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Light vs Heavy Wire Hooks – Advantages & Disadvantages
When you visit your local tackle shop or browse online for different types of fishing hooks, pay attention to the gauge of the wire that the hook is constructed from. Determine what type of environment you will be fishing in (open & clear vs canopy & dense vegetation) as well as the size of your lure before choosing a hook.
As the name suggests, light wire hooks come in a thinner gauge, which means less surface area and greater penetration capability. This also means of course that the hook won’t be as strong as a heavier wire hook, so selecting a light wire hook should be determined by environment, lure size, and line selection. Use light wire hooks in light vegetation with small lures and light line. This will make setting the hook a breeze as less force is required to set a light wire hook in a fish mouth.
Heavy wire hooks are designed specifically to be tossed around heavy cover that would otherwise dull or bend a light wire hook. When fishing through thick grass, lily pads, or any sort of “heavy obstacle” fishing, consider a heavy wire hook as you will be more likely to keep your bait on the hook and be able to haul fish out of the thick cover. This type of hook should be accompanied by appropriate tackle such as heavier line, a heavier fishing rod, and a larger lure. When setting the hook, heavy wire hooks require a brisk sweeping motion for a positive hook set. Don’t hesitate on this one; you really want to be sure that the thick hook penetrates the walls of a fish mouth, as a poor hookset will only bring heartbreak and remorse.
In the sections below I will elaborate on the different types of hooks and their appropriate uses.
Worm Hooks (Straight Shank)
These hooks are the most basic hook type you will find. These hooks can be used for texas rigging, nose hooking, and wacky rigging lures, however, you may find that with today’s modern technology and improved hook designs that these methods of rigging are much more effective and long lasting when using hooks specifically designed for these purposes. One of the main disadvantages when using a straight shanked worm hook for bass fishing is that the lure has no physical barrier that prevents it from slipping down the shank of the hook, which means constant repositioning and rehooking of your lure. This can reduce the lifespan of your soft plastics, and can increase frustration out on the water.
Offset Worm Hooks/EWG Worm Hooks
These hooks are excellent for texas rigging and flipping & pitching, as the offset shoulder provides a ledge for the lure to sit on, therefore somewhat securing it in place and preventing it from sliding down the shank of the hook. The offset provides a deeper gap which increases hook up ratio, and it also creates a lower profile as the hook shank sits close to the lure’s body.
The EWG designation stands for extra wide gap. The way in which these hooks are used is the same as the offset hook, these just happen to be designed with a larger opened gap to further increase hookup ratio. While the EWG does increase the overall profile of your presentation, the difference is relatively negligible and doesn’t seem to have an effect on all but the pickiest of bass.
Octopus hooks also look to be a fairly simple and basic hook, however, the inward curve of the hook point and the short curved shank allows for a small profile with a high hook up ratio. These hooks are excellent on drop shot rigs, wacky rigs, and can even be used on a texas rig (larger hook required). Regarded as a more finesse technique hook, these hooks typically come in a light wire form and are very easy to set the hook with. When drop shotting, use a smaller octopus hook such as a size 1 or 2 for maximum lure action. Using a smaller hook may decrease your chances of holding onto a large bass, but the challenge is there and you won’t beat the satisfaction you get out of hauling in a big bass with light line and a small hook on a drop shot.
These hooks may also be termed octopus circle hooks, but the similarities stop there. Circle hooks are not typically used for bass fishing, but can certainly be effective nonetheless. I have successfully used circle hooks when fishing with live bluegill as bait, and I always have confidence in my circle hook’s ability to hold onto a fish. As the name implies, the inward curving of the hook point creates a near circle, which tells us two things. First, you can’t really set the hook when using circle hooks. Because of the extreme curvature, you’re liable to just yank the lure from out of the fish’s mouth, so just don’t do it! Second, once this hook penetrates, you can be sure the fish won’t be escaping from this one as the deep curvature keeps the hook tip locked in and far from the entry point of the hook.
When using a circle hook, simply allow the fish to take the bait and run. When you see or feel your line moving, avoid sweeping your rod to set the hook, instead reel down to the fish while steadily applying increasing upward pressure. The line tension combined with the fish’s natural reaction will allow the hook to essentially “set itself” in the corner of the mouth, which is exactly where you want it to be. Once the hook is set, you can fight the fish as normal.
These hooks aren’t typically used in bass fishing because of the ability to fish lazily. No effort in detecting a strike or setting the hook is required, which for a lot of bass fisherman is considered an exciting and skillful component of the sport.
Heavy Cover Worm Hooks
These hooks resemble a basic straight shank worm hook, however, are of a “magnum” gauge, and typically come with lure keeping barbs molded to the upper half of the hook shank. Purpose built to be fished with heavy braided line through dense cover, this hook requires an absolute monster hook set. Heavy cover hooks are typically used in a punching rig, or in a heavy flipping & pitching application. Because of the heavy gauge wire, it is not advised to use these hooks when not absolutely necessary as hook setting becomes difficult with increased wire gauge. The molded keeper allows you to position your soft plastic above the keeper so that it doesn’t slide down the shank of the hook at all.
Jig heads are a one-piece rig setup that combines the weight and the hook. The weight is molded around the hook and positioned so that your lure “dances” along the bottom when the rig is dragged across the floor. Jig heads are an excellent way to keep your rig simple and effective. They come in many sizes, shapes, colors, and styles for different types of soft plastics. Some jig heads differ in their bait keeper device, which can come in the form of a molded barb, or a twist-lock, and several variations of either. Jig heads are very versatile in that they can be appropriately paired with a paddle tail swimbait, crawdad plastic, or worms. No matter what soft plastic you put on a jig head, they will remain effective even in the heaviest of pressured areas.
I hope this selection guide has helped you in selecting the right hook for your application. A hook is just a hook until you utilize it properly and in the most effective way possible for its design. By choosing the right equipment, you can increase your likelihood of landing more fish and having a productive day out on the water.