Modifying your crankbait hooks

This time we’ll discuss some specific hook modifications I make to my plugs. I’m going to use the Rapala DT6 as an example, but as you’ll soon see my formula will work on almost anything. I use it on everything from topwater baits to deep-diving crankbaits and everything in between.

The DT6 is an awesome bait right out of the box. Overall, it’s probably my favorite crankbait. It’s certainly one of my most productive. But, like almost everything else in the fishing world, it can be made better. I do that by upsizing the hooks. Over the years I’ve developed a formula for that that’ll work about 90 percent of the time.

When I say over the years that’s exactly what I mean. I’ve messed with hooks and hard baits for as long as I can remember. It always frustrated me that crankbaits would attract so many fish but that they seemed to allow so many fish to get loose. I spent many days on the water working on that problem. I think — maybe, possibly — I have solved the problem.

The DT6 comes with two No. 6 hooks, one on the belly and another on the tail. I replace the front hook with a short shank, round bend No. 4 from VMC. That’s a full size up which is really big but I can get away with it because of the bill.

If you watch a crankbait running through the water you’ll notice that it runs nose down. The bill forces the lure down as it travels along, but it also acts as a deflector. It keeps everything away from my hook. In practical terms that means that I can get away with a big hook. I don’t have that luxury with the tail hook, however. A big hook will mess with my bait.

I hang a short shank, round bend No. 5 VMC on the tail. That’s the half-size I was talking about last week. I can’t go a full size up on the back because it’ll take the bait out of balance and affect the wiggle and the action. My hook will end up outperforming my lure. A bass will quickly sense that sort of thing and shy away from it.

That’s the thing you have to be careful about when you upsize hooks. A bigger hook looks like it’ll hook and hold more fish but that’s only true if the fish bites the lure. If you destroy the lure’s balance and action you’re wasting your time.

The formula I just told you about is simple, and it works. Upsize the belly hook by a full size and the tail hook by a half-size. It’s increased my landing percentage at least 20 percent. That’s huge at the end of the season, and in some cases can mean the difference between winning and being the tournament runner-up.

Next week we’re going to talk about getting a solid hookset with Texas rigged plastics. It isn’t all that tough if you start with the right design.

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