By Jerry McBride
As a catch-and-release angler, I hate what treble hooks do to fish. Multiple embedded hooks prolong handling, mangle delicate lip membranes and dramatically increase the odds of ripping fragile gills, throats and eyes. I have missed out on trophy photo opportunities when undersized factory trebles ripped from the soft mouth of giant seatrout, or were straightened by bull redfish and snook, despite light drag settings and wimpy 5- to 10-pound braid. As a catch-and-release kayak angler, I fear treble hooks for the potential threat they pose to me. Low kayak gunwales provide an easily vaulted barrier for an angry, flopping fish to implant those three-pronged, barbed daggers right back in my lap.
As long as it doesn't radically alter the function, I equip lures with larger, stronger single hooks and high-quality split rings. Trophy-size fish inhale plugs, so hookup ratios don't suffer and hooks pull less often. An added benefit is that I waste less time landing and releasing smaller specks, reds and less desirable species that slash or nip at lures--slimy, tackle-destroying ladyfish usually miss altogether.
The problem, until now, has been in finding a readily adaptable single hook. Hard lures with traditional longitudinal hook anchor points require a second split ring so that the hook hangs correctly and doesn't steer the lure off course. Secondly, the hook has to possess an eye large enough to accommodate split rings. Finally, replacement hooks need to approximate the proper weight and drag so that lures wobble correctly and function near factory-specified depths (single hooks can transform suspending plugs into topwaters, particularly in salt water). Between extensive shopping and testing, converting a tackle box of lures could get expensive and labor intensive.
VMC has introduced an elegantly simple solution specifically for single-hook adaptation. Rather than the traditional eye molded perpendicular to the hook shank, the new lightweight inline 7237's eye lies on the same plane. No need for that second split ring. And the ultra-wide-diameter eye readily accepts even large split rings. The thin-wire hooks stick fish easily, and pop out with amazingly little effort or damage. VMC offers them in sizes from 6 through 2/0, ideal for replacing fairly small trebles on light, streamlined lures. Check out the heavier-wire inline VMC 7266, available in sizes from 1/0 to 7/0, for use with bulky lures or when targeting large gamefish.