Modifying Red Hooks

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

Modifying the color on red hooks are a "game changer" and will guarantee a bite, sometimes making the difference in a tournament.

Looking for that small edge that can put him over the top at the highest level of professional bass fishing, FLW Kellogg's pro Dave Lefebre realized that beauty, in this case red hooks, is only a skim coat deep.

The rage in red hooks started about 14 years ago with Daiichi hook marketer TJ Stallings. Adding a red coating to their hooks, Stallings coined the "Bleeding Bait" slogan and started a trend that has continued today! Lefebre was one of the first to jump on board! Using the red hook as a target, he realized the hook could serve a purpose beyond securing fish. The color of the hook, red in this case, could enhance the appeal of the lure. But it is what lies beneath that caught Lefebre’s eye! After catching a few fish or snagging up a few times, the Pennsylvania angler noticed the finish being scraped off revealing a hook of a different metal! Gold and silver hooks shone through. The partially red clad hooks caught his attention and that of the fish as well! Lefebre theorized the red and either gold or silver flickering added to his bite count! And if fish were targeting his hook, this increased his chances of reeling them in!

Putting A Shine On Red Hooks

He put the theory into practice and did find that under the right conditions, a bit of shine in the red hook put more fish in the boat. On cloudy days the gold hook worked well! On sunny days it was silver! But in any case his hooks offered fish something totally different, as most hooks are either all red or black nickel! The scraped hooks shined on tournament day! Lefebre says these shiny hooks are a "game changer" and they will guarantee a bite, sometimes making the difference in a tournament.

Photo of Dave Lefebre holding fish hooksPro Dave Lefebre prepares to fish with all hook colors

Removing Red Coloring

Other than taking a knife to scratch the red finish away, Lefebre sought a high tech method of red removal. Checking out his wife's make up drawer the pro angler found fingernail polish remover that would do the job with a short soaking to remove all or just some of the red coloring! He pours polish remover into a jar, tightens the lid and shakes! He says it's like shaking a paint can. It makes noise and it's the easiest and most complete method of red paint removal.

One of the first lures he field-tested was one of his old stand-bys, a Rapala Countdown minnow. It was successful and the Ranger/Mercury pro found ways to implement the new hooks into other presentations. While the modified hooks can offer a change-up presentation to any lure, the Erie specialist claims this to be deadly on drop shotting smallmouth bass! He is always prepared with red, black and gold hooks when he dropshots Senkos wacky or nose-hooked. But he adds that shiny gold or nickel trebles can work with his favorite power crank, the Storm Arashi, too!

Pattern Change-Up

The naked hooks can offer a change-up to a lure pattern. Fish sometimes will bite the shiny hooked baits for a while after using a traditional red or black nickel hook. In any case it's always worth a try when the bite slows or to try to get the bigger fish to bite.

Not all hooks are created equal, so, you need to experiment to find which hook maker uses gold or silver underneath the red plating. Prepare a bunch in advance of going on the water to be ready to make the quick change. Red hooks might be worth their weight in gold; but, in the process of mining for bass, don't overlook the precious metals! Go for the gold, or silver, hooks for a glimmer of an advantage!