Hooking plastics

I don’t know for sure but if I hazard a guess I’d say that about as many bass have been caught on plastics as everything else combined. And they’ve probably caused more frustration than everything else combined. Many anglers believe that’s just part of plastics fishing. They believe there’s nothing they can do about it. But they’re wrong. There are things you can do about it.

The first thing is to use the right hook. For ordinary size plastics, things like worms and small lizards, I use a regular offset hook. There’s plenty of gap to get a hook set if you rig properly. For bigger plastics, things like creature baits and tubes, I go with an EWG style. The wider gap gives me more room to get through their heavier body.

Back in the day, we used to take a pair of pliers and bend the point left or right a little ways. That took it out of direct alignment with the shank and allowed a better penetration into the fish’s jaw. You can still do that if you want but I’ve stopped. I now use VMC hooks. They have a 3-degree offset built into their design that’s perfect. There’s no need to do it yourself anymore.

It’s really important that your rig hangs straight with your line. No matter what else you do, make sure everything is lined up straight as an arrow. That will not only help you make a more natural presentation and get more bites but it’ll also help with your hook set.

When I rig a plastic bait, I always run the hook into the nose about an eighth of an inch. I want it to come out of the bait right where the hook makes its right angle bend. That distance will usually be about right. If it isn’t, go a little shorter or a little longer to make things just right.

The last thing you should do is work your hook point back and forth in your plastic to make a path for the hook. It’s hard for anyone — pros included — to get a solid hook set through new plastic. It’s just too darn tough. Make a path for the point to follow and you’ll double your hook sets overnight.

That’s enough about plastics but I do want to say a few more words about hooks. Like I said before, they don’t get enough attention. Think about some of the things I’ve said and try to apply them if you can. I think it’ll improve your fishing.

I don’t pretend to know everything, though. Maybe you have a few tricks that are different than what I’ve talked about, and they work for you. If so, that’s fine. The important thing is that you think about your hooks and give them the attention they deserve.

Next week, we’ll talk about something different. In the meantime, go fishing, take a kid with you and have a good time enjoying the outdoors and all it has to offer us.