Tail Hooks: Dressed or Naked?
The service road of the Cape Cod Canal provides a pretty good vantage point for seeing how plugs work in the water. Back in November, while I was riding my bike west, hoping to catch up with some breaking stripers, I stopped in my tracks when I passed Roy Leyva working a Cotton Cordell Red Fin just under the surface. Red Fins are one of the most commonly used swimming plugs, and their familiar wobble has fooled countless stripers from Maine to Jersey, but what stopped me was the bird’s eye view of a Red Fin swimming with a dressed tail hook. The lure’s motion was much more fluid, it had more action and a larger profile. When I got home that night, I put dressed tail hooks on several of my Red Fins.
Though dressed tail hooks are an excellent addition to many lures, they don’t belong on every lure. The productivity of darters, at least in my experience, seems to suffer when a dressed tail hook is added. I think the added resistance from the bucktail or feathers keeps the darter from…darting.
Many metal lips on the other hand, Danny plugs in particular, look (and catch) much better with some dressing on the rear hook.
For needlefish, it’s tough to say. If I think back to some of my most memorable fish caught on needlefish, most were taken on plugs with a naked rear hook. But that doesn’t mean anything. My friend recently told me that all of his best needlefish-caught stripers come on plugs with a dressed tail hook.
Metals often work best with a dressed tail hook, and if sand eels are around, rubber tubing is tough to beat.
Do some experimenting yourself with dressed tail hooks, even in freshwater, but just remember; unlike bacon, they don’t make everything better.