Monroe: Hook Selection

For many anglers, hook selection is an afterthought. Many times anglers don't consider the hook's wire size, or if it's an extra-wide gap or straight-shank hook — as long as it fits into the body of the bait, it's good to go.

Elite Series pro Ish Monroe thinks this haphazard approach is a big mistake. Size does matter when it comes to hooks, and the right selection can mean all the difference. "You can't put a 4/0 hook in a big 7 1/2-inch Ish Tube. It just wouldn't work," he points out. "You have to match your hook size to the application or technique that you're using."

Monroe suggests that hook selection is almost exclusively driven by the technique he's using. "For example, if I'm just worm fishing I want to use the lightest-wire hook I can possibly get," the 34-year-old pro from California explains.

"On the other hand, if I'm flipping in heavy cover, I want the heaviest gauge hook available, because you have to be able to get the fish out." Monroe points out that the general intent behind proper hook selection is to match the hook size to the size of the bait; however, often the fish provide a much-needed cue to determine what's going to work best. "In the second to last event of the 2008 Elite Series season at Lake Erie, I was using a big circle hook on my drop shot rig," he explains.

"I actually had to downsize to a tiny drop shot hook just to get the fish to eat better." The change in hook size reduced the bait's profile, but Ish points out that changing hooks isn't always just to give the fish a different look.

"I'm a huge proponent of changing your hooks often — particularly on your crankbaits," he says. "I've changed hooks up to 10 times in one day because the bait was bumping rocks on the bottom and it was wearing out the hooks. "On my treble hooks, I like to put a bigger hook on the front than I do on the back," he says.

"I'm not saying to add a grapple hook to the front of your crankbait, but a little bit larger hook up front increases my odds of landing fish." When rigging soft plastics, there's only one style of hook that Ish will opt for. "I don't use extra-wide gap hooks; I believe they have the worst hooking percentage," he says. "Since my livelihood depends on hooking fish I want every advantage possible.

For that reason, unless I'm finesse fishing or throwing a drop shot rig, I use a straight-shank hook the majority of the time." Monroe's reputation for being a stickler on using the proper hooks led to his selection as a pro team member for Youvella Hooks — a position he doesn't take lightly. "We (he and fellow pro team members) are designing hooks made exactly the way that anglers need them," he adds. "We want to avoid the guesswork involved in hook selection."

As one of the most recognizable personalities on the Elite Series and host of the popular television show Yo Ish! on ESPN2, Monroe is passionate about passing along the information he's learned through countless hours of trial and error to the weekend angler. As such, he stresses the importance of experimenting with various hooks and techniques.

"There's just no substitute for spending time on the water experimenting with different presentations and different hooks," he explains. "That's the only effective way to learn how hook sizes and styles affect the bait's profile or presentation."

(Provided by Z3 Media)

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