Sharpen Your Skills

With Proper Hook Selection

Capt. Steve Dougherty March 12, 2010

Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back to the earliest time of human existence. Primitive anglers around the world fashioned makeshift hooks out of nearly any material they could get their hands on. Japanese anglers utilized reindeer horns, British fishermen created treble hooks from the thorny branches of hawthorn trees, and Native Americans used the talons and beaks from birds of prey.

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Photo: Steve Dougherty

Inexperienced anglers may claim that a fishing hook is a fishing hook, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Anglers-in-the-know understand that hook selection is as important as where and when to fish. Not only will selecting the improper type and size hook result in frustrating days on the water, but it can also result in a detrimental experience to the game fish you seek. Stroll through your local bait and tackle shop and you will be floored by the wide selection of hooks. Whether it’s a tournament approved non-offset circle, dancing stinger, weedless soft plastic hook, light-wire J-hook or technologically advanced Sureset 4x treble, modern materials and construction techniques have resulted in hooks that offer incredible penetration capacity, increased holding power and instantaneous hooksets.

Anglers-in-the-know understand that hook selection is as important as where and when to fish.

Composition & Design
There are numerous elements to an individual hook that are attributed to the design, composition and practical application including; bite, gape, eye, barb, shank, tip, and bend. Generally manufactured from forged steel, nickel, and stainless steel, innovative manufacturers are looking to new-age materials for increased performance. Hi-carbon steel, permasteel and vanadium are some of the materials currently utilized by top brands. While hooks fabricated from cutting-edge materials may be costly, they offer incredible performance gains that are extremely beneficial. They are, however, to be used with caution. When targeting game fish for catch-and-release, non-decaying hooks are not the best option. If left in a fish’s mouth, a stainless hook will not disintegrate in a short period of time and may cause the fish greater harm than a less permanent non-stainless lip ring.

Hook points are also a hot topic and technologically oriented manufacturers are constantly evolving their designs in an effort to stay one step ahead of the competition. VMC utilizes a unique manufacturing process that gathers metal fibers and compresses them towards the center of the hook point. This enables the thinnest part of the point to have the highest density of metal. Whether it’s a Triple-Edge Cutting Point, Needle Cone Point, multi-barb Fastgrip Point or Spark Point, it’s crucial you keep the tip ultra sharp. This is now an easy task as hook designers utilize cutting-edge laser and chemical sharpening processes for the ultimate in puncturing penetration and point longevity.

Selection & Application
It’s critical when selecting a hook that you take into consideration the tackle you plan on using as well as the size of your offering, not the size of your target species (the size of your target species determines the size of your offering). Before you can make any selection you must first decide if you will be practicing catch-and-release, or harvesting your catch for tasty table fare. If there’s even a remote chance your quarry will be released to fight another day you should choose a circle-hook, as it greatly reduces the chance of potentially inflicting a fatal wound. And if you think that all circle-hooks are the same then you still have a lot to learn. Non-offset circle-hooks provide the greatest chance for post-release survivability and you’ll have to decide if you want an in-line or up-eye design. Up-eye designs enable anglers to tie a snell knot, which offers a directional pull and increased hook-up ratio. Offset circle-hooks are yet another option, however the offset design somewhat negates a circle-hook’s fish-friendly attributes.

If you know catch-and-release is not the day’s task, for example when targeting brute mutton snapper or ferociously fast wahoo, an extra strength J-hook may be your best bet. Hooks designed for live bait purposes are often outfitted with a short shank for ultimate stealth, as overall hook size is critical to a natural presentation. Thin and strong is the only way to go here. Big game live bait hooks are also available with a welded ring to enable a live bait even greater freedom, however, similar action can be accomplished by tying a loop knot. Even treble hooks have benefited from recent innovations, with VMC recently releasing their newest Sureset treble. Designed for artificial offerings, the extra-wide “scorpion” gap enables prime hook positioning for extreme penetration power.

Make no mistake. While the selection process may be daunting, proper hook selection is critical to your overall angling success, regardless of which arena you ply your craft in. Spend the time to choose wisely and you’ll undoubtedly increase your hook-up ratio. That’s a guarantee!

Hook Manufacturers

Addya - www.addyahooks.com
Daiichi - www.daiichihooks.com
Eagle Claw - www.eagleclaw.com
Excalibur - www.lurenet.com
Gamakatsu - www.gamakatsu.com
Lindgren-Pitman - www.lindgren-pitman.com
Matzuo - www.matzuo.com
Mustad - www.mustad.no
Owner - www.ownerhooks.com
Penn - www.pennreels.com
Pioneer Tackle - www.pioneertackle.com
VMC - www.vmchooks.com

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