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How large is too large or small when it comes to lure or hook size

Discussion in 'Lure Making & Customizing' started by spoonminnow, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. spoonminnow

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    After I repaired my reel to make it cast longer distances (spool was over filled), I wanted to test it and a 3.75" worm with a new design. A few things I learned and a few things confirmed:

    1. Don't overfill your reel !
    2. When it comes to cold water (41 degrees in this case), fish will still smack a lure like no tomorrow given their cold water immunity. This morning I wanted to see the action of the worm on the drop, jigged off bottom and swum. Not great since the plastic I poured was too hard for the tail end to shimmy. But guess what? A 1.75 lb bass and 12" perch clobbered it! Which leads me to these question:
    a. when matching jig hook size to lure size, how small is too small ?
    b. when fishing in cold water, how long is too long when it comes to straight baits like Slider Worms?

    YDn1yld.jpg

    V1 is the hook placement I had no problem hooking either fish. V2 is where the hook would normally emerge given a larger hook size. Just the fact that both species got hooked means that when it comes to larger fish, their aggression level stimulated by lure design allows them to easily wrap their lips around a longer lure with short shank hook. In the case of the bass, the lure was completely in its mouth whereas smaller fish in my pond didn't bother.

    (Note: The bass started out at 1 lb when stocked in my pond in spring; today that bass had grown to almost 2 lbs. being the only bass swimming alongside a smorgasbord of pan fish to snack on. Guess 'hog' applies!)

    Back to tail design. The tail made the worm act slightly different regardless plastic's firmness and the retrieve; the tail's hook-profile might have an added visual stimulus.

    Time to pour some more in soft plastic.

    (note: pond is stocked with permits for five species)
     
  2. galen

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    Stocked pond, I can only dream!
     
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  3. spoonminnow

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    The only problem I've had was the drought that lasted two years bringing the water level from 8' down to 3'. We had 4' of snow accumulate and I couldn't get the snow blower down the steep banks to blow off the snow. Light couldn't get to the plants on the bottom that produce oxygen during the day but CO2 at night causing all the fish to suffocate. I had to get rid of over 100 lbs. of dead fish once the pond thawed.

    Broke my heart to see bass that I had seen grow from 2lbs to 5 lbs over the years (one over 6 lbs.), as well as the other species I liked trying my lures out on.

    Now only a few bass are stocked along with 30-40 panfish.
     
  4. carpkiller

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    Hook size:
    I am experimenting with smaller hooks (on leadheads fished in the bays). Seems like if a fish grabs the lure from behind, a big ol' hook sticking up (Like on Storm and similar pre-rigged baits) just bangs 'em in the top lip and keeps 'em from eating the whole thing on the first blast.
    I didn't figure this out; Scott said it, I believe it, and that's good enough for me.
    Actually saw it happen a couple weeks ago. A 15 inch smelt followed to the boat, ate the tail of the lure...and banged against the hook and left.
    I am not dedicating my life to catching more smelt. Yet. But...
    With finessey stuff hopping around the bottom, I get some short bites, with the tail bitten off the bait. Sure, maybe it's tiny spotties just toothy enough to rip the plastic. But I'd hate to miss a big fish that took a halfhearted swipe at my lure, or lazily tried to suck it in only to have the butt end of a big ol' hook bang off his lip.
    I pour some leadheads, now I'm purposely making 'em with hooks that are much smaller than recommended for any particular mold cavity.
    One solution is to use freshwater ball-head jigs; I found some mutants in an old tackle box with what looks like a 3/8 ball, and a hook the same size as on the 1/4 oz jigs. Dunno where they came from, wish I could find more. Except...they use bronze hooks of indeterminate lineage. Who knows how strong they are...and no doubt they start to corrode and weaken the first time they touch saltwater.
    So I'm pouring my own minnow heads and football heads using 1 and 1/0 black nickel hooks. And hell, if I end up using a few thousand of 'em, it'll offset the cost of the new minnow head mold. 20180107_103337.jpg
    The new mold uses a little wire retainer to hook the plastic. Jamming a big ol' barbed collar (see below) into a real skinny bait just destroys the plastic. A ball-shaped collar is less disruptive (arrow) to the plastic. But that mold uses 60 degree jig hooks; the smallest hooks that I've found to fit are like the one in the picture. Pretty big.
    20180102_163958.jpg
    Even that sexy black store-bought jig just to the right, with the sexy round head and big 3-d eye has flaws. The head's too light to cast for distance (and if there's any current in the bay, it may never find the bottom). And it's a ginormous (relatively) sized bend of the hook. I mean, it's really too long for the 3 inch Shad Assassins in the picture, and unusable in some of my skinnier baits.

