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Will this be the future for protecting spinning reels from corrosive saltwater? FiSH On! checks out the use of ferrofluid in Daiwa’s Mag Seal technology.

Daiwa first introduced its Mag Sealed concept in its Certate line of spinning reels in 2010 and has since expanded the use of this technology to its other range of spinning reels such as the Saltiga and more recently, the new Caldia spinning reel. In its essence, the Mag Seal technology is a unique waterproofing design that involves the use of ferrofluid to form a seal to prevent water seeping into the gears via the rotor and pinion gear assembly.

In a simplified definition, ferrofluid is a liquid that quickly becomes magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. Picture a liquid substance consisting of very fine, nanoscale particles of iron that is attracted to magnets. This ferrofluid is typically liquid in form but will quickly respond and align when it comes into close proximity of a magnetic force.

Ferrofluids were first discovered in the 1960’s at the NASA Research Center when scientists were investigating various possible methods of transferring liquid fuel in a gravity-free outer space environment. Over the years, the use of ferrofluids gradually found their commercial application in medicine, manufacturing, aerospace, instrumentation and many other sectors. In fact, ferrofluid is used in disk drive manufacturing as an effective rotating shaft seal to keep dust particles or other impurities from entering disk drives through tiny gaps around the rotating drive shafts. Similarly, Daiwa has adopted this same principle in ferrofluid sealing in its Mag Sealed concept.

As we know, saltwater is bad news for reels especially when left exposed for prolonged periods. Washing under running tapwater typically removes excess salt but minute amounts diluted with tapwater can still seep through into a reel’s gearbox. Over time, corrosion kicks in and eventually causes havoc with the gears and bearings. Water normally finds its way into a spinning reel’s gearbox via a very minute gap between the rotor and opening of the body. Strategically sealing this gap with rubber gaskets or O-rings can significantly reduce the possibility of water entry but the downside of this solution is the existence of cranking inertia. There is a sense of slight resistance when engaging the reel handle. While this is negligible when cranking under load, it is rather noticeable during free spin compared to a reel without such sealing. Constant friction also wears these seals out over time, which eventually allows water penetration into the reel’s gear works.

Mag Seal in a Certate

Mag-seal under the rotor of a Daiwa Certate
(NOTE: do not attempt to disassemble the reel on your own as the ferrofluid will leak)

Magseal

Closer look at the Mag-seal

Daiwa’s ferrofluid, which it calls Mag Oil, is used in conjunction with a magnet placed perpendicularly in the rotor frame. The magnetic flux causes the ferrofluid to ‘stick’ between the body and rotor to create a liquid barrier to seal the minute gap and prevent water entry. This clever design replaces rubber seals around the pinion assembly for waterproofing while effectively eliminating friction and allowing free, unobstructed and smooth rotor movement.

The adoption of ferrofluid by Daiwa as an effective waterproof seal is a big step forward in sportfishing tackle innovation. While this solution may not be quite cost-effective as of now to fully replace the more economical O-rings and rubber seals in other open moving parts of fishing reels, we can certainly expect to see this as a stepping-stone for future breakthroughs in tackle innovation.

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Just about anyone can catch squid with a squid jig but it is the finer points and techniques of squid luring that makes it an art in itself. FiSH On! Magazine speaks with Mr. Jimmy Eu of L.E Anglers’ House (Singapore) on the art of Eging.

Eging Underwater Shot

The Japanese have long been targeting squid on traditional squid jigs resembling prawns called “Egi”. Squid fishing with the humble Egi has since evolved in modern times into a sport for enthusiasts all over the world, incorporating specially designed tackle to maximize the thrill of the game. Likewise, the term “Egi”-ing quickly caught on to become a definitive gerund in fishing vocabulary from its Japanese equivalent, “Egingu”. While the Egi can catch all sorts of squid species, the main target for most Asian Eging enthusiasts is the Bigfin Reef Squid, also known as “Aori Ika” by the Japanese.

