Lol, how to open a hornet's nest of opinions.
As far as barra fishing goes, we have never had the volume of choice from a bewildering amount of gear, rods, reels, lines leaders, boats, electronics, hooks and of course lures in memory. It's great, but can be overwhelming to you guys and gals just starting or looking for that special bit of gear that will maximise your chances of catching a fish.
Luckily there are still the tried and true products, namely lures, where you can rest your hat, put your faith in the knowledge that over 35 years of research and development are behind your investment.
Old dog lures by Dave & Judi Killalea are on the top of those lists. Dave tests every Old Dog before it gets packaged, so when Judy asked me to write a few lines on how I retro-fit hard body lures with different size hooks and split rings for specific tasks, I have a bit of trepidation as I know how hard Dave has worked on getting his lures balanced with quality terminals right out of the box.
However there are times where you can maximise your chances by taking advantage of ranges of different style, sizes and strength and weight of trebles.
Old dogs will work and catch fish straight out of their box, there is no denying that. To us hard body tragics, prone to overthinking the situation at times, we can't help ourselves. Here is my 2 cents worth.. there are two main reasons to retro-fit lures with different hooks:
For instance if you are casting in deeper areas you might want your lure to suspend or slowly rise with a flatter profile. This gives the lure presence when stopped and twitched and hang your offerings in the deeper strike zones for longer thus making your lure an easy target for a worked up fish.
Dave's Old Dog 10+ are great for this. Wider gaped shorter shank hooks means you can go up 1 size of hooks. Old Dogs have "plenty of beef and are well fed" so you don't have to worry about loss of action. However if you are trolling deep cover, you might want your lure to rise a little faster to help back out of the snags once you bump into it.give it some slack and presto you often get belted as it rises that little bit. To aid this one should keep the slightly down head attitude that Dave puts in his lures from the outset. That bib on those 10+ do an amazing job on keeping your lures snag-free and swimming down straight away with the slightest tug.
The impoundment fishery over the last 20 years or so have definitely taught us quickly about retro-fitting lures to cope with the immense stresses of catching 40 pounder plus fish in regular succession. To expect the same gear you use in the local creek to handle a rampaging wide open bite from 40 to 50 pounders in the trees at Proserpine (Peter Faust) or Tinaroo Dams or any of the other dams is fraught with optimism to say the least. Heavier rods, braid and fluorocarbon leaders, which can look like fencing wire at times and reels that can handle drag pressures more associated with marlin fishing have become the norm for the big barra guys in the north now.
Of course you can catch them in the open on lighter gear but you still should be considering upgrading your hooks for big fish..the jawbone of a metre plus is fairly wide and it natural to assume that 1/0 and 2/0 hooks that go over that jawbone, should have a bearing in your choice of lures to hang that hardware off.
The Guttermaster 100 and Mutt ranges are great for this. Smaller hooks will catch them but you run the risk of pricking them on that bone resulting in bent, pulled hooks and jump offs. You sorta rely on hooks finding there mark deep on right in the corner of the hinge. Braid and heavy drag settings stops the fish turning completely after it engulfs the lure and you are more likely to prick them around that jawbone preventing solid hookups. Mono and fluorocarbon lines alleviate this but you are limited to lighter breaking strain to get the same cast-ability. The same applies for big saltys.
Peter Mammino aka "Mutta"
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