It’s been three years now since I originally wrote “The Trailing Hook Method.” Through this time period, I’ve had numerous questions relating to the method, and if any variations to my step by step are available. In this next segment, I’ll go through the most commonly asked questions I’ve had, and give the answer that I’ve found to be accurate over the years. I would like to encourage feedback on this system – I’m always more than willing to answer questions and discuss changes. I’ll keep this blog post fairly fluid – meaning that I’ll update it anytime a good new question comes up via email, instagram, facebook, or any other venue. Let’s get started:
- 1. Probably the most frequently asked question I receive with The Trailing Hook Method is: “Can I do this with braid.”
Answer: I wouldn’t recommend it! In short, yes, you could, but you’ll probably regret it. During my trials, I did all sorts of different things – ranging from thick flourocarbon (30+ pound), to braid (15 up to 50 pound), and then Dacron (20 through 30 pound). Of course, the flourocarbon and mono lines broke easily, but then came the problems with braid.
The two main problems I had with braid were: it pulls through the eye of the hook easily, and it gets easily severed by the bottom end of the spoon. I, of course, only tried it with braid line ratings of up to 50 pounds (which is still relatively thin). I didn’t go higher, because I have no use for thicker braid, and it can be very expensive for a single spool. If you have some 100+ pound stuff lying around – give it a try – but, maybe do it on fisheries where there are lots of hookups (like coho), and not on one where you’ll cry if you lose the fish due to an avoidable mistake (like winter steelhead).
My recommendation: stick with the 30 pound dacron! I did mention I tried the 20 pound stuff. I had many of the same problems as with braid in that case – it got “sawed” through by the spoon bottom, and it often pulled through the eye of the hook. The 20 pound stuff was also really limp, which made the hook sag behind the spoon and whip around while the spoon wiggled. I would highly recommend the Cabela’s brand 30 pound dacron – it’s thick, rigid, and waxed (and fairly inexpensive compared to most other brands). I find that it holds profile out behind the spoon (it isn’t super limp), and it doesn’t move/slide around (due to the wax) on the bottom of the spoon, which causes the fraying.
- 2. Another frequently asked comment, or maybe rather “remark” I’ve seen on this method is: “How to do prevent the hook from flipping over the top of the spoon?“
Answer: The reason I’m answering this right near the top is that this can be an incredibly frustrating occurrence. The solution is: make your trailer loops shorter! It’s inevitable that your first trailers will be fairly long as you practice your knot placements. After a while, you’ll get really good at getting the length right every single time.
Stick with a size 1 hook, and make the Dacron loop just long enough to slip over the end of the hook. The perfect length for the trailer that I’ve found is around 1 inch, or 2.5 cm long. Keeping the trailer hook short will also help get proper hook placement on hookups, which, in turn, will increase your landing ratios. The shorter trailer will also ensure that your hook doesn’t end up down the fish’s throat or in it’s eyeball.
- 3) Can I use this with spinners?
Answer: You could, but I don’t (and don’t recommend it!). Why? First off, it got super frustrating. Often times the dacron would wind up on itself and bunch up. Sometimes this would cause the hook to wind up so far that it was behind the blade. This did two things: first of all – your hook was now behind your blade which prevented the hook point from getting into the fish’s mouth. Secondly, the hook behind the spinner blade would often get caught on the wire (or it would spin up so high it would catch the top of the spinner/swivel), and would effectively stop the blade from spinning.
You could possibly eliminate this by using something sturdier (maybe some of the bend-able wire used for putting stingers on flies?). Honestly, it’s probably more hassle than it’s worth. Spinners rarely hook fish deep due to the blade acting as a “sheath,” and most well made spinners come with great hooks (which have good holding power and high landing rates to begin with). Plus, the trailers would likely do more harm than good on spinners – being that the trailing hook hangs back further than the typical hook rigging (unlike spoons where it’s actually a bit shorter than a standard long shank siwash).
My recommendation is to get some well made spinners right off the bat. Trophy Tackle (Trophy spinners) and R&B lures (R&B spinners) make excellent spinners that come with high quality components, and at an excellent price (often cheaper than a blue fox that so many people love – check out the blue fox version from First Strike Lures: Vibrax style spinners). If you are dead set on sticking with blue fox spinners, or others like panther martin – think about getting some better hooks, such as matzou sickle hooks or big river gamakatsu that you could swap in.
- 4) Does the colour of the Dacron or loop material matter?
