James Elam Takes Extra Care in Choosing the Right Hook for the Job - Major League Fishing
James Elam Takes Extra Care in Choosing the Right Hook for the Job
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James Elam Takes Extra Care in Choosing the Right Hook for the Job

Image for James Elam Takes Extra Care in Choosing the Right Hook for the Job
MLF pro James Elam is particular about which hooks he uses for each style of bait. Photo by Joel Shangle
September 17, 2019 • Mason Prince • Major League Lessons

An angler is only as good as the baits they use, and the baits they use are only as good as the hooks. MLF pro James Elam knows a good hook when he sees one, and looks for specific characteristics when choosing his hooks for the Bass Pro Tour.

Whether it’s a flipping, drop-shot, or treble hook, Elam is particular and detailed when he’s choosing hooks for all applications.

Flipping Hooks

Doesn’t matter if it’s a worm, creature bait, or crawfish, the Oklahoma pro has one particular hook in mind when it comes to flipping.

“I’ve gone more to straight-shank flipping hooks, even when I’m flipping with fluorocarbon,” Elam said. “If I’m punching or flipping with braid, then I’m always going to tie a snell knot to a super heavy straight-shank hook.”

James Elam likes to keep all of his flipping hooks in the same box and in their original packages so they stay sharper longer. Photo courtesy of James Elam

Elam prefers an Aaron Martens G-Finesse Heavy Cover hook by Gamakatsu when flipping. The eye on the hook is welded, so that means there are never any nicks or cuts in your knot because of the eye. Elam says that’s a huge factor for him because he’s not having to re-tie knots.

Drop-Shot Hooks

Elam utilized a drop-shot toward the end of the season at Table Rock Lake in Missouri and Lake Winnebago in Neenah, Wisconsin. He says there are a couple of things to look for when deciding on a drop-shot hook.

“The two criteria I look for in a drop-shot hook are the hook-up ratio and what bait I want to throw,” Elam explained. “If I want to use a 4-inch or a 6-inch worm, I’m going to use a Gamakatsu G-Finesse Swivel Drop Shot hook, because it’s light and really strong. I just Texas-rig the worm and the swivel has great action for me.”

Treble Hooks

As for his treble hooks, Elam has one particular element he wants when putting hooks on his crankbaits or jerkbaits.

Elam prefers a Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap Treble Hook Short Shank 2x Magic Eye on crankbaits like this Molix bait. Photo courtesy of James Elam

“Sometimes when you fish a crankbait or another kind of hard bait all day, you can start to get scarring on the sides of the bait from the treble hooks scratching it up,” Elam detailed. “That happens because the eye of the hook isn’t aligned with one of those three hooks. When I’m looking for new treble hooks, I make sure that I find some that are lined up perfectly with the eye to keep that from happening.”

Elam prefers a Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap Treble Hook Short Shank 2x Magic Eye. The Magic Eye is what allows the hook to not scratch the side of the bait because it lays perfectly underneath.


Elam says that organization is huge for him when he’s out on the water. Not only does it make it easy to find the hooks he needs when he needs them, but it keeps his new hooks in tip-top shape.

Elam knows the importance of organization when it comes to keeping track of gear. Photo courtesy of James Elam

“I like to keep my new hooks in their original package in a rust-proof box to keep them from getting damaged and rusting,” Elam said. “I like doing this better than having them loose in a box where they tend to get dull after a year of rough boat rides.”

After Elam uses a hook, he puts it into a separate rust-proof box with foam inside. He says this method prevents spreading the rust to the other hooks. If the hook is not in great shape when he’s done using it for the day, he’ll put it in the box and use it as a practice hook.

The Oklahoma pro reminds you to find the hook that works best for your situation, bait and fish before you head out on the water.