The first fishing hook dates back to over 40,000 years ago. Since then, there have been countless minor changes to the design, yet at the same time, the hook is still the same as it ever was and still a most vital tool for angling success. So how does a bass pro decide which hook to use and when? The answer to that question can be as simple or as complicated as you make it and some pros are more particular than others. Take young Bassmaster Elite phenom Brandon Palaniuk for example – he’s a stickler (pun intended) for proper hook selection and a perfectionist when it comes to choosing the right one for the task at hand.
The prerequisite of replacing stock treble hooks on lures straight out of the package has become less important over the years with the improvements in the quality of stock treble hooks, yet Elite Series anglers still adjust their hook selection for reaction baits. Brandon Palaniuk is a self-proclaimed “hook changing machine” and will often change out hooks multiple times during the day. “I would say it has almost become an obsession of mine, there are some days when I am fishing a crankbait and I will change the hooks out three times during a day,” admits Palaniuk. His reasoning for the switch is very simple. “I want those hooks to be as sharp as possible because often with reaction baits they just swipe at the bait and I want every chance I can to land that fish.” He believes that changing the hooks out, even while on the water during a tournament day is worth the time. “I can switch out two trebles in about 15 or 20 seconds since I am used to doing it so much. If it helps me land just one more fish, it is worth it. One fish can mean thousands or even a hundred thousand dollars for me,” explains Palaniuk. While the weekend angler may not have the financial resources available to go through that many hooks, the principle of ensuring that your hooks are always sharp is something we can all appreciate. Keeping hooks fresh and sharp, especially on that one hot lure of the trip will get you more fish.
Fishing with plastics is a huge part of bass fishing and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. For Brandon Palaniuk, the selection of the hook is just as important as the baits being used. The biggest factors for him in choosing hooks is the technique that he is using, the soft plastic bait being used and the cover he is fishing. Once he has an idea of how he will be fishing, he can begin to select the right hooks. Much like his philosophy on treble hooks, Palaniuk will usually change out his worm hook at least every day. “The plastic usually does a good job of protecting the point of the hook, but I still change it as much as I can to ensure it is sharp,” remarks Palaniuk.
While the fact that different size baits require different sized hooks may seem like an obvious fact, Brandon Palaniuk takes it seriously when selecting the right hook. He believes that the hook should be as big as possible without affecting the action of the bait. “It’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what size hook to use, because each bait varies in the width and density of the plastics,” adds Palaniuk.
Round Bend or EWG
The two most popular hook styles for standard worm fishing are the Round Bend and Extra Wide Gap styles. Palaniuk finds use for both of them and has key reasons for selecting each type. For the majority of his Texas rigs, Brandon will use an Extra Wide Gap style with a size that fits the bait. He does however have a use for the round bend hook and will use this almost exclusively when fishing a fluke style bait. “On lakes that have blueback herring especially, I want the Round Bend regular worm hook. I have found that it makes the bait swim straighter and fall differently and that’s been key for me during several tournaments,” acknowledges Palaniuk.
Flipping and Pitching Baits
Over the past few years the trend in bass fishing has been to use straight shank hooks for flipping and pitching soft plastic baits into heavy cover. Palaniuk believes this is the only way to go when fishing this way and has noticed his hookups have increased since switching to the straight shank. “There are so many good hooks now available that are designed for fishing this way. They come with welded eyes and are made very thick,” adds Palaniuk. He believes that the welded eye helps prevent the line from slipping out and the thick metal design allows for them to not straighten out as much when setting the hook or getting hung up in the heavy cover. A 4/0 is Palaniuk’s go-to size and he feels this will cover the majority of his needs for this application.
The hooks used for dropshotting vary greatly among anglers. For Brandon, the worm size is the biggest factor in deciding what type and style of hook to use. For the bigger worms, Brandon will use a Texas Rigged application with a 1/0 light wire Rebarb hook. He believes that using a bigger hook will allow for better hooksets and the Rebarb is something he will not go without as the keeper on it is critical to make the bait stay in place.
For smaller worms (less than five inches), Brandon will use a size #1 short shank dropshot hook and nose hook the bait. “I think that this hook gives you the best action and for a dropshot you really want all of the action you can get,” states Palaniuk. The one exception is when he’s dropshotting in grass or brush. He will on occasion use a smaller Rebarb hook for worms less than five inches so he can Texas-rig the bait and keep from getting hung-up.
Fishing hook selection may be easily overlooked by the everyday angler, but for Elite Series pro Brandon Palaniuk, proper selection and use of the many different types of hooks will increase success. Making sure your hook is the right style, size and that it remains sharp will yield better results in the long run.