By Trey Wheeler

New inline-eye single hooks are great for retrofitting plugs and other multi-hook lures.

With the eye at 180 degrees to the bend, these hooks lie straight on plugs.

After you’ve extracted treble hooks from the twentieth ladyfish of the day, you might be tempted to exchange those hooks for singles. It’s easier releasing fish that way.

But in doing so you may introduce a new problem: A standard single hook installed directly on the split ring will point off at angle, interrupting the balance and normal swimming motion of the lure. This is because the eye of most single hooks is aligned at a 90-degree angle to the bend.

The new inline single hooks from makers such as VMC, Owner and Mustad may be the answer to this dilemma.

Tony Shitanishi of Owner Hooks said that these hooks were designed to make plugs more weedless. Florida’s fisheries, in both freshwater and inshore saltwater environments, are heavily covered in aquatic vegetation. I’ve thrown topwaters rigged with single, inline hooks into a lily pad-laden area and walked the dog in between pads. I was even able to slide over some. While not 100-percent weedless, it was by far an upgrade.

The first question I asked myself when considering the change in hook style was how will this affect my hookup and landing ratios? No formal studies have been performed to quantify these ratios. VMC has used many field testers worldwide who have not had a single bad thing to say. In my own experience, from big snook to mahi-mahi, I’ve not had a problem with hook sets using single, inline hooks. As for landing rates, a single hook may offer an advantage: The fish may not use the other branches of a treble hook to obtain leverage to pry the hook from its mouth.

Captain Craig Korczynski with a Jupiter snook on a Rapala Skitter Walk. Rapala now offers many models with stock singles.

VMC and Owner are both now promoting inline, single hooks for the purpose of ease in catch and release. Removing only two points becomes not only easier on the fishermen but for the fish as well. With many fisheries experiencing closed seasons, and fishermen more mindful of conservation, it is another step towards making sure what we do not take is available to enjoy the next day. Single hooks are also a plus for ease of tackle storage. Who hasn’t pulled out 10 lures at once trying to get the one they wanted?

Single, inline hooks are a fantastic alternative, but don’t abandon those trebles. remain with the treble hooks. Treble hooks may catch the outside of a fish’s mouth as it attempts to injure the lure it thought was prey. If changing the hooks, you may also store those treble hooks to use in the future for natural-bait stinger rigs where legal and appropriate, say for kingfish.

Replacing treble hooks with the inline, single hooks, I ran into the problem of choosing the size of the replacement hook. I had to go by what looked right to my eye, and I promise you that came more as trial and error. One rule of thumb: Cyrille Mathieu of VMC hooks says to take the total width of your treble hook when combining two branches and choose a single hook that is as close to the equivalent width in its gap. VMC will soon post on its website a formal recommendation sheet to show the appropriate hook size for each Rapala lure. A sneak peek given to Florida Sportsman staffers revealed the following guidelines: For a Skitter Walk V, a 4 3⁄8-inch long topwater plug, use a 3/0 model 7237 inline, single 1x hook, and then for a X-Rap Magnum XRMAG30, a 6 ¼-inch lipped diving plug, the suggested hook is a 6/0 model ILS inline, single 4x hook. FS

First published Florida Sportsman August 2016

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