Some of my favorite lures are armed with a single hook, which can be a disadvantage when fish are finicky or striking short. Two common examples are bucktails and metal jigs. I use both regularly in the waters off my home in New Jersey for species such as fluke, sea bass, bluefish, weakfish, striped bass and even tuna. I also use them for grouper, amberjacks, snapper, cobia, and barracuda when I travel south. Great lures, however, are sometimes hook-challenged.
There is a quick remedy that can help push the hook-up odds In your favor. You can buy these little gems right off the shelf of your local tackle shop. Depending on the manufacturer, they are called "stinger" or "assist" hooks and they basically consist of a single, super-sharp hook on the end of a loop of braided Spectra line.
- Assist or stinger books are available from ProFish (www.profish.com), Gamakatsu (www.gamakatsu.com) and Owner (www.ownerbooks.com) and come in a couple of lengths.
- Metal jigs frequently get hit at the front by predators keying in on a baitfish's eye, yet those fish often miss the hook on the end of the jig. Add a stinger to the front as shown, where it will swing free, ready for the next head banger to bite.
- Bucktails are deadly, especially sweetened with a strip of squid, fillet or pork rind, but fish frequently grab at the end of the strip, missing the hook. Add a stinger as shown by passing he bucktail hook through the stinger loop once, giving it a half turn and passing the hook through again. Then, insert the hook through the strip so it sits evenly, without balling up. The next short strike will be yours.