Many anglers claim that the direction they face when you add them is very important, depending on the type of area you fish. If you are fishing around lots of heavy grass, facing both hooks towards the rear will help keep your lure grass free, while having the front hook facing the front and the back hook facing the rear is said to help with your hookup ratio. As far as direction and hookup ratio goes, the jury is still out on that one.
Whether you decide to stick with trebles or try out singles, changing hooks on your lures is a cheap and easy way to make them more dependable while on the water. Doing so might help to save you from a few sleepless nights, while you lie in bed, thinking about the one that got away.