June 5, 2014 Share

Soft Plastics – Which Hooks Style is Best?

When the EWG (extra wide gap) style of worm hooks really became popular, I loaded up on them in several sizes for fishing worms, craws, lizards, tubes and other soft plastic baits.

I like the concept behind the EWG-style hooks (top hook in photo). All things being equal, if you take two hooks of the same size and tested them head-to-head, the hook with the large gap should hook a greater percentage of biting fish. A bigger hook gap means less issues with the hook throat clogging with soft plastic, leaving more room for fish flesh. But when it comes down to a particular presentation, which hooks style is best?

Before you read any further, take a few moments to study the two 4/0 hooks in the photo above. In particular, I’d like you to look at two things:

1. Distance between the hook point and the offset bend.

2. Height of the hook point in relation between the hook eye (i.e. line of pull) and not the shank of the hook.

I’ll start with point one. The standard off-set style worm hook typically offers great distance between the hook point and the offset bend. In most cases, the difference is substantial. I measured the hooks pictured and the off-set hook has a gap of 3 centimeters while the EWG model has just 2.2 centimeters.

Now look at the height (gap) between the hook point and the hook eye (I laid the hooks on lined paper for a reason). The off-set hook has a much greater gap, more than 1.5 centimeters versus just .5 for the EWG hook.

About now, you are likely thinking Pennaz has lost his mind…the gap between the hook shaft and the hook point is more important which means to obvious choice is the EWG over the off-set. However, think about what happens when a bass takes a soft plastic bait. In most cases, these baits are fished slowly and a striking bass usually engulfs the entire lure, which means the entire hook is also in its mouth (not just the back half).

Let’s go back to those two distance measurements mentioned above. I’ve come to believe that the greater distance of the standard off-set hook provides more opportunity for the hook point to break free of the soft plastic and find a place to bury itself somewhere in the bass’ mouth, especially in those situations when a bass takes the bait and doesn’t immediately turn (typically requiring the hook to bury somewhere in the roof of the fish’s mouth.

And when you look at the gap of the EWG hook in relation to the hook eye, suddenly things don’t look as good either. Again, since most bass swallow the entire hook, you need to look at the gap in relation to the line of pull (envision a straight line running from hook eye to back of hook). With many EWG hooks, there is little if any difference gap between the hook point and the line of pull.

It has been my experience, that EWG hooks with this design often act like a circle hook in that they grab a big bite when they find a home in the hinge area of a bass’ mouth, but in many cases they simply slide out of the fish’s mouth on the hook set.

I’m am not finished with EWG hooks as there are some good ones on the market, but I am using them less than I use to, particularly when flippin’ cover with craws and similar baits.— Steve