Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Treble troubles

Something that happened yesterday got me thinking about trebles. I got a hook stuck in a fence post while climbing over a stile in the dark. Being a narky git I just pulled until it came free. It wasn't until I came to bait the trace I discovered I'd opened the hook up!

Owner ST-41 opened up with 50lb Power Pro
There is a school of thought that says trebles should be weak enough to be opened out by the tackle being used should they snag up. The reasoning being that this will avoid leaving a baited trace in the water for a pike to pick up and swallow.

Owner ST-36s are often recommended for this. But the next thing you will hear is people moaning that these are so soft they open up when you try to hook them in to a frozen deadbait.

What is forgotten in this is that the wire thickness of trebles increases with the hook size. This means that (I'm going to be make generalisations here, so don't take this as absolute gospel) a 2x strong size four might have the same gauge wire as a 3x size six. You can't really compare sizes when saying one hook pattern is stronger than another.

For example pikers who like the Owner ST-36 and claim never to have had one open up on a fish tend to be those who use size four and upwards, the ones who say the ST-36 is soft tend to use size six and eight. My experience has been just that; size four and upwards is strong enough. Contrarily, there are the anglers who reckon the ST-41 is too strong. They are probably using sizes four and larger.

As I mostly use a size six or four (often making snap tackles up with a 4 as the upper hook and a 6 as the lower) I use the ST-41. When using big baits (a rare occurrence) I'll use larger trebles, in which case I use ST-36s. Not only have I opened one up on a fence post, I have also opened one up on a submerged branch. That, too, was using 50lb (0.36mm) Power Pro. I got the branch out, but one hook point had opened up like the one shown above.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I'd been trying Eagle Claw 974s for bait fishing. I'm still using them. Unfortunately, I haven't hooked anything big enough to really test them out as yet. Where they score over the Owners is in price. Where they lose out is in longevity. If you are someone who doesn't like fishing with rusty hooks the Eagle Claws are not for you! Rusty trebles have never worried me. The Partridge CS9s I used for years were prone to rusting. The rust on hooks is purely superficial and doesn't affect the strength of a hook. Not in my experience at any rate.

Although the Eagle Claws are proving okay so far they can get bent when unhooking fish. They don't seem to take well to being twisted. They are easily resharpened, which Owners are not - although it is possible to touch the points up. What I'm less keen on with regard to the Eagle Claws is the length of the point and the relative width of the gape. Long points are prone to turning over, and I have a preference for wide gapes. The latter factor being, I am sure, a matter of confidence rather than actual performance.

Is there a perfect pike treble? I doubt it. There certainly isn't one that pleases all the pikers all the time! I'd prefer my trebles to have the shape of the ST-36, but the wire gauge of the ST-41. As I value hook strength over shape I'm sticking with the '41s for the time being for most of my piking.