September 12, 2017
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 to release 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 an 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.
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.
Treble Hooks vs. Single Hooks
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.
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?
They Aren't All Bad: When to Use Treble Hooks
Single, inline hooks are a fantastic alternative but don't abandon those trebles. If you're fishing for trout, small jacks and other fish that slash at baits, it may be more beneficial to 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.
What Size Single Hooks Should You Use?
When I started to replace my treble hooks with 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 shared a formal recommendation sheet on their website to show the appropriate hook size for each Rapala lure, which we attached above.
Now that you know when and why you should replace treble hooks with single hooks and how to determine the correct hook size conversion for your lures, it's time to bend some metal and put your new lures to the test. Tight lines! FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Magazine August 2016