Extra Hooks Bring the Sting

February 9, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson


Stinger hooks can make a big difference in the amount of missed fish over an entire season

Stinger hooks can make a big difference in the amount of missed fish over an entire season

In one of the best Simpsons episodes, Moe uses a punch-absorbing Homer to relive his glory days as a boxer. But when Homer ends up having to fight the heavyweight champion, the all too Tyson-like Drederick Tatum, Moe searches through his bag of tricks to find the weapon that will help hapless Homer defeat the champ.

In the office of his bar – a converted women’s bathroom – Moe pulls out his secret weapon, a boxing glove which he has dubbed “The Stinger.” His old-school glove is wrapped in rusty barbed wire and Moe looks at it wistfully and says to Homer, “Dat ain’t legal no more.”

Luckily for anglers a different kind of stinger is legal…in most waters.

The stinger hook has quickly become an effective way to stop short-biting fish from robbing different lures of their baits and helps to increase positive hooksets. There are a number of stinger and trailer hooks employed by anglers in all realms of fishing, whether it is an extra hook on a crawler harness or a trailer on a spinnerbait. What follows is a look at how, when and where stinger hooks can help anglers.

Stinging Jig

Early season fishing usually results in light-biting walleye stealing minnows from the hook by a simple pull on the baitfish’s tail. The cold water makes for lethargic fish and they will not usually chase after an active presentation. Thus, weak-biting walleye need to be stung.

Attaching a two- or three-inch stinger hook to a standard walleye jig will help hook light biters. These rigs can be purchased at most tackle shops in single- or treble-hook varieties. Single-hook stingers are great for weedlines and for larger minnows, preventing foul-ups on vegetation or the line. Treble-hook stingers work well in sandy or rocky areas and provide that extra hook up percentage many anglers require.

Select a minnow that matches local forage and runs about one-and-a-half times the length of the stinger rig. Bury the stinger hook as far back on the baitfish as possible, usually in the area where the fish’s tail meets the body. Work the set up as you would any early season or post-frontal presentation, and feel free to set the hook earlier than if you were fishing without the stinger.

Multi-hook rig

The concept of a crawler harness, whereby a crawler is speared on three separate hooks behind a spinner and some beads, has become a standard presentation across the upper Midwest. This multi-hooked rig means more hook-points, and hopefully more hook-ups when trolled behind a bottom-bouncer or rock-runner.

Many times, while out fishing, a single hook spinner with a leech or half of a nightcrawler is sufficient. However, if light-biting perch, or picky walleye are encountered, another hook might be just the thing to land those fish.

Trailer Hooks help ensure a good hookset

Trailer Hooks help ensure a good hookset

A great in-the-field addition to any spinner is an extra hook. When fishing spinners with number 4 or number 6 hooks, a great add-on is another hook that is one size smaller, such as a number 8 trailer. The key is to have a hook that is similar in shape to the front hook to avoid any fouling of the set up, and for that all-important angler confidence that comes from a uniform-looking rig.

Using 8- to 10-pound monofilament and a clinch knot, attach the stinger hook to the main hook on the spinner. Clinch knots work best as they are incredibly strong and easy to tie in cramped spaces. The improvised rig can withstand several dozen fish, and its position is adjustable on the main hook to fit the size of the bait added to it. Now when a bait-stealing perch tries to take the crawler by the end, a stinger will put that fish in the boat.

Trailer hitch

Even the worlds of bass, pike and musky angling are not without their stinger hooks. Most spinnerbaits for bass and inline spinners for big toothy fish come equipped with a secondary hook. Especially in the case of hard-mouthed members of the Esox family, a second set of trebles aids greatly in hook placement.

For bass anglers, a second hook can be added to a spinnerbait to turn short-strikers into tournament-winning fish. Purchase a few hooks of the same bend and size of the spinnerbait hook, perhaps getting them one size smaller. Run the eye of the trailer hook over the spinnerbait hook and hold the trailer in place with a small piece of rubber tubing. This second hook will help with short striking bass but be sure the skirt and the blades are not fouled by it. If that is the case, reposition the hook or trim the skirt for a smoother retrieve. A spinnerbait is a great all around lure that can be employed shallow or deep; the trailer hook just adds to the appeal.

Think of these stinger- and trailer-hooks as the barbed-wire on your presentation. They deliver a one-two punch that will have all fish trembling before you, the undisputed champion…of our outdoors.


3 Comments on "Extra Hooks Bring the Sting"

  1. Jim willis on Mon, 28th Dec 2009 8:14 pm 

    do you attach your line directly to the stinger or do you add a snap to the end of the line? do you use the same size hook for both ends or a combination treble/plain hook? I’ve never used this method before but after missing a ton of fish this past weekend, I’m willing to try anything.

  2. alan on Fri, 12th Mar 2010 7:18 pm 

    i am looking for stinget hooks just like in this article but have not been able to. can you help me locate this stinger hook. thanks alan

  3. admin on Sun, 14th Mar 2010 7:08 pm 

    See this link:


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