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Hooks

the vital link to your fish

INTRODUCTION

All hooks can catch fish. So why waste time with choosing? It's about making your strikes connect consistently. To achieve 9 out of 10 instead of 3. Sometimes the hook is required to lay still & stick itself to a scavenging fish, just like the thorns of a touch-me-not to a passing beast. At other times it must be strong enough to be forcefully driven into the fish, as with a battering ram to a fortified city.

With the wide range available today, it is easy to get confused on which & when to use. Having said that, I'll focus only on mainstream designs, so readers won't drown in a tidal wave of information.


Anatomy of a fishing hook.
anatomy


EYE - Its Different Designs

The eye is what holds your fishing line in place. Line can be tied directly to it or snelled to the shank while the eye holds it in place. 3 most common designs you & I are likely to come across are:

Ring
A good ring eye should be fully closed without any sharp edges. This feature allows you to snell the hook without the risk of damaging the line. Of all 3 designs listed here, the ring eye can accommodate widest range of knots. Useful for those who vary their knots.

Tapered
Its purpose is for weight reduction. In the case of live bait, reduced weight will allow it to move freely. Another example is when the treble of a lure is replaced with a single hook. Weight reduction ensures the action is not critically affected. When tying, snelling is not recommended as the tapered end will damage the line during prolonged heavy-handed fights.

Spade
Exclusively for snelling with nylon & braid. It is the lightest of all 3 designs. If you are seeking the in ultimate lightness, then the spade end is what you want. A practical usage is when fishing with small piece of bread & you want it to float. A hook is tied to the line & nothing else. This method is effective when used against highly intelligent fish e.g Tilapia. They are wary of thick lines & strange contraptions. And if you prefer your stinger hooks to exhibit livelier movements when jigged, then have a look at spade ends.


Some of the hooks you are likely to encounter. type


EYE - Position & Placement

While the spade end is straight, the ring eye & the tapered eye can come in straight, down eye & up eye. So how does the eye's position work for us?

Straight Eye
Replacing a spoon's treble with a single hook. Straight eye renders the hook in a straight line as the spoon. This allows the hook to spin within a tight radius for a more effective hook-up. Another usage is when you need to lower the hook into tight spots. Jigging in 1 inch opening among hydrillas or into the lair of swamp eels. The straight eye profile allows you to jig in such places with minimal obstruction.

Up Eye & Down Eye
Both are widely used for fly tying. In regular fishing, up eye is favoured for snelling.

Down eye is use in conjunction with a snap swivel to hold frog as bait.
This is how it works:
The down eye hook is locked within the snap, allowing it to maintain a straight posture.
Use the snap to lock onto the jaw of the frog.
The hook point is then embedded into the frog.
Frog twist during retrieval can be eliminated giving you a lifelike presentation!


SHANK

The 3 deciding factors when selecting shank are:

Thickness
Thin wire is for weight reduction & excellent penetration. This attribute is suited for speedsters with thin mouth wall. Examples of fish with such feature are mad barb, java barb & marble goby. In saltwater environment, thin wire is often tied on sabiki or apollo jigs to catch bait fish. Thick wire is for strength. When the target has thick mouth wall, a thick wire ensures the hook can withstand deformation. Big game fishing also calls for thick wire shanks.

Type
Regular shank is where the wire is round. Forged shank is flattened. When stressed, a regular shank will straighten rather than break. On the other hand, a forged shank will break but it is much stronger than a regular shank. A forged shank is useful for brute forcing a fish out of heavy cover. Think parrotfish, jungle snakehead or groupers.

Length
Long shank gives a certain degree of protection against sharp tooth & provides more bait holding capacity. When insects such as grasshopper are used for bait, the long shank is able to maintain the grasshoppers natural profile. Short shank is lighter, can be easily hidden & has a diminished leverage point. A diminished leverage point will make it difficult for fish to gnaw & dislodge the hook. Airborne lovers will also find it difficult to throw the hook off.


Long shank hook can deter a Pacu from cutting itself free, provided if you strike soon enough.
pacu


GAP & BEND

Wide gap provides larger bait capacity, freedom of movement for live bait & better hook-up rate on fish that has large mouth with thick flesh. Small gap is light & can be easily hidden. It is effective for wary fish or those with small mouths such as the snakeskin gourami.

Those with a regular bend is suitable for most fishing conditions while wide bend hook is used for catching Giant Freshwater Prawn (prawning hook in the second image above) or rigging soft plastic (worm hook).


Wide gap holds more bait thus more scent. A goat catfish caught at night. Purely scent factor!
widegap


BARB & POINT POSITION

A barb's function is to make the hook difficult to dislodge. A barbless hook behaves quite the opposite, making it ideal for catch & release. It is simply a matter of how friction affects motion.

A straight point is used on spinnerbait so that it will swim straight. Reverse or kirbed point is also known as offset points. When an offset hook is hidden inside any static bait with its point extruded, hook-up is almost guaranteed the moment that fish pervertly kisses your bait.


Another actual example:
The orange spoon you see in this picture comes with a straight point hook.
5 out of 8 strikes did not connect, which says a lot about straight point hook on a spoon.
The ideal solution would be an offset point.
It can deliver an auto hook-up when the fish swims away or throws out the spoon.

straight-point


SIZES

The first thing all fishermen should know: there are no fixed rules for labelling hook size. Hook size vary from one manufacturer to another. So if you are planning to try out hooks from other manufacturers, bring your current ones for size comparison.

A general rule in selecting hook size is big mouth big hook, small mouth small hook. Common sense dictates that a big hook will not fit into a small mouth. On the other hand, a small hook is less efficient in embedding & holding itself to a big mouth. Other than that, the type & size of bait are also contributing factors to choosing proper hook size. If your strikes are often greeted by a slight graze followed by a limp line, then it is time to take a closer look at our discussion.


Thin wire shank for excellent penetration.
thinshank


SHAPES

Finally, all features mentioned above contribute to the shape of the hook. This shape is then labelled with names like O' Shaughnessy, Chinu, Octopus & Aberdeen. A word of caution, don't confuse them with the manufacturer's name. When a hook with the right shape is found, all you need to do is remember its name. This will make life easier when going for subsequent purchases.



INDISPENSABLE ABILITY

During the initial stages of fishing, we either use what is available or follow what others use. No complicated thoughts necessary & that is fine. As we advance through the ultra challenging world of fishing, the ability to choose hook is indispensable. Here is why...

By knowing when to pounce, the tiger hunts with much success.
By knowing what hook to use, a fisherman fishes with deadly hit rates.


Treble hooks are often used on artificial lures such as this popper.
treble