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By Pete Rosko
One of the benefits of working as a salmon researcher with the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) is fishing with a large variety of lures and hooks that are available to me. This is especially of benefit to me when fishing in saltwater environments and how corrosion affects hook-setting proficiency on a strike. One many of my previous articles, I stressed the importance of a surgically sharp hook point to maximize the hook-set and prevent avoidable premature loss of your fish before reaching the net.
During the course of a week on the water, I have the opportunity to check the condition of each hook on every lure that was fished. Basically, three different hook designs are used on the boat. They are all single hooks, which include siwash, beaked offset and in-line beaked designs. Lures include metal jigs, like the Sonic BaitFish, hoochies and trolling spoons.
In my opinion, the best hook design, to keep fish on the hook, is the siwash with its deep throat and wide bend. The worst hook was the heavier in-line beaked design. In between good and bad was the offset beaked design. By looking at a beaked hook, one would conclude that its angled point towards its shank would keep hooked fish from throwing the hook. That perception would be 100 percent correct, except for one little, but crucial, matter.
Since all hook points lose their sharpness, and must be sharpened to prevent losing fish, how do we sharpen a beaked hook so it’s surgically sharp? Surgically sharp means that the hook point digs into your fingernail as it gently slides over its surface. Testing its sharpness on your skin is a poor test because its nerves will always make the hook point feel sharp, even though it isn’t! Filet knives are like hooks. The best ones keep a sharp edge that give professional results. However, even the very best knives need constant resharpening to be effective.
Even though I am obsessive in constantly sharpening my hooks and attaining a surgically sharp point, I have extreme difficulty with beaked hooks because access to the beaked hook point is not accessible without special equipment like a polishing stone on a dental drill. In contrast, the siwash hook on the Sonic BaitFish is the easiest style of hook to attain the proper sharpness to prevent loss of fish.
The siwash design features its wide bend and deep throat to facilitate better hook sets. In addition, the hook point is parallel to its shank and points up – not at a right angle to its shank like a beaked hook. As a result, it is my personal experience that the siwash style hook is the most effective hook for me in attaining superior hook sharpness with a fine-tooth file that results in more fish being landed!
A fine-tooth file does the very best job for me in removing the rough edges on the hook. Please remember that a hook point is not a piece of lumber where you saw back and forth. It’s best to use a gentle smooth file stroke towards the hook point until sharpness is restored. Always give the hook the thumbnail test to make certain that the hook point digs into the thumbnail and doesn’t slide over it.
Finally, late September is prime time for Lake Sutherland kokanee. The Sonic BaitFish 1/2 oz. in Glow Orange and Glow Pink are perennial favorites here and elsewhere. Bottom-bounce these highly-productive metal jigs along the no wake buoy line that extends northwest to Falls Creek once you launch from the only public boat ramp on the lake. The lake is located 15 miles west of Port Angeles and is usually most productive starting about three hours before sunset. Locate the fish on your fish finder, then vertical jig to those marks on the fish finder screen. Oftentimes, “dead sticking,” or not working your rod, to those marks will result in more strikes than when actively jigging.
Good fishing and until we visit again in my next article. – Capt Pete