Cutbait rig set-ups, which are the best for catching fish? That’s what we will discuss in this post. After all, there are many different hook types and configurations to choose from. But, day in and day out, which one is best? Let’s get started!

Singles vs. Trebles

Over the past several decades of running cutbait on our Lake Ontario fishing charters, we have deployed single hooks and/or trebles with cutbait. Both have had their days to not only get bites, but keep fish buttoned up. For certain, when a fish gets impailed by a single hook, they just don’t get off that easily. Our experience shows that j-hooks do stay stuck to a fish better than treble hooks, once set. But, here’s the caviot! A treble hook not only tends to get more bites than a single, but also tends to hook up more frequently. There are three hook points on a treble vs. a single point on a j-hook!

EWG for Cutbait rig Set-ups
Mustad EWG

Multi Hook Rigging

While in search of a better mouse trap, we have tried several if not all of the possible configurations possible to rig a cutbait set-up. These include, double single hooks, double treble hooks, a single j-hook and a treble, or “tournament tie”. The problem is, the fish don’t like this type of rigging when running meat. Every time we have tried a tandem rig of any sorts, the bites drop off significally. Sometimes, to the point of no bites! Multi-hook rigging , although tried over several seasons, doesn’t seem to work well with cutbait.

The Single Treble Hook Malady

Single treble hooks are our go to for cutbait rig set-ups! Plain and simple, they get more bites. The problem for many is keeping the fish hooked up after the strike. Let’s face it!. Landing percentage on cutbait rigs can be very frustrating. You will lose fish! Yes, you get more bites! But, landing fish is a different story. Over the years though, we have developed a system through trial and error to increase our landing percentage significantly, with cutbait.

Treble Hook Style And Size

The style and size of trebles definitely matters. Our treble hook style of choice is the Mustad EWG. These trebles are sticky sharp right out of the package. They have a unique hook bend that impales the fish much easier, and once done, stays stuck to the fish quite well. Size of the treble matters and it’s seasonal! During early salmon season while the fish are silver with a normal mouth configuration, the larger the treble you can get away with, the better. We run 1/0 EWG treble hooks. This allows us to carry more speed while trolling. The larger trebles hook up better, as well. As the season progresses, we down size our treble hook sizes. During staging time, we run treble sizes that are #2 and/or #4. These smaller trebles get to the corner of a kyped salmon’s mouth much better during this time of the year.

Speed Matters

As was previously mentioned, we run larger hooks when trolling faster speeds. The weight and size of the larger treble, slows the cutbait roll down. Typical of early season, trolling speeds are faster especially when mixing in spoons with the meat rigs. The faster the trolling speed, the sooner the hook gets to the corner of the fish’s mouth after strike, to engage and bury the barb(s). Later in the season during staging time, slower speeds require less weight to get the proper cut bait roll. Add to it a change in the fish’s mouth structure, a smaller hook has a better chance of finding the corner of the fish’s mouth after striking.

So There It Is

Treble hooks of the proper size are key. Early season or when trolling faster, the larger the treble, the better. As the season progresses into staging time, smaller trebles with slower trolling speed prevails. Single trebles are best. EWG trebles have out performed all others for us, season after season.