What’s the sharpest thing you can think of? For good reason, many people will think of a scalpel. How many times have we seen ‘As sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel!’ used to market products? Too many if you ask me and such products usually leave me worried about any upcoming surgery where I’ll be sliced open with something about as sharp as a teaspoon…
So when I first came across Eagle Claw’s Trokar range of hooks in Canada a few years ago, I considered their immediate claims of significantly greater penetration (proudly displayed with the infographic on their packets) with a degree of scepticism. It reminded me, to a degree, of the many detergent adverts we see on TV. It promised to eclipse the penetration of other hooks under equal pressure, seemingly as a result of a ‘cutting’ entry rather than simply pushing through.
This cutting design is formed by bringing three scalpel-edged sides of the hook together towards the point. Immediately from this design a few points are noticed, most important to me is the fact it places less importance on achieving a thin point to ensure the most effective hook hold. As Ben Conway explained in our look at the Nash PinPoint Hook Doctor in last months issue, ultra fine points fishing over silt bottoms for carp is one point but trying to use the same in the harsher environments of the sea will see the points turned and dulled very quickly.
Achieving maximum sharpness with a thicker gauge to the hook will appeal to a range of anglers for different reasons. The hooks immediately stood out to me as perfect for gilthead bream fishing. A Chinu style hook is often favoured for it’s thicker gauge but getting a good hook hold on these fish is often as much of a challenge as locating the feeding shoals themselves. Among the many patterns of Trokar hooks are a number of thicker gauge patterns that have as much penetrative ability as a a hook a fraction of it’s gauge, owing to the scalpel design.
There may be those that question whether the design will increase damage to a hooked fish. To me, it’s very much the opposite. Three scalpel edges quickly ensure the sharp part of the hook passes through the lip of the fish, leaving an effective hold on the wider gauged bend of the hook. Less sharp hooks could hold in a position offering greater movement, opening up the entry point on the fish and causing more damage. Coupled with this will be increased fish losses to hookholds that become loose – the quicker the penetration to the bend of the hook, the less frequently fish will be bumped off in the fight.
There’s a further benefit to be had from this quicker penetration without sacrificing hook strength – hook size. The assurance that the hook will almost immediately penetrate through to hold on the bend of the hook gives greater confidence in utilising a smaller hook size. In a match fishing situation where many species must be scaled down for (but larger fish may still be present), it offers the sort of versatility that is a matchman’s dream. I fished a match last year where dogs were going to be the winners on the day but a few small (15-20cm) pollack could prove decisive too. The ground is relatively kelpy and many fish are lost pulling them back in through this kelp. This often compels anglers to step up the gear with larger hooks to allow bullying the dogs, forgoing the chance of picking up the smaller species.
With a Chinu style size 6 Trokar hook, I had no such concerns. Each fish came in perfectly lip hooked, even when needing to be pulled clear of snags. No fish was lost on the retrieve, no bites (hard to come by to start with!) were lost. You can’t ask for much more from a hook.
So my initial scepticism of these hooks was soon put to rest once I’d taken the plunge and tried the hooks out in real circumstances. However, there still remained a couple of issues. First of all, when I first came across these hooks they were nowhere to be seen on the UK market! This meant I had to stock up on my occasional trips to the other side of the pond, or face increased delivery charges and even import costs if I wished to order in quantities. This would only compound the second issue: the price!
There’s no pretending that these hooks are cheap. They’re not extortionate either but cost perhaps twice what I would pay for other decent quality hooks. With this in mind, I’ve resigned myself to only using them when they add their most benefit, like in the scenario I detailed above. On the plus side, Reuben Heaton have taken on the UK distributorship for Eagle Claw and Trokar hooks. Finally, I don’t need a return flight to the other side of the Atlantic to acquire these little gems! I suspect as the hooks catch on over here, more and more tackle shops will start to stock them.
The final issue with these hooks is one that I’ve learnt to live with. I’ve yet to tie a rig without cutting up one of my fingers on the smaller sizes! They really are like trying to pick up scalpels with no handle. After prepping for a match and having tied a few dozen three hook rigs, suffering numerous cuts in the process, I decided a solution was needed. As the hooks came out the pack (a dangerous enough extraction in itself) I immediately placed a SeaGlo gum style attractor on the point as a hook guard. Once the hooks had all been tied, I put them in the rig wallet with the point still protected by the attractor. I slide it up the snood to fish with, and back down over the hook point as I pack up. My fingers are safe at last!
I’m so impressed by these hooks, I’ll be sending out a few packs I picked up on a recent Canada trip to a few of our lucky readers who share this piece on social media, so you can try them yourself and not just take my word for it – there’s nothing sharper than Trokar.