By Alex JuliusAt the 2011 Australian Fishing Tackle Association Trade (AFTA) Show, I saw some interesting gear from Mustad which will become available in 2012. In the meantime, interested anglers can see the products online at the Mustad web site.Ultra Point treble hooks feature strongly in this collection of new gear, building on the reputation of Mustad’s Barra/Bluewater treble (ref 36329BLN). The new trebles bear alpha code-based reference numbers — like TS90, TR78, TG76 — which reflect the characteristics of the hook, such as type of bend, wire thickness and shank length, much like the alpha code system Mustad used for its Signature Series fly hooks.The Kevin Van Dam Triple Grip treble (ref no TG76) This treble was a huge hit in the USA when released early in 2011. Legendary American bass pro angler, Kevin Van Dam is a consultant to Mustad and personally designed this treble for the huge USA bass fishery. The KVD treble adopts the Triple Grip design first introduced by Mustad in the 1990s. These have a special inward-pointing hook front designed to make it very difficult for a fish to throw the hook. But the KVD Triple Grip has more: it has an extra-short shank — and I mean really short. This has advantages: firstly, it reduces leverage, making the hook less likely to open up under the stress of a hooked fish; secondly, it allows upsizing of trebles, since a KVD Triple Grip in a given size is less bulky than a conventional treble of the same size. You can get a wider gape and better clearance without adding bulk and weight.The KVD Triple Grip is super sharp, thanks to the chemically-sharpened Ultra Point. The smooth black nickel finish helps it penetrate with consummate ease. Its size range is 3/0 down to 6, making it a bit big for most bream lures, but a strong candidate for most other freshwater and saltwater lure-takers.How about barra? Well, the KVD Triple Grip (rated 1X strong) isn’t in the super-heavy category but its other qualities suggest it might be useful at least in the lighter tackle end of the barra fishery. Anything that reduces the chance of barra throwing the hooks is worth thinking about. The Kevin Van Dam Grip-Pin hook (ref 38101NP-BN) Most conventional offset worm hooks don’t hold those baits as securely as we’d like. Too often, the softies slip down the shank of the hook, even without a bite. Kevin Van Dam developed a solution in the form of the Mustad KVD Grip-Pin hook. This hook is the same basic shape as Mustad’s popular Power Bite, but with one critical difference: the addition of a wire pin welded on the upper shank of the hook, just where it takes the sharp bend.We tested prototypes of the Grip-Pin hook and found them to be excellent for rigging various weedless soft plastics, and they certainly held those plastics made from super-stretchy material in place. We also found that the small projection on the right-angle bend assisted in retaining the nose of the soft plastic in alignment on the hook.These are very tough hooks and resist straightening when put to the test, and they are super sharp out of the packet. We landed quite a number of barra and saratoga on them without the need to touch them up.Basically, the stronger and more reliable attachment of the bait means you can rip it through the water faster, drop it deeper and keep it working longer through tough structure. It can also be used as a replacement hook in articulated swingin’ jig assemblies. Size range is 2/0 to 6/0. ‘Slow Death’ hooks and rigsNow there’s a catchy name for you. Although ideal for trout, whiting and flathead, it is derived from a method of fishing for walleye in the USA and it involves dead-slow trolling of worm baits (natural and soft plastic); hence the name Slow Death.At first, this product elicited some chuckling and eye-rolling from those who saw it. But after a while, and after viewing video footage showing the worm bait in action, the critics realised its possibilities; eg for trout, whiting and flathead.The idea of a bait rotating on its axis raises the question of line twist but, if you stick to the recommended rig and troll or retrieve it very, very slowly, it should not be a problem. Slow Death hooks are made with fine-gauge wire and a medium-long shank, two opposed baitholder barbs at the top of the shank and an Aberdeen-style round bend. Size range is 2, 4 and 6. Mustad also offers ready-made rigs consisting of Slow Death hooks attached to a fluorocarbon trace of the recommended length and a small rolling swivel.As advised at the time of writing, the above products should start to appear in Australian shops early in 2012.For more information, including demo videos, visit the Mustad web site www.mustad.no/www2010 and go to Product News.