I find it interesting that the one piece of fishing equipment necessary to actually hook and successfully land a fish, is the last piece of gear most anglers worry about. In case you haven’t figured out what I’m referring to, the lowly fish hook seems to get no respect.
It boggles the mind that an angler would willingly invest two or three hundred dollars into a super sensitive fishing rod, then go fishing with a hook that isn’t worth two cents.
In case you haven’t thought about fish hooks much in recent years, a crash course will bring you back up to speed. Two things are important to think about in regards to fish hooks. Number one is choosing a hook design that functions well with whatever presentation you have in mind.
Because a lot of the presentations used to catch walleye require using light action rods and thin lines, hook sharpness is critically important to walleye fishing. Getting the hook to stick isn’t good enough. The hook needs to be sharp enough to penetrate to the barb.
Secondly, a fish hook needs to be as sharp as possible to insure the fish that bite are stuck and hooked solidly. Not all hooks are created equal and it’s important to understand that premium grade hooks are much sharper (and yes more expensive) than the run of the mill hook.
Fishermen can choose from literally thousands of fish hook models. For the avid walleye angler the “must have” models boil down to just three critical hook designs.
Octopus style hooks are very popular with walleye anglers for live bait presentations. This is the style of hook most commonly used on spinner and other live bait rigs. The compact design and turned up eye of this hook makes it easy to snell on leaders and also easy to hide in live bait such as nightcrawlers, minnows and leeches.
Octopus hooks come in a bunch of difference sizes, but walleye anglers are well equipped with the No. 2 size. Hands down the sharpest and most deadly Octopus hook on the market is the Eagle Claw Trokar TK400. This particular hook is only available in the platinum black finish, but I’ll gladly give up using trendy red hooks for a fish hook that sticks walleye and keeps them stuck.
An exceptionally sharp hook is critically important for live bait rigging in part because light lines and rods that have little hook setting power are normally employed in these presentations. Also the boat is moving very slowly for live bait presentations, making it even harder to get a hook into the bony mouth of a walleye.
Literally every crankbait on the market comes factory equipped with treble hooks. A few of these lure manufacturers equip their baits with what I’ll describe as “premium” hooks that do an excellent job of hooking and landing walleye.
Unfortunately, the majority of the crankbaits on the market are equipped with hooks that rank a rather disappointing “5” on a sharpness scale of 1 to 10. A dull hook can be sharpened and that’s a good option. Unfortunately, after sharpening a hook a few times, that hook is worn thin and needs to be replaced.
As long as you’re replacing hooks, it makes perfect sense to spend a little extra money and get the best hook for the job. Hands down the best treble hook design for crankbait fishing are the wide bend or kahle style hooks on the market.
The Trokar TK310 is a wide bend surgically sharp hook that’s lights out to any walleye that gets close enough to feel the sting of this baby. For most crankbaits used by walleye fishermen the sizes No. 6, 4 and 2 are the best hook options.
SLOW DEATH RIGGING
Most live bait rigging presentations call for the popular Octopus style hook. For every rule in fishing there are exceptions to the rule. In this case the exception to the rule is a live bait presentation known as Slow Death.
This presentation comes by it’s name naturally because the bait is moved very slowly and anything that gets close to the bait is going to end up dead.
This presentation involves using a bottom bouncer with about a 40 inch leader of 10 pound test fluorocarbon leader. At the business end a specially bent thin wire hook is employed. The No. 2 Trokar Re-Volve is designed to accept half a live nightcrawler by threading it onto the hook much the same way a bass angler would thread on a soft plastic worm.
About 1 to 2 inches of the nightcrawler is left exposed beyond the hook point. At slow trolling speeds, the nighcrawler rolls seductively in the water thanks to the bent design of the Re-Volve hook.
This unique live bait rigging tactic came out of the walleye tournament trails. When traditional live bait rigs like walleye spinners don’t produce, Slow Death gets the job done.
JUST THREE AND DONE
It only takes three hooks to master the walleye game. No sane angler argues that premium grade hooks are sharper and do a better job of landing fish. It’s true that premium hooks are expensive, but compared to the cost of rods, reels, super braid lines, boats, motors, electronics and a thousand other items fishermen covet, spending a little extra money on hooks makes sense because it puts more fish in the boat.