Eging - Squid Jigging

In my ignorance, I used to think Eging was a matter of tossing any weighted squid jig into the water and waiting for any unsuspecting cephalopod to latch on. That perception changed after I was introduced to Mr. Jimmy Eu of L.E Anglers’ House who gladly shared his experience and knowledge on the basics of Eging. His passion brought him all the way to Hong Kong in his early Eging days to learn the finer points of the sport from experienced squid anglers there.

Squid Lure Selection Squid jigs

Assortment of squid jigs or ‘Egi’


CHOOSING A SQUID JIG (EGI)

According to Jimmy, choosing the appropriate squid jig or Egi is a critical factor to Eging success. It is advisable to have a range of squid jigs of different sizes, colours and weight to suit different fishing conditions. Each location, day, time and tide may require different presentations to entice a squid to bite and therefore being armed with the appropriate jig can greatly improve your chances of success. Here are some basic pointers to choose a squid jig:

Sink Rate
Buoyancy of the jig is key. Too heavy and the jig would sink quickly in an unnatural manner. Too light and the jig would be suspended on the top of the water column far out of reach from the squid lurking at the bottom. A jig’s sink rate is measured by the number of seconds it takes to sink to a metre’s depth and is usually indicated on the product packing. However, not all manufacturers indicate this information on their products. While the ideal sinking rate may vary from location to location, Jimmy has found lures with a sink rate of approximately 4-5 seconds per metre to be productive in Singapore waters. The squid jig should be sinking head first with its tail angled at approximately 45 degrees for optimal results. Stronger currents may require a slightly heavier jig to retain a consistent sink rate and presentation compared to a similar sized jig in still waters.

Egi weighted

A lead weight can be added on to the front of the Egi if needed.

Size
Squid jig sizes are denoted by a Japanese unit of measure called “sun” (寸). A ‘sun’ is approximately 3.03cm (approximately 1.193 inches) in length. Common jig sizes range from 2.0 up to 4.5 with some manufacturers going beyond this range. Typically, 2.5 to 3.0 are preferred sizes for local Eging.

Eging Underwater

Squid on!

Finishing
There are generally two types of finishes found on squid jigs, those covered with cloth and those with a smooth finish. All things being equal, cloth-type jigs have greater resistance in water and therefore will glide and sink slower compared to jigs with a smooth finish. Smooth-type jigs have lesser resistance and therefore rip through the water quicker and sink faster. Each type has its own applications in different conditions. Squids capture their prey by extending a pair of long tentacles to grasp their victims. The tentacles then contract to draw the prey towards its mouth where a sharp beak tears off chunks of flesh to be ingested. At times, wary squid may choose to ‘touch’ their prey with their tentacles to feel its texture before attacking. Most Eging enthusiasts believe that wary squids respond positively upon feeling the cloth texture compared to a jig with a smooth surface.

Egi cloth bitten

Notice the cloth of the Egi torn by the sharp beak of the squids.

Colour
According to Jimmy, squids have monochrome vision and are unable to distinguish between colours. However, colours do appear as various shades and tones in monochrome and therefore one may find a particular coloured jig more effective than others on certain conditions. Based on his experience, Jimmy prefers natural-coloured jigs in clear water conditions and darker-coloured jigs in waters with lesser visibility. Certain jigs feature reflective foils under the cloth that refract UV light which can be appealing to squid. Some Eging enthusiasts believe that a jig’s effectiveness can be improved by adding an abalone shell sticker at the back of the jig. Besides the shiny finish, it also gives the squid an illusion of a weak spot or wound on the prey and therefore, making it an easier target.

Eging6

This squid attacked an Egi with an abalone shell sticker.

TACKLE
Jimmy advises anglers keen at trying their hand at Eging to first start off with a light lure casting setup before investing in specialty Eging tackle. It would be more feasible to consider purchasing specialty gear after a few outings, since not all may end up venturing further into the sport. One can expect to spend about S$200 for a basic Eging setup. Higher end rods and reels can cost as much as S$700 or more each.

Eging Tackle

Eging tackle – don’t forget the retractable gaff if you’re Eging land-based!

