Must Have Fish Hooks
By: Mark Romanack
Trout, salmon and steelhead spoons are best equipped with premium round bend style treble hooks.
In the world of sport fishing we tend to give credit to the big ticket items. Boats, electric motors and sonar are often credited for helping us find and catch more fish. The big ticket items are certainly making the fishing experience better, but in the end it’s the least expensive item in the boat that makes catching fish possible. You guessed it, the lowly fish hook rarely gets any love. Without a hook on the end of the line, the catching part of fishing would not turn out so well!
Over the years, I’ve used almost every brand of fish hooks and dozens of different hook designs. I’ve come to the conclusion that spending a little more on fish hooks is money well spent when it comes to landing fish. Let’s face it, bites are often far and few between. When I do get a bite, I want to stick and land every one of those fish. Quality hooks make that goal a reality.
I use octopus style hooks for so many different fishing presentations, I tend to buy them in boxes of 100. Larger versions like 1/0 and 2/0 models are used for trout and salmon flies, rotating plugs, salmon meat rigs, catfish rigs and live bait pike rigs. Size number 2 octopus hooks find their way onto my walleye nightcrawler harnesses and slip sinker rigs for fishing minnows. I keep some number 4 octopus hooks handy for tying up finesse style crawler harness rigs to be used in weed cover or submerged wood where snags are a problem. I also use number 4 octopus hooks when minnow rigging for river trout and steelhead.
The octopus may be the most versatile hook out there because this same style of hook sees a lot of use for fishing spawn sacs in size 6, 8 and 10. In short, the octopus hook catches a lot of different fish and works well in a host of fishing presentations.
My favorite models include the Eagle Claw L1B for steelhead, catfish and salmon applications and the Trokar TK2 and TK2R for walleye applications.
When live bait fishing for walleye, octopus style hooks are the best option. For Great Lakes waters the author recommends a number 2 size hook, but when fishing inland waters or places where weeds are an issue, a smaller number 4 octopus hook is a good choice.
In my lifetime I’ve been pleased to see that a number of crankbait and spoon manufacturers have discovered the value of equipping their lures with quality hooks. Unfortunately, hooks wear out and must be replaced regularly. Also, a lot of fishy crankbaits and spoons still come factory supplied with hooks that are marginal at best.
I use and recommend two different styles of treble hooks for crankbait fishing including round bend and wide bend models. Round bend treble hooks are what I use on salmon, trout and steelhead spoons. Depending on the size of the spoon number 6, 4 and 2 sizes do the heavy lifting.
Wide bend style treble hooks are reserved for crankbaits, especially those crankbaits that I’m casting for walleye and smallmouth and trolling or back trolling for steelhead and walleye. Wide bend treble hooks do an excellent job of preventing hard to hook fish like walleye from shaking the hook. The mouth of a walleye is mostly hard bone and contains very little soft tissue for a hook to bite into. Wide bend trebles just work better on walleye and free jumping species such as steelhead and smallmouth.
Most of my walleye cranks and steelhead plugs are equipped with either a number 6 or 4 sized treble hook. A few of the larger baits are dressed with a number 2 wide bend treble.
The Trokar TK934 is the sharpest treble hook I’ve ever used. Likewise the TK949 is a wide bend version that is wicked sharp. I joke all the time about these hooks saying they should come with a package of band-aids! These hooks are so sticky sharp, you’re going to draw blood every time you get near one!
For most crankbait trolling applications the author favors a wide bend style treble hook. Wide bend hooks tend to stick and stay stuck on hard to hook fish such as walleye that feature a very hard and bony mouth.
TREBLE HOOK STINGERS
Treble hooks also see a lot of use as stinger hooks for jigging applications for walleye and deep water lake trout. For this application I like a short shank version that is compact and easy to hide.
For walleye fishing the Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp L959 is ideal and this hook comes in both platinum black and red models. I like number 10 and 8 hooks for walleye applications.
For lake trout jigging, the larger number 6 and 4 works perfectly.
The Slow Death presentation has become a staple amount anglers who fish walleye in bodies of water that see a lot of angling pressure. Slow Death is a finesse rigging method that uses half a live nightcrawler threaded up onto a specially bent thin wire hook. The bend in the hook causes the crawler to slowly rotate when pulled behind a bottom bouncer.
At first glance this presentation doesn’t look all that impressive, but it catches fish with other rigging methods simply don’t. The Trokar Re-Volve TK220 is a thin wire rotational hook design ideally suited for the Slow Death presentation. I use the number 4 and 2 sizes the most.
The drop shot presentation works so well I carry drop shot hooks on board no matter where I’m traveling to fish. I use drop shot hooks for smallmouth, largemouth, walleye and even panfishing applications. The Trokar TK150 is my top choice and I find that the number 4 and 2 sizes get the job done day in and day out.
Everybody seems to get all goofy about the head design on various jigs. I’m more interested in the hook a jig is equipped with than the head shape. A jig that is made with an average hook is an evil thing in my mind.
A few of my favorite jigs all feature the Eagle Claw ProVBend hook that is super thin wire and needle sharp. It takes almost zero pressure to stick a fish that bites one of these jigs.
For walleye and smallmouth casting applications the Eagle Eye Jig in 1/8 and 1/4 ounce sizes is tough to beat. This jig features a plastic collar molded onto the hook shaft that holds plastic in place like no other. This same jig is made in a Weedless Eagle Eye Jig version that’s great for pitching into weeds and submerged timber.
For vertical jigging applications the Pro V Teardrop Jig also by Eagle Claw is ideal. Available in 1/8. 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 ounce sizes, this jig features a wire keeper to hold plastics in place.
For those who fish a lot of finesse mushroom style heads for bass, the ProV Finesse Jigs and Tungsten ProV Finesse Jigs are the answer. The ProV Finesse features the same ProVBend hook and plastic keeper as the Eagle Eye Jig. The Tungsten ProV Finesse Jig is built with a thin wire wide bend Trokar hook. Both of these ned rig style jigs are available in weedless versions.
POUR YOUR OWN
For those anglers who prefer to pour their own jig designs, the Trokar 570VP is the perfect hook for walleye vertical jigging applications. This hook features that same ProVBend hook style that is ideal for dressing with soft plastics or for fishing both plastic and live minnow combinations.
SUMMING IT UP
When it comes to catching fish, the lowly fish hook seems to be forgotten. Anglers who use the right hooks for the task at hand are going to catch the most and the biggest. That advice you can take to the bank.