The Great Aberdeen Hook Test

The Great Aberdeen Hook Test Jan 20, 2019 Recently, one of our Palmetto Fly N Fish members, Mark Fishburn Jr.,  asked a question ab...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Great Aberdeen Hook Test

The Great Aberdeen Hook Test

Jan 20, 2019

Recently, one of our Palmetto Fly N Fish members, Mark Fishburn Jr.,  asked a question about low cost, readily available hooks on which to tie some bass streamers.
Now, I usually stay out of, "which hook is better" discussions, because they often turn into a Chevy vs. Ford sort of exchange. Each person swears by their pet brand of hook and maybe we get somewhere - and maybe not.

But in this case, I went out on a limb and said, "Why not just use a large Aberdeen... not the puny little #10's, mind you. 
Get you some of the whoppers, because they get stronger as their wire diameter increases in size." 

I failed to mention that the relatively light wire and very sharp point of these hooks helps in piercing the tough mouth of a bass. That's a biggie, in my book.

Really, I only offered my two cents because when I started this warm water fly fishing game, I didn't know about the rules for hooks, and how I must only use certain hooks for certain things - but never those. 
Oh no, especially not those.
I used what I had, and they worked...I caught fish and was none the wiser.

Only later did I discover I had been a slacker, and doing it all wrong. 
Ignorance was bliss, I suppose. 

Weak Hooks and Bass
To no one's surprise, however, my mention of using Aberdeen hooks for largemouth bass streamers got some vigorous comments, many of which suggested that such hooks are too weak for bass.

Too weak? Well they're not forged and tempered, I'll admit that. But, I'd never had any bass complain. 
So, I disagreed, as I'm prone to do from time to time.

See, I reckon were talking about the average freshwater, largemouth bass here, which to my recollection isn't exactly a leviathan of the deep.

1 - 3 lbs. is about the average catch weight, for average fly anglers banging the shore weeds and docks. These are  what Buck Perry used to call, "tournament fish"..... get 5 and you might win the tournament.

If you get lucky and hook into a 3-6 pound fish still hanging around the shallows by the time you get there, well, we'd likely call that a trophy.

Fish in the 6-10 lb. class certainly do exist, somewhere, too, so that's a remote possibility on the fly. They're the stuff of legends and we all dream it'll be us that gets one...but we'll probably content ourselves with tournament fish caught off a fallen tree in three feet of water.

But, Pandora's Box was opened, now... and these questions arise:

"So, how strong a hook DO you need?"

"Can an Aberdeen in the larger size ranges actually work for a Mickey Finn or Poly Minnow?"

"Will the pillars of the earth collapse of you try it?"

To get something in the way of answers to these questions, I rigged a little experiment.


Abstract: to determine the failure point of a standard, 13 cent Aberdeen hook.


1 pkg. of 10, Eagle Claw Aberdeen hooks, size 1 @ $1.27USD

- 30 lb test line

- Luggage scale

It says "panfish"


What you get

The scale


1. Select a hook at random from the package and tie a Double Improved Clinch Knot to the eye.

2. Tie a Double Surgeons loop 18" above hook.

3. Affix line and hook to the luggage scale.

4. Tare the luggage scale at zero.

5. Weigh random stuff around the house.

(All weights in pound increments)


I started by taring the scale with no weight.
Then I grabbed the first fish-heavy thing I could find - an antique, wooden RC Cola crate. 

I hooked the test hooks' point into the crate, and lifting it clear of the table, free-hanging, I read 4.76 lbs of weight on the hook point and bend.
This was double checked afterward, with just the crate being weighed.
So far, so good.

And the hook held the crate. Really, the old crate felt pretty heavy to me; if that was a fish weighing that much, I'd be bragging all over Facebook about it.

Next, I moved to the kitchen and hooked into the bench at the dining table. I lifted one end of the bench a foot off the floor, placing 10.83 lbs of weight on the hook.

It held.
I don't catch many benches out on the lake, but this was a good omen.

"A Mans Got To know His Limitations"

- Dirty Harry Callahan

Now, to be fair, the hook had started to bend a bit at that weight. So that's where I quit.
I might have made it to 13 lbs if I babied the thing, but that's not what I wanted. I sought an outright indication of failure without any fudging, and I got that.
It was bending out at 11 lbs of static weight.

Its Not All Bad
But bending under pinpoint tension of this type might not be so bad, either,... if your fly gets snagged on, say, an underwater branch. 

As long as your leader and tippet can take it, you may very well pull that hook out of the snag. Then you can bend it back and go back to fishing.
Frankly, I'd be more concerned about that leader or tippet.

