Get the Point?
or making sure the fish do!

The hooks feature below are the basic styles of hooks you'll be seeing most.   While there's 
a multitude of other styles and names these are the kinds you'll spend most of the time with.

Round Bend treble that comes standard on Streaks, Stingers and Pro Kings.  The nature of this hook is to have a wide bite distance and it's a personal favorite with me that holds good if sharpened properly

Eagle Claw treble that comes on Fishlanders and Dreamweavers.  The tip of point actually is pointed directly at the eyelet for a straight line pull and it's an original concept that works and the shank is longer  

The Salmon Hook
is designed with a long,  The turned-up eye increases the gap for better hooking.  This hook is stock on quality trolling flies and must be snelled to work properly 

The wide bend hook is designed with a wider bend to provide extra hooking space. 
It offers good hook sets and good penetration. It's  preferred by savvy spawn  and fly fishermen

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Hooked on History?

This hook was found in Norway and is well over 4,000 years old.

Mankind's higher status in nature can be credited to our ability to develop and use tools and technology in our struggle to survive. As far back as we know in history, people have caught fish for sustenance.  Countless methods have been developed in order to catch the various fish species living under quite different conditions, from arctic to tropical waters. Many of the fishing methods and types of tackle that have been developed over thousands of years are still in use, both for sport, sustenance and commercial fishing.

More than
20,000 years ago, the invention of the fish hook marked the beginning of sport fishing. The very first hooks were made of wood or bones. As knowledge improved, so did the hooks. Records show that copper hooks were made 7,000 years ago and artificial flies were used in Egypt 4,000 years ago.  Fishing was also a popular form of entertainment in ancient China.  So, we haven't discovered anything new with our Great Lakes Fishery.

Getting Hooked?

Many types and sizes of hooks have been designed to "get the point" of the hook into the fish once you've conquered the problem of getting them to bite, strike or eat your offering.  Which any experienced fisherman can tell you, in some cases is no easy matter.  Making your bites count is what this page is about.  Missing strikes is not an option in the charter business, or sport fishing too!  

Often it's been said you only get one chance to make a first impression and the first impression your foe, the fish feels, should be the hook well sunk into it's gums.  Whether you're tourney big bucks fishing, or out for sport, pay attention to your hooks and decrease those missed opportunities. 

The barbed hook is probably the single biggest advancement and most overlooked invention known to fishermen.  The barb is there to hold the hook into your quarry's leathery chops without him extricating it from his jaw.  Other words, it's your insurance policy to fight and do battle with Mr. Fish.  While many who fish delicate ecological systems, often crimp the barb closed for easy catch and release, without harming the fish.  The Great Lakes angler needs this barb sticking out and the further, the better.  The barb is fashioned on a reverse cut of metal down from the point's shank and it's sharp on the "under cut" as a general rule.

I know I've touched on some of this material in other articles I done, but something a vital as hooking fish, needed it's own complete page.

Penetration vs. Diameter

In terms that I can understand, it's a whole bunch easier pushing a thin needle thru a tough piece of hide than poking a hole with large one.  All hooks that come stock on our Great Lakes trolling spoons are triple X strong.  The extra strength is fine for harbor slugfests on a 30 pound hog King, but performs poorly on acrobatic June Steelhead or April Brown Trout.  So, let's look at it from the manufactures stand point, they don't want complaints from their customers.  So, they opt for the heaviest hook that won't impede the action of their lure.

The lighter the wire, the smaller the hole size will be, giving the barb extra holding power.  Not to mention the deeper penetration value, but is an dichotomy.  If the wire is too fine, the hook will straighten out.  This is a reel problem for anglers who don't believe in a light to medium drag, or even worse, the much dreaded: thumb spoolers.  Negate the drag and you're out of business with light wire hooks!

"Team Off Shore," consisting of Larry Hartwick, Bruce De Shano and Bill Strum won every big money spring tournament on Lake Huron during the mid to late 80's by simply changing their hooks on the "Hot" body baits they were using.  I supplied them with 9649 VMC treble round bends in the number 4 size, I learned to use in the Big Manistee River.  In what "used to be" the "Light Line" tourney when only 10 pound test was allowed they boated 15 Kings and they had 17 strikes!  I'd say the plus 90% average was worth the time spent changing hooks.  I was turned on to this outstanding hook in 1985 by Bob Kosabob who used to own Fisherman Headquarters in Wellston, Michigan before his son Mark took over the reins recently.

