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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...hook! This time, anyway.

Having access to a small pond full of feisty, stunted largemouths is providing lots of opportunity for case studies with various tackle. Its definitely tackle-nerd heaven. This was a same-day adjustment that allowed me to compare a couple different rigging options on a creature bait and make a big difference in my hook-n-land ratio.


I had this bag of Yum mighty bugs laying around for years without use.

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I had gotten into a little creature bait action earlier this year in the muddy water, swimming a giant Deep Creek creature bait, but they're just to smelly to keep out so I had put them up. I wanted to do a little more slow fishing in this heat and these Yums looked like the ticket for a variety of presentations. (Closest thing I've got to the legendary speed craw of the central foothills!)

Being lazy and favoring moving baits to stationary, I grabbed the first big weighted hook I could find - a big swimbait hook.

bug-swim-2.jpg

I bought these for big, bulky swimbaits and have never really had great confidence with them, partly because I have lost a few memorable fish that way. This Yum bug is not a super bulky bait, so I felt like I had plenty of hook & gap and it was as sharp as anything else I throw.

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I hit the pond and started pitching & dropping & swimming. 4 quick bites in about 30 minutes in different areas of the pond, all swam with the bait, all got good whacks for hook sets (sometimes more than one), a couple got airborne and all 4 spit it back at me without making it to shore. The bait was coming back almost unaffected - not bunched up on the hook or compressed at all. My first 0-fer-4 in recent memory, and a real head-scratcher given how well I thought each fish was hooked.

I went back to work (ie. thinking about fishing) and decided that something is just not right about the angle & fit on that swimbait hook. The bait was definitely getting bit, but I needed to try with a different hook style to change my results. I was wanting exposed, but there's just too much weed, overhang and pine to drag around on the bottom with an exposed hook. I dug around the almost-unused jig box and found this almost-unused light-weight bass jig that had a decent color combo for my bugs.

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In the afternoon heat, I pitched that around my same spots and got 4 more quick bites. All 4 swam with the bait, all got good whacks for hook sets, a couple got airborne and best of all, every one of them came to hand firmly buttoned up on the jig.

I'm still not a big-time jig fisherman, but I am rolling through some other jigs to try different colors & sizes. I definitely got more bites on this light, slow sinking version with the big trailer, as compared to a heavier jig with smaller trailer, but they're all productive. Still trying to dial in a retrieve that brings more of a bite - I'd say 90% of what I'm catching is hitting on the initial drop or immediately after it hits the bottom for the first time. Not much is happening during the retrieve, whether I drag, hop, or swim it back. So the study continues...
 

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Not sure what weight your rods are but the general rule of thumb is the heavier gauge and larger the hook, the heavier the action your rod needs to be and the stronger your line needs to be. The light jig hook looks to be a smaller diameter so a lighter rod can provide enough leverage to drive the hook through the hard cartilage of the bass' mouth.

The first set up needs to have a very stout rod to pull the hook through.
 

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I have made the mistake of too much hook a few times by just grabbing something pre-rigged out of my big bag of plastic and tying it on a light set up. It's pretty annoying to have something swimming around with your bait when you can't even get its attention through the whippy rod and stretchy line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not sure what weight your rods are but the general rule of thumb is the heavier gauge and larger the hook, the heavier the action your rod needs to be and the stronger your line needs to be. The light jig hook looks to be a smaller diameter so a lighter rod can provide enough leverage to drive the hook through the hard cartilage of the bass' mouth.

The first set up needs to have a very stout rod to pull the hook through.
Great point and I'm busted there. I prefer a lighter action rod than the average angler. My pond setups are especially light (cheap & flimsy light, not intentionally high-quality light) and spooled with mono to boot. When I'm out fishing "for real" my setups are closer to normal bass tackle (Med/Fast), with braid & floro, but never on the heavy side.

I still think there's something about the wider gap and fully exposed nature of a jig hook bend that lends to better hook ups than this swimbait hook, regardless of hook gauge.

I'll swap out for a sturdier rod and add that to the experiment variables. I know I have some almost-unused MH broomsticks (to me) out there somewhere. Can't cast them worth a nickel!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wes is on to something. I fished for 4 more hook ups this morning with the Yum mighty bug, swimbait hook, same zebco spincaster & mono but switched from my whispy 6' spincasting rod to a 7' bionic blade M fast. I'm not giving myself the full advantage of a MH+braid, but I am only changing 1 variable in the experiment. Somewhere a science teacher smiles...