I can't count the number of branches and sticks I've hauled in, too, using those same, "wimpy" Aberdeen's.


NOTE: A secondary finding that came out of this test is that weighing house cats in this manner is not recommended. 

I found that within just a few seconds, the "average," 3 lb., indoor/outdoor house cat's mood changes from, "...pet me," to, "Hell No!" 
He then becomes keenly unwilling to participate in any more of these shenanigans.

Take it from me - don't waste your time. 
You'll end up bleeding, and the cat parades off, victorious, only to lick his butt, anyway. 


It should also be noted that all of this hanging weight was placed directly on the hook point, and supported by the bend only.

In a fishes mouth, the hook won't be forced to carry the stress directly on the point, only. It'll be cradled against tissue and bone, and the line may be carrying some of the stress, pressing against the fishes mouth, etc.

I made no attempt to duplicate this, as I was conducting an abuse-to-fail test of the hook bend and point.

The Spring Factor
An element I didn't duplicate, either, was the entire cushioning effect of rod - line - leader, and tippet.
Together these elements form a giant spring buffer - a shock  absorber, if you will - which takes up much of the stress of a hooked fish on the fly. I call it the "The Spring Factor."

This is a dynamic arrangement, one which gives and takes with the action. It's one of the main reasons people are able to land giant ass fish on very light fly tackle.

A Conclusion
So precisely how much stress does a hook point and bend suffer, under a catch scenario?

I have no idea. Not precisely.

However, logic suggests it isn't as much as is felt under a direct, static weight test like this, i.e., when these other elements are factored into the real world of catching on the water.

In my original comments to Mark, I threw out a challenge: 

If he had a five pound bass bend out a large Aberdeen like this, without anything else but the fish on the line (no weeds, not caught in a branch etc.), then I would buy him lunch.
However after running this test, I'm pretty confident in adding....

"And if that fish DOESN'T bend the hook and you land it, well, I like extra onions and pickles on my cheeseburgers."

Thank you so much for reading, and Tight Lines,

David Hutton

Subscribe, comment, and visit us on facebook at Palmetto Fly N Fish

Palmetto Fly N Fish ©2019

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Doggone Day

After all the foul weather, recently, today dawned bright, clear and warm.
There was nothing to do for it, but to take a drive, and we went to Dreher Island State Park.
Lori wanted to take some pictures, and thought the dogs would also enjoy a few hours away.
Well, it turns out dogs on a leash, and photography, don't mix too well.

Actually, if I managed both dogs, instead of fishing, the photography portion would have been better. But you cant expect me to simply not fish, can you?

What we did was split our efforts.
She got "Mooch," the small dog, and I got, "Sophie, the big Labrador mix.
I've leash trained dogs before, so I had her heeling and sitting pretty quickly. I could work the shore, with the dog by my side.
But Lori struggled with getting pics, while keeping a The Mooch under control in the process.

We've agreed that next time, The Mooch will stay at home.
The truth is, he didn't like it all that much, anyway. He's a complainer, and bitched like a teenager the whole time.

Some looks around the lake with the water at its lowest.

Deer signs are everywhere, and we got pics of several roaming deer. Dreher Island encompasses a large peninsula, and is a well-used, public venue. But deer trek around the place like they're the only ones there.

Normally under water #1

Normally under water #2

Normally under water #3

Normally under water #4

Normally under water #5

Stinky Rotten Turtle Remains
The dog loved it; Lori wasn't thrilled as we two.

The Worm

No fish were caught - but I did slip into the mud once.

Thanks for looking. Don't forget to subscribe, comment, and visit us on Facebook at Palmetto Fly N Fish,


Palmetto Fly N Fish, © 2018

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year Begins - 24 Hour Fishing Success!

Last Day, 2018: I wanted good year-ender, but the fish had other ideas. No fish caught.

First Day, 2019: 5 fish in hand, in a short time, and 3-4 strikes that failed hook up.

Location: Fly Lab II, aka, small pond
Region: SE United States/South Carolina Midlands

Water conditions - dingy clear
Weather conditions - overcast, occasional drizzle
Stabilizing after several days of rain, and unsettled frontal weather
Air temps - mid 60's
Water temps - cold

Structure - on drop off to bottom 

Tackle and Method
Medium light spinning outfit
4# test
4" soft plastic worms, in blue, electric blue and black shad
Method: finesse weightless

Target: 1-2 lb. largemouth bass, aka "rocket bass"
(I call em rocket bass because they 'rocket around' and jump out of the water several times when hooked) 

New Years Pond, High Water

Both days, the method was the same - small finesse worm on light line, weightless on the drop. 
One day nuttin' - the next, score!

