The right hook for the right situation in Snook fishing.
If you’ve actually caught a Snook (that you meant to catch; not an accidental suicide Snook that ate a dead pinfish you caught and let die without knowing it was hanging there), you know exactly what hooks you should use, right? Of course you know Snook hooks. You know Snook, right?
Maybe. Read this story about picking (and modifying) hooks used for Snook and you just might blow your own mind next time you’re on the water.
Before we move forward, let’s assume you were like us, and used Owner Snook. 1/0 or maybe #1. We get it.
Forty Years of Hooking Snook
Fishing for many years in a place like St. Petersburg, or Florida in general, exposes an outdoors writer to a lot of different experiences. You get onto boats a lot with a lot of outstanding professionals, some of whom are in a class of their own. My partner David Rieumont is one of them; he’s the voice of our Ask a Captain column and an inshore guide whose work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation has put more ill, injured, hurt, and needy kids on fish than you can ever imagine.
Scott Moore (on the left) points at Snook from the (high) tower on his 24-foot custom Privateer. The tower is the center console; every inch of the craft was made specifically to meet the captain’s needs. When his (now a professional guide) son was five years old, he fell head first from the tower into the bait well. Scotty pulled him out by the feet convinced the child was dead, only to find the kid ready to catch another fish. True story. Do not tell Child and Family Services, please.
Another one is the guy Alex Burnett and I had the honor to fish with a few weeks ago at the Scotty Moore Mote Marine Snook Shindig, a catch, test, and release tournament. Putting sixty boats on the water to catch and wand-test fish connects our sport to the scientific community so critical to understanding and sustaining our way of life.
Scott Moore is pure Florida, pure guide, and pure Snook. The man knows more about Snook, fishing, fisherfolks, and the environment in which we live than any scientist or other angler–amateur or professional–that we know. Having this guy as a friend has done more for my personal career as an outdoors writer than any other relationship I have.
If you fish Scott (that’s shorthand for fishing with Scott), you know from the moment he shows up until the moment his 1983 Privateer motors gently away from the dock, he talks fish. More accurately, he teaches fish. He teaches about the smell of the air, the wind, the motion of the water, the tides, the Snook (or whatever fish he’s targeting that day), and anything else he finds interesting. He is truly an amazing man to listen to. One of a dozen things he talked about that day was hooks. Specifically, Snook hooks.
“Try this, Alex,” Scott told creative director Alex Burnett. “It’s gold, you see?”
The thin wire hook he handed to Alex was a bait hook. A thin Eagle Claw fairly short-shanked gold hook. And it was offset; the turn-to-tip of the hook and barb was slightly bent off the parallel of the main hook shank. Alex hooked the baitfish (small threadfins or mid-sized sardines) through the nose, put it in the water, and a 25-inch Snook responded almost immediately. Gold hooks? Gold.
The first hook Scott handed to Alex to use was an Eagle Claw Aberdeen. You can find them on Amazon. They’re not a hook you would think would be good for fishing live sardines or threadfin, right?
Scott’s boat had eight or ten (maybe twelve–who counts?) rods on the boat. All fast-action light spinning rods equipped pretty much the same way with braided line. On every (relatively) short leader (another story) was an off-color, thin wire and a small-barbed hook. Turned out they were all Eagle Claw 254 hooks. Every one of them were nickel. Not silver, not bronze. Nickel.
“The hook acts to attract the Snook,” Scott explained. “The fish see the flash, they see the color, and then they see what’s attached. The colored hooks serve as attractors. I use these nickel ones most of the time because they have very tiny barbs. I had a lot of discussions with the people at Eagle Claw about hooks. They’ve made 10,000 of them for me at times. You use a lot of hooks.
“As far as color, I’ve used white ones, I (obviously) use gold, I use red, and I use anything I can. I carry fingernail polish, guys. I carry yellow, gold, white, and black. Color has a lot to do with attracting fish.”
He went on to tell us how he used to paint his Tarpon corks blue to keep them from spooking the Silver Kings. He was one of the first Florida guides to have a platform on a 24-foot boat and one of the first to put early fly anglers on the poons.
Scott uses fingernail polish to paint hooks, color spoons, and put red tips and strokes on spoons and metal jigs. Something common to the top professionals is their willingness to use anything if their regular strategies aren’t working. They want their clients on fish and will try orange peels if the bananas don’t work. The fact that Scott Moore actually carries nail polish to color hooks and other elements amazed us.
Wire or Heavy
“We’re fishing in shallow water with sandy and (mostly) grassy bottoms. Wire hooks are best here because they make the baits act a certain way; them being light lets us hook the baits in different places and still have the bait be able to swim. The fact that they’re so light lets the bait move better than heavier wire hooks.”
Scott Moore, the Teacher
We’re going to be providing you a lot more of Scott’s eternal fishy knowledge. Like we said, he’s a continual stream of forty years of fishing knowledge. His love for sharing information is as much a part of his joy as his seeing his (endless) clients feel the pull of a big fish. He knows where the fish are, when they’re there, what they’re going to eat, and why we all love this sport so much. Today it’s hooks. Tomorrow? Maybe leaders. Regardless of what we or anyone else has said about the things we think are important, Captain Scott Moore has something to add.