Tools and tactics

Needle nose and split ring pliers are invaluable for hook change operations.

Swapping hooks is not a complicated process, but a little know-how facilitates the task. Invariably, the biggest challenge is flexing the split ring enough to remove and add a hook. Split ring pliers, made to separate the metal ring’s overlapping sections simplify the process, while providing a gripping device. However, in a pinch, your fingernail or a pocketknife blade will suffice.

For time efficiency, consider this tip from Bassmaster Elite pro Kevin VanDam, who generally changes all stock hooks to his Mustad KVD Triple Grip trebles: Start by opening one end of a split ring and sliding the mounted hook between the coils. With the ring propped open, grip the replacement hook with pliers and slide it onto the ring’s open end. Doing so pushes on the new hook while sliding off the old one.

This year’s International Consortium of Allied Sporting Trades (ICAST) saw Mustad introduce its Replacement Hook Kits, which keep the essential hook change elements neatly organized in a foam-lined waterproof plastic box that measures 5.9 by 3.6 by 1.75 inches when closed. Bass and inshore saltwater-specific kits include Mustad UltraPoint Hooks, Split Rings, and Fastach Replacement Clips (matched to size) and a pair of Mustad Stainless Steel Braid Cutter/Split Ring Pliers. (MSRP $19.99)

Also helpful in replacement hook management is Gamakatsu’s G Box Slit Foam Case, which offers quick access to your terminal tackle via the secure grip of long slits in the polyethylene foam insert. Elite pro Aaron Martens takes a different approach by cutting high density foam to fit his tackle tray sections. The higher elevation keeps hooks and split rings in easy reach.

For slotted tackle trays, consider adding a visual reference grid with each section’s contents (hook size, other tackle). Permanent markers or printed labels  both work.

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About David A. Brown 142 Articles
A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications.

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