By CAPT. FRED EVERSON
Because snook come in such a wide range of sizes, and because the initial surge of the strike is so strong, the hooks used for snook fishing require careful selection. Don’t count on 10-pound test line breaking before the hook straightens. I once used some worm hooks designed for bass fishing when the store was out of the hooks I like. It is amazing how fate plays upon such minor details and will not let you get away with making that sort of mistake.
Of course I put that hook into a jerk bait and on the first cast from the boat there was a terrific swirl right next to the anchor line. The big fish was instantly 60 yards from the boat with my drag singing. I didn’t tighten the it, but I did apply all the pressure I dared, and I was actually able to stop the big snook’s run. Then I kept the pressure on to turn the fish and suddenly the line went slack. I thought I had broken my line at the leader knot, but after reeling it in I found the hook still attached to the leader, — only it was not “J” shaped anymore, it was more like an “L.”
That was a hard lesson to learn. Hooking very big snook on the flats in broad daylight is not an everyday occurrence. But you can bet I will never make that mistake again. In fact, I now look at all the hooks I use in snook fishing with a very critical eye.
I use several types of live bait hooks for snook. When fishing by myself, or fishing with experienced anglers, I use a #1 live bait hook for sardines and shrimp. I like the forged bronze Mustad hook, which is incredibly strong for its size. And size is important in live bait fishing, because you do not want the weight of the hook to impede the natural action of the bait.
Capt. Chet Jennings fishes with a lot more clients than I do, and for that reason he relies on Eagle Claw Kahle hooks style #L141 size 1/0. These hooks are designed to set themselves in the corner of the fish’s mouth by merely applying steady line pressure. This hook is an excellent choice for rods left in a rod holder, or for inexperienced anglers, or if catch and release is the order of the day. These hooks are a compromise between the more traditional “J” hook, and the more modern circle hook. Circle hooks are favored by longliners and tarpon fishermen for a reason. They work, and they work as well untended as they do in the hands of an angler. Maybe even better untended, because if you try to set a circle hook as you would a conventional hook, you will miss the fish most of the time.
I am especially wary of factory treble hooks on lures, even if the lure is labeled for saltwater use. That might apply only to corrosion resistance, and not to strength. I replace most factory-installed trebles with 4x strength bronze hooks. These will rust if you don’t rinse them off, but that’s the idea. If a snook breaks me off, I want the hooks to rust out of his mouth quickly as possible.
I fish a lot of soft plastic, and for most of these baits I like the True Turn Brute offset worm hook. It’s a bronze hook and it will rust, but it is as strong as the name implies, and comes with a very good point.
I also fish a lot of jigs, and I am equally fussy about the strength of my jig hooks. I am using RipTide’s jig heads because they have an excellent hook, well pointed and super strong. However, there are a number of quality jig heads in this corner of the port.
To check any snook hook for strength I like to try and flex it with my fingers. If the hook flexes much more than a hair, I don’t trust it for snook.