I like this weightless finesse method. My fly angling friends will be happy to know it is pretty much the same as fly fishing a wet fly. You cast, then hold the rod tip up at about a 45° angle. This lets the bait fall for the countdown on a tense line - not tight, but hanging on the drag of the line itself. 
As often as not the fish take the lure on the initial fall, so you have to be ready.

If they don't take it, you let it settle down to the bottom and take up the slack line without moving the worm. After a count of about 10, raise the rod tip with a sharp twitch to get the worm off the bottom, then let it glide back down again on the tense line. Add a few "strips" and twitches of the rod tip along the way. Easy does it - it doesn't take much in Winters' cold water. 

I call it a Lift and Glide retrieve.

Sometimes the fish take it on the bottom, once it has settled - I can only guess these fish were following it on the initial fall, and waiting nearby. But this is not the usual way.
More often, they take it after 2 or 3 of these lift-glide cycles, as it drifts back down.
I fish it all the way back, too.... I've had strikes within a few rod lengths of my position.

So, since this is so much like fly fishing, well, ... you folks can stop sending me hate mail for betraying the fly fishing fraternity by flirting with ....{{{{ gasp }}}}, worm fishing!

Airetail Action Worm, Electric Blue


The Airetail worm was a standout performer. I got hits on other worms in dark blue, and black/shad. But once this one started catching the fish, I never took it off. And it kept on giving; battered as it was, it hung in there.
And I like the color - a light, clear purple, heavy with blue metallic flake.

The Airetails are unique in that they have an air chamber molded in that helps the worm stay up and above the bottom at rest. I've always liked this idea, and cant understand why these aren't more popular than they are. They're a little pricey, compared to Walmart, and not widely available. Combined, this probably keeps them out of the limelight.
I  only know of one source: www.f'ishcandy.com 
And this site seems a little quirky, at last visit.

I hope I can get more....


The extra wide gap hook (EWG) has to become a standard in this worm-work. 

I attribute the several missed fish to the straight shank Sproat hooks I had pre-rigged in the worms. The hooks had been in the worms from several years ago, when my last, half-assed attempt at soft plastic worm fishing went bust. 

These hooks were wrong back then, just as now, because of their hook gap... or, rather, lack of it. This is something I didn't know much about back then. And I didn't really think about it this morning.

"They'll be alright," I said to myself. "They're plenty strong, not rusted, and a hook, is a hook. Right?
Don't worry about all that 'bass hook' jazz." 

Maybe my resolution for 2019 should be to stop talking to myself. Or, at least stop listening.

The problem with this too-small hook gap is that this condition doesn't allow the worm to compress and move out of the way on the hook set... the worm fills the hook gap, instead. 

This means you set the hook, but the point can't push free to stick into the fish's bony jawbone. The fish has a mouthful of soft, chewy worm, but you end up snatching the thing from his mouth - that's it.
After three times, I got the idea.

NOTE: EWG and offset worm hooks from here out.
As Mike Head would say..." If it aint broke, don't fix it."


I've found that 4 lb soft mono is not a good choice for this work of catching small pond bass. It is thin, so it doesn't have much water resistance. But its a little too light and wispy and sometimes gets into trouble with spooling casting these relatively weightless baits. I'm gonna switch it to a 6 lb mono, and add a fluoro leader.


I got bit on nearly every cast, though....until about 10AM.
Then I had to work in fan cast style, and quarter-section the drop-off in 45 degree angles.
But, such a change from the day before. What a difference 24 hours makes.

We have a few more days of rainy conditions and mild temps this week, and a clearing session on Saturday. With luck, late Saturday and Sunday will be another good opportunity.

Tight Lines,

Don't forget to subscribe, comment, and visit us at Palmetto Fly N Fish

Palmetto Fly N Fish, ©2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Water Up, The Angler Is Revealed

Water Up, The Angler Is Revealed

Dec 23, 2018

Location: Kelly Ane Williamason Pond, aka "Fly Lab II"
Conditions: Bright, high skies, sunny
Wind: light, WNW
Temperature -  
Air: 50's
Water: Cold 

  • 7' Shakespeare "Wild Series" light spinning rod 
  • 2500 size, 1 bearing, South Bend reel
(One bearing? What the heck is that?)
  • 6# test Mr.Crappie, "Camo" monfilament

Tactics: Silent Stalking Weightless Finesse Worm 

With the passing of the recent storm fronts, we're looking at freshened, cool conditions for the next 5 days. 
This means mild day temps and stabilizing atmospheric conditions, both of which improve the chances of meeting with some willing fish, even in winter. 
I was hopeful.

