We are getting alot of questions about hooks lately, with the introduction of our Tail Out and Skeena single hooks, as well as the Impaler and Bone Crusher treble hooks. We thought it would be a good time to address some questions about hooks in general, and also specifically regarding Blood Run Tackle hooks.
Everything starts with the carbon steel wire used to make the hook. Without getting too far into the weeds, the better your steel, and the better your tempering, forging and finishing process is...the better the hook you will have from a quality perspective.
Now there is not really a definition of "better" in terms of performance, its usually up the angler to determine what is "better" for his particular situation. With that said, there are different wire sizes, point types, gap widths, weights and strengths that can be found in hooks.
For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the why and how of Blood Run Tackle hooks and for what specific species and fishing styles these hooks were designed. First, we will start with the Impaler Trebles.
The Impaler Treble hook is a trolling or casting hook, for spoons, flies, meat rigs, crankbaits, stickbaits and harnesses. In particular, when you talk about trolling, the hook WEIGHT is critical. You essentially have no control over the action of the lure once you have set it back and troll a consistent speed. It's not like when you are casting a bait, where you can alter speeds and direction because the rod is in your hand. With casting, you can get away with a little bit heavier of a hook, but with trolling you are pretty much pinned to a light hook...and here is why.
The heavier the hook, the more dampening effect is has on your lure when trolled. It's extra weight, it is going to slow the entire action of the lure down, unless you are trolling breakneck speeds.
So we have had alot of questions of "can you make the Impaler Treble in 4x" and the answer is yes, but then it would not be an Impaler anymore.
In order to make a hook a 4x, or 3x or 2x etc, you essentially are using a wire X times larger than the size before it...i.e. you are adding WEIGHT. Sure, the hook is stronger now because it is a larger wire, but it is also HEAVIER and will no longer have as small a point as before..therefore you have less penetration.
So, when wire size goes up, so does weight. When wire size goes up, penetration goes down. When wire size goes up, bending or breaking is no longer an issue.
So from a weight perspective, particularly on trolled baits that depend on the "right" action like Meat Rigs, light spoons, stickbaits and cranks...you really want the lightest weight hook you can get away with that is reasonably strong. Enter the Impaler Treble Hook.
Impalers are really a 2X strong wire in a 1X size weight. The wire is just a little bit better than a standard high grade wire, and it is also formed in a shorter shank, so more wire material is closer to the bends where the hook might break, in order to beef it up. You end up getting about a 2X strength, but again with the same weight as a 1X.
In addition, because of the smaller wire, you get a deadly penetration point. No doubt about it, this point drives through just about anything it comes in contact with. In fact, the Impaler Treble hook is the ONLY treble hook we are aware of that can actually penetrate completely through a staging Chinook mouth or bone. Chinook turn black and their mouths harden like steel. Everything from their jaws, tongue, you name it, basically hardens like a rock during pre spawn and spawning periods. This is a tough situation for any hook, but the Impaler CAN hang here. Just be careful on hook extraction, don't be sloppy with the pliers as you will break these hooks.
Ideally if you are fishing for pre spawn and spawning Chinook whose bodies are already changing, usually starting early August on open water and then into September on rivers...you would probably be best with a 4X hook. You might sacrifice some lure action because of the weight, and you will definitely lose ALOT of penetration both because of the increased wire size AND the hardened mouth areas of Chinook. But, a 4X pretty much will not bend or break. This is fine casting stickbaits or cranks, you are in control of the lures action. Trolling, you will suffer with meat rigs and spoons...but flies behind flashers and plugs should not really be impacted as much by a heavier 4X treble as long as you troll 2.5 and above to keep your presentations moving right along.
Why not run around with a 4X treble all season? You are putting un-necessary weight and strength on your lures, hurting the baits action, losing penetration, and really having no purpose because all species including Chinooks mouths are much softer right up until the time they begin to transform. 4X hooks are not cheap either..
