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Must-Have Mustad

Must-Have Mustad

The arrival of the Zerek live shrimp created a stir unlike the arrival of many other lures in Australia. This lure catapulted to the top of the charts and, after more than five years on the market, still maintains its place at the top of the heap.

Retrofitting lures with new trebles and split rings is something that all anglers will do at some stage. To do this these days, with the number of quality products on the tackle store shelves, is almost an endless task, and there really is no longer any reason to simply put ‘whatever-hook-you-have’ on your lures.

However, recommending the right treble is not the point of this article (pun absolutely intended). The point is to get you all thinking about the impact changing trebles and rings can have on your lures. Do it wrong and you can turn your best lure into your worst. Do it right and you can transform the worst lure into probably the same worst lure, but with better hooks.

WEIGHT

I have spoken to many lure-makers over the years, and I always like to talk about weight and how it impacts on their lures. With the big, robust cod-style lures, weight is rarely a governing factor in hook choice. But as the lures get smaller and more ‘finessed’, the importance of keeping the weight in and around the right area increases. And once you start talking about suspending lures, that weight is critical.

The problem with many imported lures is that they are not ready to be fished in Australia. It is common knowledge that for fish like barramundi, the lures’ hooks and especially rings, need to be right, or else failure will occur. This is not necessarily the hook’s or split ring’s fault, but is more likely the result of the angler having an expectation beyond the capabilities of the terminal gear being used. You bought the lure, so you need to make sure it can handle the pressure.

One of my favourite jack lures comes with pretty good hardware for average use. If I am using a 20lb braid and a 30lb leader, I will not change out the rings and hooks. But if I am fishing this lure on heavier tackle, say 30lb braid and 45lb leader, the poor old terminal tackle comes up a bit short. This is not because of the lure, but rather caused by the fact that I am fishing drags and lines way too heavy for the lure to withstand. But, this is a suspending lure, and changing hooks and rings out is fraught with drama. Too much weight sees this lure turn instantly into a sinker, and while that in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, it does change the lure’s characteristics.

Another lure that I love using for golden perch and Murray cod in my beloved Mulwala is the Custom Crafted Extractor. This lure is dynamite, and can handle a lot of extra weight and still float and fish really well. However, in recent times, my good mate Marc Ainsworth has been playing around with his Extractors, and has found a way to actually lighten up the lure and turn it into an even deadlier lure.

Here is how he does it: Marc will remove the front split ring and tie directly to the lure’s tow point with a loop knot. This is a key factor. The trebles are removed and replaced with Mustad KVD hooks, and the split rings remain the same. This process lightens up the lure. We both believe it gives the lure a stronger action.

When we fish for golden perch, speed is often super critical, and these mods allow the lure to swim harder at slower speeds by actually lightening up the whole rig. The Mustad KVD trebles are 1x strong – plenty strong enough for golden perch and Murray cod up to the 75-80cm mark when fished on 20lb braid and a 4-6kg rod.

STRENGTH

The strength of the treble is probably the main reason we change out trebles on lures. More often than not, we are looking at increasing the strength so that we can fish heavier lines to keep hard fighting fish out of the snags.

The strength of a treble is a little bit misunderstood, generally speaking. A 2x hook in one pattern is never the same strength as a 2x hook in another pattern, even from the same manufacturer. The designations of 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, and so on simply represent the number of times stronger that treble is than the standard hook of that pattern. This is important to understand so that you do not have higher expectations of the hook’s strength than it actually delivers. The 1x is perhaps the most misunderstood with these hooks being 1 time stronger than the standard hook (roughly twice as strong).

Additionally, a small 4x treble is never as strong as a large 4x treble of the same pattern. Again the treble will be four times stronger than the standard treble of the same size and pattern. This often trips people up who expect that 4x treble in 2/0 to be as strong as the 4x treble in 6/0. They will not be the same strength. If you fish a lure rigged with 4x 6/0 trebles on a 50lb line, you will likely get away with it on just about any species. However, if the same line is used on 4x 2/0 trebles, you will likely straighten them out if you fish the same drag and hook the same sized fish.

For fish like barramundi, this is critical. A barramundi does not fight as hard as a giant trevally (GT), but the strength it possesses in its jaws is extraordinary. This is where split rings rip apart and trebles lose tines or open up. Unfortunately, sometimes it is trial-and-error if you are doing your own research. You are always fighting the battle between strength and hook set ability as the stronger the treble is, generally, the thicker the metal and the harder it is to penetrate and to get a solid hook-up.

PENETRATION

Here is a further thing to consider: Penetration of the hook point is vital to securing a fish. If the hook point does not penetrate, you are wasting your time even fishing the lure.

Fine and consequently lighter and weaker hooks penetrate far more easily than thicker and more robust hooks. Finer hooks can be fished on lighter rods and with lighter lines, as the power needed to get penetration is small when compared to the power needed to gain penetration with a 7x treble.

So not only do you need to consider how the trebles impact the lure’s action; you also need to consider what tackle you are using to chase the fish. Heavier gauge hooks require a rod capable of driving them home, which generally means thicker tips and heavier line classes.

You also need to think about what happens once the hook has penetrated. How will your tackle choice impact on the treble’s performance during the fight? It is easy to get a 2x treble to drive home in a barramundi’s mouth on 50lb braid, but keeping that treble from straightening is going to be a tough gig on heavy braid.

The hook-point shape is also a major consideration in penetration. A cone or needle-point hook tends to penetrate more easily than a knife edge-hook point, as there is less friction. Try this test at home with a piece of paper and you will see for yourself.

The important part in all this is that if the hook only partially penetrates, then the leverage on the hook point is increased, and it is easier to bend out the hook. It is also easier to bend or break the hook point. Both these situations can lead to lost fish. You can also try this at home: Grab a pair of pliers and bend a hook from the point above the barb. Next, do the same from just above the bend and see the difference. Needless to say, hook penetration is vital.

A WORLD OF COMPROMISE

No one treble suits all needs and situations. If you are someone like me, you will find yourself connected to exactly the right fish on exactly the wrong tackle and with the wrong terminals. It is Murphy’s Law! Please do not blame the trebles or rings when they fail in these situations. Just do what you need to do to get the fish in the net.

What is my favourite treble, you ask? At the moment, the Mustad 4x Saltism is my favourite, although the KVD trebles are quickly gaining the love. The Saltism trebles are light and tough, and come in a size range that covers most of my needs. It is not the be-all-and-end-all though, but I will fish these trebles on anything from 20lb braid up to 50lb braid and be confident they will handle the pressure.

Like everything in fishing, retrofitting lures is a compromise. There is a lot to think about and you will get it wrong at times; that egg-on-my-face look my fishing mates know so well keeps rearing its ugly head. Luckily though, these instances are becoming fewer and fewer as we discover a retrofit combination that works for us.

www.wilsonfishing.com

Published in the August – November 2020 print edition.

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