When the fishing gets epic - it’s time to be getting sticky. Epic, once in the a lifetime fish are just that… a once in a lifetime opportunity. How many of us have had that OIAL fish take our bait or fly, gotten her close to the boat or shoreline - only to watch the beastie swim away? That is a terrible sinking feeling unlike any other.
After doing our due diligence of research on a particular species that we are hunting for the first time, learning all of the dirty tricks this fish is famous for pulling on unprepared anglers, booking a lodge, a guide, convincing the spouse that you need to do this, getting your buddies together and traveling to the destination.... and on and on the check list goes. So what is it that happens? After all of this, the guide puts us on an amazing fish that is willingly fooled into attacking your offering like a bat out of hell and we don’t land the fish? What?!...it happens.
Let’s take a look at what goes wrong: All of us put new backing and line on our reels, new leaders, do one last check on the ole reel and rod, double check our knots and go thru our tackle or fly box, selecting the proper little morsels to fool Ms Epic.
So what did I forget?
How old are your lures and flies and how sharp are they? Equally - what hooks are you using?
That’s right - I said hooks, and for good reason. If you go through your gear properly, including sharpening the manufacturers’ hooks and you still lose fish…well you know where I’m heading with this. It’s not you or your angling skills (assuming that you have been fishing for a few years and have seen plenty of action.) You hooked Ms Epic and endured all of her nasty tricks and reel screetching runs only to lose her in a last moment jump or worse…at the boat? Of course it’s the hooks!
Hooks are so important and do so much more than just hook a fish. Any decent hook will do that. A great hook has balance.
Let me say that again: a great hook has balance. A great hook is designed to deliver exact penetration and holding depth in the boney jaw of powerful wild creatures that put amazing stresses on the hook, line and rod.
An average hook is the weakest part of your equipment. Not the strength of the hook, so much as the performance of the hook. We have all seen bull redfish crush hooks and tarpon just destroy them down to the eye. Those are average or good hooks that just don’t offer the consistent hook performance that we need.
Dare I say deserve? Indeed - when you think about it we, as anglers at any level, deserve the very best. And it’s out there. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.
I mostly fly fish as that is what I was given as a child. I do shy away from treble hooks as I seem to get entangled in them, no matter what. I tie many of my own flies and have done so for long time. I’ve used many different types of hooks by many manufacturers and discovered a common theme…and lost some beautiful fish along the way.
Hook set does not just come from the action you take with rod. Think about all that is in play when you set the hook. You are moving the rod, the line, the hook and the fish is moving. If you do everything correctly, it comes down to how well the hook is designed and how it is made.
Over the many decades of throwing feathers I came across Owner Hooks and tried them out along with my usual shelf brands at the fly shops. I have never had an Owner Hook fail or break. I have missed fish but that’s my fault, as much as that hurts to admit. Most anglers have a brand preference and this is not to say that your favorite brand is no good…of course not. When you look at an Owner hook, the design and balance, you will see what I am talking about.
In 2016 I invited Owner to become involved with our tournament series and provide hooks to our anglers. Why? I cannot tell you how many times I have heard top anglers tell me about the tournament winning fish that crushed their hooks or became unbuttoned. The anglers that now use the Owner hooks are winning tournaments…Get Sticky…enough said.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on the water.