Single Hooks Versus Trebles

Good reasons for using plugs with inline single hooks

Single Hooks Versus Trebles
Single hooks are great for anglers but bad for emergency-room business.Sport Fishing

When it comes to hooks on lures, a growing number of saltwater anglers have joined the ­less-is-more school of thinking.

That is, having more hook points doesn’t necessarily translate into more fish or better fishing.

That might seem counterintuitive. A hard-body lure with two trebles means six sharp points, any number of which might find their way into the mouth of a fish. The same lure with two in-line single hooks has, obviously, 67 percent fewer hook points.

And experience suggests some truth to the idea that an angler might enjoy more initial hookups with trebles. But what happens after a fish is hooked provides some advantages to singles.

First, hooked fish are more likely to stay hooked with singles. Once seated, a single is much larger than the three small hooks on a treble, which often lose purchase in a fight. Where a treble point might poke into a jaw, a single can go completely through, making it much less likely to be thrown.

Second, singles, being not only larger but also thicker, won’t bend or straighten nearly as easily as most trebles.

Third — and these days, this is a big one — singles are vastly better for releasing fish undamaged. Anyone who has ever bloodied a deck while trying to dislodge a bunch of treble-hook points from the mouth and gills of a fish understands that one large hook can be backed out much more easily and quickly.

Finally, single hooks are great for anglers but bad for emergency-room business. Plenty of enthusiasts reading this — like the one writing it — have had a barb lodged in a hand at one time or another, most often from treble hooks. Keeping tabs on all those treble-hook hook points while a fish is thrashing around can be tough. It’s much easier with two singles, at least one of which is presumably in the fish.

The practice of swapping out trebles for singles is catching on as most hook manufacturers are now, finally, offering high-quality in-line single hooks in a range of sizes.

But anglers also now benefit from lures armed with in-line singles right out of the box. For that, big kudos to Rapala and Williamson for ­equipping many of their saltwater models with in-line VMC singles. Rapala has been in the vanguard on this, despite lure-makers’ concerns that consumers would balk at baits without trebles.

Other manufacturers at least venturing onto the bandwagon by arming some models with single hooks include Halco and Shimano. And Savage Gear is packaging some models with ­size-appropriate in-line singles with which anglers can replace the stock trebles.

I look for this trend to continue, for all the reasons cited above, at least for saltwater lures. (One industry insider tells me that while interest in single hooks grows among saltwater anglers, for most freshwater fishermen, the more treble points on their plugs the better.)

Sure, there are times when I’m happy to use treble-equipped hard baits right out of the box, and even times when using them makes the most sense. But with lures in general, particularly for larger fish, I’m glad to see both anglers and (acceding to that interest) industry becoming more single-minded.