If you go on any of the bass lure fishing forums or Facebook groups you wont have to look far to find people asking about changing from treble hooks to single hooks on their lures. The answers are usually mixed. Some anglers will swear by trebles and that you miss out on fish with single hooks. Others will say they’ve not noticed any difference on hookups for singles.
I have mainly fished with soft plastics up until this year (other than a few bigger fish on surface plugs). The idea of changing my singles to trebles wasn’t really something I was too worried about.
The way my fishing has gone this year, I have spent more time and caught more fish off the surface which has led to the odd struggle unhooking bass and mainly the smaller ones.
Thinking About Fish Welfare
Because I prefer to return my fish (with the occasional fish for the table) I want to put them back in the best shape possible. I felt that changing from treble hooks to single hooks on my plugs was the way to do this. It’s worth pointing out that I have only done this with surface lures. I do own a few shallow divers but I don’t fish with them very often. I feel I can do anything I want to do with either surface lures or soft plastics.
After some research I felt that the Mustad Kajui hooks seemed to be popular and the looked strong. If I’m going to have just one hook to hold the fish then it needs to be solid. I got to work changing over a few lures. To start with I focused on the smaller (90-100mm) lures as I felt the bigger bass engulf these more, causing deep hooking.
Another point worth noting is that I did need to play around with hook sizes to get the weight right and to ensure the action is correct. On a new lure I think it’s important to know the action before changing to singles.
Confidence is Key
I knew that I the first fish on the single hooks would be crucial. I would need to land it if I was going to have the confidence to keep going with singles. My first session, and typically I was struggling to catch anything until I was able to drift a Pugachev’s Cobra into some structure after spotting a fin sticking out of the water. The bass had almost no choice but to hit the lure.
As expected in a run of current the fish fought hard, my hooks were being tested. Once the fish was landed I was impressed with how well the fish was hooked. I did still need the pliers to get the hook out but it was a lot easier to remove than a set of trebles.
This was exactly what I was hoping for and it led me to change more of my lures to single hooks.
A Bit Of Perspective
I knew that the capture of one fish on single hooks was only the beginning of my experiment and it would take a bit longer to decide what was right.
On another trip, the IMA Salt Skimmer gave me food for thought. I was fishing an area that I know holds fish but quite often I struggle to tempt them to take. I’ve found something like the skimmer fished slow with pauses can provoke a reaction. This is exactly what happened.
However after various hits on the lure I couldn’t seem to buy a hook up on my single hooks. Now compared to stumpier lures like the Zclaw and Pugachev Cobra, the skimmer did have quite a big gap between hooks. Bigger hooks would be an answer, however I found the hooks wrapped around the lure.
Other than changing from treble hooks to single hooks I also looked at keeping the trebles but crushing the barbs. I tried that with a couple of lures to see what happened. Interestingly I tried this with an IMA Chappy and lost a good fish on treble hooks. I was able to get out the next day. This time the Chappy was armed with singles and I managed to hook into a decent fish once again. What happened this time? I landed it. So despite this fish making me late home to look after the kids, all was well with the world. Single hooks were back in favour.
Currently single hooks have me sold. I think the chances of a hook up are less than on a lure with treble hooks but maybe not as much as I may have previously thought. Clearly having three points per hook opposed to one is an advantage but that doesn’t really bother me. Especially on the smaller 90-100mm lures where two sets of trebles seem overkill.
It seems that it’s mainly small fish that will struggle to get hooked on a single hook. Big bass have big mouths. Once they have mouthed that lure there is a pretty good chance of a hook up. Maybe when bass aren’t in such an aggressive mood then hooks ups could be a problem. Surely this would be the same with weedless hooks and it’s never bothered me or made me think not to use a weedless lure.
Singles Hooks in Weed
I did find an unexpected advantage of changing from treble hooks to single hooks. I snagged up less when fishing around weed. This has worked to my advantage when playing fish a couple of times where I’m certain a lure with treble hooks would have snagged and I’d probably have lost the fish.
I have more confidence fishing closer to structure with single hooks. This is the sort of things that tip the scales in favour on single hooks for me.
At the end of the day I said at the start of this blog that I’m looking to release the fish in the best condition I can. I feel single hooks are the way I can do this. There are lots of advantages for using single hooks in the areas I fish. So for now that is how I will continue.
If I don’t feel a certain lure works well with single hooks then I will either keep the trebles and crush the barbs or I won’t use that lure at all.
Please add any comments as I am keen to look at other peoples opinions on this. I’m just learning this game and always try to keep an open mind to different ideas.