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I Love Those Things
Phil Williams

If you spend any time at all reading articles about fishing, youíll soon see a point that most outdoor writers will try to convey to you. It seems most of them believe your line is the last and most important link between you and the fish. Iím writing this piece to challenge that theory. In my opinion the hook certainly is the last and quite possibly the most important link. You can put a cheap or dull hook on 100lb. test line and let the fish drag you over a mile of rocks, trees or cables and never break your line. Then the next thing you know she jumps and your cheap piece of a hook comes unplugged and your crying about the pig that got away.
Now my partner Gary and I didnít win every time out this year, but we did win two and finish 3rd or better in 5 out of 6, and won the Satellite Div. Of Woods & Waters Team Tournament Trail due in large part to the hooks we were using this year. We literally lost only two fish that we hooked up with all year long. One of those lost fish was on a Zoom Fluke and a 4/0 Mustad Mega Lite hook. I panicked because she hit so close to the boat and didnít wait for Gary to get the net. I just flipped it in the boat like one of those guys you see on Bass Masters and the thing just flopped right across the deck and back into the lake over the other side. That one really hurt. It hurt my knees from the rug burns I got from diving on the deck trying to keep her in the boat. It hurt from Gary laughing all day long (and ever since) at my rug burned knees. It hurt the team even more as she was much bigger than the smallest fish we weighed that day. We finished in third and the difference between the lost fish and the smallest one we weighed was more than enough to put us over the top. It wasnít the Mustadís fault though it got the fish in the boat. It was my Bass Master circus act that lost her. The only other fish we lost was on spinner bait that didnít have Mustads on it. Hmm. You can probably figure out that with that kind of execution you can finish high in the money on a regular basis. When you put every bite you get in the boat you donít even have to be that good to win a lot of money.
We had always been Gamakatsu and Excalibur guys before this year. On all of our soft plastics and jigs we used the Gamiís and for crankbaits and jerk baits we always switched out the stock hooks for Excaliburís. That was until we got a hold of some Bandit crankbaits. Banditís come with Mustad Triple Grip hooks on them and Iím telling you what, those things are ďBADĒ. There have been many occasions when I have broke the hooks off in a fishís jaw trying to get one of these Triple Grips out.
In the ďOld DaysĒ when Gamiís first came out they seemed like the best thing since sliced bread. They were a thin wire hook that penetrated very easily into the fishís lip. The problem with them is they have a very small barb, too small, and the fish can throw them very easily. Then a few years back Pradco came out with the Excalibur hook. It is a heavy wire hook with a much larger barb and a unique bend in it that reduces the fishís ability to get leverage on the hook point thus in theory he has less chances of spitting it. The only problem with this design is with the combination of the heavy wire and the larger barb it takes a much greater force applied to the hook point to drive that sucker home. This becomes a problem on the end of a 70-yard cast on 10lb. line with a medium action-cranking rod.
Then along comes the Triple Grip. This line of hooks is the perfect combination of wire and barb size, teamed with a unique ďextra wide gapĒ design. These hooks stick quick and hold on tight. As I said earlier I have broke them off trying to get them out. I recommend you buy a good set of needle nose pliers if youíre going to use Triple Grips. These are not hooks you can get out of the fish very often without the assistance of the needle nose. You may also want to consider a good set of side cutters in case you need to cut one off in the event you canít get it out of the fish or yourself.
I have been fishing for quite a few years now and have never stuck myself to the point of cutting a hook off until this year. Yes it was a Triple Grip and yes I was alone of course. I had just caught a 3lber on a Bandit and was attempting to switch it from my left hand to my right to gain a better angle with the pliers when she decided to go ballistic again. They wait for an opportunity like that you know. Well anyway it flipped out of my hand and pop, into the knuckle of the ring finger on my left hand goes the triple grip. Now thereís one thing Iíve noticed about 3lb. fish hanging from youíre flesh and that is itís a whole lot funnier when itís hanging from your buddies hand than it is when itís hanging from yours. The whole humor thing gets lost in the switch some how. The good news is I didnít have a buddy there to laugh at me; the bad news is I didnít have a buddy there to cut the stupid thing out of me. When I finally got the d*#@ fish to quit floppiní around, I had a fish in my right hand and a hook in my left. Now what? How was I going to pull this off? I just knew that the instant I let go of her lip she was going to go Frigginí ape s*!# again. Itís starting to sound like Iím a little bitter about this whole deal doesnít it? Well things get better. Luckily I know enough to have the needle nose in my back pocket when Iím fishing with Triple Grips, now all I have to do is figure out how Iím going to get them out with the fish in my right hand and my left stuck to her lip. I stand there looking around with a stupid look on my face (I do that a lot) for anyone to help out when I realize, Iím screwed, there is no one in sight. Iím going to have to figure this one out for myself, and Iím not real good at that sort of thing. By now the fish is almost dry so I figure I can lay her in the bottom of the boat and then Iíll have a free hand to operate on us with. She seems dead, so I think itís safe, letís go for it. I lay her down contemplating my odds of being able to let her lip go and her cooperating by laying still. I slowly let go, keeping my thumb just a fraction of an inch from her lip. She just lays there, Iím thinking cool, here we go, Iím going for the needle nose. Of course the pliers are in my left back pocket so I have to reach around my fat butt with my right hand and try to get them out without moving her. I donít think I pulled it off to well because the instant I had the pliers out of my pocket, there she goes again. Did I mention they sit and wait for a chance like that to get you back for sticking them with that d*!# hook. The best part is I threw the pliers about a mile out into the lake when she decided we were going to dance some more. It took about 15 minutes of cussing and brain farting before I remember the side cutters. The side cutters, why didnít you think of that earlier? Because theyíre buried under about a ton of junk in the boat and you donít have a free hand to dig for them with you idiot, thatís why. I gottaí go for it. I donít have any other option. Iím feeling like John Wayne at this point, Iím P/Oed, Iím bigger than her, Iím determined to win and Iím goiní for it. But Iím real scared. I lay her down and open the locker. I look at her, itís all good sheís quiet, real dry but quiet. I find the side cutters real fast, cut the hook off of her lip and before you know it IíM FREE, well almost.
Now, I donít have a fish attached to my knuckle any more but the Triple Grip is still in there. No problem, just pull it out, right? Wrong, I pull and I pull, my eyes water a little so I pull harder then harder. Itís not going to come out. These d!#* things are Triple Grips. I HATE these things. Then it hits me, these are Triple Grips, and theyíre razor sharp, Iíll just push it through. Bingo, with out any effort at all it pushes right through the other side (it wasnít as bad as it sounds). I get it to push through about a quarter of an inch and blink, I cut the barb off and slide it out. Of course I throw the Bandit in the lake because this whole thing was its fault, tie on a new one and Iím back in business.
As I start fishing again Iím thinking, man, trying to push that hook through my knuckle would have really sucked if I hadnít been using Triple Grips. I Love Those Things.

See Ya,