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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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January 02, 2017

Berkley's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

Moving up in size from where we left off yesterday, let's examine the SUPERLINE EWG 4/0 hook, which has a forged bend and an increased diameter for added strength, giving it the power required to pull fish out of weeds, reeds, and other thick vegetation. The hooks are offered in sizes 2/0–7/0. The 2/0 and 3/0 come six to a package; 4/0 and 5/0 come five to a package; 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

One of the two soft plastic crawdad-type representations shown below (left), rigged Texas style, is Berkley's scented 3½-inch Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait, nicknamed the Fight'n Bug. As many of us reading this piece are not presently in the southeast, in your mind, set aside the lure's crawdad creature feature, its regional color (Alabama Craw), as well as limiting the lure solely to freshwater applications. Instead, consider this killer bait for the suds. Here on the East End of Long Island, Donna and I have caught and released more than our fair share of blues and striped bass with this crawdad color imitation as we have with, perhaps, the more suitable northeast purplish colors (right), which I'll cover momentarily. I believe it's not so much a matter of color or menu choice as it is purely an appetite decision, for food is food for thought for the fish. Hunger is probably the cognitive conception coupled to Berkley's scented attractions.


Left ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait ‘Fight'n Bug' & Superline Ewg 4/0 hook
Right ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Bama Bug purple color PowerBait ‘Change Up' & Heavy Cover 4/0 hook

The only thing I do differently referencing the Texas-style rigging is to push the point of the hook ¼ inch into the nose of the larger soft plastic baits instead of 1/8 inch on smaller soft plastic worms. Otherwise, the procedure remains the same. Also, I do not worry about concealing the eye of the hook. I do, however, concern myself with making the lure weedless by skin-hooking it as described yesterday in Part 1.

Shown above on the right side of photo and rigged Texas style is Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Bama Bug purple color, monikered the ‘Change Up' by designer Scott Suggs. The soft plastic lure is impaled with Berkley's HEAVY COVER 4/0 hook, built for flipping. Half of the top section of the hook shank is constructed with a stainless steel bait-keeper wire wrapped within a tight-gripping material in order to reduce slippage and prevent readjusting. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–6/0). All four sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.

For getting down into the water column, Berkley's weighted hooks, such as the Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG and Weighted Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock, are the key to nailing those denizens of the deep. Donna and I use them on our swimbaits rigged Texas style. We have had excellent success with Berkley's specifically formulated PowerBaits for Saltwater; namely, Berkley's 5-inch Jerkshad in a Pearl/Watermelon color. That's when we switch from spinning outfits to our low-profile bait casting reels and rods. The knack to working the lure(s) is to slowly . . . s.l.o.w.l.y retrieve your swimbait, which imparts maximum tail action, which in turn produces some serious strikes.

Berkley's Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG hooks (Environmental Working Group) are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. The size is imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The weighted 4/0 shown below is approximately 3/16 of an ounce. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.


Left top and bottom: 6-inch Boss Dog with Weighted Swimbait 5/0 and screwlock
Right top and bottom: 5-inch Jerkshad with Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG without screwlock


The Weighted Swimbait 5/0 hook and screwlock are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0 and also has the hook size imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The spiral bait keeper makes for fast and secure rigging of plastics. These leaded hooks will take your swimbaits down deep to the lunkers. The weighted 5/0 is approximately 1/3 of an ounce. All sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package. Both Donna and I have had very good results using Berkley's HAVOC 6-inch Black-Red Fleck/Chartreuse color plastics, dubbed the Boss Dog, designed by Gary Klein.

As some folks make the mistake of pushing the body of the plastic lure over the weighted belly of the hook (thereby compromising it), let's take a moment to address the proper way to rig such a weighted hook (with or without the screwlock) Texas style. First, push the point of the hook approximately ¼ inch (for larger lures) into the nose of the lure as you normally would, exiting the bottom of its body. Now, carefully back it out, completely removing it. You have just created a channel. Next, insert both the eye and angled neck of the hook into that bottom channel, rotating and aligning the body vertically at the center of the bend in the hook. You'll recall earlier that to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the lure so as to keep it perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the lure to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the swimbait to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the lure. Next, in order to make the swimbait weedless, stretch forward the section of body below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured. Leave the eye of the hook exposed for tying your fluorocarbon leader. No need to conceal the eye as you had the worm lure. Good to go.

The Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock (unweighted) is shown below. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Although the suggested hook for Berkley's 4½-inch Blue Shiner Gold color PowerBait, named the Rib Shad, is a Swimbait Jighead, I employ the unweighted 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock. I didn't listen too well in school either. :o) :o) You'll note that I rig the Rib Shad with the screwlock secured in its nose and the hook through the lure's body and out the top. However, you'll also note that because of the hook's configuration that the barb and point do not lay flat atop the lure (Texas style) and that its body is positioned directly between the bend of the hook, creating a sail-like, keel-like combo. That is precisely the form and figure I desire. The hook's smoke-satin finish will not spook fish as might a typical shiny stainless steel sail-like, keel-like display. Also, by not skin-hooking this rather thick-bodied shad imitator, you will be more assured of solid hookups.

The tail-thumping, paddle action of this killer bait triggers hard-hitting reactions. If you wish to go deeper into the water column, simply rig this imposter on a weighted Swimbait 5/0, similar to that when rigging for the 6-inch HAVOC Boss Dog explained earlier.


Berkley's 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock & Rib Shad PowerBait

Visit Berkley at http://www.berkley.com for a full description of their entire line of Fusion19 hooks and soft plastics. The hooks and lures are winners—not only in terms of producing solid hookups, but in terms of pricing. You'll thank me later.

Also, you can secure the recipe for Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly that appeared in the April 7, 2009 Nor'east Saltwater magazine issue (page 54 ~ illustrating prismatic Mylar eyes) by copying and pasting the issue's following URL in your Google address search box: http://files1.allcoastmedia.com/magazineissues/pdf/Noreast2004_0385126.PDF.


Bob
B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly ~ updated 2016 photo with molded 3-D eyes.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats





January 01, 2017

Berkely's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

First off, Donna and I wish everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Donna and I have been field-testing nine of Berkley's Fusion19™ smoke-satin-color hooks for the past year, along with several of the company's soft plastic (silicone) baits. They are absolutely awesome. Berkley's Fusion19 hooks is a trademark as is their revolutionary, technologically-advanced polymer coating designated as SlickSet; hence, Fusion19™ hooks and SlickSet™. What Berkley did was to fuse the SlickSet coating to their high-carbon steel hooks. The result: effortless hook-sets. The hooks' tips are tack-driving, needle-point sharp and easily penetrate a fish's cartilage as well as the flesh of your finger if you are not careful. The hooks are engineered to be the sharpest and slickest on the market. They were new for 2015.

The hooks are freshwater "bass-specific designs," says the company. However, Donna and I use them for virtually all saltwater applications as well as sweetwater situations. Together, you and I will be examining these perfected hooks closely. In the suds, both Donna and I have taken stripers, bluefish, weakfish, porgies, blowfish, seabass, blackfish, and fluke. In freshwater, we had a blast landing brook, rainbow, and brown trout with a fly rod, especially after tying a few new flies on Berkley's size 1/0 Drop Shot Fusion19 hooks. Next, I went on to playing around with their Weedless Wide Gap size 1/0 for largemouth bass. Playtime was over. We began nailing one largemouth after the other, along with a few smallmouth bass. More on that momentarily.

Among Berkley's Fusion19 hooks are nine designs I'll cover today and tomorrow: Drop Shot 1/0; Weedless Wide Gap 1/0; Offset Worm 3/0; EWG (Environmental Working Group) 3/0; Superline EWG 4/0; Heavy Cover 4/0; Weighted Superline EWG 4/0; Weighted Swimbait with screwlock 5/0; and Swimbait with screwlock 5/0. As pictured below, the hooks are clamshell-packaged in their resealable plastic storage units for easy accessibility and safety's sake because, as already mentioned, these hooks are extremely sharp. Depending on size, the hooks come in quantities ranging from four to seven hooks per package.


