By Kevin VanDam
(This is the second of a two-part series on how Kevin VanDam stocks his terminal tackle boxes.)
Now is a good time to inventory your terminal tackle needs and get organized before the fishing season begins.
In the first part of the series, I talked about sinkers. In the finale, we’re going to cover hooks.
If you’re like most anglers, you have the same hooks in the boxes that you’ve had for a couple of years, and there’s a good chance some are rusted.
Rusted hooks lead to broken hearts!
More importantly, you have to choose the right hook for the right situation. I make adjustments all the time, especially when conditions change and call for a different presentation.
I’ve found the Plano FTO Elite Terminal Tackle Organizer to be ideal for a number of reasons. It has 26 fixed compartments rather than the adjustable style we use in other utility boxes. The fixed compartments are sized differently to accommodate different lengths of hooks, and more importantly, prevent hooks from slipping from one compartment to another.
The box also has four latches that lock the lid tightly and prevent the hooks from scattering out of their designated area. Again, that’s important when the box bangs around in a boat storage compartment.
I carry a variety of replacement treble hooks for hard baits as well as an assortment of hook sizes and styles for soft plastic bait presentations.
For example, finesse fishing may require a fine wire hook whereas flipping demands a heavier hook. You need to put more thought in the hook you use to have the right length to maximize lure action.
I use three styles of the Mustad Grip Pin hooks for Texas rigging. I’ve used a lot of different hooks, but the Grip-Pin does the best at securing the head of the plastic to the hook shank.
I carry the straight-shank, light wire series for finesse fishing; wide-gap models in light and heavy wire; and the Grip Pin Max which is a big bite straight shank hook.
I carry all sizes in each style but only carry a half dozen or so of each in my boat but have spares I keep stored in my truck for travelling to tournaments.
I also include various sizes of the Mustad Power Lock Plus swimbait hooks that have a spring keeper on the front and many are belly weighted.
I also pack a variety of drop-shot and wacky rig hook sizes.
For trebles, I stock sizes 6 through 1/0 KVD Triple Grip Elite trebles which are what I use most of the time. However, I also maintain an assortment of KVD round bend trebles in sizes 6 through 1/0 for special applications.
I’ve added the Mustad Lure Ryder stinger hook for swimbaits that can add extra bite near the end of the swimbait. You simply tie a short leader on the stinger, fasten it to the line tie of your main swimbait hook, and bury the stinger in the back of the swimbait.
The hook is offered in small sizes for finesse swimbaits as well as larger ones. It has a unique design with three hooks, one of which is small and near the eyelet for sticking into the soft bait. The other side has a double hook which catches fish like smallmouth and spotted bass that often miss the main hook.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to change out treble hooks on hard baits. Although the Mustad Ultra Point hooks hold up well when grinding on the bottom, they do take a beating. I know some anglers use a hook sharpener to touch them up, but I don’t believe you can get these hooks as sharp as they are new.
Never assume that an old hook is sharp enough. Make a mistake and it could cost you the bass of a lifetime!