My usual hangout is nearby power reservoir, Lake Murray, but it is earning its nickname right now - "Lake Murky." 
Recent rains have turned the water to turbid soup, and the level has been severely lowered for their six year maintenance program. 
So I opted to visit Fly Lab II, aka, Kelly Ane Williamason Pond.

The fact that the pond belongs to my neighbor and is only 100 yards from the back door is a bonus!
Thanks to Kelly for the opportunity.

As The Worm Turns *

This is what happens to a "weedless" worm that gets snagged. I don't know what it hung up on, of course, but I had to go to the straight-line-pull-and-pray method of release. 
It came loose, but as you can see, the worm was worse for wear. 

This is a red / black fleck Zoom 4" Trick worm on a 1/0 Tru-Turn worm hook. 

* And who doesn't like to say, "... as the worm turns?"

High Water

Here you can see how far the water in the pond has risen with all the rain we've had lately. 
The yellowed, stick-up weeds you see in the back were 6 feet from the waters edge, high and dry just a few weeks ago. 
Now the water is all the way up into the long grass and the pond has risen about 5 feet overall.
This brings a lot more open water to the fish, giving them maybe 50% more surface area. 
It also increases the depth significantly. All in all, this has probably doubled the total water available to  them. This bodes well for future recruitment, I hope.

But, with more room to run, it is harder to pinpoint them. 
Today, though, I finally found a school of bass in a south-facing, back corner. 
The blue skies and bright sun had their effect back in there, and the water was undoubtedly warmer than the rest of the pond. 

I was slowly working my way back, one cast at a time. Its a placid world in the small pond, and you can't just crash around like a baby elephant.
This ain't "power bassin' at the big lake" - you have to move deliberately and with care. "Stalking" is how I think of it.
I had received one strike along the way, for my trouble, but it didn't result in a solid hookup.

But, eventually, I got close enough to the corner. 
I sent my my first cast back towards a little inlet in the weeds - and the place erupted in a boil for 10 yards around!

Previously languid, sunning fish were frightened by a hefty worm falling from the trees, I guess.
They scattered in a rush, and I figured at least three to five fish were there.

"Well, it makes sense they're back there. Its warm and calm. Now I know...," I muttered to myself.
Good anglers talk to themselves, by the way; don't let anyone tell you different.

And, warmed up by the sun, they didn't miss their chance at a worm falling on their head from the trees.... I hooked up with two more fish from that corner before the commotion drove them away.

A Study in Grass

I had gotten a line tangle along the way, as often happens when light casting on a spinning rig. I stood there at the waters edge, juggling line nippers, rod, camera.... and this picture was captured. 
Now that I see it, I like it and have made it my phones new wallpaper.

Fish at the Edge

This one was waiting for me to get the camera-phone out. 

Camera phones. What is it about these damned devices?

You use one to take a picture, then get it switched into standby mode and secured in your pocket, to await the next photo. So far so good, right?

Then, when you catch a fish and have it subdued, you pull out the camera-phone....

And you find the thing has gotten into some whacked out mode that's not even close to how you stowed it. 
You spend the next 30 seconds trying to get the shot.
  • "Careful - don't drop it!" you shout.
  • "Watch out! Don't step in that ant pile!"
  • Agggh! My fingers are wet and the buttons don't work!"
  • "Oh crap... the fish is getting away! Grab it, quick!!"
  • "There, now my fingers are dry....Hey, I didn't touch that #$&^% button; why did it do THAT!?"

Fortunately, the fish was patient and I was able to get things in hand and get the shot

Hooked Deep

I crushed the barb on these hooks, so I was able to extract the thing without too much stress to the fish. Its a hazard one faces when fishing weightless worms; fish sometimes pick the thing up gently, and gobble it before you know they are there. 
And since I'm not a guru of worm fishing, with a cosmic connection to the fish, this is usually a distinct possibility. 

On the other hand, a deep caught hook means the fish is unlikely to throw it, so it's something of a back-handed benefit.

With a crushed barb, though, I take much of the worry out of extraction and release if the fish gets hooked down in its gullet.
So I do it.

The Angler, Hisself

While I was fooling around with the camera-phone early on, trying not to drop it or step on the ant hill, I managed to snap this pick of myself in flip lens mode. 

I was surprised when I first saw this...

"Who the hell is THAT creepy old fart?

How did he get in there?"

Ooops, the answer became obvious.

Now some guys would reject such a pic, and delete it immediately. 

But I'm embracing it. 

You can't undo the moment and you either own it like a boss, or, well... there is no other choice.

"I yam, what I yam"

- Popeye The Sailor

Thanks for reading and Tight Lines,

Go ahead and comment, subscribe, and join us on Facebook: Palmetto Fly N Fish


Palmetto Fly N Fish ©2018