I have had numerous emails, facebook messages, and messages in general asking about the trailing hook method I designed and starting using 2 years ago now. The following is a step by step on how to rig up a spoon using this method (I have now also created a commonly asked question follow up on this page here: The Trailing Hook Method – FAQ):
1) Get some 30 pound Dacron backing, and either a size 1/0 matzou sickle hook or a size 1 Matzou octopus hook (I prefer Matzou hooks for their large hook eye, their sharpness and overall low cost):
2) Cut a piece of Dacron off (the longer the better to give you room to work, 10 inch piece does well), and fold it in half:
3) Put both “tag ends” through the eye of the hook:
4) Bring the hook through the loop that forms:
5) Pull the tag ends until the line tightens around the eye of the hook, it should look like this (remember the above step; pass the hook through the loop that forms to make this connection!):
6) Keeping the tag ends together, do a simple “granny knot” or “overhand knot”:
7) Now keeping the tag ends together, bring the tag ends around the front of your first knot, then around the back, and through the first knot again (it is similar to tying a double surgeon’s knot, etc). **If you miss going back through the first knot with the tags, the knot will pull out on fish **:
8. Pull the knots tight. At this point you can still slide the knots up and down, so make sure you leave enough room that the hook can be passed through the loop:
9) Once you’ve pulled the knots tight, trim the long tag end off, right close to the knot (the knot won’t slide, so when I say close, trim it close!):
10) Now it’s time to go grab a spoon. Pass the knot through the bottom hole of the spoon (this will only work on sizes 2/5 or up, the 3/8 stubby spoons have a hole that is too small to pass the knot through):
11) Now, pass the hook through the braid loop, like this:
12) Finished product!
My first year spoon tossing, I killed/severely injured 5 steelhead in a row on those massive hooks that came with the gibbs spoons I was tossing – the last was a beautiful 16 pound wild steelhead buck on a remote wild river. Honestly, I was crushed, and stopped using spoons for a while. One night I randomly thought about putting a trailer hook on a fly (much like you would an intruder fly), and thought of some ways to make it happen. The prototype was tying a braid loop to the shank of a hook with tying thread (similar to tying a base of a fly). I realized that method, although effective, was somewhat time consuming and wasn’t available to everyone. I came up with this knotting method, and it’s done perfectly fine on hundreds (yes, 100’s!) of coho/steelhead/trout to date. It’s quick, and anyone can do it easily through the above steps.
I have been using this now for the past 2 seasons. I have stuck with it primarily for 2 reasons. The first reason, plain and simple – it doesn’t kill or severely injure fish. You’ll find nearly every fish that is hooked on this method will be right in the tip of the nose, right in the corner of the mouth, or at worst, on the outside of the jaw/bottom of the mouth (generally resulting from a fish missing on the swipe).
The second reason is their fish catching ability. In the past, I would miss quite a few fish on the swing, and also on cast and retrieve. The misses were most prominent when spoons were jigged, as fish are swiping and only clipping the lures. Misses have been decreased with this method, to the point where they are nearly non-existent. The extremely sharp Matzou hooks are dropped back so far that they pick up fish even when short striking or swiping at them. Once hooked up, the braid doesn’t have a single binding point. The non binding results in a much higher landing success rate. When using the typical rigging (split ring straight to an open eyed hook), my landing % at its worst was around 30%, sometimes on a good year as high at 60%. The split ring/swivel/hook combo increased the landing % a little bit, but it was still near 50%. With the trailing hook set up it’s been as high as 90% in the past couple years on both coho and steelhead, and at its lowest has been bringing in nearly 75% of the fish I’ve hooked.
Don’t take my word for it…. try it out and see for yourself. This is definitely the way of the future for rigging hooks on spoons. It’s cost effective ($7/100 yards of braid – no buying split rings and open eye hooks!), it’s effective for actually catching fish, and it allows us to release the steelhead we value and cherish so much.
Check out the newest Series I’m working on – The “Quest for 20” – in which I’ll be trying to land a winter steelhead out of 20 different rivers between Dec 15 and the end of April! It starts here:
Check out some of my other blog posts!