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Pin it to win it: simple tricks for keeping your livebait hook where it belongs.

How many times have you made the cast, watched your bait slide into a hole, felt the thump, set the hook and ... nothing, because the hook point went into your baitfish and not the predator? How about the times when the hook simply turns into your bait and you reel in a helicopter?

Thin-wire hooks allow baits to swim more naturally, but there's a drawback: They have a tendency to push or slide through the hook hole and then turn back in to the bait. Missing strikes or prematurely killing baits is frustrating, especially if you don't have a lot of bait to start with.

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If your hook turns into the bait and sticks it anywhere near the gills, the bait-fish will likely bleed out within one cast. And, because the original hook hole has been enlarged, the hook is likely to twist around again, so even if you get a bite on that one cast, you'll likely miss the fish because the hook once again turned and penetrated your bait.

To combat this problem you can turn to several commercial companies that make soft-plastic hook beads. Slide the bead onto a hook and then hook your bait, making sure the bead is placed tight enough against the baitfish to hold the barb tight to the bait's head. The odds of the hook moving or turning into the bait now decrease significantly.

You can buy these commercial beads in most tackle shops that cater to livebait anglers, or you can make your own hook protectors, either out of rubber bands or any hard plastic container like a milk jug or yogurt cup.

Rubber Band Hook Protector

You'll need a 1/4-inch width rubber band anywhere from 2 to 10 inches in length. Some companies make colored rubber bands; green or red are preferred options because they match the baitfish hues and also because red may help give the bait a wounded appearance.

Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut the rubber band, stretch it out, and then cut it into 1/4-inch square segments. Thread these segments onto your hook. The elastic properties of the rubber band allow it to stretch open for the hole created by the hook point, but remain tight against the hook.

Hole Punch Protector

Utilizing a standard hole punch, pop out thin plastic circles from any plastic container. You don't want to use too thick of a container, as it will make it tough to get the hook point through the plastic and the circle onto the hook. Even the standard plastic soda bottle will work.

Punch out a bunch of plastic holes, push the hook point through the circle, and then maneuver the circle into place. Put a baitfish onto the hook, and push the plastic circle tight against the baitfish, pinning the bait to (but not beyond) the barb side of the hook. If you want to make the bait stand out, use red or green colored plastic.

Regardless of which method you choose, by using a hook protector with your live bait you'll get more hookups, and less frustration from missing fish or killing your baits. Use them once, and they'll be a standard item in your hook box forever.

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Title Annotation:LIGHT TACKLE
Author:Holliday, Mike
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2011
Words:542
Previous Article:Scout 251 XS.
Next Article:Save those strikes: work the waypoints to catch dolphin and other bluewater gamefish.
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