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Sonic BaitFish Tips: Are you fishing with dull hooks?

Sonic BaitFish Tips: Are you fishing with dull hooks?

Sonic BaitFish (SBF) “Tips & Techniques”: “Are you fishing with dull hooks?”

By Capt. Pete Rosko, Hall of Fame Angler

The Sonic Baitfish is the most versatile lure-type and one of the most effective multi-species fish catchers available to sport anglers today. There’s a well-worn phrase that’s used in our sport of angling that “90% of fish caught are by only 10% of the fishermen”. Is it because of superior skill or attention to detail? Probably, a little of each. This article is about you becoming an instant member of that “10% Club."

How to ensure your fishing hook point is sharp

Over many of my almost 85 years, one critical fact in our beloved sport of fishing is anglers not paying attention to the condition of the hook being used! The most important, and most overlooked, factor in catching fish is concentrated in the most distant part of your equipment. It’s the HOOK POINT!

The best rod, reel, line, leader, lure, scent or bait is wasted on a blunt hook. I’m very fortunate to be able to fish with many different anglers over many different bodies of water — all enjoyable to fish with. Many are very attentive to their equipment except for the lack of a fine-tooth file.

If the fishing hook point does not stick into your thumb nail, as it’s lightly pulled over the nail, your hook-set and catch-rate can be dramatically affected. Oftentimes, missing a light tick or bump on your SBF, because of a dull hook, can mean missing a hook-set on the best fish of the trip.

The proper way to sharpen a dull fishing hook

Become a more proficient angler by becoming a proficient user of a proper file. One of the best fine-tooth files is the yellow handled file by Luhr Jensen. It’s carbon steel and will rust if neglected. If you take care of it, it will take care of you.

Keep it lubricated, especially at the end of your trip on the water, with a spray of WD-40 or other similar-type sprays (you can extend the life of your file by carrying it in a file holster). A rusted file is useless for proper sharpening.

The best technique, for feeling the rough burs on the hook, is to use a light touch in one direction. A good file easily restores sharpness in 2 to 3 light strokes on each of its three sides — the top of the point and its two sides. It’s a filing technique referred to as triangulation. Personally, it’s easier for me to push the file towards the hook point. After you think your hook is sharp, run it over your fingernail, or thumbnail, to confirm a “sticky sharp” point.

Okay, now this is the reason why I stress that every angler needs to become a “file cowboy” by holstering a file whenever fishing. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that the Sonic Baitfish (SBF) is one of the very best lure-types, and even the very best metal jig, that you can fish because of its versatility. That being said, it still depends on how you care for your hooks.

Effective fishing hook types for Sonic BaitFish presentations

Here’s what I discovered, on underwater video, when jigging the SBF in different presentations.


When “dead-sticking” the SBF, with the snap/line attached to the top of the back, the lure closely imitates a suspended baitfish. Even though the SBF is not being jigged, it still moves in the water by slowly rotating in the current. This action, though subtle, triggers different strike responses as follows:

  1. When fish turn neutral, or negative, dead-sticking is usually the only presentation that will trigger a response. Switch to the smallest SBF that will still enable you to easily reach your target fish. Negative fish will respond to a small morsel and almost never to a large offering.

  2. Constant pecking of the SBF by a fish as if trying to rid an intruding species. Usually, this will continue until the fish, which seems obsessed with this presentation, will hook itself. Very seldom do I use both a nose, and tail, hook when dead-sticking with the snap/line attached to the back. Almost always, a single tail hook will do.

    Note 1: I love fishing this technique, next to anglers fishing live or dead bait, in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico. Whether dead-sticking, or actively jigging, the SBF usually out-fishes the real thing.

    Note 2: Dead-sticking is also a highly-effective finesse type of fishing through the ice, and after ice-out, when the fish are not active because of the cold water. Short-twitching the SBF, with 30 second pauses, is a proven fish-catching technique with the snap/line attached to the back. Through the ice is one of the few times that I recommend attaching a hook to each end of the lure. Fine wire treble hooks are an excellent choice, especially for adding bait.

  3. Active fish will often strike so fast, and hard, that is just a blur to the human eye. Chinook salmon are an example as they rush in and slash at the SBF. Without a sharp single hook, good hook-sets are almost impossible in their hard jaws, resulting in a lost fish.

    Note: Single siwash-style hooks are top choices, especially for larger fish. With their wide gap, and deep throat, they are stronger than treble hooks and offer better hook sets with fewer lost fish.

Active jigging with the snap/line attached to the nose or tail

With this active presentation, the SBF has a lively and erratic darting, fluttering and vibrating action. Unlike an almost stationary target, as when dead-sticking, the SBF is more like an elusive target. But it’s also the type of action that emits stronger sonic vibrations to attract fish from longer distances.

This lively action must be combined with an ultra-sharp hook as most strikes will be of a slashing nature and easily missed with a dull hook. Note: Single siwash hooks are top choices with active jigging.

As always, thank you for subscribing to the monthly issue of the Mack Attack. May this New Year bring you special on-the-water memories. Capt. Pete

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