By Alex Julius
In 2002, I had the pleasure of guiding Mustad’s Norway-based international Product Manager, Geir Sivertzen, on the NT leg of his fact-finding trip to Australia. Geir, a highly accomplished sportfisherman who is known far and wide under the nickname Dr Hook, had one all-consuming interest on this trip: fishing, especially for barramundi. It was, of course, all in aid of hook research.
Dr Hook’s visit (which I reported at the time in the Northern Territory News) came just after the release of the Mustad Signature Fly Hook range, Dr Hook’s major project in the preceding years. Dr Hook then turned his attention to other hook types, including trebles. And when it comes to trebles, there is no better teacher than the barra. After experiencing some exciting action on saltwater barra on the South Alligator River, Dr Hook declared: “If we can get it right for the barramundi, then we believe we will have a range of trebles that are up to the task for other sportfish anywhere in the world.”
Now, the wheel has come full circle. Mustad’s new Ultra Point trebles have proved themselves on barra. The Mustad Ultra Point Barra/Bluewater trebles, developed by Dr Hook from that 2002 visit and released in Australia in late 2007, were instrumental in winning the 2009 Barra Classic.
Wilson’s Barradise Boys, sponsored by L. Wilson & Co, took out the teams prize in the 2009 Classic on the NT’s Daly River. Team members were Jamie Ware, Greg Herdson and L. Wilson Sales Manager, Kord Luckus. According to Kord, the selection of Mustad’s Barra/Bluewater Ultra Point treble made the difference between success and failure for the winning team in the Classic.
The team worked out in the pre-fish sessions how the fish were behaving. The fish hit almost out of anger; ‘reaction bites’ and very hard to hook up on. As Kord put it, “In the end, it was all about conversion rates — turning strikes into hook-ups and keeping the hooks in the fish right up to the boat.”
From 21st place at the end of Day 1, the Barradise Boys managed to force their way up to winning position on the final day. “When we switched to Mustad UP Barra/Bluewater trebles, that was the breakthrough,” said Kord. “We went from a 25% conversion rate on the Wednesday to about 80% on the Friday.” The team scored 850 points and 955 on the last two days of the Classic. They finished with 3580 points, 360 points ahead of the closest runner-up team.
“The Mustad UP Barra/Bluewater trebles proved to be the right combination of strength, penetration and fish-holding power,” said Kord. “Mustad’s UP trebles, rated at 3X strong, proved superior to others rated at 4X or 6X trebles, which were not holding due to the point not penetrating properly.”
Kord was also impressed by the strength of the Mustad UP trebles (noting their forged bend). Many of the barra were hooked in the worst of the snags and had to be skull-dragged out mercilessly (one rod was broken in the process) but the trebles withstood the punishment.
“Hook strength ratings don’t tell the whole story,” said Kord. “The real strength of a hook depends as much on its design as on its wire thickness. The Mustad UP treble achieves greater real strength through the forged bend and having the right proportions in shank length and gape size. So we get a strong hook without too much wire thickness, and that means better penetration.”
The Barradise Boys used 6kg Wilson Territory Barra rods. Another secret weapon was Mustad’s amazing Steel for Teeth wire trace. The team used this instead of heavy mono leaders on the high tide when it was necessary to get extra depth out of their lures. According to Kord, the thin and supple Steel for Teeth achieved an extra 2 metres in depth.
MORE READY-TO-FISH RIGS FROM MUSTAD
Mustad has released more of its popular Flasher Rigs, including some new 2-hook designs. The Mustad Penetrator 2-hook Flasher Rigs will be available this summer and should find favour especially among snapper anglers.
As the name suggests, the new rig is based on the super-sharp Mustad Penetrator hook, which is becoming a favourite among snapper fishermen due to its amazing hook-up and penetration power. The Penetrators are mounted on two droppers and dressed up with flasher material to add extra attraction to the bait.
Limiting the number of hooks and droppers to two has several advantages. It complies with Fisheries laws in some states, which restrict the numbers of hooks in use, but it also helps the rig sink faster, creates less water resistance and makes baiting up easier and quicker.
Mustad Penetrator 2-hook Flasher Rigs come in a choice of three flash colours and in hook sizes 3/0 to 9/0 inclusive. All rigs are built on 60lb monofilament. The rigs are mounted on a special foam winder for easy wind-on and re-use.
Anglers who like heavyweight flasher rigs will like the new Mustad Snapper Flies Rig. This is a 3-hook flasher rig which comes in three hook sizes: 2/0, 4/0 and 6/0. The hooks are specially modified large-eye Mustad Big Guns, chemically-sharpened Ultra Point hooks which give great strength without too much bulk. All three sizes are made with 110lb breaking strain monofilament, giving the rig great strength and durability and making the droppers less likely to flap around and tangle when lowered and retrieved.
This summer, Mustad is also bringing out purpose-built whiting rigs. The Mustad Bloodworm 2-hook Whiting Rig is a ready-made over-and-under design rig, with one hook above and one hook below the sinker. It is built on two Mustad Bloodworm Ultra Point chemically-sharpened long shank hooks. This is a tried-and-proven rig in the southern states. Now, whiting anglers can rig up just by peeling one of these Mustad rigs off the specially-made foam winder and clipping on their sinker of choice. The Mustad Bloodworm 2-hook whiting rig comes in hook sizes 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. It is built on 15lb monofilament and is designed with King George Whiting in mind.
For those looking for a lighter option, Mustad also offers the Fine Worm 2-hook Whiting Rig, which is a similar rig design but built on 12 lb line, using Mustad Fine Worm hooks. The Mustad Fine Worm is an Aberdeen (round bend) style hook in fine wire gauge with an extended shank and two bait-holder barbs. It will hold all the good whiting baits, especially the delicate ones. Hook sizes in this rig are 2, 4 and 6.