The large, open-eye style single hooks most guys use on spinnerbaits and buzzbaits are traditionally rigged pointing the same direction as the main hook, to work through cover cleanly. These are two great lure types in more open water also, and you can rig the trailer hook facing down. In clear water, fish can sense your bait from long distances below and attack straight up, from underneath. You’ll be amazed how well this works. Some days having an extra bit of bulk or scent on the trailer works, other times you can run just the plain hook. If you add a grub or split-tail, make sure it’s long enough to clear the tip of the main skirt for maximum action. With feather, hair, silicone or tinsel skirts, rubber teasers can get caught up if they’re too short, and their appeal is pretty well lost. You can either tightly crimp the eye of your trailer on using pliers or slip it over the main hook using surgical tubing. The tubing method lets you change out hook styles and positions, which is nice. Free-swinging and more rigid set-ups both have different advantages for hooking, snag-resistance and tangling.
For jigging or rigging with different sizes and types of live baits, treble and single hooks both work. I normally carry a small box with a selection of loose parts and pre-maid ones anytime I’m using natural bait. This includes during winter, when using tip-ups. For walleye or pike minnows, treble hooks are the most popular. I try to set them as far back on the minnow’s dorsal area as I can and hook them in very lightly. But you can leave them ‘free-standing,’ too. Try tying some using stiff, heavy mono or fluorocarbon from 20 to 30lb test. Tied in near the main hook’s bend, they’ll run the length of the bait without actually penetrating it. We legally use live perch for bait in areas, and though pike like them, they’re not very hardy. The less you harm them they longer and better they swim. Crimping in a light wire stinger works well here. With softer, more streamlined baits like nightcrawlers, a single hook works better. Tying in a sharp, octopus-style hook nabs walleye on jigs and spinner rigs. When using crawler harnesses behind trolling boards or downriggers, the stinger hook usually turns out to be mandatory most days.
Make up a little kit for your boat containing a range of high-end single and treble hooks and some quality mono, fluorocarbon and uncoated wire. With jigs, I actually have a whole separate box full baits already set up with stingers in a variety of lengths, weights and configurations to save having to make them out on the water. When the fishing is tough or fish aren’t finding your main hook, stingers can be the way to go.
by J.P. Bushey