Wide Gap Hooks Anglers looking through a fishing catalogue will appreciate the amazing variety of hooks available. They’re specialized for a specific lure or bait or even target species. Among the choices are treble hooks, double hooks, live bait and circle hooks, to name a few. You’ll also see several hooks known as wide gap hooks from many manufacturers. These are our favorites for several reasons but they’re not cheap. Wide gap hooks are primarily intended for creating a weedless profile for lures or baits and are used in both freshwater and saltwater. Kayakers exploring the shallow grass flats in this area are familiar with the weed situation that can ruin the action of a lure or bait as floating grass hangs up on treble hooks or on the nose of some jig heads. There is nothing like a serving of grass on your presentation to let predators know this is NOT a real meal swimming by. In addition to the weedless benefit, they are also great for getting that solid hook up and will not shake loose or be easily thrown during a prolonged battle. Not all “weedless” lures use wide gap hooks. Many of the hollow frog lures on the market use a double hook with the sharp ends above the frog. This rigging helps keep the frog weedless, so it won’t hook up on emergent vegetation. The issue we have had with most frog lures is they don’t seem to have enough gap to ensure a solid hook up. We’re also concerned that a double hook rig could allow the hooks to pry each other out. When purchasing any weedless lure, check out the gap to see if it seems wide enough to create a solid hook up. These same considerations apply to weedless saltwater lures. Without a wide gap, a fragile hook set may pull free during the excitement of landing a good fish. Using a wide gap hook in the 5/0 range also makes it harder for a fish to swallow the lure making for an easier release. One other function of a wide gap hook is that it creates ballast and a keel that helps keep your presentation upright. When you combine all these factors and add in the weedless part, a wide gap hook becomes an obvious option. Weighted wide gap hooks are popular for saltwater lures and are designed to work deeper. Not all wide gap hooks are created equal. One quality we look for every time is a laser sharp point. In a kayak, where a hookset is challenging due to the mobility of the boat, sharpness counts. It is not enough to jerk really hard to set the hook. The “rip their lips off” strike is not effective in a kayak because the kayak moves toward the fish as you pull on the line. A laser sharp hook combined with braided line will penetrate even bony mouths with little pressure, which is usually supplied by the fish as they depart with the lure. Some guides recommend their clients avoid striking altogether and just start reeling. The hook will do the rest. VMC makes a wide gap hook with a long shank that allows the hook to ride further back in the lure. These are particularly good for plastic worms or any lure that benefits from having the hook further towards the tail end of the lure. Most manufacturers make both a regular strength and a thicker version of the same hook. These heavier hooks are better for larger saltwater fish that might bend out the lighter hooks. We like the lighter weight hooks when frog fishing for bass. The heavier hooks will cause any lure to sink faster, and that added weight makes it hard to “tickle” the frog across emergent vegetation along the shore.
Kayak anglers need the security of a good hookset to land that quality fish. We cannot put too much pressure on a fish during the battle while the kayak is moving towards the fish as easily as the fish moves away from the kayak. A laser sharp wide gap hook will stay engaged even if a little slack enters the system as both the kayak and the fish change directions during the battle.
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of Angler’s Guide to Shore and KAYAK Fishing Southwest Florida, contribute these excerpts from both Waterproof books to promote the excellent fishing available in the Englewood area. They are available locally at Old Florida Gallery on West Dearborn, and for download at www.anglerpocketguides.com and www.amazon.com.