Finding the perfect lure is an almost impossible task. On any given day any lure may outperform another, which is why I assume many anglers have tackle boxes crammed full of lures in varying sizes and designs. In any case, choosing a lure comes down to three main factors, action, castability, colour and durability. You’re never going to throw a lure that doesn’t swim straight or look good to you. Colour is a whole separate argument for another day.
Most fishermen overlook the hooks on their lures but this is actually the most important aspect of its fish catching ability, so what treble should you choose when upgrading lures. These days there are so many options, it can be somewhat confusing trying to decide between wide gape, short shank, long shank, 3X strong, 4 x strong and magic eye, but each has its place in any tackle box.
When it comes to smaller hooks, whether you like them or not, bream anglers know their stuff. Many will add a wide gape to the rear of surface lures and small crank style lures, leaving a ‘J’ style on the front. The theory is that when fish swipe at surface lures, they are not very accurate and the wide gape, due to its profile, results in more hook ups in the cheeks of fish that would otherwise be missed with a standard ‘J’ style profile. It does work and is a change I make every time I use a surface lure. The wire on the wide gape is also very fine, again resulting in more hook-ups.
Short shank and long shank are even more interesting changes which, when used appropriately can result in more time spent fishing. Fishing in snaggy territory is fraught with dangers. You wouldn’t be the first angler who has found that the front hook often gets snagged up on submerged timber and obstacles. Have you ever tried changing the front hook to a short shank treble? leaving a longer shank on the rear. By changing to a short shank front hook you will have less hook hanging down from the lure meaning it is less likely to get caught on structure. This equals more active fishing time and less time de snagging.
There are times though when a longer shank hook will be more productive and it’s careful not to apply a one size fits all solution. Like a lazy fish swiping at a surface lure, sometimes fish are simply not energetic enough to chase down lures. At these times, anglers should either change the rear treble on their hardbody to a wide gape, or a long shank treble. More hook hanging off the lure will result in more hook-ups as fish have a lazy grab at it. The wide gape is more effective as the points are more pronounced. The long shank simply has more hook hanging off, therefore a fish has more chance of finding it.
When anglers notice fish only just pinned on lures, they immediately assume colour change is the only solution. Perhaps a longer or different treble could have produced more fish rather than a new colour.
Bigger trebles are a different kettle of fish. 3x and 4x strong are the heavy duty hooks of the treble world. Most are a ‘J’ style but feature beefed up wire and are designed for tough adversaries such as barramundi, kingfish and mangrove jack and GTs. I recently re-learnt a valuable lesson when I hooked a large coral trout on a popper and after a torrid 10 minute battle over coral, the line suddenly went limp. I could still feel the lure on the end, so wound it in to discover two straightened hooks on the front treble. Devastating! If only I’d changed to a more suitable and stronger hook, I could have caught that fish. It really bugged me all day given I had spare 3x strong trebles with me the whole time.
For anglers chasing the thuggish GT, there are another selection again, the GT Recorder. These massive trebles are as tough as they get and are barbless for easier release of these special sportsfish. Suitable for large poppers, the GT Recorder is the pinnacle of treble hooks.
Specialty hooks such as the Magic Eye can also be useful and are designed around allowing anglers quick on the fly hook changes without the need of split ring pliers. The magic eye refers to the eye of the hook having a flattened section with can be used to part the split ring and thread it on with ease. These hooks are a 2x strong, so capable of dealing with all but the toughest fish. Fine wire trebles are also a good investment when hook-ups are failing to convert as they will find a home easier in the jaw of fish.
What colour? I personally do not ever bother with colour of the trebles I use but generally nickel, black or silver are the most common found on any lure in my tackle box. My feeling is that a fish is going for the lure, not the hook, so colour is less important than selecting the right shape and gauge. What I always use is a high quality chemically sharpened hook as I truly believe these will give me the best chance of converting hook-ups to fish.
The next time you head out and pull a lure out of your tackle box, take a moment to think about the treble you are using and whether the standard treble is appropriate for the job. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of utter devastation when you lose that trophy fish due to hook failure.