There’s a lot of focus in the bass fishing world on flipping, pitching and punching with a straight-shank hook. There was a shift a couple decades ago now from using a traditional worm hook with these techniques to using a straight-shank hook, often attached using a Snell knot. There’s good reason for this shift and a straight-shank hook definitely works well for this type of fishing but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
But this hyper focus on using a straight-shank hook when flipping, pitching and punching has relegated this style hook in many of our minds to this particular purpose alone. There are, however, several techniques with which a straight-shank hook works really well.
Today, we’re going to look at why a straight-shank hook works well for the flipping game but also why it’s effective with this other handful of techniques as well.
Flipping, pitching and punching
Though these are really three separate techniques, we’re going to touch on all of them at once for this piece since there’s already a ton of existing content talking about using a straight-shank hook for these applications.
There is a debate worth mentioning as to whether or not a Snell knot really increases the hookup ratio or not. Regardless, a straight-shank hook is undeniably the best for these techniques with most soft plastics, especially for punching.
A straight-shank hook creates a more streamlined presentation compared to a traditional worm hook or EWG (extra wide gap) hook. A punching bait goes through thick mats cleaner when rigged on a straight-shank hook and the same holds true for a soft plastic rigged to pitch or flip around shallow cover. A straight-shank hook creates a cleaner profile thus giving you the most snag-resistant presentation.
A straight-shank hook is also a great option when fishing with a soft-plastic jerkbait like a Zoom Super Fluke. Again, a straight-shank hook gives you a bit cleaner of a presentation as the shaft of the hook creates a smooth keel along the bottom of the bait, compared to the step down and wider bend of a traditional worm hook or EWG hook. This helps a bait slip and slide through vegetation and other cover while still having a wide enough gap to penetrate through the soft plastic and into the fish.
A Tokyo rig is another great presentation to pair with a straight-shank hook. Initially, there weren’t a lot of hook options when it came to Tokyo rigs. Recently, however, there are versions for anglers who prefer worm hooks, EWG hooks or straight-shank hooks. Depending on the soft plastic used, a straight-shank can be a great option for a Tokyo rig. Thinner soft plastics like Zoom Trick Worms and creature baits like Missile Baits D Bombs are good examples of baits that work well on straight-shank Tokyo rigs.
Straight-shank hooks also work well on drop shots when rigging a soft plastic weedless. A light-wire EWG hook has been a favorite for many anglers over the years when rigging a drop shot this way. Advancements in recent years of the quality and size range of straight-shank hooks have created some great options for drop shotting, like Gamakatsu’s G-Finesse Worm Hook with Tin Keeper, for instance.
Wacky and Neko rigs
Another great finesse presentation to pair with a straight-shank hook is the wacky rig and it works really well this way.
For years, a circle hook was the main stay when fishing a wacky rig. But there has been a big shift in recent years to a slightly longer shaft straight-shank hook being used for this technique. Again, the rise in availability and quality of straight-shank options is primarily to credit for this shift, with great hooks for wacky rigs out there now like the VMC Neko Hook and Weedless Neko Hook.
All of these presentations can be fished with other hooks, like traditional worm hooks, EWG hooks and circle hooks in some cases. But there are advantages to going with a straight-shank hook in each instance. Almost always, the straight-shank hook will come through cover better, making it advantageous to use a straight-shank compared to any other hook.
In addition, a straight-shank hook with a bait keeper often keeps your soft plastic in place better and helps it last longer compared to traditional worm and EWG hooks which use bends in the shaft to hold the plastics in place. It’s typically easier for a soft plastic to slip down the shaft on these hooks compared to a straight-shank hook with a quality keeper.
So little things are less of a headache with a straight-shank hook, like a short strike on a drop shot, for instance. With an EWG hook, the soft plastic has a tendency to be pulled down and ball up in the bend of the hook, causing the bait to spiral when reeling it up. This spinning creates line twist which causes bigger headaches as the day goes on.
Minimizing little time-consuming things like this are what makes a straight-shank hook the better option for several of these techniques. Similarly with punching for instance, the bait goes through the mat cleaner more often with a straight shank compared to other-style hooks, so you make a few dozen more quality presentations of your bait throughout a day.
A drop shot also comes through brush a little better with a straight-shank hook compared to an EWG hook, so you hang up, break off and have to re-rig fewer times. These little time savers make a big difference when talking about overall efficiency during a long day of fishing. So if you haven’t tried a straight-shank hook with one of these techniques yet, maybe now is the time to give one a shot.