Finishes and Coatings
An art form too, this plating process also marks a key point of differentiation from stainless-steel hooks. While stainless hooks require no protection from corrosive salt water, vulnerable carbon steel must be coated.
These coatings vary from bronze varieties — which offer little corrosion resistance — to concoctions that contain more protective elements like nickel, zinc and tin. Most manufacturers offer proprietary finishes, such as Eagle Claw’s new Platinum+ coating, which are designed specifically for the rigors of salt water.
“We’re using a lot of black-nickel finish,” says Syd Rives, national sales manager for Spro Corp., which distributes Gamakatsu hooks. “We probably sell five black hooks for every one with a tin finish. It just looks tough. A lot of people think a black hook is stronger than a different-color hook, but it’s not. It’s often the same hook.”
A coating’s appearance can no doubt be a selling factor. But it has other roles too, including serving as a component in an angler’s presentation.
“Take a look at red hooks,” says Stallings. “We launched them in 2000 and still offer the color in pretty much all of our hook styles. The blood/injury factor really can make a huge difference in fish striking.”
But even with the best finish, it’s important that anglers take care of their carbon-steel hooks. This is especially true when sharpening a hook point, as doing so removes the protective coating, leaving the exposed metal vulnerable to corrosion. But it’s not the only time.
“You’ll watch a guy put all his hooks from the packaging into a tackle box, and then salt spray will come over the rail and cover 400 hooks in his box,” says Pierce. “Inevitably, these hooks will rust. That can get really expensive.”
Pierce keeps his hooks in their original packaging and then stores them in plastic bags in binders commonly used for plastic worms in freshwater bass fishing. “They’ll never get wet and stay completely protected,” he says.
A little care can go a long way — so keep your hooks primed and ready for action.