The Tackle Room columns in WON have introduced this concept of range over the past two issues, which is kind of an outside-the-box, think-it-out way of looking at tackle considerations. This morning I got into the office early, and started cranking on this week's column on hooks, namely how hook size and placement in baits is often overlooked in lieu of "what pound test is getting bit." Here's what I got on the screen before taking a break. The other however many hundred words can be checked out in the paper next week.
The last couple of columns introduced this concept of range, and narrowing down the rods and reels and pound tests of line based on the conditions, structure, grade of fish, and perhaps most importantly, not so much what’s biting right then and there, but what the next bite could come from.
While pound test and proper rods and reels for the job are a huge part of putting fish on the boat, it takes getting bit to set the plan in motion. This week’s column is about hook considerations when fishing fin bait, and how hooks and hook placement can be overlooked over pound test and fluorocarbon and short versus long topshot, etcetera.
My surface iron buddy Danny Wade always gets quoted up on fishing the lure, but he’s also a really good bait fisherman, especially at places like Guadalupe when it’s not just mindless fishing — like offshore — and all the little things make a difference. He says that sometimes it’s not so much that the fish like yellowfin tuna on the anchor are not so much line shy, but they are hook shy. In other words, instead of obsessing over whether 40- or 50-pound fluorocarbon is going to get bit better, the real decision should be what size hook can be used to allow the sardine to swim strong.
Think about it like this: when a guy’s “hot” and gets bit a few times in a row when the fishing is scratchy on offshore bluefin or yellowfin on the anchor on long range trips, the first question is locked in “what pound test are you fishing.”
What’s also locked in is that if it’s light line, like he dropped down a class or two below everyone else, everyone just flocks to the rod racks to get their lighter outfit. But as David Choate often says when we talk fishing theory, when it’s heavier gear — like 50 pound locally, or 60 pound at Alijos or 150 for cows — people don’t usually gaggle up around the heavy gear. Part of the reason is that there are these subconscious rules that have been ingrained. One of them is that when it’s scratchy flyline fishing, it’s light line that makes the biggest difference.
But hook size, brand and placement in the bait should be the real consideration. Still, you never hear someone ask “what size hook are you using…”