Adding a stinger hook to your jigs this season will put an end to short striking fluke.
Getting short bites while fishing a bucktail jig for fluke can be downright frustrating and can cause you to quickly run through a lot of bait. The remedy for this problem is to add a stinger hook to your jig. For those not familiar with stinger hooks, they’re essentially an extra hook that extends beyond the existing hook and are sometimes also referred to as a trailer hook. Besides aiding in hooking short bites they are also helpful for presenting longer trailers or baits on the jig such as longer pieces of squid or Gulp. There are several different approaches to adding a stinger hook to your bucktail and which is best for you depends on whether you’re tying your own jigs or buying them pre-made.
The Loop-to-loop Method
This method is best used when tying your own jigs as a loop of Surflon leader wire is tied right into the head wraps. Begin by setting down a base of thread and wrap-in the ends of a 3-inch piece of Surflon. Leave about 1/2 inch of Surflon in front of the thread, bend it over on top of itself and continue wrapping thread to lock the wire in place. When complete there will be a loop of wire leading away from the jig head towards the hook bend. By bending the Surflon and wrapping it both ways it’s locked in securely and less likely to pull out under the weight of a good fish. Before tying in the bucktail, add a couple of drops of glue to the thread and begin wrapping in the bucktail as usual, right on top of the wire. The loop of wire will be hidden beneath the bucktail but it provides a simple point to attach a trailer hook.
To tie up the corresponding trailer hook, double a piece of 10- to 12-inch Dacron or braid and tie it to the eye of your trailer hook. When you want to add a trailer hook to the jig simply insert the trailer hook through the wire loop you made on the jig, back through the loop formed with the braid and pull it back to behind the jig. If you decide to remove the extra hook then you can simply reverse it. I’ve had good success using the Mustad Tarpon fly hook (#C68SS) in size 3/0 or 4/0 for the dropper hook. As it looks like this hook is being discontinued, the Duratin version (#C68DT) will work in its place.
The Tubing Method
One of the more common methods of adding a trailer hook uses a hook with an eye big enough to go over the jig hook and a small piece of tubing to hold it in place. Freshwater bass fishermen often use this method when adding a trailer hook to a spinnerbait. Place a small piece of tubing (1/2 to 3/4 inch) over the eye of the hook to be used as a trailer. Make sure that your trailer hook is facing the same direction as your jig hook, and push the point of your jig hook so that it goes through both the tubing and the eye of the trailer hook. Slide the trailer hook down to the middle of the bend of the jig hook. The vinyl or rubber tubing helps to prevent the trailer hook from sliding back off the way it went on as well as prevents the trailer hook from swinging out of position. An O’Shaugnessy or Kirby hook with a large eye works best. The trick is that you have to find a hook with an eye big enough to slide over the jig hook point. If you can’t, you’ll have to open the eye a little to get it over or mash down the barb on the jig hook.
The Line-to-jig Methods
Both of these methods begin with a length of line (I prefer some braid or Dacron.) which is first tied to the trailer hook. The other end of the line is either attached to the eye of the jig, or tied into the bend of the jig hook, while making certain the trailing hook drops back far enough before pulling the knot tight. Tying to the eye doesn’t look as clean as some of the other methods since it’s more visible to the fish, but it works in a pinch.
All of these methods work and it simply comes down to what you are comfortable with using. I prefer using the loop to loop or the line to the bend in the jig hook. With either of these I can use the same leads and the trailer setup will be left coming out from the center of the jig along the original hook position which helps to keep the natural flow of whatever trailer bait that I’m using. If bluefish are prevalent you may want to go to some type of wire or Surflon leader material instead of the Dacron to reduce the number of bite-offs. Regardless of what method you prefer, it’s always a good idea to have a selection of the needed hooks and components in the same box as your bucktails. That way, when you need one they’ll be on hand and ready to go.