In December 2008 at Arno Bay, South Australia, veteran fishing writer and publisher, Shane Mensforth, landed a genuine, officially-weighed 30-pound snapper. It’s a fish that Shane literally spent a lifetime chasing. As Shane quipped, “I must have caught about five hundred 29-pounders before the big one finally arrived.” That fish of a lifetime was secured on the hooks that Shane had been fishing with for a lifetime: Mustad.
“I’ve been a fan of Mustad, right from day one,” said Shane. “When you’re fishing in big fish territory, you understand the critical importance of terminal gear and the need for consistently-strong hooks. Mustad’s classic hooks, like the 92554 beak, caught me some tremendous fish, but the new generation Mustad Premium chemically-sharpened hooks released in the 1990s were even better.”
Indeed, Shane was one of a number of leading Australian anglers consulted by Mustad in its development of the Ultra Point hook range for Australia. Shane’s credentials as a fishing writer, plus his constant hands-on involvement with the big, hard-pulling fish of South Australia’s waters, made him an ideal test pilot. The first two hooks in the Mustad Premium range (the predecessor of Ultra Point) were the Big Red and Hoodlum. Shane immediately took to the new hooks and uncountable numbers of snapper fell to the Big Reds. By the time the 30-pounder came along, the Mustad Premium hooks had become Ultra Point, with an upgraded, stronger needle point.. A pair of Ultra Point Big Reds in size 7/0 on a tandem rig accounted for the 30-pounder.
“The Big Reds retained the rugged durability of the classic 92554 but with better sharpness, thanks to the chemically-sharpened needle point,” said Shane. “And unlike some ‘chemically-sharpened’ hooks around at the time, the Big Reds were tough and could stand the stresses of snapper fishing. I know there are lighter hooks that can be used for snapper, but I don’t take chances.”
The two-hook rig on a heavy monofilament trace is Shane’s preferred rig for snapper on big natural baits. “This rig lets you make much neater, more natural and more effective presentations using whole baitfish, squid, live baits and big slabs of fish flesh,” said Shane. “The two hooks can work independently and the hook-up rate is very good.”
The Mustad Hoodlum is Shane’s hook of choice for yellowtail kingfish – the hoodlums after which the hook was named. Shane has racked up an impressive gallery of Hoodlum captures, with fish ranging up to 30kg and more. Coffin Bay was one of the hotspots where Shane and his colleagues tackled big spawn-run kings that came in to water as shallow as two metres. The hot technique here was bridle rigging garfish and salmon on a single Hoodlum.
When the kings moved back out into deep water, Shane hit them at the famous Greenly Island. Live baiting at night accounted for some of the biggest fish and a tandem hook rig – a pair of Hoodlums on 100lb mono – did the trick here. Live squid and live slimy mackerel were the gun baits. “The Mustad Hoodlum is ideally designed for this type of fishing,” said Shane. “With kingfish this size, the stress on hooks and terminal tackle is extreme, so hook strength is critical. But you also have to rig the baits in a natural way, so the hooks can’t be too bulky. The Hoodlum has a nice compact shape that fits perfectly in the baits. There were plenty of good live bait hooks in the classic range, but the Hoodlum is clearly ahead in my view.”
Can the Hoodlum be improved? Yes, and it has already happened, with the new Z-Steel Hoodlum. Shane was the first Australian angler to fish with it during its development phase, and it is now his favourite. Z-Steel offers corrosion resistance comparable to stainless steel while maintaining the strength of carbon steel and this, according to Shane, delivers big advantages.
“The Z-Steel gives extra protection to the tip of the hook point and helps to keep it sharp,” said Shane. “In long fishing sessions, corrosion can affect the points of susceptible hooks, and that can cost you fish.”
Of course, Shane also tackles the many other sportfish, large and small, that abound in South Australian waters. But whatever the species, his hooks are the same: Mustad. As Shane puts it, “I’m serious about fishing, so I only choose serious hooks, whether it’s a Mustad Hoodlum for rampaging kings or a small Mustad Bloodworm for tommy ruff or gars. It will always be a Mustad.”