Answer: I highly doubt it. I often just use whatever stuff I have lying around. I’m partial to the orange stuff, especially on plain/straight metal finish spoons, as I do feel it adds a nice little hot spot. Overall though, I have not found a difference between using orange, chartreuse, or white Dacron. I’ve also started using wire loops on the spoons that have sharp bottoms on them (it works well to prevent fraying and breakages!). Again, I don’t find higher hook-up rates between the bright orange Dacron loop and the nearly “invisible” wire when targeting fish like browns, which are hitting the spoon as a bait fish imitation. If a picky brown doesn’t care, I doubt an angry steelhead will!
- 5) Does the hook size, style, or brand matter?
If I’m being completely honest, I still don’t know what the best way is, that’s half the fun of it (I’m always getting to learn and adjust)! The one piece of advice I can give you, is that I’ve settled on size 1 hooks. They seem to be the best size as far as causing minimal damage, getting good “purchase” on the fish, and for having the loop a good length to prevent foul ups and proper hook-ups in the corner of the mouth (and not on the bottom of the jaw, top of the head, or in the eyes, etc). Smaller hooks have their place – like on smaller spoons, where you need to keep your loops shorter. Smaller hooks also work better for specifically targeting trout!
The most previous picture to this #5 answer section shows two spoons – one rigged with my favourite sickle hook (a Matzou 1/0), and one rigged with a size 1 Gammy circle hook. I’ve been experimenting with circle hooks a lot recently (the past month). Some interesting stuff with those…
The circle hooks on the Dacron loops are actually pretty deadly. I was batting a solid 90% landing rate with those once I made the switch over. You do miss some fish on the hit – but, the ones that stick seem to stick well, and are sometimes near impossible to unhook even once in the net. I then experimented with wire loops and the circles. I went 2/7 the other day on them. It seems that the wire is too rigid and doesn’t allow the circle hooks to rotate into the corner of the mouth as well as Dacron loop does. I also managed to miss 3 or 4 fish while sight fishing. In the future, I’ll definitely be using Dacron with the circle hooks (if I continue on with the circle hooks indefinitely). I will continue to use the circle hooks in the coming months and get some hard numbers on them for readers who may be toying with the idea, but it looks really promising right now. The one thing that has been exciting has been their effectiveness on keeping brown trout on (browns have always been my nemisis) – I’ve only lost one now after over a dozen hook ups. If they can keep those wiley, jumpy game fish on, I’m pretty confident it will be a winning combination for all others!
Other Useful tips:
- After a landing fish or getting off a snag (especially a difficult one), be sure to check your Dacron loops for fraying, especially around the bottom of the spoon. Also be sure to check your hook on Matzou’s, since the tips bend easily. Gammy circle hooks have been great for not snagging up as much, and the point is always protected (something to think about with a method that is always near, and/or tapping off bottom).
- Although I have not tried it, a number of people have claimed good results with dipping the knot of the Dacron loop into some sort of glue (or aquaseal) to hold it in place. A couple of individuals actually weighed the breaking strength on the loops with a scale and pulling, and found that the glue increased the strength before breakage fairly well. I haven’t found a need to do it yet (and most of the time I just tie them as I go on the river), but if you’re breaking a few loops, maybe try it out!
- You can use this on Colorado blades too! Although I highly doubt it will increase landing rates (since Colorado’s don’t really have binding points to begin with), it does make rigging them up a lot cheaper. If using a bright coloured Dacron like orange or chartreuse, it also adds a nice little hot spot with a straight silver blade!
- One final tip, given by Bradley West, was that making loops on a standalone basis and storing them in your box can be a good way to prevent your box from becoming a mess. Personally, I just tie my loops on the river (and have pre-cut lengths of Dacron stored in my box). The real tip here is how he threads those loops back onto hooks. This tip will also come in handy if you want to swap out a hook that you’ve damaged the point on. ———– Get a piece of mono, put it through the loop, and then thread the two ends of mono through the hook eye, and pull the Dacron loop through that way. It makes it substantially easier to get the bulky Dacron loop through the small hook eye – especially on hooks with small eyes like Gammy and Owner hooks. You can do this while creating loops too, if you’re having trouble getting the 2 ends of Dacron through the hook eye together. See pictures for what I mean!
Hopefully this follow up article has answered most of, or all of, your questions. If there are any other things my reading would like discussed, please feel free to reach out to me (or comment on this page below). You can easily reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my instagram page: @outdooraddictionsbc. If there are good recommendations or questions in the future, I will continue to update this page. Feel free to share around, and happy springtime fishing!