Technical Angling - Hooks
How to Choose the Most Efficient Hook for the Job
As I searched for another hook, I began to realize that I have several styles of hooks in my hook box. Why are there so many styles and shapes of hooks? Does it really matter?
On a recent trip to Lake Fork in Texas, we encountered several a typical fall patterns. Schooling bass that were feeding on shad, creek channel bass, and structure oriented bass rounded out the catchable bass. Fishing was fair at best. It was necessary to make the most of every opportunity. The schooling bass were catchable only if a cast was expertly presented within a second or a foot of the surfacing fish. The creek channel bass were positioned along the defined creek. The strike occurred near standing timber. The structure oriented bass were in 10-12' positioned on top of a breakline that fell to 20' or more. Each of these situations demanded the correct hook in order to capitalize on the strike. At Lake Fork, the next bite may be a trophy!
When bass are schooling, it presents the angler with several dilemmas. A deep spooled casting reel like a Lew's MG is a must to reach feeding fish from a distance. The deeper spool allows for more line capacity and will help the line to behave better on the larger spool for that homerun cast. Soft plastic jerkbaits mimic the baitfish the bass are chasing. Armed with that knowledge, I pulled up on a flat point. Momentarily the bass began to school on minnows. I fired a "Donkey Rig" (double soft jerkbaits) at the swirl. I twitched the two Strike King Z-Toos and the fight was on! A double on my first cast was a great way to start our trip. I landed both of the fish (3lber and 2lber). Having the right hook allowed me this pleasure. When casting soft jerkbaits, the hook needs to be a EWG type of hook. The extra wide gap hook has a deep belly to accommodate the width of the plastic. The hook set is important as well. Use a side swinging set with this style of hook. It will hook up at a higher rate than a standard vertical set. This was essential during the outing. We landed several bass using this technique with zero lost fish!
The wind began to blow on our second morning of fishing. This pushed the schooling fish down in the water column. We moved further back into the creek and started on the creek channel. The top of the creek channel was 4-5 feet deep. It fell to 10 feet within the channel. The channel was lined with standing timber. At first glance, it all looked alike. A further study of the cover showed a few larger trees along the channel and groups of smaller ones together. We targeted the channels with a Strike King KVD 2.5 square bill crankbait. Casting the bait towards the trees to deflect the bait off the targets was the mission. This would provoke strikes. The first big tree I cast to was the biggest on the channel edge. I made 10 casts to the tree. On the last cast by the tree, a 4lber slashed at my crankbait. That fish was barely hooked by the rear treble hook. During the fight, the fish turned and ran away from me. The front hook on the crankbait had gotten a grip on the fish. A chemically sharpened round bend treble hook will land those bass that nip at your lure. A round bend style hook has the hook points in a "ready position" at all times. This will always hook more bass.
Day three dawned with more wind. Our game plan was to fish flooded pond dams out of the wind. The tops of the dams were in the 10-12' range, Standing timber paralleled the structure. I reached in the rod box and grabbed a worm rod. The worm was a 10" Anaconda from Strike King. It was a dark morning and a Junebug color fit the bill. I slid a 3/8 oz. slip sinker and tied on a 5/0 straight shanked worm hook on the line. The Texas rig landed on top of the pond dam. As the worm encountered the bottom, I could feel rock. The worm had climbed the rock to the edge of the drop. I felt a light tap and set the hook. The fight was on. I feel a heavy fish bulldogging me towards the timber. The 20lb line stopped the 9 1/4lb bass from reaching the timber. Her big head surfaced beside the boat. She was firmly held in the top of the mouth by the straight shanked hook. The straight shanked hook is always in the fighting position. It will not turn in the fish's mouth. This hook delivers the point in an upward fashion to hold the bass. An Extra Wide Gapped (EWG) hook will turn 90 degrees when in the mouth of a bass. This will result in a skin hooked bass. A fish hooked in the corner of the jaw presents a higher percentage of lost fish. When using a technique that results in an upward hook set, the straight shanked hook is the true winner.
During my three days of the famed Lake Fork, I did not lose a bass! They were caught from top to bottom with a variety of techniques. I was able to answer my question with a yes! It does matter what style of hook that is being used for the technique. This is nothing more than a study of physics. Making use of the correct hook will make the livewell lid have the most action!
Mark Menendez is a Bassmaster Elite Series Angler. You may follow him at Facebook, Twitter, or www.Markmenendez.com