Eging Rod

Rods
Eging rods should ideally be around 7.5 to 8 feet in length with a soft, yet sensitive tip section approximately a quarter length of the blank. A soft and sensitive tip will detect the slightest tap from squid while enabling the angler to impart various actions to the jig. Due to the lack of barbs in the jig’s umbrella hooks, any slack given will allow the squid to escape. As such, the rod is kept at an angle of approximately 80 degrees and the line retrieved without lowering the rod to maintain tension upon hookup. The soft tip cushions any sudden scoot from the squid while the stiffer section of the rod provides the lifting power.

Eging Line and Leader

Assortment of specialized lines, leaders and accessories for Eging

Lines
Specialty PE lines for Eging of around 0.6 to 0.8 rating are recommended. PE lines for Eging differ from conventional braided or PE lines as these are lighter and less likely to sink in water and cause line bellying. Maintaining a straight and direct connection to the jig is imperative to feel the slightest tap of a squid. Soft fluorocarbon leaders in size 3 or 4 (approx. 12-15lb) are used due to their low light refractive properties and higher abrasion resistance. Length of leader may vary but normally 1 to 1.5m is sufficient.

Eging Line Amigo Eging Reel

Double handles are easier to grab on when working jigs aggressively.

Reel
A shallow spool reel capable of accommodating 130 – 150m of PE0.6 to 0.8 line would be ideal. 2500-sized reels such as Shimano’s Sephia or Daiwa’s Emeraldas are specially designed for Eging. These reels feature ultra-smooth bearings, shallow spool designs, fast retrieves to quickly pick up slack line and are capable of dishing out decent amounts of drag pressure. Jimmy prefers reels with double handles, as it is easier to grab hold of the handle when working the jigs aggressively.

Eging Clip

Specialized Eging snaps

Terminal Tackle
Jimmy recommends specially designed Eging snaps over conventional lure snaps. The narrower bend of the snap limits the jig’s swaying movement to give a tighter side-to-side action when twitched. The wider bend on conventional lure snaps may cause a wider swaying action that can appear unnatural to the squid.

LOCATIONS
Bigfin reef squid love rocky structure and often hide under seaweed patches. They are found on the calmer end of reefs, away from pounding waves and fast currents. In Singapore, locations such as Changi Boardwalk, Labrador Park, Punggol and Bedok Jetties are popular and convenient land-based spots for Eging enthusiasts.

Changi Boardwalk Eging2

Eging enthusiasts at Changi Boardwalk

Eging9

Kelongs and jetties are convenient places to catch squid, especially for ladies and children

Changi Boardwalk Eging

A cluster of rocks – one of the productive areas at Changi Boardwalk

Pulau Berhala

Pulau Berhala, off Pahang, Malaysia is a popular Eging hotspot

TECHNIQUE
There are many techniques that can be employed to work the jigs. Here, Jimmy shares two basic and effective techniques:

Twitching
Similar to luring, this technique involves working the lure in a tight, zigzag pattern to mimic a prawn’s movement. Snap the rod tip in a short, smooth motion and pause. The jig will move forward to one side, creating a momentary slack in the line. Repeating the motion will cause the jig to move to the other direction. The repeated twitching motion results in the jig darting left and right. ­

Eging Technique

Jimmy Eu demonstrates the whipping / ripping technique.

Whipping / Ripping
Drop the jig all the way to the bottom. Upon touching the seabed, sweep the rod tip upwards in an aggressive manner and retrieve the slack line. Repeat this process three to four times then allow the jig to sink again before repeating.

Eging3

Calvin displays his catch from Changi Boardwalk

JIMMY’S EGING TIPS:

LE Anglers' House1. Keep the jig as close to the bottom as possible to draw the squid from their hideouts near rocks and under seaweed. Chances of catching squid on the surface are usually low.

2. When bites are slow, experiment with different jig patterns and colours to find the appropriate colour tone that attracts the squid under those circumstances and conditions.

3. Once a squid is hooked, keep the line tight and do not lower or pump the rod. Keep the rod at an angle of approximately 80 degrees. Steadily retrieve the line and allow the rod tip to cushion any sudden movement of the squid in its attempt to flee.