First fish, immediate bite after first cast hit the bottom, line running, hook set, ran sideways about 10 feet and pulled free. Typical of these terrible, 0-fer-5 hooks. Wes 0, fish 1.

Second fish, bite on the first or second hop of the second cast. line running, hook set, nice 2lb-ish fish (rare for this pond) pulled all over and came in for a safe landing. Well hooked in the side of the mouth, plastic pushed over the weight, over the hitch-hiker, up the line and mostly destroyed. Wes 1, fish 1.

Third fish, bite in mid-retrieve, apparently on the run at an angle toward me. Set the hook on loose line - nothing there. Reeled up the slack and realized the fish still had the bait. Second set pulled free. Wes 1, fish 2. (That's a fish I lose most of the time anyway. Probably a trophy - wily, strong, confident and handsome. Hate to count it as a loss for Wes, but this is science. Sorry Wes.).

Fourth fish, an "excuse me" bite at my feet on the end of a retrieve. I was looking up for the next cast when I realized a fish was running away with the bug. Lifted the rod in surprise, and I pulled him right out. Well hooked in the side of the mouth again. I am convinced that the longer, heavier rod set the hook on this one for me, because I surely wan't paying attention. Wes 2, fish 2.

(If Wes knew he was going to be part of the scoring system, he probably would have requested a designated fisher :) )

For what the experiment is worth, there looks to be some good evidence for a stronger rod, and maybe I don't need to discard these swimbait hooks just yet.

Also, the Bionic Blade+Zebco combo it not a bad feeling setup. Its a little less kid-friendly, but more me-friendly than I expected.
 

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It could also be the angle of attack. Those weighted hooks lie a little flatter. Maybe the fish is grabbing it at an angle that doesn't lead to hook set, just stealing the bait. The jighead or shakeyhead will present the bait&hook more upright. The fourth fish sounds like a different kind of strike. They hit faster moving targets harder sometimes. I tell my kids to retreive a little faster if they get misses. If the fish thinks he only has one shot, he makes a stronger effort and usually with more swallow than grab.

You need more data. Keep fishing (it's for science). :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have made the mistake of too much hook a few times by just grabbing something pre-rigged out of my big bag of plastic and tying it on...
Mistake? I thought that was strategy - by grabbing the first thing that comes into sight and tying it on, I decrease the time rifling through tackle bins and increase the time my bait is in the water - Fishing 101.

We need to go pond fishing. We're in the same town and share an affinity for the same quality of equipment. :D
Both have kayaks too. Mine is dry-for-2014 so far. With 20 seconds of planning, I can get myself out to the garage & make a few casts in the pond. Have not been able to invest much more than that into fishing trips this year. The schedule should settle down in late July & August - prime time, for sweating.

Its been a long while since I've made it up to Falls Lake for the open water trolling bite in the mornings - we should put one of those trips together and see if my fish are still there.
 

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Mistake? I thought that was strategy - by grabbing the first thing that comes into sight and tying it on, I decrease the time rifling through tackle bins and increase the time my bait is in the water - Fishing 101.

Both have kayaks too. Mine is dry-for-2014 so far. With 20 seconds of planning, I can get myself out to the garage & make a few casts in the pond. Have not been able to invest much more than that into fishing trips this year. The schedule should settle down in late July & August - prime time, for sweating.

Its been a long while since I've made it up to Falls Lake for the open water trolling bite in the mornings - we should put one of those trips together and see if my fish are still there.
We have a similar "strategy" also. There are no fish in the tackle box (or at least there aren't supposed to be; it would smell really bad). Yeah, I try to keep the line in the water. One of the reasons I like twisty tail grubs so much is that they are rarely a wrong choice (even if not always the best choice) and I can tie one on and start fishing when I am not sure what's best and don't want to spend a bunch of time considering it. If it's definitely bassy water, I might treat a red, blue or purple plastic worm the same way.

Open water trolling in Falls - is that for white bass? I would be game for that sometime. Been thinking about checking in on the striper on Jordan also if they don't do the bloat float again in the next couple of months. I like paddling around dragging something better than stopping every 50' to beat the banks, though I will do the latter if that's what works...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Back to science. 0-for-3 in a quick afternoon session with the heavier rod. 3 pick ups, 3 hook sets, 3 fish came unbuttoned.

