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It seems like only yesterday that we were bemoaning the lack of suitable hooking systems to go with soft plastic baits. The new wave of soft plastics that hit Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s was a huge advance on its predecessors in terms of fish appeal. But just about the only thing available to rig them on was the common, garden variety of leadhead jig, many of which were equipped with hooks that just weren’t up to the job. Mustad set about changing that and today it offers a highly-developed, compehensive range of soft plastic hooking systems. There’s a lot more to soft plastics fishing than conventional leadhead jigs, and a lot more yet to be discovered. As summarised below, Mustad’s current range offers great opportunities for creative soft plastics fishing. ABERDEEN HOOKS Mustad introduced the first Aberdeen hook of note into the Australian market in 1998 with its chemically-sharpened 3261BLN pattern. The Aberdeen was an established hook pattern in many countries, including the USA where it became the preferred pattern for light-medium tackle soft plastic fishing. Its trademark round bend provided plenty of clearance from the bait to assist hook-ups and its long shank accommodated a good variety of baits.

At first, many anglers improvised by taking a straight Aberdeen hook and bending the shank below the eye to create a suitable bend for moulding a blob of lead around, or crimping a split shot onto. But then Mustad introduced the 90 degree Aberdeen jig hook (ref 32746BLN), which saved do-it-yourself jig makers having to tweak the shanks of conventional hooks. Designed for light-medium tackle applications it is now widely used as a leadhead jig hook by manufacturers in Australia and worldwide as well as in do-it-yourself jig moulds.

Recently, Mustad introduced a Baitholder Aberdeen pattern which has applications for soft plastics. This is called the Fine Worm (ref 32813BLM) and is a fine gauge Aberdeen with two opposed slices in the top of the shank to hold soft plastic baits in place. The shank is straight, not bent. It is ideal for light, stealthy soft plastic fishing with no weight on the hook. Alternatively, the slices can be used to hold crimped split shots to make a straight jig. Mustad Aberdeen (ref 3261BLN) Specifications: Straight point, round bend, long shank, 
chemically-sharpened Ultra Point. Black Nickel finish. Size range: 4/0 to 1/0, 1, 2, 4, 6     Mustad Aberdeen 90 degree Jig Hook (ref 32746BLN) Specifications: Straight point, round bend, shank bent 90 degrees, 
chemically-sharpened Ultra Point. Black Nickel finish. Size range: 6/0 to 1/0, 1, 2, 4, 6 Mustad Fine Worm (ref 32813BLM) Specifications: Straight point, round bend, long shank with 2 x opposed baitholder slices on shank, chemically-sharpened Ultra Point. Black matt finish. Size range: 1/0, 2, 4,    6, 8, 10, 12 OFFSET WORM HOOKS Used for various unweighted soft plastic rigs and running-sinker rigs, offset worm hooks offer a different way of hooking plastic baits. A sharp bend in the top shank of the hook anchors the head of the bait and the hook point is stuck through the belly. The bend of the hook lies underneath the bait to form a sort of keel which assists the bait’s swimming action. However, it’s greatest attraction is that, rigged properly, a soft plastic can become virtually snag-proof, yet still have a good hook-up rate. The system gained more followers as the soft plastics tide advanced.

The Mega-Bite (ref: 37177BLN) is Mustad’s earliest offset worm hook to be launched in Australia. The combination of the special wide gap design and the tight bend under the eye made for a great presentation and it became a favourite among offset worm hooks. It soon became apparent just how deadly soft plastics could be when fished this way on big, hard-pulling targets like kingfish and mulloway, and (as I can personally attest) barra around the snags.

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. That took the smile off the face of many a barra. It also provided the strength and gape width that bluewater anglers had been looking for in an offset worm hook to use with their big stickbaits. Now, it is also being used successfully on specialised leadheads on big snapper down deep.

Mustad Mega Bite (ref 37177BLN) Specifications: Worm hook, Offset shank, extra wide bend, 
chemically-sharpened Ultra Point. Size range:  5/0 to 1/0, 1, 2, 4 Mustad Power Bite (ref 38104BLN) Specifications: Worm hook, Offset shank, forged, 1x strong, extra wide bend, chemically sharpened Ultra Point Size range:  8/0, 6/0, 4/0, 3/0, 2/0 SWIMBAIT HOOKS Mustad has been doing weighted swimbait hooks for several years, including one with an adjustable weight system, called the Power Lock Plus. This is a unique weighted hooking system which can be adjusted to change the swimming action — weight forward, weight backward, or weight centred. The same bait can swim forward, backward or downward without changing rigs.

Plastic baits are held in position by a special gripper inserted into the head of the bait. The point of the hook is inserted once through the belly of the bait. This allows the bait maximum freedom of movement on the hook and the bend creates a keel effect, much like a conventional offset worm hook, but this time the action is boosted further by the adjustable weights.

The fish-catching potency of this system was always obvious. The only limiting factor was the hook size and weight range. Originally, they were hook sizes 5/0 to 1/0 and weights of 1/8oz or 1/16oz. But now Mustad has expanded the range. Weight options have been extended to include 1/4oz and 3/8oz models and the hook size range now extends to 9/0. So the Mustad Power Lock Plus range can deliver soft plastic baits to many species, from flathead, bass, cod and yellowbelly right up to barramundi, snapper, kingfish and saltwater pelagics.

Anglers can view a video demonstration of the new Swimbait hooks in action at Mustad Power Lock Plus weighted Swimbait hooks (ref 91768UB) Specifications Weight    Hook sizes 3/8oz    9/0, 8/0, 7/0, 6/0, 5/0, 4/0 ¼oz    9/0, 8/0, 7/0, 6/0, 5/0, 4/0 1/8oz        5/0, 4/0, 3/0, 2/0, 1/0 1/16oz    5/0, 4/0, 3/0, 2/0, 1/0

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