Talora Rod bends backwards like it’s going to snap in half, but holds strong. You take a few rotations on the reel and simultaneously unseat the pole from the rod holder. Feels like a good fish. Has the weight and pull of a wall mounter. ‘Don’t horse it’ your buddy jokes as he pats you on the back and smiles. Two more cranks on your 700 Tekota as you steady your off-reel palm into position for the expected 20+ minute fight. Tight lines! You Grin.
Rod releases, line slacks, fish is gone. It evaporates into the depth and breadth of the wild blue yonder. The adrenaline fades from your veins as quickly as it boiled. Epic fail. We’ve all been there. What was it, species wise. How big, a new state record (we can dream, but who the hell really knows, no one does of course). If you’re an Angler you’ve lost fish and you know the truth. The truth is you’ll never know what all those fish you’ve lost look like, smell like, scale or measure. The truth is those lost mystical beasts are what keep us coming back for more. So, what did we learn from the loss, the exchange, the flight and the fleeting.
What did we learn? So you went to a Salmon seminar and Pro Division, Charter Captain Joe Schmo’s first piece of advice was sharpen your hooks. You do need sharp hooks, and there’s no doubt this little nugget of advice is as sound as it is accurate. It’s great advice in fact, and with it consider the following. Why aren’t hooks manufactured and distributed as bare metal? The production cost would certainly be less, the hooks would be sharper, and in the competitive markets of the current day, the race to proverbial ‘bottom’ with fishing lures, especially fishing spoons (Both in terms of inexpensive and cheap) would hasten. So why not. You know the answer and it’s quite simple: rust, corrosion, oxidation, iron-oxide, it has many names, but only one insult. Hook degradation.
If you live in proximity to any of the Great Lakes then you’re no stranger to snow-filled winters. Unlike coastal cities that border the Ocean where cars rust from the top down; cars in Great Lakes states rust from the bottom up. If you’re like most of us you equate rust with all the salt, brine, and/or pickle juice each County spreads on the roads to accelerate ice melt. This idea, that salt is the leading culprit of rust isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s not entirely accurate either. Allow me to explain.
Chemically speaking, salt doesn’t rust metal. Iron Oxide (aka: Fe2O3), known more general nomenclature as Rust, results from the oxidation (think oxygen or air) of iron (think bare metal). Strictly speaking salt doesn’t cause rust so much as it accelerates the rust process by acting as a conductor. In short, it’s a catalyst. But water (and moisture) enables oxidation too, so water accelerates rust just like salt does. Now consider these two ideas: 1.) Exposed metal rusts first; 2.) Water accelerates the rusting process. These two ideas are important to our discussion.
Think back to what we learned during our Salmon Seminar about sharpening hooks and do the math as it pertains to metal degradation; how water, on exposed metal, accelerates the rusting process. You spent hours sharpening your hooks. Filing them down on three sides to a perfect point. Man are they sharp. There’s no doubt they have and will catch more and lose fewer fish the first time out. But what about the second, the third, the thirteenth time out. You’re filing your hooks down to bare metal and then tossing them in water, the very element that acts as a catalyst when it comes to rusting/dulling bare metal.
Out of the box most brands of hooks are dull/dull-ish, most certainly duller than hand sharpened hooks. This is partially because of low-budget manufacturing in a race to the bottom to produce inexpensive products (mentioned above and reiterated here for effect), but partially and precisely because they are coated with a corrosion-resistant protection to keep them from rusting before and after use. Most are coated with paint (gold used to be popular, then red, now black has taken up that flag, but regardless what color the paint it’s still a rust-resistant coating) Others (think saltwater fishing applications) are Galvanized or covered with Tin (which is another type of coating). Also contrary to popular belief, galvanized coatings don’t rust more slowly than metal, they actually oxidize quicker, but as the galvanized coating degrades it passes rust resistance properties (in the form of electrons) to the bare metal underneath allowing the metal to become more rust-resistance as the coating degrades (that is, unless the exterior coating of galvanization is filed away ;)).