I'm starting to like Tallastro's theory even more,:
It could also be the angle of attack. Those weighted hooks lie a little flatter.
The swimbait hook is made for a horizontal presentation. Fish grabs the moving bait, turns, hook finds a place to hold. My fish are coming down to the bottom to suck it up. Random hook location + plastic in the way is reducing effectiveness.

Reality suggests that the swimbait hook isn't as bad as 2-for-11, and the jig isn't as good as 4-for-4. But I'd rather be the jig at 4-0 and let average try to catch up!

Putting the swimbait hook away. Keeping the bigger rod rigged, at least for now.
 

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Not to make this science experiment get too cost prohibitive, but if you have a MH rod...or a heavy one...try that swimbait rig on that.


Your experiments have intrigued me very much, though, in that the swimbait hook rigged in that creature bait has gotten THAT many hits! I am thinking the presentation is more of a horizontally falling bait rather than an vertically falling bait and it may even have some side to side wobble that makes it interesting to the fish.

It sounds like more data is needed, of course, but you may be on to something with that rig. Now, just gotta find the rod to handle it! I may also need to contribute to this experiment since I am in the scoring, after all! :p
 

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I remember a club tournament at Falls Lake. I took a non boater, young college kid. I pull up on a point and they were stacked on it like cord wood, most were small but I was able to fill a small limit for myself with a c-rig. College kid kept losing fish anywhere between a few seconds after the hookset to 1/2 way to the boat. After a while I started looking for his weakness and did take me long to ask about his hook. I use a 3/0 EWG on my rig, he had a 5/0 EWG Superline hook (thick), his rod may have been a bit lighter than mine too. I think after my suggestion, he switched and finally caught one that was short, by that time the bite was over and he missed his opportunity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Upgraded this morning to my strongest artillery - MH all-star coastal inshore rod, Penn SSG, 8/30lb braid + 15lb fluoro leader - and the swimbait rig. Let's get to the bottom of this...

Bites were harder to come by today with only 1-hook set, but it was a successful landing. This setup definitely transfers hook-setting effort into the fish's mouth. It was a no-doubter. We'll add that to Wes's scorecard. Lewisfishing is now at 3-5 overall for this experiment, 1-0 on the MH. (The NCangler scientific oversight committee is already preparing to hear the case for expunging the M-action results from his score.)

I did not care for casting with this rod & big Penn SSG reel, as its way overkill for this 1/8oz rig and I had little control over where it went or how it landed. But I did get a sense for better ability to work a jig with a heavier action rod - you don't have to pull through the flex in the rod - it just pops off the bottom.

I think we need a few more shots at hook sets with the MH rod, but I'm not likely to try this combo again. That Penn is prone to line loops on the outside of the spool and it weighs a ton. I may see how a smaller reel feels on this rod in the next episode.
 

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Whew! I'm glad I'm making a comeback!

The Penn would be a bit much for that type of fishing, but at least you were able to get a sense of what the difference in rods makes. My reels are freshwater, of course, sized for the bass fishing, but I do have a couple inshore rods that I use for certain techniques.
 

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For what it's worth...

Fishing on the home waters this year has been frustrating due to the number of fish lost on the way to the boat. I thought it was just me but several of my regular fishing buddies have reported the same thing on all our standard artillery. Cranks, weightless plastics, weighted plastics, buzz baits, spinner baits, and so on. Maybe there was a special on dental work over the winter.
 

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by that time the bite was over and he missed his opportunity.
Story of my life!

What an informative thread!

I fly fish only so stout rod just ain't happening but I have a fairly good bite to landing ratio. Used to have a terrible one like < 50% until I discovered a basic principle...sharpen your hooks!

Couple of weeks ago I was floating down the best section of smallmouth water in several states and found a spot full of eager smallies. I knew my hook was sharp but the < 50 ratio came back to haunt me. After losing like 4 in a row, I checked my hook. Lo and behold, it was not sharp! It must have hit a rock on a backcast or during retrieve. Doh!

Oh the shame cause I know better. That may have nothing to do with your situation but assume a hook is dull unless you just sharpened it.

It's like checking your line after every fish caught. I've lost some good fish due to those rough lips fraying the line. Yet another basic that I forget now and again.

Again, great thread!
 
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