Nothing is more key-critical to hooking and holding that Cod of a lifetime than the much-maligned treble hook.
A humble hook type that essentially has two main players – a straight or curve pointed treble.
But, does this seemingly inconspicuous hook characteristic and a few other factors really make any difference? And if so, what?
Ok, let’s get stuck in.
As the name suggests, a straight-pointed treble sees the point of the treble come up true and ‘straight’ from the bend of the hook, with little to no inward orientation. In some extremes, certain straight pointed trebles can even flare outwards at the point.
Ok, so what are the advantages of using a straight orientated treble? Well, firstly, by having a straight hook point you have a greater chance or sticking a fish that hits with unbridled ferocity and violence. Sound familiar?
Like when a Murray cod explodes in a sea of white water on your surface lure, unconventionally detonating on your buoyant lure as it bubbles on the surface.
Due to the unpredictable nature of an aggressive surface strike, you want a hook point that gives you the best chance at pinning even a slither of skin – you can then worry about keeping it on later.
On the flipside, due to the exposed nature of a straight, pointed treble, you unfortunately loose ‘stickiness’ from your point quicker than a rounded tip as the hooks are constantly bashing on the hard coat of your lure.
To combat this, I always carry a hook file in the boat to freshen up the hook tips after a long session on the top.
Let’s Get Bent
Again, as the name so cleverly suggests, a curved pointed treble is characterised by an inward curved hook point. Like a single circle hook, they can start their inward journey right at the tip of the hook, or like the BKK Raptor Z, display more of a gradual inward curvature.
As the hook anatomy would indicate, having a curved tip means reaction strikes and unconventional hits don’t pin cod as well as a straight, more exposed, hook point.
The trade-off however, is that a committed fish with a clear line of sight on the lure, like a slow swaying Jackall Gantia swimbait, will not only get pinned but, due to the curved hooking nature of the shank and barb, stay pinned!
However, manufacturers like Decoy are looking to exercise out these challenges with innovative hooks like the Y-W77 Extra Wide Gap treble.
By extending the gape in the Y-W77 hook – the area between the shank and point – Decoy are helping generate better hook ups in all situations. The shorter shank also means the treble needs less effort to penetrate and stick the fish.
A discussion about cod trebles would also not be complete without an interrogation of the hook gauge – it’s thickness usually distinguished by a ‘x’ rating (I.e 3x strength)
The bigger the ‘x’ number the thicker the gauge and stronger hook. Obviously, we all want strong hooks and don’t want to loose fish, but not all situations suit a 4x strong Owner treble.
As an example, if you run any bigger than a 2x treble on a Jackall Pompadour, which you primarily cast, you significantly impact its action.
However, a 170mm Koolabung Codzilla deployed on the troll can handle hooks as big as 6x in strength without materially impacting its fish catching action.
So, how do you know what hook gauge for what lure? In my opinion, the best way to test which hook gauges your lures can tolerate is by good old fashion trial and error.
That’s why I’ll always take a purpose packed hook box with an array of different hook sizes and gauges for on water testing. Simply running the lure beside the boat with the standard trebles and then changing over to the new retrofitted models will soon let you know if the lures original action is impacted by its new trebles.
At an extreme, adding thick gauge trebles can also impact the sink rate of lures like swimbaits, while also making floating lures neutrally buoyant.
So why do some fishos like to crush their barbs. Primarily, it’s an effort to minimise the danger to the fish’s safety, as it’s easier to extract deep set hooks without some cunning plier work.
Alternatively, the lack of a pronounced barb at the insertion point means there is less friction and the hook slides deeper and faster into the fish.
The flip side is you don’t have a barb as a safety net to stop the hook wriggling back out of the hole it pierced.
Personally, I like photos with my fish before releasing them and the eliminated safety net from a crushed barb far out ways the increased penetrating power in my opinion.
The Sticking Point
So, that’s why I choose the hooks I do for the mighty Murray cod.
While it’s not an exact science, as rounded points clearly work on surface lures and equally, straight point trebles work on diving and sinking lures, it’s a strategy that’s worked for me and one I’ll continue to test