4. Squids are attracted to light. Try to avoid full moon nights as the squids are more scattered during these periods.

5. If a squid shows interest in the jig presented but is cautious or unwilling to grab the offering, release some line and allow the jig to sink about a metre. Then close the bail arm and wait for the take.

6. It is best to let the squid expel all its ink before landing it. As a precaution, face the squid’s head away from you or your friends.

7. A landed squid will not be able to expel any ink if water has been fully ejected from its body.

Eging can be a fun activity that is suitable for both male and female, including children. Getting started is reasonably inexpensive and land-based options are convenient and safe as long as basic safety precautions are taken.

For more information, advice and specialized gear for Eging, drop by:

L.E Anglers’ House
Block 530 Bedok North Street 3
#01-634 Singapore 460530

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The idea of casting lures over shallow reef can be daunting for some. Getting those expensive lures stuck onto coral bommies or rocks is not exactly a pleasant feeling. With the proper know-how, you can minimize or even avoid that from happening and might just latch on to some nice reef fish too!

Reef

Reefs are perfect hunting grounds for predators, both pelagic and demersal. Therefore understanding the terrain and contours of a reef is advantageous as one would be able to determine likely ambush points of predators. This is especially so for rocky ridges located very near shallow reefs. A good way to read the terrain is to observe these potential spots at low tide. Some rocky ­­grounds can reveal holes, crevices and funnels during extreme low tides that otherwise would not be visible during high tides. These can be very good spots to place a lure.

Rocky area

Spanish flag

This Spanish Flag was pulled out from the cluster of half-submerged rocks above

Some reef flats are submerged all the time but in clear water, one should be able to make out the edges of coral bommies or reef structure. A good place to land a lure would be in between the bommies as these would be where predatory reef dwellers such as Coral Trout and Groupers would lie in wait to ambush their prey. The idea is to get the lure as close as possible to the bommies as these fishes rarely move far away from their hideouts to grab a bite. This is also where understanding the terrain and depth of the water is important. Knowing how deep the water is and where the likely spots are will enable you to select the appropriate lure to deploy. For example, if one were to be targeting Grouper species, it is possible to use shallow running lures at low tide and switch to deep divers as the tide rises to get close to their hideouts. The further the lures are away from their ambush points, the less chances there are of catching them.

Grouper

Snagging up lures every once in a while is a very likely occurrence but good estimation of the water depth you are casting into and understanding the running depth of your lure can drastically minimize this. It is a good idea to vary your retrieve between slow and moderate until you find a speed that produces the strikes. Understanding the behaviour of the target species will lead you to prepare the appropriate tackle for the game. Members of the Grouper family will instinctively head for the nearest rock crevice, bommie crack or snag and curl up to lodge itself in the hole upon hookup. They do not possess the endurance for a long, drawn-out battle but certainly possess extraordinary short bursts of power enough to dash for cover. As such, tackle up suitably to wrestle these dirty fighters – otherwise the battle could end up in a snag up or bust-off.

Reef grouper

Reef drop offs are another great place to chuck lures. Right at the edges of the reef or at the bottom of the drop is where demersal predators would roam while the larger pelagic predators like Barracudas and Trevally would be patrolling the upper column. Juveniles normally roam the shallows while the bigger ones usually patrol the outer reef in search of schooling baitfish. Topwater lures such as poppers and pencils can get you some nice juvenile Trevally. Do also look out for current heads & eddies which are excellent spots to cast. Waves and currents churning up the rocks or bommies kick up nutrients that are food for schooling fish and subsequently go up the chain to the apex predators.

GT from the shallow reef

Flat Rap

While you may not always catch the right timing of the feeding frenzy, there’s no harm to make a few casts into the whitewash or eddies. There could be some ‘opportunists’ that might find your lure yummy! Shallow running lures such as the Rapala X-Rap and Rapala Flat Rap from 8 to 12cm work well under such circumstances, as you would be casting right into the shallows. Deep divers may be a little bit harder to control against the pounding waves and currents with a higher possibility of snagging.

Tiny baitfish

A school of tiny rabbitfish that kicked off a feeding frenzy.

