People often want to know my secrets to success. The truth is there are many factors, but none is as important as the attention I pay to the smallest details.
I’m amazed by how many pro anglers use the wrong type of hook, dull hooks, or the wrong size of hooks with their lures. The proper hook will maximize lure action, produce more bites and increase your chances of landing more fish that bite.
I carry a utility box filled with several sizes and styles of hooks for both soft plastics and hardbaits. The box is filled with straight shank and offset worm hooks, light wire, heavy wire, round bends and KVD Elite trebles various sizes. I replace my hardbait hooks before every tournament, and on days when the fish are really biting, I will change hooks during the course of the day. And if I’m catching big fish, I may even replace the split rings.
Here are some of my other guidelines:
Match your hook diameter to the size of line you’re using. Never use a light wire hook when fishing 20-pound line or heavy tackle because the brute strength with the kind of hook-set required in that presentation may cause that hook to flex or straighten. Conversely, don’t use a flipping hook on 10-pound line because of the force required to bury a thick hook into a fish’s mouth.
The type of fish you’re pursuing should be a factor, too. If I’m fishing jerkbaits or topwaters for spotted or smallmouth bass that tend to slash at a bait, I prefer KVD Elites. Those fish rarely get all of the hooks in their mouths, so you need ultra sharp hooks that can penetrate the tissue outside of the mouth as well.
Now, if I’m cranking laying logs or thick brush, I change to 2X or 3X strong trebles (with heavy line) even if I’m using a small crankbait. You need the extra strength in those hooks to horse big fish away from the cover.
Also, select the widest bend of treble hooks you can and you’ll land more fish. Shorter shanks may be necessary to prevent the front and rear trebles from tangling, but the extra gap pays off with more secure hook-ups.
However, don’t overpower the bait. Too heavy of a treble hook can cause a lure to sink or kill its action. Test it in a tank or pool before fishing.
Use straight shanks instead of offset styles when fishing Texas-rigged plastics. Offset hooks may hold the bait in position better, but they also push the fish’s mouth open on the hook-set. To prevent baits from sliding down the shank of straight hooks, use either a screw-lock style sinker to secure the head of the bait or force a toothpick through the side of the lure and into the eye of the hook.
Match the gap to the size of plastic bait. Wide gaps are ideal for fat plastics like stick worms, creature baits or fat tubes. However, small diameter finesse worms have better action when fished on smaller gap hooks.
Don’t use pliers to reshape a bent hook. It only weakens the hook, so replace it with a fresh one. Also, don’t mess with sharpening used hooks. If a hook gets dull, replace it. You can’t make the point as sharp as the hooks are coming from the factory.
Another error that some anglers make is they use cheap stock hooks that come packaged with hardbaits, such as crankbaits, topwaters or jerkbaits. While some companies provide premium hooks on their lures, the premium replacement hooks help your chances of landing big fish.
Am I obsessive about hooks? Perhaps. But I’m convinced it’s the little details that have helped me be successful throughout my career.