I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

• Trailer Hooks

We all miss strikes. Bass hit just short of the lure for any number of reasons. You could be retrieving too fast for example. The bass could be simply trying to tap the bait away instead of trying to eat it. So to put it simply, that's why we might consider using a trailer hook.
Most trailer hooks seem to be 2/0 in size, but can also be found in 1/0 and 3/0 sizes. Some are plain hooks and others are painted red for the red-paint-theory inclined. In theory, a red trailer hook is supposed to give off the appearance that the bait is bleeding. A trailer hook generally has a straight shank and a larger eye than other hooks. These trailer hooks are traditionally used on spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and even jigs.

The larger than normal eye is designed to slip over the hook of your lure trailing behind so that it hangs at the bend in the bait's hook. You might be asking yourself "What keeps the hook in place?" Good question. Trailer hooks tradiationally come with what are called "keepers" which slide onto the bait's hook after adding the trailer hook. It rests above the large hook eye to keep it from sliding further down the hook. It keeps the trailer hook in place.

I mentioned keepers usually come with the hooks. Most hooks come with a small piece of plastic tubing wtih a narrow hole down the center. Those keepers are difficult to put in place, but a good pair of pliers or hemostats help ease the process. The difficult part is sliding the keeper over the barb. I've found a twisting motion helps. I try to place the keeper close to the hinge of my hemostats or pliers to give myself some more leverage and control. Sometimes I have to apply pressure from behind the keeper as it's going over the barb.

People have started making their own keepers out of other things. Medical tubing works really good. No, don't steal it. There are ways of acquiring medical tubing without resorting to deviant methods. Shrink tubing works too. I've also heard of people using a hole punch to punch out keepers from milk jugs or plastic bottles and caps. I've tried that and found that it helps to run a hot needle through the center to melt a small hole, easing the process of sliding the keeper onto the hook. Gamakatsu actually sells a hook with shrink-wrapped plastic over the eye to prevent it from slipping. If you plan on using a trailer hook, make sure you are going to leave it there for a while. Removing a keeper is sometimes more difficult than putting one on. I've found a side to side shimmying motion helps work the keeper past the barb and off the hook. Be careful running a keeper over a hook barb. You don't want to injure yourself.

Some anglers rig the trailer hook as-is, but others thread on a trailer bait. Trailer baits include things like grubs, small fork tailed worms, curl-tailed 4" worms, small brush hogs, and other creature baits. I usually match the trailer to the color of the lure, but sometimes you want to show some contrast with a different color. Think about Texsposing the plastic to make the trailer hook somewhat weedless and less prone to snags. You don't always have to rig the hook upright. In fact, in some cases, you can improve your hookup ratio by sliding the trailer hook on upside down. Sometimes even treble hooks work as trailer hooks.

Here are some of my additional thoughts. I've already mentioned that I don't use trailer hooks because I don't have many problems with missed strikes. Another potential problem you might be faced with is a gill or gut-hooked fish. Make sure you know how to remove a gut-hooked fish before using trailer hooks. There are other lures you might think about adding trailer hooks to. Swimblade/Chatterbait type lures come to mind, although I've been told that a trailer hook might hinder the bait's intended action. Frogs are another lure where a trailer hook might be helpful. You can even add a grub to it giving off a different appearance. Because of the 1-2 count we use to set the hook when using topwaters, keep in mind that this is another situation where you might gut-hook a fish. A trailer hook is also going to snag a lot more things, so fishing around lots of timber or weeds may not be the best idea.

I must point out that I am not personally an advocate of using trailer hooks. I use spinnerbaits and buzzbaits without any problems. One could argue that I am missing strikes on spinnerbaits and I'd never even know it. That may be true, but I have yet to justify the need for trailer hooks on my lures. I have two spinnerbaits set up with trailer hooks and have not noticed any added benefit.

Those are my thoughts on trailer hooks. If you have anything to add, feel free to do so.


Anonymous said...

While I think trailer hooks can cause more problems that outweigh the good they can do with a spinner bait, I think you can increase your catches by a minimum of 25% with a buzzbait. I dont have many problems with snags with a spinner bait.