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

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