Let's talk treble hooks

Here’s something you should never forget about bass fishing: You can have the best school of bass in the lake all to yourself for the whole day but still do poorly if you don’t hook your fish and get them to the boat. That’s not always easy. With plugs it can be darn near impossible at times.

You have to have the right treble hook on your baits if you expect to be successful. It’s not so simple as to buy into the notion that the bigger the hook the better or that one design is always better than another. There’s more to it than that.

Towards that end I want to give you my thoughts on what makes for a good treble hook, and how to pick a replacement model. To be fair, however, my thoughts are not every angler’s thoughts. If you asked 50 Elite Series guys about this you’d probably get about 15 different answers. Most of those answers would be good ones, too. Still, I think my system will work most of the time for most of you. It does for me, anyway.

I almost always put slightly bigger hooks on my baits when I take them out of the box. A bigger hook will usually hook more bass. And, for almost every situation I use the newer short shank, round bend styles. That’s the modern trend, and it’s a good one. The shorter shank prevents the bigger hooks from tangling together when you cast and it doesn’t affect the action of the bait even though the hook is bigger. The best ones are made by VMC.

Another modern trend that’s become popular recently is half-sizes. In the old days you had a choice of an even number size hook such as a No. 2, 4, 6 or 8. Now you can buy a No. 1, 3 or 5 and split the difference. This has really helped my fishing and my hooking percentage. It lets me upsize just a little bit — bigger hooks, yet not so big.

The one exception to my short shank, round bend rule is when the fish are slapping at the bait rather than eating it. This can be a problem is really cold water or really warm water. In those situations I go with a VMC Sure Set model on the back of the bait. It’s a wacky looking thing with one shank noticeably longer than the other two and a much bigger bend but I can assure you it works.

I rig mine with the long shank pointing up. That makes the most sense and hooks the most slappers, at least in my experience. Other guys point them down. Either way, be careful around cover. They will hang. There’s no way around that.

As you can see my treble hook choices are really pretty simple these days. I mostly use one design and don’t do anything too extreme. Next time we’ll talk specifics involving a couple of my favorite crankbaits. Hopefully, that’ll help you modify a couple of your favorites.

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