Stinger hooks are an area that if you ask five fishermen their thoughts on stinger hooks you will get five different answers. Mainly because as with many things in fishing every scenario is different and each fishermen has encountered different scenarios. Stinger hooks do not have to be treble hooks but in this article we will only focus on treble hooks as stinger for live baits used for striped bass. First of all, lets discuss the different types of live baits used for striped bass. Personally, I like to break them down into two groups. First you have your wide bodied baits like gizzard shad and brim. The second group being more torpedo shaped live baits like trout and herring. Same as most fish, stripers prefer to swallow their baits head first. It just simply makes sense. They donít have to worry about a fin stabbing them in the throat. Most of us have seen pictures of fish found dead with a bait of some sort stuck in their throat. The one I remember most is the one of a catfish trying to swallow some sort of basketball. What am I trying to get at? Torpedo shaped baits are much easier for a fish to swallow and a striper will most of the time hit these torpedo shaped baits head first and as a result a stinger is not needed. A large gizzard shad is the primary bait that needs a stinger hook. Many times a striper has a hard enough time just catching a large gizzard shad. They will many times grab the bait from the rear just to get a hold of it. If your stinger is in the right place, the stinger will many times connect. Will a stinger catch every striper that slams the bait? Not a chance, even with four sharp points sticking out of the bait a striper will sometimes snatch the bait and leave your with two empty hooks. Stinger placement is also a big debate. Personally I prefer to stick the treble into the dorsal fin area which is the widest point of the bait. If you hook further back past the fin, you will impair the swimming ability of the shad. Same principle as when you are fishing a weightless fluke. Many people make the mistake of fishing the fluke with a 5/0 wide gap hook even over open water. If you are out over open water just nose hook the fluke with a live bait hook like a 1/0 octopus hook and the bait will have much more action. Some people also leave the treble hook hanging free. The problem I have seen with this method is if the shad starts running from the striper, the shad will sometimes foul hook itself in the tail and the bait will be impaired and the striper swims off. One last thing about hooking the shad, be sure to push the treble into the bait similar to pushing in a thumbtack. This will keep the treble from falling down and the tips of the treble pointing down. The size treble needed varies with the size bait and water conditions as expected. Personally, my favorite treble for large gizzard shad over 12 inches is a 2/0 Mustad Elite Treble 1X Strong Short Hook (REF 363000BLN.) This the treble I use 80% of the time. If the water is very clear, I will sometimes use a smaller number 1 size treble. If the bait is dollar bill size. I normally prefer not to use a treble. I would prefer to have better action out of the bait and the bait will last longer on the hook. You may not have the same hook up percentage but you will make up for it with more bites and end result being the same number of fish with more action. A few other things to remember when fishing stingers. Be sure to use a line heavier than the fish you expect to catch on the stinger leader. This line is very short and it will take all the impact of the bite. On Lake Lanier where 40lb fish are a probability, be sure to use at least 40lb leader or you will regret it. In Tennessee where even bigger stripers are common, 80 to 120 pound braid is commonly used. One good benefit of the braid is it is very flexible and does not impair the bait but on the other hand this increased flexibility causes it to tangle more often.
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