This is not another post about barbless v barbed hooks, rather I am increasingly struggling to see what the benefits really are to using treble hooks on our lures - and although I have no way of proving it, in my own mind I am coming to the conclusion that although logic says that all those extra hook points should result in less lost fish, in reality I believe treble hooks lose us more fish than single hooks do. And yes, as an angler who intends to release the fish he catches, I am increasingly uncomfortable with the way that even barbless trebles can and do stick into a fish all over the place. I don’t intend for you to agree with me here, but I just don’t think that treble hooks are giving us the hook-hold that they suggest they are……
OK, so most hard lure we buy come festooned with treble hooks, but aside from the odd limited edition Japanese lure with really good hooks, for the most part it’s not as if these trebles are of the finest quality. But they are there, the lure is rigged, and we can fish with the lure without doing anything other than clipping or tying it on - a part of the package if you like, albeit no hard or soft lure of mine goes into the water with any barbs on the hook(s). All hooks are going to rust up eventually, and whilst I am sure that most of us here have had to buy some replacement trebles at some point or another, for the most part it is not remotely cheap to go replacing the hooks on your lures.
And of course it’s not remotely cheap to go replacing the treble hooks that come on your lures with specialist single hooks designed for lure fishing, and although I haven’t tried that many yet, for the most part they have rusted up too quickly for my liking - but I ain’t giving up. I like the look of the VMC barbless single hooks - those are next on my list to try - and I also hear good things about the Seaspin single hooks. This is not about fish welfare here because it has to be a personal thing how you want to go about your fishing, rather a couple of lost bass from my recent Kerry co-guiding trip with John Quinlan have really got into my head, and especially as I was not fishing myself and could therefore really watch everything that happened. It’s only a gut feeling at the end of the day, but I am struggling to remember having a bass come off a (barbless) single hook that you would use on say a Black Minnow, senko etc. Sure, the odd fish has done me, but plain and simply come off?
Would those two bass in particular have stayed on if the lure (IMA Komomo SF125 in the cotton candy colour) had been rigged with specialist single lure hooks? I don’t know, but I increasingly believe that single hooks give a better hook-hold than trebles, and whilst some fish simply come off, my confidence levels are higher when I am fishing with a single hook. Arse about face? Perhaps, but I just don’t like treble hooks for a number of different reasons, albeit it’s not as if we are about to see all these lovely hard lures being sold pre-rigged with specialist single hooks (and credit to companies such as Seaspin who I believe sell a few of their hard lures rigged with singles).
My head says that single hooks on a surface lure could prove problematic with the way that bass can slash at the topwater stuff, but I think back to a co-guiding trip last year when Blair nailed a bass off the top on an IMA Salt Skimmer rigged with single hooks. No worries. I also know that me having to kill one single bass which absolutely engulfed a Skimmer last week on another of these co-guiding trips is not even a drop in the ocean when compared to commercial landings, but aside from the odd deeper-hooked pollack that had to come on board for a bit of work to get the (single) hook out, it really struck me on that insane inshore pollock session (see here) that for the most part it was a case of leaning over the side of the boat, very easily slipping the barbless single hook out, and then watching the pollack flip their tails and swim back down to the reef.
There is no easy way around this save for me to take a punt on buying a load of single hooks, rigging the hard lures that I fish with the most with those hooks, and then fishing with them exclusively. I can’t afford to go rigging all my hard lures with single hooks (I have a couple!!), but like you I am sure, I gravitate to certain hard lures more than others, and it’s these ones I will rig up and fish with. I have caught bass on hard lures rigged with single hooks before, but I want to fish with them more and in some ways I have had enough of treble hooks. Nope, I am not finished with them because I need to give singles some exclusive use, but I’m going to go with it and see how it pans out longer-term.