by John Skinner
I couldn't find it on their website yet, but I just got confirmation from Steve Musso of Super Strike Lures that all Super Strike plugs produced from here on out will ship with VMC hooks. If you're a serious surfcaster who pays attention to detail, this is good news because you probably already replace the former stock hooks with VMCs, and now you won't have to go through the extra cost and effort to do that. If you're not already putting VMCs on your plugs, then your good news will come later when you start hooking and landing more fish on those Super Strikes that you buy in the future. The former stock hooks were not substandard by any means, but it's clear that the folks at Super Strike saw a way to improve their already excellent product and took that step.
VMCs are very sharp right out of the package, and they do an excellent job of staying sharp with little or no angler intervention. The barb is just about the right size – prominent enough to keep a hook from backing out of a hooked fish, but not so large that it's hard to set. The big gain in the case of the Super Strike move is the elimination of the open eye hooks. Although it was a relatively rare occurrence, these hook eyes would occasionally break with a fish on. Naturally these breaks usually occurred with a quality fish, when the hook was under above average stress. With time and repeated contact with pliers in the course of unhooking fish, the risk of hook failure increased.
Anyone who follows my writing knows I'm a Super Strike fan. These plastic plugs just plain work and they don't degrade over time as wood does. Over the years they've continuously upgraded their hardware, now using swivels that test out in the 330- to 370-pound range on most of their lures. If I'm throwing a bottle plug, darter, needle, or popper, chances are it's one of theirs. I wish they would start making pencil poppers too.
While on the subject of hooks, I'll restate here that I'm obsessively anal retentive about hook sets and hook sharpness, particularly where big fish are involved. I think most encounters with large stripers are very brief because the hooks simply don't penetrate. Paying attention to these details is a simple and inexpensive way for any angler to make a significant positive impact on his productivity. This was an excellent move on the part of Super Strike.