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Ontario Fishing Network
Volume 5,  Issue 9 -  September 2005

A Case for Quality Hooks
By Tim Allard

As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same logic can be applied to fishing tackle. Many of us won't hesitate to buy quality reels, rods, line or lures, but for some reason hooks often seem to get the short-end of our spending stick. Perhaps it's their simplicity or small-size that results in anglers avoiding investing the cash for quality hooks, but they're one of the most important pieces of fishing gear you'll own.

What Makes a Quality Hook?
T.J. Stallings of the TTI-Blakemore Fishing Group, who make Tru-Turn, Daiichi, XPoint, Mr. Crappie & StandOUT Hook Brands, explained that quality hooks come down to two main factors: carbon content and tempering. "Carbon content is the first sign of quality. Everything is made of carbon. The higher the carbon content, the more stuff it's made of. If a hook package doesn't reveal the carbon content, be wary. Higher carbon ratings (80- and above) means the points can be made finer, sharper and are more durable."

"Tempering is as important as carbon content," said Stallings, referring to the process of heating metal to high temperatures and then cooling it quickly to increase its strength and resiliency, two traits key to quality hooks. "Here's a tempering test: Grab a hand towel and pick up a hook by the eye. Carefully grasp the point (with the towel) and pull the point away from the eye. You should feel a little flex in the hook. This is tempering. Too little tempering means the hook will straighten easily. Too much and the hook is brittle. Perfect tempering is an exact science," he said.

Why Quality Hooks?
The high carbon content of quality hooks means they'll hold an edge longer and have sharper points than generic hooks. This equates to better penetration on hooks sets and more landed fish. Proper tempering means that quality hooks have just the right amount of flex (as well as strength) to help buffer the fish's fight, making them the better choice when targeting aggressive species or fishing in cover-laden conditions.

As TJ explains, "Hooks and fishing line are the only connection to your fish. That's just the wrong place to go cheap. Ever catch 6-7 fish and then start to miss every other one? That's a cheap hook getting dull quick. That's where cheap hooks cost and good hook pay." TJ's point not only speaks to selecting quality hooks, but is a good reminder to touch-up hooks when on the water. Rocks, wood and several fish can dull points, so sharpen often.

Specialized Hooks
Specialized hooks are designed for fishing specific presentations and rigging (such as drop shotting). In many respects, specialized hooks are a sub-category of quality ones, as it's rare to find a low-grade specialized hook. A good fishing goal of any angler is expanding their hook arsenal, learning about specialized hooks and using them more often.

For example, although the style has been on the fishing scene for years, circle hooks are regaining popularity for certain live bait applications. The hook's shape the barb and point to the side of a fish's mouth, reducing the chance of gut hooking fish and making it a top-choice among catch-and-release conscious anglers.

Weighted hooks are another specialized style and more than a basic jig head. Shank-weighted hooks, like Daiichi's Butt Dragger, work wonders when rigged with soft-plastic jerkbaits to keep baits in the subsurface when quickly twitched on a retrieve. These hooks are also an excellent match when paired with a wacky-rigged soft-plastic stickbait.

A soft-plastic jerkbait rigged with Daiichi's Butt Dragger hook.

These are just two examples of some of the specialized hooks out there. Glow-painted or coloured, drop-shot, and offset hooks are other styles anglers may want to consider experimenting with this season. Quality hooks are often coated with an anti-rust corrosion treatment, making them longer-lasting than generic hooks.

Picking Quality Hooks
You get what you pay for when buying hooks, but you don't need to break the bank. Most hook companies (such as Daiichi, Eagle Claw, Owner and Mustad) produce a range of hooks to suit the price point of most anglers. Picking averaged priced hooks can be a good bet, but if fishing tournaments or chasing trophies - it's wise to choose a premium hook. Look for the aforementioned features when choosing hooks and try a variety of manufacturers to find a make of hook that best suits your needs. Another way to keep your costs down over the long run is to buy hooks in bulk. Initially, a big purchase might be tough, but certain hook styles (like off set 3/0 worm hooks) are top choices for many anglers and in demand for several seasons.

The author with a largemouth bass taken on a shank-weighted
hook teamed with a soft-plastic jerkbait.

Quality hooks stay sharper longer and provide better hooksets, while specialized hooks can give you an engineered edge to specific presentations. Consider upgrading your tackle box's hook selection this season, and don't let hooks be the weakest link in your fishing gear this season.

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