The give you a better mental image of the VMC 9649 it looks like the same hook that comes stock on the J-11 and J-13 jointed floating Rapalas.  I believe this hook has been discontinued and now goes by another number.


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Different Types Hook Files

Religiously sharpening your hooks is both an art and science.  Get it right and you'll earn the privilege to do combat with your advisory.  The problem is when you buy your lures most hooks come with a chrome or vanadium plating.  The plating process actually dulls and rounds over the point of the hook.  This plating must be removed to have sticky sharp hooks.  With bronze hooks like on the J series floating Rapalas, you're a little better off, but a light touch with a hook file is still recommended.

I prefer a 3 sided bayonet approach with a steep angle, using the Luhr Jensen Hook File.  Three upward strokes from the shank towards the eyelet is all that is usually required.  The Jensen file has been a mainstay with me for the past 14 years.  The drawback is that the long stiletto point can be bent over more easily and must be inspected after removal from the jaw of a large King.  Kings have reel bones in their jaws and can dull, or bend over the end of any hook, rendering it ineffective.

The downside to the Jensen Hook File is: that if it get wet, it will rust very quickly.  
If it get rusty it loses it's capacity to hone to hook suitably.  This file will not last a season, because everything on the water eventually gets wet.  Better alternative is the newer diamond files that last a helluva lot longer.

Un-Hooking Correctly 

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Wear and tear are your biggest enemy, after jabbing the hook "to the tonsils" on a hard-mouth August King, care and attention must come into view when unhooking that rascal.  If possible grab the bow of the hook that's sunk into the fishes chops with a high quality pair of needle nose pliers and pull straight back with it.  If two or more hooks are buried, grasp the main shank with and just yank and hope for the best.  Please keep in mind, the harder the hook is to get out, the more likely it's gonna be damaged.

Now in the excitement of the moment, after boating a 25 pound plus tuna, the tendency is not to pay the proper amount of awareness to your terminal tackle.  Terminal means end, and that where the hook is, so inspect it ultra-carefully.  Many times you'll discover bent points, bent hooks, crushed barbs, broke off trebles or even worse the hook has opened the and slid up on the split ring.  Most of this damage occurs in the net webbing, as the fish squirms and thrashes about.  Lakers and Steelhead I believe are the worst and tangle in your net, causing additional problems for you.

Daily and Pre-use Inspection

Now, by sharpening your hooks, you'll have remember unprotected steel will rust.  After about a week, the points that you've honed to a razors edge are in need of a light touch with the file before shipping to the fish.  If not, you'll be losing an advantage you ought to have.  Over the years I've taught my deckhands to keep a hook file in their shirt pocket and get after the hooks when leaving the dock and after every fish, especially large ones.  

Always check the hook, swivels and split rings before sending your offering out to your target species, I'm sure you'll be glad you did.  While your at it, feel the last 2 or 3 feet of monofilament above your lure for line frays.  


1. Body baits the only way you can get a hook to hang right is to add an additional spilt ring like I do on the Willies Worm for river fishing.  I believe the "soldered on" hook should hang straight down.

2. If the fish gets the line caught up underneath the barb, it can cut the line effortlessly and I've seen this happen countless times, this is not your fault or a bad knot, it's something that can't be prevented.

3.  A hurried scatter shot approach will rarely reward you, the details will.

4.  Have plenty of replacement hooks and split rings on hand at all times because, "there ain't no tackle stores out on the big drink."

5.  A Luhr Jensen Hook File costs about 5 bucks, keep a spare on hand, I lost many overboard and many rusted from being left out in the rain.

6.  Run a hard downrigger release to jam the point of the hook for better hook-up ratios.

7. 320 or 220 grit wet and dry sandpaper can put the razor-sharp finishing touches on your hooks.

8.  Your hook should stick to your thumbnail and not slide off without leaving  scratch marks on your nail.

9.  Silver Streak Mags need a number 1 hook, so change from the number 2 that comes stock.  The extra number will come in handy for replacement. 

10. The Mini-Streak comes stock with a number 4 hook, increase size to a number 2. or you'll miss a bunch of fish with the tiny number 4.

11. If a fish is running directly away from you, he can roll the hook back out of his mouth from the direct pull of the line back to the fishing rod.

12.  River baits that are dark, like the gold ones, I prefer a bronze hook, chrome baits get a chrome one.

13.  On the front hooks of Wiggle Wart style lure, bend the front hooks toward the lip of the bait.  This way they won't dig grooves into the lure and your hooking power will be increased.  This is an awesome tip for trolling on Lake Erie for Walleyes.

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