    Big head, Tiny hook pros:

    You get to land the smaller fish, and see what the heck is pecking at your lure; if the fish is big enough to grab the bait, it's big enough to get the hook. Mostly.
    If a larger fish makes a half-assed slurp at your bait, you still have a shot at getting it into his mouth instead of banging the aft end of the bend of a big hook off his lip.
    Enough lead to find the bottom even w some current, and to huck it a ways out there.

    Cons:
    Unless you get a through-and-through hookset that puts the weight of the fish in the bend of the hook, you risk straightening a hook on a bigger fish.
    There's less exposed hook to find traction inside the fish's mouth.
    Only the skinniest of 3 inch swimbaits go on the minnow heads and look right.

    Where them guys with the white CKoats?
     
    #4 carpkiller, Jan 19, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  5. spoonminnow

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    Excellent write-up CarpKiller !

    Suggestions
    I'm not fond of any jig that has lead on the shank which, as you say, screws up the soft plastic lure it has to fit over. If I can only get a certain size jig from EBay with the lead on, I take wire cutters and pliers (for flattening it) and cut it off.

    I discovered a method of keeping a soft plastic in place using coated floral wire. Disregard the jig collar in the illustration - it was cut off before the jig was used, plus I only use Power Tail grubs because of their unique design.
    wire on jig method.jpg
    I was thrilled that fish were never put off by the wire even using clear plastic with a bit of sparkle.
    Agreed is the avoidance of using wide gap jig hooks. Somehow it changes the balance of the bait or it is an unnecessary distraction, but my confidence using them is near zero for freshwater fish and the reason I never liked Strike King grubs/minnow pre-rigged.

    Jigs I use must always be unpainted for the same reason as not using large hooks - they are an unnecessary distraction from the bait. A fish's attention must lock on to the shape, size and in particular, the action of a lure - imparted and inherent. Paint on a jig head changes the shape and size of a lure when visualized and are two features I want standard when using certain lures. (Skirted bass jigs, not a problem because the trailer and skirt together get all the attention.)

    Bronze hooks are my most favorite for freshwater whereas the ones you mentioned may do better for salt water. Since I prefer the challenge of catching any fish on light tackle, my smaller wire gauge hooks do fine even with fish as large as this one:
    Lake Frederick catfish  May 24 2016_zpscgrq0cwg.jpg

    Drag and rod action are key - too much of either and forget it ! The above was caught on the minnow I poured using a 1/16 oz, unpainted ball head jig with a #4 hook. In my mind, there exists a giant spring that goes from my shoulder, down my arm to the lure by way of the rod and string used (braid with a fluorocarbon leader). World record exist today unbroken of giant fish of different species caught on light line.

    Based on lure length, I always have on hand certain jigs weights with up to 3 or more hook sizes (also on Ebay) : 1/0, 2,4,6 and 8 with 8 being the smallest for ice fishing. Weight range in ounces: 5/16, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 (for ice).

    Any of the above may not be the best for where anglers fish in their part of the country, but all of the above do well among the 10 local waters I fish - including the tidal part of four Hudson River creeks that empty into it.

    One last thing. The Bass Assassin grubs you pictured are what I call prong tail grubs which display the flutter that drive fish to attack. Curl tails are okay, but for my money I want straight tails or no tail.
    best pan fish designs.JPG bullet shaped grub on 1-16 oz_zpsyeo88eyx.jpg

    You would be shocked the unique action of the bullet/cone shaped grub. The hook should exit before the halfway mark of the grub to allow the best action even when the body is short as in the case of the Mo Magic grub where total length is considered.
     
    #5 spoonminnow, Jan 20, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  6. zoner

    zoner Well-Known Member

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    i learned years ago that the best way to match up hook length/size and jig head weight is to pour your own jigheads. 3/8 and 1/2 jigs with a hook sized right for a 3 or 3.5" swimbait or grub can be hard to find.
     
  7. spoonminnow

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    Wish I had the discipline to pour my own jigs. How nice it would be not having to search Ebay for certain jig weights matched with hook sizes.
     
    #7 spoonminnow, Jan 20, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
  8. zoner

    zoner Well-Known Member

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    its pretty easy, a stainless steel pot from the swap meet and a camp stove will do it. The first few you pour won't flesh out till you get the mold warmed up. Eagle claw makes a pretty good hook, 570 or 575. Do it outside and stay upwind of fumes.......Mike
     
  9. spoonminnow

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    Funny how I'm afraid of playing with hot lead but don't have a problem with 300 degree plastic which almost suffocated me from the toxic smoke when I left it in the microwave too long. Never did that again!
     
