Hooks and Bait
Lets face it, with so many hooks on the market which one do you use and for what particular fish? This has been a grey area for many anglers and the range available today doesnt really help the sorting process. Certain baits work better on specific styles of hooks so lets have a good close look at some of the more popular hooks and bait to suit.
Baitholder Hook – Probably the most common river or estuary hook used today and for good reason. This hook is purposely designed for the likes of prawn baits as the two barbs on the shank are there to help hold up the bait for better presentation. The bait holder is also good for worms, mussels and strips of bony herring or mullet. Ideal species that this hook works well on are black bream, tarwhine, flathead and flounder.
Bloodworm Hook – Since day dot, people have been both using and catching their own fresh bloodworms for bait. Without doubt there arent too may fish that would turn their nose up at such an offering. The bloodworm hook is basically a long shank hook and the idea is to thread either a sand or blood worm onto the hook with a weaving process.
This presentation is rarely ignored and the long shank makes easy work when trying to dehook your fish, especially when they swallow such a soft offering. Use this hook for yellowfin whiting, king george whiting and garfish but they do make a great hook for all types of bream also.
Wide Gap Hook - Over the years there has been a big move towards using this odd but ultra effective hook. The wide gap is perfect for baiting up whole river or coral prawns and the end result is a well presented prawn that looks very authentic. Traditionally, baitholders were always used for prawn baits but things have changed a little with wide gaps.
This style of hook also makes easy work of baiting prawns and, interestingly, most fish are well hooked right in the corner of the mouth (scissors). The list of baits that can be used on this hook are endless; prawns, mussels and fillets of fish can be used with great success. Wide gaps are really ideal for river species like black bream, flathead and yellowfin whiting in particular. On the flipside you can put these hooks to good use on oceanic fish like king george whiting, herring and skippy to name a few.
Suicide Hook - I think when fishing first started this hook was part of the standard collection. Its not uncommon to see many an angler head out offshore in hope to land a big dhufish or a tasty bluebone. This golden oldie is still a very reliable hook and very universal in its applications.
Depending on size, fish like herring, tarwhine, gardies, snapper, mulloway, dhufish and most bottom dwelling fish for that matter can be caught with good results with this hook. Probably one very good application with this offset eye is to snell your hooks as this makes a great rig. This traditional SA mulloway rig is still one of the most used rigs around, two suicide hooks are snelled to a mono trace line that allows flexibility when baiting up and offers a well presented bait to the fish.
Baits that can be used on the snell are squid, mulies and fillets of fish. As far as single hooks go you can use small suicide hooks baited with maggots for herring and for bottom fish, well you cant go past a nice piece of occie or squid when trying to tempt a dhufish.
Tarpon Hook - Sometimes you need a hook that is ultra strong and I suppose a hook that wont open up on a big fish. The tarpon certainly is all of that and rightly named after the hard fighting tarpon fish found overseas. This hook has a flatten shank and is idea for all bottom fish and this would have to be one of my preferred hooks for gangs. Mustad make a great chemically sharpened tarpon hook called an Allround which is an excellent bottom fishing hook and has been for years.
Circle Hook – Over the years this hook has gone from being deemed a commercial hook to a must have for deep sea fishing. The circle hook is designed to hook the fish without any assistance from the angler whatsoever. Letting the fish hook itself will make for easy work, especially in very deep water where you cant always detect the bites.
Two common circle style hooks are the Mustad Tainawa which is a very small U shape hook and the Mustad Demon hook. One of the newest hooks on the market are ËœFisen hooks which are ultra sharp and purpose made. The E-Z Baiter and tuna circle work a treat with deep water bottom fish.
Ganged Hooks – There are some fish that just love whole baits and this is where ganged (linked) hooks come into it. Baiting up a mulie or garfish will temp many fish like tailor, salmon, snapper and many other species in fact. The hooks that most people use when fishing are Kendal Kirbys and Limericks. For big hard fighting fish you cant go past the tarpon hook and if you want more flexibility with the gang then try adding small swivels between the hooks.
With so many different brands of hooks on the market always remember that you will always benefit from buying sharp ones. Try to buy chemically sharpened hooks where possible as they will hook more fish and ultimately save you the pre-sharpening process.
If, for whatever reason your hooks are blunt, touch them up with a small sharpening stone which is relatively cheap or a hook file. The bitter disappointment you have when a fish of a lifetime rejects your hooks due to being blunt will make for one unhappy angler so pick the right hook to suit your targeted fish, present the best bait possible and the rest will fall into place when youre hooked up solid.