Net of the story, Impaler Trebles are an outstanding all season all around treble certainly for any species, casting or trolling. You can build a case for a 4X treble for a specific time of the season on specific lures...and that is something likely to happen in the future. Best bang for the buck all season long, with crazy penetration and durability...Impaler Trebles are the ticket.
Much of the above too can be said for the Bone Crusher Trebles in 4/0 size and above. These are for Pike and Musky, and you really aren't going to get into a situation with hooks breaking on those relatively soft mouth species (compared to mature Chinook). In addition, you won't need to bring a set of chain cutters to get these hooks out of Musky prior to release, Bone Crushers cut just fine.
Slightly similar but different story here. Again, good wire, finish, sharpening, etc are all very important. Slightly more important on the single hook is the temper and forging process. You are only dealing with a single piece of wire here, and cold-forging after a hot (but not too hot) tempering process is really an art form. Not much to say here other than the fact the Japanese have been doing this for centuries as master swordsmen. Nobody knows sharp and strong steel production and finishing like Japanese do...that is un-disputable. All Blood Run hooks are manufactured in Japan.
The designs on the single hooks of course are for a purpose. First, both Skeena and Tail Out hooks are forged, which essentially flattens the side of each hook, creating a stronger "plane" of material to minimize bending to the left or right. This does slightly weaken the gap strength, where the tip can pull away from the shank. It too is a trade off, but forging single hooks is pretty much standard for high end hook designs, and the Tail Out/Skeena's are no exception.
The Skeena design is for those who like to snell. Some believe the reverse bend of the hook tip does help on quick hook sets.
Although the Skeena and Tailout hooks use the exact same size wire and the same sizing on the package, Tail Out hooks are "stronger" per size than Skeena hooks, because of the fact that Skeena Hooks are intentionally bent "out" or commonly called "reverse" bend hooks. This outward "reverse" bend feature in the Skeena Hooks are nice for better hook sets, but inherently weaker than Tail Out because the wire is in fact bent. Rule of Thumb when selecting a "reverse" bend hook like a Skeena, is to move down one or two sizes from a similar sized "straight" hook for comparable strength. Example, Tail Out size 6 is your preferred hook, and you want to try a Skeena reverse bend hook for better hook setting performance, then move to a size 4 or even a size 2 Skeena for comparable strength to the size 6 Tail Out hook.
Penetration is not much of a discussion in most situations with the single hooks for most species, but undoubtedly for hard mouth salmon and saltwater predator species like tarpon or mackerel, it is. The Skeena's drive it home every time in the larger sizes.
When float fishing for any salt or freshwater species, a good tip is to have enough multiple sizes for example like a 6,8,10 of each the Tail Out and Skeena Hooks. We can't count the amount times that simply changing the size of hook (first) and style of hook (second) can result in more bites and more hookups. For example, if you have been doing well on a certain bait presentation, and it slows down....before changing the presentation (assuming the water color is the same) first change the hook size down. Sometimes certain species will become a bit more spooky, and downsizing the hook will make an immediate difference.
Alternately, if you are getting bites on certain presentations, but not sticking them consistently....change the hook style. Generally you would want to start with the Tail Out straight design, but again if you are getting bites but not sticking then switch over to the Skeena Hook which has a reverse bend and is offset for snelling. It's difficult to say why this makes a difference, other than to say that some species will approach and hit a bait differently at times, and the hook design (and size) will make all the difference sometimes rather than switching out your bait presentation. Same would go the opposite direction...if all of a sudden the Skeena is not sticking as well, switch back to the Tail Out with the straight eye and bend. It will immediately result in more hookups and stays.
As with everything, hook design and features introduce plenty of trade-offs. It is ultimately up to the angler to decide which hook to use in which scenario. There is not one hook that will work in all situations, as we see above in both trolling, dropshotting, drifting and float fishing.
Like any terminal tackle item, start with high quality, and then get some different options in your hand to play with depending on the species, tactic and time of year.