Hooking-Up on Planer Board Fish
My Hook Credentials
My education on round bend hooks began sometime in the 1960s when I bought my 1st floater jointed Rapala. I had yet to fully commit to big water Salmon fishing and was back and forth between Bass and Lk. MI Salmon. Awareness taught me, seldom did I miss a fish on the jointed stickbaits with a hook that I was just learning about. Fast forward to the mid 1980s when I began guiding on the Big Manistee River out of a a drift boat. Preferred diving crankbaits at this time was Storm Wiggle Warts that came stock with tiny #6 trebles that were totally inadequate of hooking and holding hard fighting river Steelhead. This when my love affair with #4 VMC bronze 9649s took on a whole new meaning, because these trebles installed on Wiggle Warts hooked and held. Meaning more boated fish for my paying guests.
In the charter-guide business you become skilled at compensating for your customer's lack of rod handling skills. You must accept as a charter operator lost fish are part of the business. If your guests knew what they were doing? ...they'd have never hired you in the first place. So, you look for every advantage to raise the odds in your customer's favor. 9649s made my professional life on the water easier!
Armed with my mid 1980s knowledge from river guiding, it was a no brainer to adapt bronze round bend trebles on the Great Lakes. Mostly on Bomber Long-As ...that was the big-time craze on Lake Huron back then. It was an eye opening event to see 80% landing stickbait ratios with inexperienced charter guests.
It irks to me hear dockside yak, "we went 16 for 30." Like there's a red badge a courage dummy award for losing close half their bites. This is an admittance of not being smart enough to capitalize on a higher percentage by taking appropriate steps to cure this problem. The fix is the right hook for the right circumstance. Then, making sure it's sharp and maintained as needle sharp. Especially, after landing a good size fish when the hook came in contact with bone structure. This can dull any sharp point. Even worse, roll the point over. Be aware most hook damage occurs in the net. Before resetting the lure that just caught, do a quick visual of the hook. Make sure it's not bent, or straightened out. These few seconds will reward you many times over.
Hooking Up on Surface Fish
While hooking any fish off both kinds of boards has it's challenges, it's the big boards spongy tag line that needs special attention. The tag line to the board is very flexible and does not provide a hard point like riggers, or divers do. This is compounded by having the right release that needs to be soft enough to react to the hit. Been all over the place on board release and found the small Black Offshore releases to suit my needs best. Key is to hard press the line into these Offshores. Small Red Offshores will probably do the job too. Used #16 rubber bands and a shower hook. OK, if it's a big fish? ...but small fish like the 2-4 pound Browns we deal with in Manistee during April? ...these small guys don't have the scoot in their britches to break #16 bands. Then, if the band don't break, you're faced with retrieving all the other lines to trip the rod with the small fish attached.
Ok, now for the hooks and this is very important. I found superior results with VMC 9649 Bronze trebles. There is no second best when it comes to towing big boards. 9649s will turn most of your Steelhead bites into prisoners, not escapees. The wire in this hook is slightly thinner than the VMC 9650 trebles are other options for our spoons. That hook is a 3X #9650. Same VMC round bend style, but the wire diameter is about .009 thicker when compared to the lighter wire version, the 9649. 9649s come stock on many of crankbaits made for the Bass market. Just keep in mind, 9649s are not goat rope hooks made to whoa 30 pound rampaging Kings while on harbor patrol. In open water, with just a little finesse, 9649s will land ANY fish in the Great Lakes!
With hooks it's all about penetration of a correctly sharpened hook. Never seen any hook out of the package that does not benefit from a light touch-up with a good hook file. I buy hooks in the 1000s. All packed in a box that during shipping get jostled around during handling. No matter how sharp the hook was before it went into the box, the hooks rubbing together has to dull, even ...ever-so-slightly a hook point that was super laser sharp when it left the factory sharpening process. This BS about hooks sharp right of of the box is more of a sales talking point, than the reel-truth! Click archived hook article
The Reel Truth
major departure from other spoon manufacturers, I have 5
hook options at
For those of you that use my spoons, you already know these lighter Lexan™ spoons remain stuck fast to the fish during jumps. Salmon Busters™ are half the weight of traditional brass plated spoons. This reduction in mass, results in a lure that's a lot harder for Steelhead and Brown to toss back at you. Here's another reason: being my hooks are a full size larger when compared to their counter parts from other spoon manufacturers. My upsized VMC treble hooks dig in better & hold. No brag, just fact!
Plus, my spoons do not get bent out of shape, or kinked. You're looking at a spoon with injection molded in color. It will look the same after many, many years service. There's no planned obsolescence in my product. Silver plated metal spoons need replacing when the paint peels and silver plate tarnishes. Add in my years of fishing Lk. Huron, Lk. Erie and Lk. MI since 1968 means something too. All this experience provides a historical treasure trove a proven colors and patterns. Knew going in, all the pitfalls and short comings of metal spoons. That's why I designed my 2015 spoons to made out of Lexan™. The world's strongest plastic!
Ready, Set, Go!