Wolf Herring on Super Skarp

Wolf Herring caught on a Storm Super Skarp metal lure

Baitfish schools are good giveaways of predator presence in a given area. Predators usually hang around not too far away from these schools, waiting for the appropriate feeding time. As such, finding the baitfish schools can up your percentage of locating these predators. It may seem impossible to locate baitfish without a fish finder when they are down deep but do look out for subtle signs of surface disturbance on the water’s surface – a sure give-away of a bait school’s presence. In such instances, it pays to ‘match the hatch’. Select a lure that has a similar profile and swimming depth as the baitfish school. The trick is to have the lure resemble the baitfish as close as possible. The oddball fish that swims out from the safety of the school in a frantic manner is more likely to get eaten. The other alternative is to use a lure that is slightly bigger than the baitfish size. This is to create the illusion of a fish trying to eat the relatively smaller baitfish, which in turn, triggers the feeding instinct of the predators.

Grouper Attacked

Don’t underestimate shallow reefs. Check out the distance we were from the shore and the teeth marks on the Grouper’s body when a much bigger Grouper grabbed on and refused to let go!

Monster hookup

A big Blacktip Shark grabs the Flat Rap and leaves Yu Hock hanging on!

Some reef casters prefer to exchange the trebles on their lures for singles. While theoretically it is less likely to snag up with one exposed point compared to three, snagging usually occurs with the lure itself getting wedged between rocks or crevices rather than the hooks latching onto rock or seaweed. As such, the advantages of singles over trebles to avoid snagging may not be overly apparent. A nice trick especially for floating crankbaits is to pause when you feel the lure bumping a rock or hard surface. Do not strike or lift your rod tip immediately. Instead, lower your rod tip and give some slack line. As long as the lure is not stuck deep inside the crack, it should slowly float upwards where you can recommence retrieval over the hazard. Should that not work, simply motor the boat towards the snag and apply pressure on the opposite direction of where your lure was headed. It is important not to lift the rod upwards or strike hard in your attempt to free the lure as by doing so only drives the lure deeper into the crack, making retrieval difficult.

Gold-spot Trevally

Casting at a submerged rock bommie produced a Gold Spot Trevally on the Rapala MaxRap.

Barracuda

Jeff with an island-cruising Barracuda

Like all forms of sea fishing, the tide certainly influences reef casting success. The best tides for casting will vary from location to location. I remember an excellent evening of reef casting on a run-off tide at Pulau Tinggi. The tide was fast ebbing and fish were aggressively hitting our lures without hesitation. As light was quickly fading, we decided to call it a day and to return the next morning with the hope of encountering the same actions. We hit the water a little too late the following morning when the tide had risen by a fair bit. We were surprised to find fishing extremely slow even though we were fishing the same patch of reef from the evening before. As such, do not rule out reef patches that seem to be unproductive. You might be surprised to find different tides and different moon phases producing different results.

Blacktip Reef Shark

A small Blacktip Reef Shark takes a bite on the Pink Candy coloured MaxRap

So the next time you chance upon a nice reef or rocky outcrop, give it a few good casts. Remember to keep your lure as close to the rocks or bommies as possible and do check out the current heads or eddies too. Sure, you might get snagged once in a while but with experience and using the right lures, you should be able to get some good fun from the reefs.

 

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A Little History…
In 2005, Forbes ranked the humble fishing hook 19th out of the 20 most important tools of all time in terms of its impact on human civilization. We might not have pondered on it but indeed, that simple tool has been the very direct connection for humans to snare fish either for consumption or sport throughout the centuries. Primitive hooks used by prehistoric man were simply shaped from wood, bone, horn, or stone which later on evolved with the use of copper and bronze around 4000 B.C. and gradually refined to the modern hook as we know today.

In fact, fishing during the Neolithic era involved lodging a sharp wedge into a fish’s throat instead of impaling a curved hook through the mouth cavity. Known as a “gorge”, this wedge was tied with a cord in the middle and covered with bait. The intent was to have the fish swallow the bait whole and in the process, snag the gorge in the fish’s throat. Now this was not a problem for the prehistoric man as fish equated to food but in modern times, this method would be almost unthinkable in catch and release fishing! As such, hook designs that minimize tissue trauma and facilitate easier release of fish are more easily available today thanks to on-going innovations from hook manufacturers.