  10. carpkiller

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    Random points:

    Can't resist painting the lead to match swimbait bodies. But it makes sense that the color might be a distraction. I recall an article on how Berkley tests hardbait prototypes on live bass without painting 'em, to find the shape that triggers the most bites. Color comes later.

    I was buying Ned rig heads not for the shape, but because z-man makes a 1/5 oz with small fine wire black nickel hook.

    The Bass Assassin's tail wiggles in a circular manner on the sink...they're my most productive lure in creeks. It seems to entice bass...whereas the Zoom fluke' s split tail doesn't have that kind of action.

    I am not gonna buy any more molds. Trimming off lead collars is the way to go. Well maybe just...one....more.

    Zoner, pre heating the mold in the oven gets you a good pour on the first shot. I ignored that step at first cuz the first few molds I bought it wasn't an issue but the grass jig mold just wouldn't warm up. [Was pouring outdoors on a chilly night.] After a dozen crappy pours I tossed it in the oven for 15 minutes and the problem was solved. Now i just pre heat every time cuz I hate melting the bad lead off and cleaning up the hook for a re-pour. Molds go in the oven first while the pot's heating up.
     
  11. spoonminnow

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    "The Bass Assassin's tail wiggles in a circular manner on the sink...they're my most productive lure in creeks. It seems to entice bass...whereas the Zoom fluke' s split tail doesn't have that kind of action."

    PM me your address and I'll send a few thin tail minnows, cone tails and sticks in sizes you would use for the fish you usually fish for. Since you recognize the wiggle attraction of the grub's tail and agree about its importance, you will immediately notice the unique finesse actions of each lure design, given the use of a small diameter fluorocarbon leader.

    Again, there are a million lures that can catch fish and using only a few of those in the right hands can catch the most fish for someone in the right place at the right time. The discovery of unique lure designs is ongoing and always a challenge for me and not dependent on someone else selling them via false advertising (though I've seen a few innovations in the last ten years that weren't copies).
     
    #11 spoonminnow, Jan 20, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  12. Jcswimbaits

    Jcswimbaits Well-Known Member

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    I have really learned a lot about the importance of the gap of a hook while fishing the bluefin here the past couple years, a wider gap will grab more meat in a fishes mouth and be much less likely to tear out.
    I think for finess fishing with 4-6lb line your hooks are not very likely to tear out with how small the gap is but still possible to tear or simply bend out if you hook a good fish and he ends up around some branches or getting in vegetation. I lost two big bass this summer due to bent out hooks fishing a simple Texas rig worm on 12lb line and what was a standard worm hook not a light wire finess hook, never thought I could straiten those hooks with 12lb line. I have since invested in stronger hooks. Maybe do a couple tests on those jig heads and see if your line breaks before your hook fails.
     
  13. spoonminnow

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    Drag, pole flex and hook sharpness usually do well in combination. I've had hooks that got bent outward a bit and still caught fish. Had no idea until I checked them and I corrected the gap.
     
  14. carpkiller

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    Yesterday I worked waay too long at Mission Bay to catch three spotted bass. Oh, and one small diamond ray. Two were on a heavier hook (standard wire), and two on light wire. And a bat ray got hooked up on the fine-wire Ned rig, cruised out to deep water and laid on the bottom. The line was Yo-Zuri hybrid 6, which is really 12, has insane knot strength,and I leaned on it haaard, wondering whether the knot or hook would give first. Eventually, it was the knot. Restored my faith in fine-wire hooks.
     
  15. spoonminnow

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    Do you use the uni-knot?
     
  16. carpkiller

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    I've found that the Uni knot always breaks at the hook, because only one strand goes through the eye. I use a palomar knot on terminal tackle. However, the uni-to-uni between my topshot and 'backing' was in play when the bat ray ran most of the line off the spool. Perhaps having mono on both sides of it provides enough cushion...as opposed to at the hook, where all the tension's concentrated on the hard metal eye of the hook, which was stuck in an immovable object.
    Switching to braid would be a game changer as far as getting better hooksets. But I just don't like the feel of it (whatever that means) and a braid backlash is just too much horror for me. Plus...when it comes to hooks tearing out of a fish's mouth, mono gives me a little cushion in case I do something stupid with the rod or the drag setting.
    Perhaps as my overruns and backlashes become less common :emoji_grin: I'll give braid it another try on the baitcast outfits.
     
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