Do you love big bluegill?
I've heard a few different theories on when you should try to set the hook. What has proven to you to work the best?
Do you try to set it at the very slightest ripple or movement of the bobber? Do you wait to let them take the bait for a little longer and maybe take the bobber all the way under? Somewhere in between? What about with different lure types?
I guess while we're here too...what size and types of hooks are you using and having the most success (talking with live bait here...mostly waxies and worms)? Success meaning most bites, most hook sets, best at keeping bait from getting stolen, and least swallowed...maybe other things I'm not thinking of? Red, gold, dark? Tiny size 10-12 ice fishing tear drop type jigs for bright attractor or glow? Plain old size 6-8 baitholder or tru-turn hooks?
I always set the hook when the tugging line wakes me from my chair.
I dont fish just to catch fish, after all. LOL
As for hooks, I use several kinds for panfish:
- Jig heads - 1/32, 1/64, 1/100
Aberdeen in 6, 8, 10, 16
I typically use Bronze Aberdeen cricket hooks, size 8, rigged as a drop-shot with a slip-cork above. This keeps the hook perpendicular to the line, making it easier for the sunnies to get it.
I have a selection of jigheads, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64. I've used them, especially the 1/64, as it has a really small hook. However, I prefer to cricket hooks.
I would like to get some small circle hooks, maybe a size 10 octopus circle, and give that a try. I've got some size 8 like that, and I use them for White bass with good results, Since a bluegill grabs the bait and runs, often perpendicular to the pull of the line, a circle hook is a no-brainer. Don't cross the fish's eyes, just lift the rod up a bit and apply pressure.
Yesterday I had two types of takes .I wasn't fishing a float however.The Bluegill I caught usually swam quickly off.After seeing the line tighten it would move off to the left or right .That first move off is when I set the hook and sometimes I waited a bit too long and they took the hook on the 64th oz. Jig in kinda deep and necessitating hemostats to get it out . The jig was tipped with a crawler piece so I want them to get the taste and stronghold on the bait then commit .When they move off fast I imagine they are swimming away from aggressive competitive fish that want to steal some of their catch.Other times ,and I suspect these might have been either very small gills or perhaps Yellow Perch,there was a quick jump in the line and then nothing .Either they are ripping off pieces of the bait or striking out of anger .Perhaps a nesting fish not interested in eating the intruder but in killing it. I didnt catch any but they're are often in the area I fished this time of year.At any rate they are spawning still I believe .These types of takes I missed fish.
When float fishing I wait till the float is totally submerged and swimming off before I set. If The fish takes it deep I start setting a bit sooner on the subsequent fish .
I typically like to use 32nd and 64th oz Eagle Claw Jig heads for Gills .I dress them with a Feather,Rabbitt fur strip or Bucktail and tip with Crawler piece ,worm or Mealworm.Waxies ,mealworms or spikes when ice fishing and down sizing hook and weighted jig head. I like Eagle Claw #8 light wire hooks with a bit of length to the shank when float fishing .Eagle Claw Aberdeen Hooks:L214A
I also like Allen would like to use #8 Circle hooks if I can find them .(Allen ,they might be available in this Eagle Claw catalog: http://www.eagleclaw.com/site/wp-content/uploads/PDF/LZ/Hooks.pdf
Maybe these: L702
Black Circle Sea, Non-Offset, Ringed Eye 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0,
3/0, 4/0, 5/0
And dont forget to keep the hooks sharp. You would be surprised too see how not-sharp even brand new hooks from the package can be. I give all of mine, even the smallest ones, a few whisks from a hook hone.
You can buy a hone, or make a simple one yourself. To make one, start with a small thin piece of hardwood. I use thin plywood, like 1/8 or 1/16 craft plywood. But it doesn't matter what you use, as long as it is smoothly finished and handy in size. Mine are cut to 'convenient pocket size' - 3.5" long by 1.0" wide. Finally I apply a sealer to the wood. I use some urethane gloss finish I've had around the shop for years. This will be the base for the hook hone.
Now, glue a strip of 150 grit and 250 grit waterproof emery paper, one to each side of the plywood strip. A good adhesive for this is silicone-type bathroom caulk, or old fashioned contact cement. Place a brick or other flat heavy weight on top and let it cure.
Finally, trim any overhanging emery paper and squeezed out glue with a sharp blade.
To use a hook hone, stroke the point of a hook backwards along the emery paper, i.e., pull the hook's bend towards you. This leaves a microscopic point of metal on the tip. A truly sharp hook will stick right in your fingernail with only the merest of pressure.
Thats it - you're done. Cheap, simple, and functional. Like me.
It is small things like these that make the difference. A $500 rod and reel impresses folks, but using dull, rusty hooks is foolish.
"Beware the man who cannot be bothered with details."
Great post David! You're the King of practicality!
I was wondering about sharpening new hooks. It did seem to me that some were less sharp than I would have liked.
Do you basically just drag it on 3 sides, or do you have a sharpener thin enough to get between the point and the shank? Are there any decent cheap already made hook hones you guys recommend?
Also, I'm a little confused about circle hooks. I know they are supposed to not be able to be swallowed, but are they easier to get a good hook set, or more difficult?
Is there a specific reason you guys suggest aberdeen hooks over tru-turn or baitholder hooks?
Light wire Aberdeens are useful in keeping bait alive and active .Heavy thick wire hampers the baits liveliness. Also less weight for a Gill to suck in .The heavier gauge is not effective as light wire for these two reasons. I like the longer shank to grip with the Hemostats to get the hook out of the fishes mouth .
Ah, that makes sense. Will they say they are light wire right on the package, or do you just go by looks?
Not sure aboutit being stated on the package .Take a close look at different hooks .You'll see variations in thickness of gauge on the shaft and bend .
Yes, and yes. I don't think I've ever seen an Aberdeen hook in panfish sizes that wasn't "light" wire. This describes two things:
- The gauge of the wire (diameter)
- The hardness.
Some of the time the package says it, sometimes not. The difference, from my experience, is in the tempering of the metal.
Bronze finished hooks (they aren't actually bronze), are usually tempered to be harder than the traditional gold finished ones.
Most panfish are caught in thick cover and hangups are frequent. A light wire hook not only keeps bait lively, as John suggests, but it will bend when you pull it and come free of the snag.
Probably the best way to ensure you are getting such 'light wire' hooks is to go with the classic gold finish Aberdeen.
I'll bet those gold aberdeens' have found a place in nearly every BG anglers tacklebox at one time or another. They are a classic.