Treble Hook Anatomy (courtesy of VMC)

Hook Anatomy
A hook in its most basic form consists of the eye, shank, point, barb and gape. The “eye” of the hook is the ring or spade end of the hook where the leader or line is fastened. In some hooks, it can be fashioned as a knob. Running from the eye towards the bend of the hook is the “shank” while the sharp end that penetrates the fish’s mouth is called the “point”. The sharp point extruding from the back of the hook’s point is called the “barb” and functions to prevent a hooked fish from unhooking itself by sliding off the bend of the hook. Sometimes also called the “gap”, the “gape” of the hook is the distance between the point of the hook and the shank.

Hook Wire Material
Hooks of today are mainly made of high carbon steel or stainless steel although some manufacturers do incorporate the use of other high-grade, composite steels such as VMC’s Vanadium®. Steel with higher carbon content is much stronger and harder. On its own, stainless steel has better corrosion resistance compared to high carbon steel but is generally more expensive. As such, they do not require further coating after being polished. To shield against corrosion, high carbon hooks are coated or plated in various finishes according to application.

In fact, some plated high carbon hooks such as those plated with tin do boast excellent corrosion resistance in saltwater. Some saltwater anglers prefer to use lightly coated high carbon hooks over stainless steel hooks as these can corrode away over time should a fish escape with a hook embedded in its mouth or throat. Recognizing the strengths and limitations of using high-carbon steel to form the wire of the hook, most manufacturers incorporate sophisticated tempering processes to maintain a balance of hardness and flexibility. High carbon hooks that are too hard can be brittle and break if pressure is placed beyond its tolerances while hooks that are too soft can straighten under similar conditions.

To further reinforce their strength and resistance at the bend, some hooks go through the process of forging which involves slightly flattening the tubular steel wire on opposing sides by compression. Forged hooks are better able to resist bending on a straight pull.

VMC_Hook_Coatings The chart above shows the various finishes used by VMC to protect their hooks against corrosion.

Platings & Coatings
To overcome the corrosive nature of high-carbon hooks, manufacturers apply a range of coatings over the hooks to match specific fishing applications in freshwater and saltwater. Bronze, tin and nickel are the common finishes used although some manufacturers add on colour varnishes or lacquers of red, blue or other interesting colours for specific applications to attract more bites from fish.

Bronze is a basic finish used for hooks as it is most economical but has a low tolerance to corrosion. Gold-coloured hooks are aesthetically pleasing and attractive to fish due to its shine, as in the case of most Sabiki rig hooks. Gold finishing is applied either by plating 24k gold or applying less expensive, lower quality materials over steel wire. Nickel plating is another widely used finish and gives hooks their silver shimmer. While these finishes offer some form of basic protection from corrosion, they are not able to withstand prolonged use in saltwater and are therefore recommended for freshwater fishing.

Black nickel is one notch up the corrosion resistance ladder and is one the most popular platings for hooks. This plating gives hooks their shiny, black colour. Tin-plating is a cost-effective method of protecting high-carbon steel hooks meant for saltwater use as they have a high level of resistance to corrosion. Some key market players such as Mustad and VMC have developed their own anti-corrosion finishes in the pursuit of the ultimate saltwater hook as seen in the former’s Z-Steel coating and VMC’s Permasteel. Both these finishes boast exceptional resilience to corrosion in saltwater.

Treble Hooks

Tin-plated Treble Hooks ready for saltwater deployment

Hook Size – What’s With The Zeros?
Hook sizes are generally determined by the width of the gap and are designated by a unique numbering system. Hook sizes with a number followed by zero increase in relation to size while hook sizes without a zero decrease in size as the number increases. For example, a size 2/0 hook is larger than a size 1/0 hook while a size 1 hook will be larger than a size 2 hook. However, certain Japanese hooks do not adopt the “zero” designation but have small to large sizes defined relative to ascending numbers. Interestingly, there is no standardization in hook sizes across manufacturers although they may adopt the same sizing convention. A size 2/0 VMC hook may not be exactly the same size as a Mustad 2/0 hook.

sebarau_lure
It is important to appropriately match the hook size to the lure to ensure optimal lure action.

