I grew up on the east coast of Ireland but now reside on the west coast. One thing the east coast is very well known for is its fishing for ‘animal’ species – tope, thornback ray and smoothhounds. The tope and the smoothhounds keep me returning home a few times a year to try my luck with them, besides, there is always the chance of picking up a marauding bass in amongst them. Without doubt, the most popular bait for the hounds is peeler crab that is threaded onto the hook and held in place by whipping elastic thread over it. A very soft bait that oozes juice and scent downtide, peeler crab is also delicate and requires careful mounting to a hook.
I recently received some hooks to try and they immediately caught both my eye and imagination. Power Fast Bait Holder Hooks from Cox & Rawle. For the hounds I was going to be using the hooks in the 3/0 size and I was looking forward to seeing how they would perform form the kayak. With Spring tides predicted on the day the plan was to remain close enough to shore, fish at anchor and hope that the strong tide would disperse the scent from the bait far and wide with the hopes that at least some hounds would follow their noses to the free offering.
As it turned out the session ended up being a very enjoyable few hours on the water with numbers of hounds encountered. None of them were monsters but they provided good sport. What they also did was very effectively test the hooks. One concern with some anglers when using softer baits is their tendency to slip down the hook either through casting or the force of the tidal flow in the water. Bait slippage is undesirable for a couple of reasons; it creates an unnatural presentation of the bait which is less likely to fool more wary (usually bigger) fish. Slipping bait can also mask the point of the hook and this will result in missed bites. The Power Fast Bait Holder Hooks feature small barbs along the shank and they do an excellent job of holding your bait in place, even on a spring tide along the Wicklow coastline! Not once did I have to readjust the bait when it came out of the water.
The point of the hooks are razor sharp and there was no issues with clean hooking on both hounds and lesser spotted dogfish that seemed to find the bait during the spells that the hounds were not taking it. The offset point would also have assisted with the successful hook ups. One final thing to mention regarding these hooks is the wire that they are forged from. Using heavy wire means that you can really put pressure on the fish without fear of straightening. Smoothhounds know how to fight and they can turn on a penny. With these hooks there are no concerns about giving them a ‘bit of stick’ to get them to the surface. The hooks performed admirably.
If you are looking for a sharp, strong hook that will keep a softer bait in place then look no further than the Power Fast Bait Holder Hooks from Cox & Rawle.