Posted by: Tom Keer
December 22, 2011

Tom Keer

Split Rings

Looking for a fun project this winter that will set up a successful spring fishing season?  How about changing out your hooks?

Lures with rusty trebles may hook fish but often times they don’t land fish. A few easy steps will help you change your corroded hooks, many of which you may have sharpened-to-the-bend. The split rings are the link between your iron and your lures, and there is a fast and easy way to change ‘em up.

-Buy a pair of split ring pliers. Invest in a good pair. Cheap brands bend easily and only frustrate your project. Split ring pliers will be one of the best purchases you make as they make the change up easy.

-Get a variety of sizes of split rings and trebles. It’s important to match your split rings and trebles to the size you’re going to replace so that they swim properly. Split rings run from a small size of 1/0 to an 8 and they hit every number in between. Using a size 2 split ring with a
3/0 treble means that your lure won’t swim properly and you won’t get fish-catching action.

Consider your split ring: Split rings are either double or treble rings. The treble rings give you an extra wind of stainless steel which adds fighting strength when you have a big fish on. Double rings are appropriate for most freshwater applications; treble rings are preferable for the salt.

Pinch the split ring with the point of your pliers. Once the end of the ring is open, slide the hook’s ring eye into the gap. The pliers can then be used to rotate the split ring around the hook until it is off.

Replace with a new hook. After you have matched your hook to your plug and have it in place, make sure to sharpen the points as even new-out-of-the-box hooks are dull. A Mill Bastard file gets ‘em razor-sharp.

Replace troublesome rings. Add water and air to metal and you get corrosion. Even split rings can rust, and some might need replacing so your lure will swim properly.

Add split rings to plugs that don’t come with them. Many lures come with split rings but others do not; I add split rings to plugs
that do not already have them so that they swim well and are easy to maintain.

Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New  England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at or at

The following two tabs change content below.
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits. When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters. His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011. Visit him at or at            Find out about the rest of Take Me Fishing Blog Authors.

Latest posts by Tom Keer (see all)

Article Rating:

0 responses to “Split Rings”

  1. barefootwt says:

    Cool! Thanks!

  2. Wdstk3 says:

    I don’t use plugs much but I do use the spinner rigs I build and I like to run “tandem” set-ups especially when using a trolling fly (Muddler, Streamer, etc.) behind them. The snap allows for articulation between the lure and the fly especially if the fly has any “swim” action at all. See some examples here:
    I can also change from a fly to a hook or to a small spoon like a Dick Nite, Lake Clear Wabbler, etc., without changing the whole rig. Changing hooks is important after being lucky enough to getting loose from a snag. A snag will dull or deform a hook point in a heartbeat and the hook is readily changed using the snaps.

    • Tom K. says:

      The streamer behind the spinner and beads looks like it would swim well. I’d suspect that since the fly is moving that hook sets are all in the mouth. That said, have you ever lost a fish to the snaps coming undone (usually with a bigger fish and an aggressive strike)? Think pike, muskies, bluefish, etc. and thanks for sharing, it looks like a good solution for a number of applications.

  3. Wdstk3 says:

    I’m leaning more toward using #1 or #2 duo-lock wire snaps…sometimes easier to work with than the split rings.

    • Tom K. says:

      That’s an interesting approach, and thanks for sharing. I wish I could add some information about that process, but I’ve never tried a snap in place of a split ring. Anyone else ever try it? If so has it worked?

      I think that there are two really important objectives that need to be satisfied. One, the lure needs to swim properly and two, it’s gotta hold fish. If the snap allows for both then it’s a keeper!

Leave a Reply