The more, the merrier? Adam Clancey makes some good points about using single and multiple hooks.
‘What rig do you use?” is a commonly-asked question when I’m talking about fishing or sharing some details about a good fishing spot.
It’s a very good one, too, because getting the rig right is often a key part to getting a spot wired and enjoying some success. While leaders, swivels, trace and bait are all very important, the size and number of hooks play a critical part in a good rig – there are lots of instances where multiple-hook rigs can be put to good use.
As with all fishing, there are some pros and cons to using multiple-hook rigs. Stray-line fishing is very common in the north of the country, and this method usually involves casting an unweighted or lightly-weighted bait away from the boat. Single hooks work well with smaller baits, but if using long or large baits, having more than one hook has advantages. For example, if a fish attacks the bait with a ‘smash and grab’ bite, two hooks provide more chance of a hook-up. Two hooks also allow you to rig big baits or whole fish in such a way that they are presented nice and straight, without bunching up and looking unnatural.
Stray-lined rigs can have the second hook either fixed or sliding. There are good arguments for both, and I think it is a matter of personal taste. Hook selection is probably more important. Most anglers opt for circle hooks these days, and they are a good choice because they mostly hook around the jaw area, making fish easier to unhook and release. They are more likely to survive, too.
Two-hook rigs do have downsides: in addition to snagging up more than a single-hooked rig, fish may end up swallowing one hook or suffering additional damage from the other hook left swinging around till it catches elsewhere.
When stray-line fishing, the size of the hook should be based on your line weight, because small hooks can easily be bent on heavy gear, while big hooks can be hard to set on light tackle.
The size and type of bait to be used should also be considered when making up double-hooked stray-lining rigs. If using soft baits such as pilchard, piper or skipjack, you can use fairly small hooks in the 3/0-6/0 size range, as they will hook up even when buried in the bait. On larger, harder, tougher baits such as whole mackerel or fillets of kahawai, it’s better to use bigger hooks that will sit proud of the bait.
Dropper rigs or paternoster rigs are very popular; they tend to incorporate two or more hooks presented on dropper loops tied along the trace backbone, with a sinker tied on the end. These rigs work well on most fish species – everything from gurnard, snapper and blue cod, to hapuku and kingfish.
An effective dropper rig has the loops tied far enough apart so they can’t tangle with one another, and short enough so they stand out nicely from the trace backbone. If they hang down too far or are too long, they will twist around the backbone.
One of the advantages of dropper rigs is that you can use two different sized hooks – and/or types of bait – on the same rig. This means a greater variety of species can be caught, but you must be careful if larger fish take a liking for the smaller offering. To prepare for this eventuality, make sure the small hooks used have a heavier-gauge than usual.
Having a decent swivel at the top of the rig is important, as spinning baits and fish can cause bad line twist – and teardrop sinkers that sink quickly and stay at the bottom of the rig offer big advantages, too.
If using heavy gear to fish droppers rigs down deep, I suggest tying the sinker to a length of sacrificial line so it breaks off if firmly snagged. It’s better to lose a sinker than break off 200 metres of braid!
Circle hooks are the only way to go on dropper rigs, but make sure they are looped onto the rig from the hook-point side so the circle effect is continued, (rather than bending away from the dropper loop) for an improved hook-up ratio.
Lures often feature multiple hooks. It is common practice to custom-rig poppers, jigs and trolling lures to suit the type of fishing you’re doing. Treble hooks are nowhere near as popular as
they were in the past; well-rigged pairs of single hooks are a lot more effective and less damaging to the fish.
Many anglers fishing slow-jigs such as kabura, inchiku and micro jigs, often rig them with a pair of small singles or two linked hooks on an assist rig. These rigs are deadly, and because the hooks are generally small, they do not damage the fish very much. I would be tempted to use the double assist rigs when fishing for smaller species and stick to singles on larger fish such as kingfish where possible. A word of warning though: always remove this style of hook from fish with pliers, as one quick flap could see you finding out just how effective these hooks are firsthand!
When rigging poppers, stick-baits and trolling minnows, the trend is definitely for inline singles. In-line hooks have an eye that allows them to sit parallel to the lure so it tracks properly when cast or trolled.
The key point with choosing hook size is to go with a gape that’s wide enough to get a good hold when a fish bites, but not so much it can wrap around the lure. As hook choice affects the weight and balance of lures, you may have to use different sizes and types on the same lure to get it to swim properly.
Using multiple hooks has its place in all forms of fishing; the key is to select the appropriate rig for the type of fishing you’re doing and use the right size, style and gauge of hook – and make sure it’s sharp!
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