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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Saturday, April 2, 2011

• VMC Wide Gap Worm Hooks

A reliable connection between ourselves and a hooked fish is dependent upon many factors, from the rod and reel, line, the knot, and lastly, the hook. Failure anywhere in that series of items usually results in a lost fish. Our last line of defense is at the level of the hook. That sharp hook plays a very important role in achieving success. The gravity of a hook's importance in successful fishing can often be lost on its superficial simplicity, however, after much scrutiny and time spent on the water, most anglers learn why one hook is better than another. Proper selection not only adds to our ability to stick a fish well enough not to lose it, but also builds up our confidence because we know why it is we prefer the hook in question.

One of the biggest problems, for me anyway, has always been finding a good deal on hooks. My go-to hook over the last few years was the Gamakatsu EWG. They were easy to find and were available in-store at an average price, but that "average" price was still often too expensive. Somewhere along the way, I found myself needing more 3/0 hooks and I didn’t like the idea of paying a high unit price. I decided to seek out an alternative to those Gamakatsu hooks. If you are like me and have found yourself scrambling for an inexpensive quality alternative, your search might be over, at least for now.

Enter VMC.

My initial experiences with VMC hooks came when I started swapping out trebles on my rattlebaits for the Sure Set hooks that became standard on the latest incarnation of the Rapala DT product line. With their use came familiarity and confidence with the VMC brand. When I saw that VMC was making worm hooks of varying styles, I didn’t hesitate to pick out a few packs. They were inexpensive and had a better unit price. On the rack, I noticed sizes which ranged from 1/0 to 5/0. For my purposes, VMC offered all that I needed, but I took notice of other products, including their circle hooks. I've been testing the circle hooks recently and I hope to get a solid review out later this year.

The 3/0 pack contained 11 hooks and 2/0 came 12 to a pack. I believe the 4/0 were 10 per pack. The price point was around that popular $4 to $6 range. Seeing as how most other major hook brands only offer us five hooks or less for the same price, the bang for the buck outweighed any foreseeable shortcomings. Given my previous experiences with the Sure Set hooks, I was an easy consumer to convince at that point.

The larger hook sizes offer us fewer hooks per pack, but when compared to what everyone else sells, VMC is a bargain. I still try to remain a relatively frugal consumer, regardless of what the Bait Monkey attempts to persuade me into buying. Browse the VMC catalog and have a look at their worm hooks on page 2. vmchooks.com/consumers/

As with any VMC hook, these worm hooks are made of Vanadium steel and are advertised as light weight, strong, and sharp with a needle cone point. Anyone who has used VMC products before should already be familiar with that sales pitch. These hooks must then be judged based on those same claims. Are they light weight? Are they strong? Are they sharp?

Light wire hooks are the norm for me and when fishing soft plastics, I generally want the bait to have the most natural presentation I can get without the hook interfering. If you’re new to or fond of fishing soft plastics, you might consider just how influential the weight of the hook can be in changing the action of a lure. You’d be surprised. In my experience, the light wire VMC worm hooks are fine, but my impressions are purely subjective. I’m satisfied and that’s what counts. There is one significant caveat. When using light wire hooks, we must make a sacrifice. Hook strength is the trade-off for using lighter hooks, so let me talk about that next. What good is a light wire hook if it bends and breaks on a good fish, right?

Just how strong are they? These hooks have held up against some tough bass. However, one fine evening, I was fishing with a finesse worm out in some shallow cypress trees and something bit down on one of those 3/0 hooks. The fish in question turned out to be a channel catfish weighing in at almost 4lbs. As that cat twisted itself around in the water, as catfish often do, the hook twisted with it. The hook didn’t break, nor did it shake loose, but I was reminded that when fishing with light wire hooks, any major stress can cause permanent damage. Nevertheless, when the overall cost of each individual hook is less than the competition, I can tolerate a few bent hooks if it means saving some money in the long run. What mattered was that I was able to land the fish. The connection between myself and the fish was maintained, despite the damage.

This story should at least make you aware that maybe, just maybe, that hog of a bass might stress these light wire hooks beyond their limits. Most of us don't have this problem, do we? If you're prone to catching lunkers, you might be fishing with heavy wire hooks anyway. Some of us aren't as lucky.

On to the next point, the hook point. Just how sharp are these hooks?

When examining just how sharp a fishing hook is, I’ve noticed most of us rely on the fingernail method. In other words, we scrape the hook point along the top of our fingernail. If the point catches along the way, you’ve got a sharp hook. If dragging the hook point across your nail is smooth, it isn’t a sharp hook. The VMC needle cone point passes the fingernail test, but like many average hooks, they can become dull over time. I have great confidence in their penetration potential as the hook points seem to be just as sharp as any other major brand out there. Still, I would recommend keeping a hook sharpener handy if you begin to have any doubts.

There is one thing I’d like to mention in passing. I’m not sure how much of a difference this will make, but when comparing the Gammy hook side by side with a VMC hook, the necks are different. The crook-neck on a VMC hook is more angled than a Gamakatsu. The mechanics of a hookset are often complex, and although the knot you tie can influence how the hook behaves when you set it, I can’t help but wonder if the neck angle makes a huge difference. I know straight shank vs offset makes a difference, but when comparing two offset EWG hooks, I'm not entirely sure. If you’ve spent any time analyzing how a hook responds to your pull depending on its design, I’d appreciate some insight. The offset has a lot to do with keeping a lure from sliding down the hook. A less straight bend at the offset should ideally be more effective at keeping baits in place.

If you’re looking to stock up on hooks, don’t forget about VMC. They have been around in this industry for a while, so they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. It would be worth your while to keep this company in mind. I eventually splurged on a pack of their circle hooks to use when wacky rigging, but I plan on using them for drop shotting and nose hooking select plastics too. A short review of those circle hooks will get posted eventually, so be on the lookout for that writeup. For the time being, although I still have an unbelievably well stocked supply of Gamakatsu EWG hooks, VMC has my vote of confidence.

Related Posts:
VMC Sure Set Hooks


MNAngler said...

Great review, as usual, Bassdem. I love Gamakatsu hooks for my flukes and other plastics. I found a 25-pk for a good price a year ago, so I'm set for a while. But I'll definitely look into VMC for the future. Thanx for the tip.

MSPbass said...

I actually did stock up on VMC hooks 2 years ago. I will be sticking with Gammy & Owner though. I had a terrible experience with the line getting pinched where the wire bends back to meet the hook and forms the eyelet. I lost several fish when the line actually slid off the hook at this spot because the eyelet was not tight enough. The knots were still intact! These were mostly 04 & 05 straight shaft worm hooks and I was usually flipping. But I think it happened with the EWG hooks as well. Very disappointed.

BassFishingDem said...

I will have to take a closer look at the eyelets now. I haven't noticed any line damage and I sure haven't lost any hooks. I'll tie a few knots to some and go from there.

MSPbass said...

I couldn't believe it. In fact, I assumed it was my knot tying at first. But when it happened a 3rd time, there was no doubt it was the hook. I've never had a product fail so bad before. I still have a bunch.