Hook-Sets for Any Occasion

Single? Double? Stiff? Semi-stiff? We show you every trolling lure hook-set used today.
Glen Booth
One hook or two? What size? What angle? There are many options when it comes to hook-sets for offshore trolling lures. In this pictorial we cover them all. The double hook rig linked via 49-strand cable wire with the lead hook at zero degrees and the trailing hook at 180 shown here, is still a standard in marlin fisheries the world-over. Read on for more... Story and photos by Glen Booth
For cup-faced lures, both hooks riding at 60 degrees a la the Pakula shackle rig is one of the more popular hook-sets used today when trolling lures offshore.
For those wanting a multiple-angle hook-set, the tandem hook 90-degree rig is popular when using cut-faced lures. Giving the wire a twist will set the hooks at the desired angle.
Both points in line at zero degrees and riding uppermost has plenty of supporters, with the two hooks working in tandem for an extremely secure hook set. Although many crews argue that one hook is the way to go... More on that in a bit.
Some crews prefer the trailing hook to be free-swinging. This may cause the hook to act like a gaff when the front hook is set.
An easy way to create a double hook-set is to secure the trailing hook to the eye of the first hook.
For many years the snell knot was the preferred method to place a second hook in a lure when using heavy mono. Modern rigging gear now lets you choose from many different styles of connections for a range of options, but the snell still works in a pinch.
Single hook rigs in various designs have come roaring back into fashion with better hook-up percentages. Using a single hook is also better for the fish and safer for the mate unhooking the fish at the boat.
Boats pulling lures on the Great Barrier Reef like the simple but deadly Rubber Band Rig, which makes it very easy to adjust the hook placement.
The cable rig is largely bulletproof for marlin. Start with 600- to 900-pound 49-strand cable,  depending on your aspirations and the size of the fish you're targeting.
Using a doubled, twisted mono hook-set with the second crimp determining the hook position adds another layer of abrasion resistance at a key wear point.
The twisted mono hook-set can be turned into a stiff rig by wrapping the mono with electrical tape and giving it a coat of PVC glue.
Hooks need to be set in position beneath the skirts to keep them in place and running correctly. Pinning the hooks can be done a few different ways. Pictured here is the traditional approach, using a toothpick jammed in the back of the lure head to hold the rig tight to the lure so the hooks stay true.
You can also keep the hooks in place by gluing a soft rubber bung to the back of the lure head to hold the crimp.
A whipping of waxed thread tucked up into the leader hole will also work.
You can even decide to leave the rig free swinging and unadorned and let the fishing gods decide your fate. This rig caught fish in its day, but securing the hooks at the proper running position is likely a better tactic.
Mates use heat-shrink to stiffen up the tail hook and protect the connection
If the thought of heat near nylon makes you nervous, electrical tape with the tag end held in place with a piece of dental floss is a good alternative
I feel a short length of pliable spear gun rubber is probably the best method to stiffen up the hook-set.
It takes a leap of faith to pull a lure rigged with a circle hook but it can be done. If you want to attempt this rig, it's best fished in soft heads with light drag. Slam-dunk it to strike when the marlin turns away with the lure. The angler needs to be alert to make this system work, so it's not the ideal everyday hook-set.
And while it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, some crews will even run the hook point down rather than up.
Traditionally, mates would determine if the hook was the right size by seeing if the lure head fit inside or matched the gape of the hook. With the super strong hooks available these days, the trend now is to choose a hook one or even two sizes smaller, as it's easier for a fish to swallow a smaller hook.
Finally, salt water and incompatible metals is a hot bed for corrosion, so never use aluminum crimps to connect wire.

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