Fishing hard baits is a great way to catch all three species of saltwater bass. The problem is that most hard baits are designed for freshwater use and if you fish them right out of the box they’re eventually going to let you down.
Here’s a sample of some of the hard baits in my tackle box that are having some problems. At the top is a Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow, while designed for saltwater fishing, the hooks are too small and tend to tear out. Below that is a Strike King deep diving crankbait, the lure is designed to get down where the big bass live, but the hooks are too small to catch them. Next up is a Norman DD22, this lure has been in my box for a while and the light wire hooks are already rusting. The bottom lure is a Rapala that I fished during a recent tournament. As you can see, the front hooks are bent and the back one is missing altogether. Time to beef them all up.
Step one is to use split ring pliers to remove all hooks and split rings. I’ll even replace the split ring on the bill of the bait if it looks undersized or prone to rust.
Owner makes a variety of hooks and rings that work great for hard bait replacement. The Hyper Wire in size #4 are great for crankbaits and the size #7 is a good match on larger hard baits. Hooks come in a variety of sizes to match different baits, but I recommend getting at least a 3X or a 4X strong for saltwater applications.
The next step is to match up the baits with the right size hooks. For most crank baits a size #2 or #1 will work great and with the hardbaits a #1 or #1/0 is a good match.
Once the new hooks and split rings are installed these baits are ready to stand up to whatever abuse a big calico, spottie or sand bass can dish out.