It’s funny just how skeptical we as fishermen are of things that fall outside the accepted norm. Whenever something different comes along, our knee jerk reaction is to doubt that it’s going to work. I felt the same way last year when I saw the Rapala X-rap Long Cast hard bait that had VMC Inline single hooks instead of the normal trebles. Sure, I was looking forward to trying them, but I was still leery that I’d miss bites because there weren’t enough hooks involved.
Well, as you can tell from the article I wrote about the bait last year, the single hooks ended up working great.
I was excited to find out that VMC Hooks had come out with Inline Single Hooks as a replacement for treble hooks on other brands of lures. These are part of VMC’s new Coastal Black series hooks made specifically for saltwater. The hooks are constructed from built-up layers of ultra-thin black finish to withstand the harsh conditions of the saltwater environment. This high corrosion-resistance makes them the longest lasting chemically sharpened hook. Several of the hooks that I put on crankbaits have seen weeks of use and they haven’t shown any signs of corrosion.
Though small, this calico bass I caught on a Rapala crankbait, rigged with 2/0 VMC Inline Single hooks, really sold me on why these hooks are a must for inshore fishermen. I caught this bass, along with several others, while casting into the surfline in Corona Del Mar. The area I was fishing had enough surf grass and isolated kelp stringers that it was impossible to fish a crankbait with treble hooks. You really couldn’t get more than a couple turns of the handle before the bait was hung up in kelp or fouled with grass. I still snagged kelp with the VMC Inline single hooks but was able to have the bait come away clean when I ripped it free. It was during the act of ripping it free that I got two of my bites, the fish bit it right when it snapped free of the snag. With treble hooks, every time I pulled my bait free it had kelp stuck on the hooks and was no longer running correctly.
I picked up several sizes of hooks for different sized baits and chose either the 1X strong or the 4X strong hook depending on the application. The hooks come in a variety of sizes. The VMC ILS comes in 1/0 to 7/0 and the VMC 7237 ranges from #6 to 4/0. I found the VMC 7237 in a 1/0 – 1X hook to be a good match for small hardbaits like the Lucky Craft DD100. For my crankbaits and medium hardbaits I used the 2/0 4X hook. On the larger baits like the SP Minnow and Savage Gear Manic Prey I went with a 4/0 1X hook to give me a bigger bite while keeping the hook diameter thin. For my biggest baits, like the Lucky Craft 190 and the Sebile Stick Shadd I went with the 5/0 4X hook. Installing the hooks was as easy as using split ring pliers to take off the treble and put on the VMC Inline single hooks.
I’ve found that the baits will swim fine as long as the hook you choose isn’t way bigger than the treble hooks the bait came with.
Regarding the choice between 1X and 4X for inshore fishing, 1X hooks will work fine on any baits that you’re fishing around kelp or grass because the thinner wire will pull through easier and you’re not going to be snagging anything solid. For crankbaits and any hardbaits you’re fishing around boiler rocks I’d go with the 4X hook because it will hold up better in that rough environment.
I am also putting these hooks on my offshore hardbaits like the Lucky Craft 190, which is a bluefin killer when the fish are foaming but don’t want the popper. For that application an ILS 5/0 or 6/0 4X, Inline Single would be invaluable. A couple of years ago I hooked an approximate 150-pound bluefin on the Lucky Craft 190 and lost it at deep color an hour and a half later because the treble hooks pulled. I felt the front treble pull a few minutes before the back one did and knew that it was going to end badly. The trebles just didn’t have enough bite to hold a fish that size against the amount of pressure I was applying. If I’d have had the lure rigged with Inline Singles, I’m fairly certain that fish would have ended up on deck. I know one thing for sure, I won’t be making that mistake again.
Check out the hook conversion chart below for VMC Inline single hooks from VMC.