If there is one thing inshore species are truly good at, it’s breaking terminal tackle. Hooks, split rings, and snaps are often the first to go during a wide-open bite. Taking the time to put on new hooks after they’ve been bent out or broken is just about the last thing you want to be doing when the fish are biting. This is why it is so important to upgrade your hooks and hardware for inshore fishing.
When it comes to choosing what hooks, split rings, and snaps to go with, the wide range of options can be intimidating. Through consistent trial and error, we have found a collection of hardware that works best for us.
Hardbaits can be such an effective tool for inshore species and unfortunately, stock treble hooks are generally pretty abysmal. I’ve usually found that after the first handful of fish on a bait, the hooks are bent out and need replacing. Upgrading these is by far the most important thing you can do to increase your catch rate and decrease frustration.
The two treble hooks that I upgrade to are the Gamakatsu Treble SP MH Hyper Shield and the Owner ST’s (46, 56, and 66). I’ve found that the Gamakatsu Treble SP MH Hyper Shields are great all-around hooks. They are available in sizes #6, #4, #2, #1, 1/0, and 2/0. I generally use the #6 on my finesse baits and the #4’s and #2’s on most other hard baits.
Gamakatsu SP MH Hyper Shield
Another great option is the Owner ST’s. What is great about these is that you can change between the 46’s which are 2X, 56’s which are 3X, and 66’s which are 4X and ridiculously strong. If you find yourself limited by the strength of the Gamakatsu, you can upgrade throughout the line of Owner ST’s until you find a sweet spot.
Owner ST 46
When it comes to jigs, assist hooks are a great alternative to treble hooks. I found the hookup ratio to be equal to if not better, and assist hooks tend to foul baits much less often. The two main stinger hooks I fish are the Gamakatsu G-Stinger and the Owner Dual Dancing Stinger Junior. The G-Stinger is available in sizes #1, 1/0, and 2/0. If I notice the thread around a stock assist hook is wearing down or the hook is getting dull, I will switch it out to a G-Stinger.
The other option that I like is the Owner Dual Dancing Stinger. What I like about this is that it is two hooks, rigged together, facing each other. The Dual Dancing Stinger is available in both junior and guardian options. The junior is a thicker gauge hook whereas the guardian is a lighter wire. The sizes of these hooks range from #2 to 9/0 but it can be challenging to find retailers that have all of them in stock.
Just as important as upgrading your treble hooks is upgrading what connects them to your bait. It’s best to simply upgrade split rings while you are changing your treble hooks. This ensures a consistent and reliable system without any weak points. When picking out split rings, I keep it very simple. Owner Hyperwire split rings. I have found that these are strong, reliable, and easy to use. Available in sizes #2 (37lb), #3 (45lb), and #4 (50lb), you can scale up and down to match the bait and hooks you’re using.
Owner Hyper Wire Split Ring
I have found that people either love or hate using snaps. Some people are convinced that the consistent opening and closing of a snap is just asking for failure. On the other hand, some people love the ability to change baits in a second and avoid the potential issues of the line getting lodged into a split ring. I am definitely of the belief that snaps can be wildly efficient and as long as you change it every now and then, you won’t risk it snapping. For snap options, I stick with one brand and two models. The brand is Decoy and the two models I really like are their Egg snaps and W snaps.
Read Next: Winter Spotted Bay Bass Report
If you are unfamiliar with Decoy as a brand, here is a quick snippet from TackleWarehouse:
“Decoy is a small Japanese company based out of the city of Nishiwaki. They are dedicated to providing anglers with the highest-quality fishing tackle for the most cutting-edge techniques on either side of the Pacific. All Decoy products are backed by strict quality control and made with an unwavering commitment to excellence that makes them ready to catch right out of the package.”– TackleWarehouse.com
Decoy Egg Snap
Between the Egg and W snaps, it’s up to personal preference, I primarily fish the W snaps but for large swimbaits (especially glidebaits) I like the egg snaps.
Decoy W Snap
It is worth noting, this article does not cover the variety of jigheads, swing heads, or other swimbait hooks that can be used to fish a variety of soft plastics. Those applications will be covered in a future article.