Give it a try and make the switch.
Picture being in the middle of a blitz and catching fish every cast—fish are being landed on plugs at a rapid pace and treble hooks are flying around. You can’t wait to make your next cast then and you start to think ahead of things. So far ahead that you forget about taking the proper time to unhook the fish in front of you! The surf is an unpredictable environment—the fish flops awkwardly and now you’re both hooked. If you’re lucky you’ll just need to patch your waders, if you’re not, you might be making a trip to the hospital.
Six hook points swinging around will always increase the chances of this happening and it’s exactly what happened to me under the same situation I just described. Fortunately one of my fishing buddies watched a hook removal video once on YouTube and I ended up being the perfect candidate to test it out on. With an extra set of hands and some heavy monofilament, we were able to dislodge the treble from my hand with surprising ease and get right back into the bite. My hand was a bit sore, but I wasn’t out of commission and I ended up landing a few more fish into the low 20s by the end of the tide. The whole event could have been a lot worse.
This happened late in the 2020 season, and since then I have been using inline single hooks more and more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still using trebles in some cases but quite a few of my plugs have been swapped to singles. While the initial reason for making the change was reducing the likelihood of sticking myself with another hook, I also had a few other reasons as well.
Single inline hooks only have one point and can be fished on the back of the plug. While they offer a lower chance of hurting the angler, they also result in significantly less damage to the fish. With a maximum of two points on a typical plug, the potential damage to the fish is greatly reduced. Besides having fewer points, they are also much easier to unhook. This means the fish will spend a lot less time out of the water; being able to get a fish back in the water quickly, dramatically reduces its chances for complications after release. Single hooks will cut down the mortality of released fish.
Another thing I noticed about using single-inline hooks on plugs, is that I drop fewer fish when fishing current or with a heavy drag. Trebles do a good job of initially sticking a fish but the downside to trebles is a fish can work the treble hooks and gain leverage on them. In some cases, this can lead to the hooks becoming dislodged or even bending out. With a single hook, once you set the hook and the fish is on, the chances of it coming off are much less. A large striper or bluefish simply can’t get the same kind of leverage on a single hook that they can with a treble hook.
Speaking of bluefish, with so many around this year, it’s a good idea to switch those plugs intended for bluefish blitzes to single hooks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a bluefish lunge at me with trebles flying. The last thing you want is a 10-plus pound blue on one treble and your hand impaled on the other.
I’ve tried inline hooks from Owner, VMC, and BKK with equal success. Each of these companies offer high-quality, super sharp hooks that will stand up to large stripers and blues. The only piece of advice I can recommend when getting the proper size is to bump up the size compared to the one you would normally use in trebles. I found having smaller inline single hooks can cut down on your hookup ratio. Give it a try and make the switch. I don’t have any regrets and I’m confident you won’t either.