Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Tried and tried with singles on hard lures, annoyingly not convinced, but I reckon I’m sold on singles on my surf lures

Go back through this blog and you will find that I have tried and persisted with the whole using single hooks on hard lures thing. I’ve tried different hooks, different sizes of hooks, different ways of rigging the hard lures with the singles on them, indeed I am actually going to give myself some credit here for giving them such a proper go! There are multiple reasons for me preferring single hooks because let’s face it, treble hooks are bloody horrible things really - and when a single hook does actually go in, I would argue all day long that it stays in far better than a treble…………..


But the problem for me is that I don’t think singles go in quite enough when rigged on hard lures, and at the end of the day I go fishing to try and hook everything that hits me. Okay, so we know that’s somewhat unrealistic, and I have landed loads of bass on hard lures mainly with a single barbless hook on the rear - but over a few years now there have been a few too many times when I think that good bass should have hooked up but didn’t. I can’t prove any of this and I’d far rather have single hooks on my hard lures, but we go fishing, and fishing revolves around sticking hooks in fish. I want those hooks to go in. I have been 100% barbless for a long time now, and whilst treble hooks are awful things really for the fish and the angler (how evil are trebles at night?!), I put a lot of time into my fishing and annoyingly I feel the most confident when my hard lures are rigged with trebles.

Anyway, so we had another fantastic session in the surf early yesterday morning, and if there is one thing I’m going to do when I get in amongst a heap of fish is play. I have no interest in the numbers of bass I might or might not catch because fishing is always about the whole experience to me, and when we do find numbers of bass I see it as a golden opportunity to try different things. There were a lot of bass around yesterday morning, but for whatever reason they were feeding slightly differently to the other morning - plenty of plucks and bangs on the lures before actually hooking up, and on our Savage Gear Seekers rigged with double split rings and a size 4 barbless treble it was noticeable how a certain amount of bass were coming off whereas they weren’t the other day. There were enough bass around for this not to remotely be a problem, but things were noticeably different……………


One thing I have been promising myself I would do is to give single barbless lure hooks a proper go on my surf lures. I know a couple of lads who catch a lot of bass in the surf and are rather good at doing so, and interestingly they both use single hooks on their metals. I don’t know whether they fish with barbless hooks, but it’s personal choice and I personally feel that the benefits far outweigh the negatives. I fight my bass very hard though. I have said it before and I will say it again, barbless hooks don’t lose bass. We lose them when we fish with barbless hooks because so many of us are so worried about putting proper pressure on a hooked fish, and then barbless hooks come out and we blame the fact that they are barbless for losing fish. What a load of crap, and I will stand by this until anybody can ever prove otherwise to me. Sorry, I digress.


We were in amongst a lot of bass yesterday morning, but a fair few were hitting our metals (rigged with trebles) nice and hard but then coming off. I had promised myself to give single hooks on my surf lures a proper go, and the day before I had rigged a few Savage Gear Seekers up with size 3/0 VMC 7266 Specimen Inline Singles on double split rings (and yes, I am falling harder and harder for these Seekers the more I fish with them and play around with how to actually fish them in heavy surf, and I have a few different sample sizes here that I believe will be coming to market sometime). For whatever reason these particular VCM singles which I really like are not easy to find, and if it helps I hear more and more anglers raving about the not very expensive at all Mustad Kaiju 10121NP-NT Inline Single Hooks. You need to go big as such with singles, and the lads I know are using these Mustad Kaiju hooks in 2/0 and 3/0.

So I clipped a Seeker on that was rigged with two split rings on the rear end and a 3/0 barbless single lure hook, and no, you don’t need a split ring and swivel on the front of these lures because whilst they look like they are spinning away in the water and potentially twisting your braid up, it’s an optical illusion and the Seeker doesn’t actually “spin”. First cast and bang, bass on, and it stays on. Second cast and bang, bass on, and that one also stays on - and so it went on. Yes, I got a few bumps and nudges that didn’t hook up, but I was also getting that on trebles, and the lads I was fishing with continued to get bumps and nudges and no hookups on their treble hooks.


I have no idea how many bass were actually landed, but it was a lot, and I can’t recall a bass coming off my single hook save for when I got them close and might deliberately give them a bit of slack to see if they would quickly come off and I could get out there again. We were all bouncing about this amazing surf session on the way home and talking about my mates were dropping a lot of bass on their metals rigged with trebles. Okay, so each session is different with how fish are feeding I guess, but I would argue that yesterday morning was the perfect chance to try singles out on my surf lures.

This is how I first rigged this lure up

This is how I first rigged this lure up

I had also rigged up a sample lure I have here with a size 3/0 single and double split rings. It’s a fixed-hook 125mm/19g version of the lethal Savage Gear Line-Thru Sandeel that I was itching to give some proper water time after our clients had been using them a bit over in Kerry the other day and catching on them in various day and night conditions. There are two attachment points for hooks and I had originally rigged these little bullets up with a couple of size 6 barbless trebles, but the other day in the surf I didn’t like it all when we were catching a heap of bass and you’re having to mess around with a pair of little trebles all over the frigging place with an angry surf-bass thrashing around. The lures are absolutely frigging lethal on a simple straight retrieve, just like the original Line-Thru Sandeel, but after that session I went and rigged one up with no hook in the middle and a 3/0 barbless single on double split rings on the rear.


And first chuck with this setup yesterday I got hit hard and landed a bass. And it happened again and again, just like with the Seeker. So why my itching to try barbless singles in the surf? Well I can think of various different reasons which I will talk about sometime soon, but for me the main thing is that I tried it, and it worked incredibly well, to the point that I definitely stayed connected to more fish than my mates. I don’t think I caught more bass, rather that the bass I hooked up with on single hooks stayed on. You all have a good weekend and may you rest assured that my brain is bouncing so badly with all this surf fishing stuff that my sleep is yet again all over the place, and not exactly helped by 2am alarm calls and so on that this bass fishing thing requires. It’s a sickness, and holy cow I am ill…………………….


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