Mike Ladle


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Tackle and Tactics.


THINK LIKE A FISH Part 36 Hooks.

I'm never one to fuss too much about hooks. I tend to buy eyed hooks of the sizes I generally use and tip them into plastic containers labelled, small hooks and large hooks. When I need a new hook I empty them into the palm of my hand and choose something appropriate. Having said that I suppose that I only use hooks which, by trial and error, I have found to be reliable. For example I never buy cheap batches of flies because they are often tied on crap hooks which may open or break. It's much better to stick to tying your own flies on quality articles. My own, crude mullet flies are always on size 10s or 12s sold as carp or specimen hooks. The carp anglers have just about got it sussed and their gear is always pretty sound (if, at times, a touch expensive).

To be honest most modern hooks are pretty good but there are some popular types that I avoid like the plague. For example I never, ever fish with those barbed shank abominations that are supposed to hold the bait in place. They, are coarse in the wire, they certainly don't hold bait as well as a bit of elastic or a rubber band and the barbs make it difficult to grip the shank with your finger and thumb when you are unhooking fish. In addition, many years ago, I remember them being poorly tempered and snapping the first time I tried them so - never again!

Even in simple things like hooks there are fashions and gimmicks. Recently the 'circle' hook has come into vogue. I remember suggesting that hooks of this type would be good for some purposes when I wrote "Operation Sea Angler" in 1983. The idea came from south sea islanders, who used wooden 'circle' hooks for catching fish called escolar. Later on commercial longliners found that circle hooks were better than traditional designs when you are using static baits. It was only a small step for anglers to latch onto the idea that the fish would often hook themselves, with no need for a strike, if you used circles.

Recently I decided that I was sick and tired of my bass 'flies' going rusty after a couple of dunkings in salt water. This tends to spoil not only the offending fly but to turn everything else in the box the same rusty orange colour. Of course I knew that you could get hold of stainless hooks for fly tying and I opted, wherever possible, to change my single-hooked lures to stainless. I discovered that two types of stainless hooks are readily available one is a sort of Aberdeen with a long shank and fine wire: these are ideal for streamer flies, small delta eels and other little plastic baits. The second type of stainless hook is shorter shanked and heavier in the wire and you can get hold of them up to size 6/0. I shall fit these to my large Redgills, Shads and the like. Hooks small enough for mullet flies don't seem to be marketed so, for the present, these will have to continue rusting (not such a problem anyway because they are easy to make).

Lastly a whinge - why can't I get hold of stainless steel trebles? If I could fit all my plugs and spoons with these they would last indefinitely and look a lot less tatty. Perhaps I've answered my own question - manufacturers would sell a lot less treble hooks. Lures are pretty expensive so a quid (or more) each for trebles would not be over the top. All my lures are already fitted with stainless split rings and they seem fine. If anyone knows of a source of good stainless trebles I am sure that lots of lure anglers would be highly delighted.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Think like a fish.


'Stainless hooks.

These are the two types that I have.  The lid is off my 'child proof' Aspirin container.

Mullet flies.

It does not matter if these are on hooks that rust because they are cheap and easy to make and can be disposed of after use.

Fly fisherman at dawn.

Bass flies can be quite elaborate and are best tied on stainless hooks.

Bass on Skitterpop.

If only I could get hold of stainless trebles I would fit them to my favourite lures.