Usually there isn't a bunch of discussion among offshore anglers about whether or not they use stainless steel hooks. They'll talk about things like hook model and size, but the price of stainless steel hooks scares a lot of people into going with quality hooks in a less expensive material like cadmium.The actual hook that you use in your offshore fishing is a critically important choice. If you use a hook that is too big it can impede your bait or lure action. If you use the wrong shape, it can cause you to miss strikes. But what about the material it is made from?
I am a strong believer in the use of stainless hooks for most styles of offshore fishing. Tests done in the early 90's at the Univ. Of Maryland show that contrary to popular belief hooks that corrode, like cadmium style hooks, actually do more harm to a fish than good. These tests have shown that as the hook corrodes it releases toxins into the fish that will eventually kill most of the tested fish. In the same tests, stainless steel hooks that were intentionally put into a fish did not hurt the fish as long as the hook was not restricting the fish's ability to feed. If a fish could make this choice for you, I think he would prefer to take his chances with the stainless hooks. Environmentally speaking stainless is also the better choice.
How about the expense? On most charter fishing boats that you jump aboard, the mate will be sharpening corroded hooks while he is rigging his baits for the day on the way out. A big pile of corroded hooks each morning is an accepted part of saltwater fishing. Eventually the hook points on these hooks become so broad that they don't even sharpen well anymore. That is when they have to be replaced.
Today's stainless hooks come out of the package needle sharp. They last for many trips without showing any signs that they have even been in the water and rarely need even a touch up in the sharpening department. What that actually translates to in the expense category is that the stainless hooks last 3 to 5 times longer at only about twice the cost. The better bargain for your buck has got to be stainless!
It wouldn't be an objective article if I didn't also point out that occasionally someone will tell me a story about having a stainless steel hook break. I have never seen this happen but I can tell you that I always suspect that it wasn't necessary. I suspect that either the hook had been previously bent and then lost temper when it was straightened or the mate was just leadering a big fish like a gorilla instead of playing it out. Either way, I have to think that it was an avoidable problem.
The hook that I currently have had the best success with is the Mustad Sea Demon series. These stout hooks are rated 4X strong. They are laser sharpened at the factory. I have customers successfully using the Sea Demon series in the 7/0 sizes on 30# tackle drag settings. I usually recommend this series for 50# and 80# tackle because the drag settings are above 12# which is what I believe is really a good lower limit for using this series.
If you aren't already using the stainless hooks, you should really give them a chance. After a few trips with them I doubt you'll go back to the others.
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