Other manufacturers have tried stainless steel. Stainless steel, like aluminum, is naturally corrosive resistant, but is weaker than steel and has all but fallen by the wayside due to its lack of dependability (especially under Big Fish, hook-straightening conditions). Vanadium steel is harder and strong, but still needs to be coated. The most common option being chromium (as in chrome, which is a coating now known for its byproduct and pollutant effects, PFASs); same with carbon steel that is coated with chromium (PFASs) and vanadium carbide composites.
You’ve followed along this far, so I can only imagine, you have done so partially in hopes of and search for a solution to this dilemma. The pieces have come together, so it’s worth restating the problem: In the current ‘race to the bottom’ economy, most fishing hooks are made cheaply, either painted or chrome coated, and in large volumes to keep the costs down for lure manufacturers (who comprise the primary market); The sharpest of hooks seem to be those that are hand-sharpened; But, hand-sharpening hooks files the protective coating off the hook which exposes the bare metal underneath; And, bare metal is prone to rust, degrading it, until it becomes dull…again… especially when exposed to oxygen and moisture (i.e. every environment fish are found).
So, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an alternative product? A product made in smaller quantities and in isolation of the ‘cheaper is better’ mindset. A product forged and durable, yet lightweight and nano-coated (i.e. water repellent and rust-resistant). A product tough enough to land a +40lb Salmon without straightening out and sharp enough out of the package to not need any hand-filing. What if I told you there was such a hook that could do all of this and much more. That this hook has never before been used in a trolling spoon application…That is, until now.
To be clear; our lures don’t have hooks that are just ‘sharp enough,’ the hooks we use are among the sharpest hooks on the planet. The Medium Heavy trebles we use are strong enough to stand up against the biggest of both freshwater and saltwater game fish (that includes King & Coho, Trout & Steelhead, Pike & Musky, Tarpon, Wahoo, Tuna, Dorado, and Shark, et.al). Retailing at nearly $3/ea. the hooks that we use on our lures are not inexpensive and they are not cheap, but they are the first, last, and only hook you’ll ever want on your lures.
The Gammie (Gamakatsu) G-Finesse Treble hook does it all, outing after outing, and never needs to be sharpened. HangyBrand’s line of Brass-core and Nickle-plated lures: Along with our Custom finishes, now matched with the Gammie G-finesse hooks, are unrivaled in today’s market. Where Consumers don’t just want lures that look like what everyone else has, and don’t just want hooks they need to constantly re-sharpen. Consumers with taste and an appreciation for attention to detail. Custom color and design options and the sharpest, longest lasting hooks on the market, afford this opportunity. It’s just not more complicated than that.
Die hard fishermen who have limited time to hit the water, or have clients to impress and can’t afford to lose not even one more fish. So many Charter Boat Captains have told us their chrome-plated hooks straighten out all the time, what have they historically done? They have historically grabbed a pair of needle-nosed pliers, straightened them back out and used them again. Only this time they fail sooner because we know cheap steal is made weaker the more it's bent! It's baffling.
Everyone, from Manufacturers to Retailers, from Venture Capitalists to Wholesalers, told us the same thing. They dismissed our idea. They said that our hook of choice was a specialty product, too cost prohibitive (that’s business jargon, and another way of saying ‘it’s too expensive’) to bring to market. They said we would be better off paying 30-50 cents per chrome-plated hook like everyone else; use an Eagle claw or Mustad they said. They said that Consumers wouldn’t be willing to spend a little extra since the cheaper version is already available.
Well, we have brought the product to market and in doing so we have not only put our life savings on the line, but we have put our trust in you, the Customer (Our people). It’s really quite simple. We believed then and still believe now that diehard Anglers, Fishaholics, want better products and are willing to pay a couple bucks more for quality lures that will out-fish and outlast the competition. We’re so confident in our hooksets that they’re guaranteed: If you lose a fish on one of our lures due to a manufacturing defect, we’ll replace it, no questions asked.
Happy fish and Tight lines. Welcome to the Evolution,
Article written by Mike Hiller
photo courtesy of @anders_dereski (Instagram)