Our Editor has been using Mustad hooks for more than half a century. Given that I’ve been fishing for over 50 years, it’s definitely stating the obvious when I write that I have been using Mustad hooks for over 50 years. Through my teens and early adulthood, I mainly used two patterns: a No. 10 Mustad Sneck, and Mustad French hooks in various sizes. The little Sneck, with its flattened eye for snooding, was the preferred hook for blackfishing around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. I used the French pattern in 9/0 and 10/0 for live-baiting mulloway off the rocks and river breakwalls, and in smaller sizes for bream, flathead, black drummer and general reef fishing. Nowadays, I still use Mustad hooks and have certainly developed some favourites. Here they are: MUSTAD POWER BITE It’s at least 10 years now since I first used offset worm hooks to facilitate rigging soft plastics so they are weedless. The concept had been around for years – perhaps decades – in the US. When I started, the best hook on the market was the Mustad Mega-Bite. The combination of the special wide gape design and the tight bend under the eye made for a great presentation and I loved it because it allowed me to penetrate deep into submerged snags, and come back without hooking timber. I’ll never forget the first great session I had using this rig. It was at Four Mile Hole and two friends and I hooked more than 50 barra from just one big old snag, each and every one of them taking our softies from deep among the gnarled timber. It was brutally-exciting fishing because we had to really belt hooked fish out of the cover. Of course, some got the better of us, and the odd hook bent with fish lost as a result. Mustad then came under strong lobbying from many people (including myself) to introduce a stronger version. It obliged with the Power Bite (ref 38104BLN), a heavier gauge offset worm hook in similar shape, but with a forged bend and sized up to 8/0. This deadly hook is part of the chemically sharpened, Ultrapoint stable. MUSTAD BIG RED I liked the Mustad Big Red hooks from the moment I first laid eyes on them. One of the first patterns in the innovative Aussie series of Mustad hooks, the Big Red is a suicide-shaped, chemically sharpened hook that does the job nicely for me with tropical reef fish. I have used this hook right across the Top End and I’ve never broken or bent one, and it seems to stick fish pretty good. MUSTAD DEMON PERFECT CIRCLE HOOK If you haven’t been introduced to the world of circle hooks — particularly for using trolled or live baits for billfish — then you’re not catching as many of these gamefish as you could be; it’s as simple as that. In case you didn’t know, circle hooks are used to avoid gut hooking. Just look at the shape and you can see why. The principle behind a circle hook is that when a fish picks up the bait and swallows it, perhaps all the way to its stomach, as it turns and swims away, the hook will slide back up from the fish’s gut and, as the hook starts to leave invariably at the corner of the mouth of the fish, it will curve around and hook up. This means a fish can then be released easily and without internal injury. a circle hook is entirely different to that for a conventional J-hook. Once a fish has taken your bait and you’ve given it a bit of time to eat it, with a circle hook, if you strike hard, invariably you will rip it straight out of the fish’s mouth. That’s because a circle hook needs to turn a corner slowly to get the point into position to stick into something. My favourite circle hook is the Mustad Demon 39950NP-BN, which is one of Mustad’s Perfect Circle designs. Mustad Perfect Circle Hooks are the only circle hooks with Precision Proportions. This revolutionary design aspect means the point angle and length, gap, front length and all other parameters have the same proportions across the entire size range for maximum effectiveness. The range boasts a new modified point design with a 96-degree angle, which is optimum for ensuring a high percentage of lip and jaw hooking. The Demon 39950NP-BN is a non-offset circle hook rated XXX, and is available in sizes 12/0 to 4/0. It is equipped with Ultra Point, Mustad’s unique process making chemically sharpened Needle Points more resistant to bending and breakage. The hook is finished in black nickel. As a non-offset circle hook, it is eminently suitable for catch and release. MUSTAD BIG RED FLASHER RIG Make no bones about it, this threehook rig is deadly, especially when a dab of bait is added to the colourful flashers. The first time I used this rig was around the Sir Edward Pellew Group of islands, offshore from the McArthur of Carpentaria. I was interested to compare its effectiveness against a nonflasher, ordinary Paternoster rig. In truth, there was no contest: assorted reef fish clearly preferred the flasher rig. I use this rig regularly, and I find that you can often hook three fish simply by not hauling it straight up when you hook the first fish. It’s a bit a trickier judging whether you have two or three fish on, but it’s a buzz when you get it right. Mustad sells a variety of flasher rigs with different hook patterns, so there’s plenty to choose from.