Strong Jaw Barramundi

HALF A DOZEN HOOK HINTS

If you enjoy tinkering with your lures in search of improved performance, here’s half a dozen hook modifications you might like to consider.

UPGRADING

Unless you are buying Australian made or high end imported lures, there’s a fair chance most of your hard-bodied lures could benefit by having the hooks upgraded. The simplest and by far the most common modification is simply to fit better quality, chemically sharpened hooks.

Chemically sharpened trebles are stronger than standard hooks for a given wire thickness. This makes them ideal for really small bream and bass lures, which are fished on light line. Chemically sharpened trebles are finer and easier to set, as well as more likely to gain a secure hold. The micro barbs which they carry are also easier to remove without damaging your quarry, which is important to catch and release anglers and those who fish tournaments.

For some heavy tackle anglers, this could mean choosing thicker gauge hooks. Barra are notorious for straightening substandard hardware. While it’s difficult to find any trebles that seriously big GTs can’t straighten. If you are fishing for these sorts of predators or using heavier than normal drag settings, than you will probably need stronger than normal hooks.

TROLLING HARDBODIES

As strikes on trolled lures tend to only present a single shot at getting a hook-up, I often change the hook configuration on my minnows. The first modification is normally to remove the middle treble if the lure has three fitted. Then the two remaining hooks are usually swapped for a size or two larger in gape. With one less hook, upgrading to larger and heavier hooks can be done without sandbagging the lure’s action.

The front and/or middle treble is often swapped for one with curved in points. This helps to minimize lure damage which can occur when the hook points are continuously being dragged back and forth across the lure’s belly.

BLADES

The hooking arrangements on blades can be difficult to play around with. Blades are very sensitive to any changes in weight and bigger hooks can dull their fish-attracting vibrations.

The best modification for most blades is to remove the trebles altogether and fit a pair of small assist hooks on the rear eyelet. Assist hooks are those hooks hanging off a bit of cord (often with rubber whiskers attached as well). Assist hooks turn blades into deadly fish catchers which rarely miss a bite. The small singles usually provide a stronger hook hold than the original trebles.

SALTWATER JIGGING

In theory, a single hook hanging off the front of a metal jig sounds like the worst possible way to get hookups. In practice, it works particularly well. As most hookups happen when the jig is falling, that swinging hook seems to nearly always get a hold on the fish on the way down. Having the hook up the top of the lure also reduces snags.

It can be worth playing around with the size of the assist hook fitted, to make sure the body of the jig doesn’t get stuck in the gape of the hook. If fishing rough country or with heavy drag settings, it can be worth upgrading to heavier gauge cord or stronger hooks.

SINGLE AND LOVING IT

The singles verses trebles debate is ongoing. Both have their advantages. Single hooks make good sense when social fishing, as they are only slightly less effective than trebles but much easier to unhook. They also tend to be stronger. However, when every hit counts, such as in a tournament situation, trebles can be very comforting. You need to work out which is more important to you before swapping trebles for singles.

SPLITRINGS CAN HELP

Choosing the right splitring can also help increase your hookup rate. Small trebles need really small splitrings so that they don’t crowd the hook gape.

Some Barra specialists even use two splitrings linked together to hang their trebles off. The extra length provides additional clearance from the lure body to help hookups. Twin split rings can also reduce the leverage the fish can get on the hooks, and help to reduce their ability to straighten them out.

GALLERY EXTRAS

 


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Dave Magner
magner66@tpg.com.au

Dave is a keen and experienced lure and fly angler who has travelled and fished right across Australia and New Zealand. He particularly enjoys tournament bass fishing, chasing freshwater species from his kayak and bluewater pelagics from his boat.