The One Storage Tray I Never Leave BehindThe One Storage Tray I Never Leave Behind Discover the single plastic box that will become an essential ingredient in taking your bass fishing to the next level.
By Hank Parker
Anglers often use the off-season to inspect and organize their tackle. All those new baits accumulated throughout the year need to be stored properly. And without a doubt, the best organization system is a soft-sided bag that utilizes plastic trays. But when I look into most angler's tackle bags, the one plastic box I rarely see is their treble hook and split-ring replacement tray. This is truly unfortunate for several reasons.
While a new crankbait comes with sharp hooks, most bass anglers over estimate just how long they will stay razor sharp. My crankbaits are usually digging up the bottom, running over timber, bouncing off rocks, and as a result the treble hooks take a beating in a relatively short period of time.
Depending on the time of year, weather patterns, water conditions, etc., I select my crankbaits and topwater baits carefully; seeking the ideal shape, running depth, action, color and size. But having a hot presentation is meaningless if the bass keep coming unbuttoned because the hooks are dull.
I always inspect the trebles of my topwater or crankbait before casting. When dull, I simply pop open my treble hook replacement tray, grab a pair of split-ring pliers, and change those trebles out. In a matter of seconds my hard-bait can be back in the game with razor sharp points.
But there is a second reason for replacing trebles; even when the existing hooks are sharp. Let me explain.
It's no secret, when bass are munching on shad, I like to throw a Berkley Flicker Shad. It's a great crankbait that can be used in a lot of lake environments. But when I am throwing it over heavy grass for lunker largemouths, I want a beefed up treble hook that won't open up when I'm trying to winch a big bruiser out of heavy vegetation.
That's when I reach for a Mustad heavy duty Triple-Grip treble to make sure an eight pound bass wrapped up in eight pounds of weeds is going to make it back to the boat.
One of the modifications I like to make is to attach a long shank treble on the rear of the crankbait, and Mustad's new short shank Triple-Grip on the belly of the bait. Two long shanks trebles tend to hang up on each other. Using a short shank Triple-Grip treble on the belly of the crankbait prevents hook tangling, while still offering a strong and wide-gap bite.
There are other times when I want to throw that same Berkley Flicker Shad in the clear open water of Lake Michigan for smallmouth. To turn that same crankbait into a finesse bait, I'll want lighter wire hooks that penetrate quickly.
In some situations I may want to down size the trebles hooks. And in other settings I may use an over-sized hook. Without a plastic tray full of treble options, my crankbait presentation becomes limited.
Notice that in the examples I just gave, changing out the treble hooks had nothing to do with hook sharpness, but everything to do with modifying my crankbait so as to offer the right presentation to a specific species in a wide variety of lake environments. Without a solid collection of treble hooks in all sizes, wire thicknesses, and shank lengths - I end up handicapping my crankbait presentation.
If you don't have a treble hook replacement tray, I recommend you invest in one. I personally use Plano boxes for my tackle storage because they always have the styles and sizes I prefer. However, be sure to reserve some of the storage tray for split-rings.
A word of warning; don't skimp on your split-rings. The cheap versions will open easy or rust away. Berkley offers some quality "stainless" split-rings in a variety of sizes. A quality treble hook without a comparable split-ring just leads to disappointment.
Be sure to purchase a good pair of quality split-ring pliers; they make replacing treble hooks a snap.
I realize that buying new crankbaits, rods, and reels tends to be far more exciting than investing in a tray full of treble hooks and split rings. Most anglers don't find the purchase of a hook and split-ring replacement box to be a spine-tingling undertaking. But what good is having the best crankbait equipment if your hard-baits are not adorned with the proper razor-sharp treble hooks?
Believe me, I've listened to hundreds of stories concerning "the trophy bass that got away" because of an old or improper treble hook that either opened up, or was too dull. Likewise, too many lunkers escaped because a poor quality split-ring gave way under pressure. Having a replacement treble hook and split-ring box in the boat could have provided the anglers with a razor sharp treble hook or a hard bait modification that might have resulted in bragging rights.
But whatever you do, don't leave the store without a plastic tray dedicated solely to storing a variety of quality replacement treble hooks and split-rings. It's an investment that will set you apart from the crowd. That single plastic box will become an essential ingredient in taking your bass fishing to the next level.
You can find more articles, quick tips and much more at HankParker.com.
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