Resealable Clamshell Packaging


Let's begin with Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 and the Weedless Wide Gap 1/0. These hooks have become a favorite of mine for tying a streamer fly that I created back in early 2008, aptly named Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly. It is a unique fly pattern in that the eye of the fly essentially is the fly. Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 hook and their Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 (with its fluorocarbon weed guard) lend themselves well to this pattern because the eye of the fly fits neatly into the hook's semi-circular frame.

Apart from the hook's intended purpose as a drop-shot rig for live or artificial bait such a plastic worms, I find the Drop Shot 1/0 very useful for tying both saltwater and freshwater dry flies, too. With the aid of buoyant materials such as deer hair spun around the shank of the hook, its short shank and slightly raised eyelet assist in keeping the pattern resting flat atop the water column; hence, making the hook quite suitable for many dry fly applications. The hooks come seven to a package and are offered in sizes #6, #4, #2, #1, 1/0 and 2/0 ~ $3.99 per package.

Referencing the somewhat larger Weedless Wide Gap 1/0, you can work a fly where others dare not swim; namely, weeds and other thickly vegetated areas. Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly, serving as a wet fly, is a great all-around pattern, for you can fish it in both fresh water and salt water. In our northeast waters, Donna and I have taken panfish to pelagics. Initially, I tied the fly with flat (tape-type) prismatic Mylar eyes before experimenting with 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes and larger heads to push water. Too, I played and plied our rivers and bays with a yellow/green color pattern. The Weedless Wide Gap hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0. All but the 3/0 come five hooks to a package. The 3/0 comes four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.


Top: left to right ~ Drop-Shot 1/0 & Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 hooks
Center: left to right ~ Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Flies ~ exhibiting 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes ~ fly on left pushes water nicely
Bottom: experimenting of late with a yellow/green pattern.

All three patterns have been proven effective in either sweet water or the suds.

Moving on to larger size Berkley Fusion19 hooks. As a rule of thumb, I use a 3/0 hook for smaller baits, a 4/0 for medium size baits, and a 5/0 hook for larger baits. Let's examine the Offset Worm 3/0 and the EWG 3/0.

The Offset Worm hook 3/0 has a slightly narrower gap than the EWG 3/0. The hooks are offered in sizes 1/0–5/0. The 1/0 and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

The EWG 3/0 hook has a slightly wider gap than the above. The hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0–5/0. The #1, 1/0, and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Texas Style Rigging:

Both hook designs are ideal for rigging soft plastics, particularly worms. Let's rig Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Junebug color (monikered the ‘Money Maker') by designer Brandon Palaniuk. We'll rig the worm (along with some other soft plastics) Texas style.

First, push the point of either hook (Offset Worm 3/0 or EWG 3/0) into the nose of the worm, approximately 1/8th inch in and out the side. Slide and rotate the worm up the shank, past the hook's 90 degree angled neck, right up to the eye of the hook. This angle holds and keeps the worm from sliding down.

Next, a trick to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the worm so as to keep the worm perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the worm to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the worm to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the worm. Next, in order to make the lure weedless, stretch forward the section of worm below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured below. After tying your fluorocarbon leader to the hook, gently push the head of the worm over the eye of the hook, concealing the connection. Good to go.

I cast this lure with a light-action spinning reel and rod—no weight added to either lure or line of any sort. The worm's action in the water column is natural, so you will receive strikes and solid hookups.


Top to Bottom: one Offset Worm 3/0 hook and two EWG 3/0 hooks ~ HAVOC Junebug (color). Top two worms show hooks' exposed eyes, barbs, and points. Bottom worm—properly rigged weedless—conceals hook's eye, barb, and point. Berkley's Vanish fluorocarbon leader material, tied to the eye of the hook and hidden, offers a virtually invisible presentation.

Tomorrow, we'll continue with Part 2 of BERKLEY'S FUSION19 SUPER-SHARP HOOKS ~ FROM PANFISH to PELAGICS.

Once again, a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Stay tuned.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.







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