TJ's Rod Building Class

According to, the fish hook is the 19th most important tool in mankind’s history.  Consisting of a piece of bent wire with a barb, it has allowed us to eat, without the danger of hunting or the hard work of farming.  Have you ever wondered just who is the foremost authority on hooks?

People seeking answers to questions about hooks go to the “Wizard of Wetumpka (AL).”  Who is he and why him?

TJ Stallings of the TTI-Blakemore Fishing Group is the go to guy with questions about hooks and their use.  This jovial and unassuming man has spent a lifetime studying hooks.  He is probably the father of the “bleeding bait” hook, those red hooks that are popping up all over the place in tackle stores and catalog outlets.

Stallings began his career in the hook business as a youngster by selling red jigs in his father’s tackle shop.  Customers who tried them came back for more.  Later, he reports a friend used a laser light in a large aquarium and found that the fish followed the red dot around the tank.

According to Stallings, fish in test tanks strike dark red more than any other color.  His Tru-Turn and Daiichi hooks have a red dye over a bright nickel finish.  He explains that the red does wear off but that is good.  As it wears, the combination of the bright finish and the red makes for more flash.

There are two basic theories as to why fish will attack the red hooks.  Red stimulates the predator fish into thinking the bait fish was injured or that the red amounts to a “gill flash” from a smaller fish that is frightened or excited.

It is possible for the layman to study fish reaction to red hooks.  Stallings recommends doing research by tying a crankbait with one red hook and count how many times that hook is deep in the fish’s mouth.  Then move the hook to the front or back of the same lure and do the count again.

Stallings recommends another test, Put out several poles with the red hook while rigging others more traditional hooks.  Then do the math.  A word of caution here in that Illinois limits anglers to two poles and lines in most areas.  You can get around that for this test by having more than one angler present.

The gill flash theory could account for the fact that predator fish tend to strike the head of a lure.  As a result, Stallings recommends installing the red hook on the front of a crankbait or jerkbait.  It is scientific fact that predator fish strike the head of their prey in an effort to swallow it without problems from the fins.

Regardless as to why, years of study in the laboratory ad on the water have found that dark red triggers a feeding response.  It just appears to TJ that the red indicates a feeding opportunity and that in turn creates the aggressive response exhibited by so many predator fish.

For more information about hooks, check out the following websites:



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  1. Wow. Thank you Don. Well done!

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