Lousy hookup ratio on large squid patterns

SilverFly

Active Member
Need to pick the brain-trust for help with hook-up and landing ratio on these squid patterns I use for albacore.

After 3 tough days of fishing I only put 3 in the boat on day one (should've been 4 but somebody "nicked" a fish off the gaff ;) ). I lost at least that many and had several grabs that didn't stick. Landed 2 on day two and nothing in the boat for me on day 3 (was stoked to see Ryan @thatguyryry get his first tuna).

Mostly troll action on the big squid I jokingly call the "Kraken" (bit roughed up here but still looks good in the water). The lost troll grabs were typical, violent slams maybe 20 yds of line screaming off the reel then slack. The surprising thing was every day I had whacks retrieving on the slide when somebody else had a troll hookup - they just didn't stick. No line pulled, just a very quick "whack" then nothing. It was one of those on the first day that made me pick a smaller squid to rig on the 13wt for casting. That fly caught one on the troll, one on the slide and three hooked/one landed casting on day one, a troll fish on day two, and lost a troll fish at the boat day 3.

Anyway, it's all starting to run together but the salient points being, I missed far more grabs, and lost far more fish than I should have. Each of which might have resulted in the entire school vanishing with the fleeing fish, or a missed opportunity to "convert" (get the school keyed on the boat). All it takes is one hookup to make or break a day out there.

With that in mind I am totally open to suggestions on how to rig these squid patterns (that tuna clearly like) so they result in a higher hooking ratio, and fewer lost fish. Pretty sure the stiff wire harness, and oversized/non-free swinging hooks on the Kraken are the problem.

Not sure what the issue is with the smaller squid which is tied on an Owner 2/0 AKI (the bare hook is a 3/0) which is a proven tuna hook that I've never had issues losing fish with before. Although that fly does have a semi-stiff body that could be interfering some how. The fish I lost at the boat yesterday fought in a very unusual way with vigorous head-shaking. Not sure where it was hooked but I could see it when the hook pulled with it mouth-open & head-vibrating. Wherever it was hooked it was clearly more interested in getting the hook out of its mouth than getting away from the boat. Or maybe those lost fish on the small squid were just bad luck.

Although this is offshore stuff, I'm kinda interested in thoughts from experienced swingers. Since there are actually some parallels between trolling and swinging.

20210908_105930.jpg

(edit) Here's the Kraken hook harness. Looking at it now, the wire body is effectively acting as a super-long shank for the rear hook, and a "stabilizer" bar for the front. Neither of which are conducive to allowing the hooks to rotate and sink in.

20200930_135916.jpg
 
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Clarkman

Huge Fly Guy
WFF Premium
Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with that, but for myself, I tend to run almost all of my stinger style hooks either directly to a shank (if straight eye) or run an octopus (if hanging loose). I guess I just feel as if it's just more likely to stay in line. Works with toothy things anyway.

All of that said, I've mostly gone away from using stingers loose for anything but trout. Even most of my musky flies these days are just singles too. There's a great squid pattern in Popovic's book that also show some other techniques.
 

SilverFly

Active Member
Clones and zukers don't come standard with these bad boys for nothin

View attachment 294661

DOH! Why the eff didn't I think of that before? Seriously, All I have to do is leave a loop in the wire big enough to slide the hook into. Everything else about the pattern is un-changed. The double hook would still swing freely - although the loop would need to be oriented vertically so the points would face down to keep the fly tracking right-side up. I could even leave the big nasty siwash up front. And yes, not exactly something I'll be shadow casting, but the 700 grain Depthfinder does turn this fly over.

Really digging this idea (why re-invent a wheel that's got millions of miles on it). Still interested to hear other takes though.
 

SilverFly

Active Member
Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with that, but for myself, I tend to run almost all of my stinger style hooks either directly to a shank (if straight eye) or run an octopus (if hanging loose). I guess I just feel as if it's just more likely to stay in line. Works with toothy things anyway.

All of that said, I've mostly gone away from using stingers loose for anything but trout. Even most of my musky flies these days are just singles too. There's a great squid pattern in Popovic's book that also show some other techniques.
Hmm, if fixed hooks aren't the prob, any ideas on why the grabs aren't sticking or staying stuck?

(edit) I'm wondering if speed has something to do with it. Tuna are moving at 20 (30?) mph when they hit. Maybe fixed hooks simply don't have time to rotate into position? Musky (of which I have ZERO experience) clearly have large "inhaler" type mouths where fixed hooks may not matter? Just thinking out loud - does that make any sense?
 
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Clarkman

Huge Fly Guy
WFF Premium
Hmm, if fixed hooks aren't the prob, any ideas on why the grabs aren't sticking or staying stuck?

(edit) I'm wondering if speed has something to do with it. Tuna are moving at 20 (30?) mph when they hit. Maybe fixed hooks simply don't have time to rotate into position? Musky (of which I have ZERO experience) clearly have large "inhaler" type mouths where fixed hooks may not matter? Just thinking out loud - does that make any sense?
totally makes sense from the musky side of things.

But, are you having issues keeping them pinned with flies tied just on a single hook?

@Evan Burck , what are those hooks you showed up there called? I kinda want to play around with some of those.....and not just for tuna.
 

Evan Burck

Fudge Dragon
totally makes sense from the musky side of things.

But, are you having issues keeping them pinned with flies tied just on a single hook?

@Evan Burck , what are those hooks you showed up there called? I kinda want to play around with some of those.....and not just for tuna.
I've just seen/heard them called "double hooks"

 

SilverFly

Active Member
totally makes sense from the musky side of things.

But, are you having issues keeping them pinned with flies tied just on a single hook?

@Evan Burck , what are those hooks you showed up there called? I kinda want to play around with some of those.....and not just for tuna.
Thanks. I dunno about the fish lost on the smaller squid with the single. Had the first cast hookup on for 30 seconds or so, solid pressure, no slack, just came off. Another slide hookup off after a few seconds. Then the head shaker that came off right at the boat yesterday.

Probably just bad luck but maybe placing the hook further back would help.... next year.
 

Clarkman

Huge Fly Guy
WFF Premium
Thanks. I dunno about the fish lost on the smaller squid with the single. Had the first cast hookup on for 30 seconds or so, solid pressure, no slack, just came off. Another slide hookup off after a few seconds. Then the head shaker that came off right at the boat yesterday.
well, were ya high-stickin'? :D :D
 

Evan Burck

Fudge Dragon
I'll say, too, that the standard issue big ass cedar plug hook has a way of keeping them stuck, too.

 

tkww

Member
For what it's worth, I loose a lot more trolling-hooked trout than I do when I'm retrieving/stripping. I've always attributed it to the lack of a manual hook-set, despite the fact that the rod is pumping and bouncing and I'd swear it was as solid of a hook-up as could be.

Seems like the double-hook couldn't hurt. But my gut says you're either getting a very shallow hook-set that's tearing out, or you're not getting penetration and it's falling out.
 

Evan Burck

Fudge Dragon
For what it's worth, I loose a lot more trolling-hooked trout than I do when I'm retrieving/stripping. I've always attributed it to the lack of a manual hook-set, despite the fact that the rod is pumping and bouncing and I'd swear it was as solid of a hook-up as could be.

Seems like the double-hook couldn't hurt. But my gut says you're either getting a very shallow hook-set that's tearing out, or you're not getting penetration and it's falling out.
I lose very, very few tuna while trolling, regardless of hook. I seem to lose a LOT of fish casting or speed jigging iron. So there may be something to that.
 

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