Hook Strength – the ‘X’ Factor
You may have come across some hooks, particularly trebles, with markings such as ‘2X’ or ‘3X Strong’ and beyond. These markings are an indication of hook wire thickness. The higher the “X” number, the stronger the hook wire is. The “X” number denotes the shift in sizes in relation to the wire thickness of an equivalent standard hook while other dimensions remain unchanged. Therefore, a ‘1X Strong’ treble hook has the same wire thickness as its standard equivalent one size bigger and a ‘2X Strong’ treble hook has the same wire thickness as its standard equivalent two sizes bigger. For example, a ‘2X Strong’ size 3/0 hook has a wire thickness and strength equivalent of a standard 5/0 hook. Likewise, a ‘3X Strong’ size 3/0 hook has a wire thickness and strength of a standard 6/0 hook. However, like hook sizing, there is no standard classification for strength across manufacturers and as such, is a rather relative indication.

Straightened_Hook
It is best to fit on appropriate strength trebles on your lures depending on your target species to avoid disappointments. The owner of this lure found out the hard way luring Toman.

“What’s the Point?”
The point is the critical part of the hook where steel meets tissue upon penetration. Straight, conical, curved, knife or kirbed points are common designs seen in hooks although different manufacturers will also have incorporated proprietary designs with certain characteristics to optimize penetration. VMC’s Spark Point range is an example of such proprietary technology aimed at producing a point that is extremely sharp, rigid and optimized for fast and efficient penetration. To obtain their unique points, hook wires can be shaped by cutting the wire to desired angles, compressing the tip to form the point or grinding the tip. The cutting process produces a sharp point but because some metal is removed, it is not as strong compared to a compressed point. Compressed points are stronger since no metal is removed in the process. While the grinding process creates a sharp point, it also removes some metal, which results in a weaker point that is prone to bend or roll over. Some manufacturers incorporate chemical sharpening on some of their product lines as an additional step after the mechanical sharpening process. Hooks are dipped into an acid bath where the chemical reacts with the metal to smoothen out any burs on the surface and refines the point. This process results in an exceptionally sharp hook point.

Black Nickel Treble
A thinner gauge is generally easier to penetrate through a fish’s mouth cavity than one with a thicker gauge

While it is debatable which hook point is better, each design has its own application and is a matter of personal preference and fishing style. Besides point sharpness and cut, a hook’s penetrating efficiency also depends on other factors such as the type of tissue being penetrated and the gauge of the hook wire. Typically, the soft flesh on a Diamond Trevally’s lips is easier to penetrate as compared to a Sailfish’s. Likewise, a thinner gauge hook would have a better penetration than one with a significantly thicker gauge.

Barbed or Barbless?
The barb keeps a hook from being dislodged from the mouth of a hooked fish. This little protrusion is formed by cutting the hook wire to make a ‘chip’. This is a delicate process as cutting the wire too deep can reduce the strength of the hook point whereas cutting the wire too little will result in a barb that is too small and hence, defeat its intended purpose. Proponents of catch and release prefer to flatten or file off the barbs on their hooks to minimize tissue damage when de-hooking a fish for release. Some anglers are of the opinion that barbless hooks result in higher chances of fish throwing the hook. While this may be arguable, maintaining a tight line while fighting a fish can drastically reduce such occurrences as any slack in the line can give the fish an opportunity to shake off the hook with ease.

Moving Forward
It is amazing how the fishing hook has evolved and been refined throughout the ages into its current form today. I believe the evolution of hooks will not stop here. Driven by the demand for stronger, sharper hooks and increasing awareness of conservation, we can only expect to see more advancement in the years to come as newer technologies and materials are discovered and employed by industry players. Of course being anglers, we can only hope that the introduction of these new technologies and materials would not be at the expense of burning our pockets!