Don’t forget to stroll down the terminal tackle aisle at your local retailer too and stock up on essential VMC® hooks, snaps, weights and swivels.
When competing in the BassMaster Elite Series with VMC terminal tackle, Rapala & VMC Pro Randall Tharp hits the water with the sharpest hooks in the right sizes and shapes and jig heads with the right features and line ties. “If you go out rigged with generic gear, you could be just spinning your gears. Getting bites and getting fish into the boat are two different games. The advantage of VMC terminal tackle helps me land more key fish, without a doubt.”
Because Tharp favors flipping, pitching and punching heavy cover, it should come as no surprise that his favorite hook in VMC’s family of terminal tackle is the 4/0 Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook.
“I’ve probably won more money on this particular hook over the last three years than any other technique or other hook,” he told Outdoors First. “This is the one that 90 percent of the time gets the job done for me. … That’s how I love fishing.”
VMC’s straight-shank Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook features a double-spiked baitholder with opposing barbs that lock on softbaits. They incorporate resin-closed eyes that prevent line slip. A strategically placed keeper system exposes a 1/8-inch area between the eye and holder, allowing anglers to tie the perfect snell. The Heavy Duty Flippin’ Hook comes in three sizes: 3/0, 4/0 and 5/0.
Swinging Rugby Jig
Another of Tharp’s favorite pieces of terminal tackle is VMC’s Swinging Rugby Jig, which looks like a cross between a traditional round-ball-head jig and a football-head jig, but is more productive than either. “This bait excels where jigheads or football-head jigs get hung up a lot,” Tharp says in the Outdoors First interview. “It’s amazing what this bait will come through.”
Instead of being fused to the hook and static, the Swinging Rugby Jig’s head is attached to its hook eye by what looks like a second line tie. That creates a hinge effect that allows a soft-plastic bait to swing, bounce and carom erratically as you drag, hop or twitch it around rocks and docks, weeds and wood.
“There’s been three or four [Bassmaster Elite] tournaments just about completely dominated by this particular technique,” Tharp told Outdoors First, adding that the Swinging Rugby Jig is “the best particular bait” in the category.
What makes the Swinging Rugby Jig better than other baits in its category, Tharp says, is an offset extra-long-shank, extra-wide-gap hook. Those features “really increase your hook-up percentage,” he says,
Tharp fishes a Swinging Rugby Jig more like a crankbait than a “typical” jig, slowly reeling it along the bottom. “It literally gets down between the crevices and the rocks and just ricochets through there just like a crankbait would, but at a slower pace,” he explains. “And I think that’s why it’s so effective, and that’s why it’s dominated those tournaments. And it works well with just about any type of soft plastic you want to put on it.”
VMC Treble Hooks
Anglers who throw a lot of crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwater baits should stock up on extra VMC treble hooks in multiple models and sizes.
“As you can see, I’ve got quite a collection,” Tharp says in a video interview with Jay Kumar’s BassBlaster, opening a large box of replacement trebles. “New sharp treble hooks [are] critical to catching every fish that bites,” he says.
Switching out treble hooks dulled by use with new, sharp ones is quicker and more productive than using a hook sharpener for Tharp. And to save time, he doesn’t even use split-ring pliers. “I don’t like to take the time to look for them,” he told BassBlaster. “I just take my fingernail and slide it in that little crack there and I do about a quarter turn.” To see Tharp demonstrate his super-quick treble-hook replacement technique, watch the BassBlaster video at this link: https://youtu.be/TOsCFYByFmc.
Speaking of split-rings, VMC’s offerings in that terminal tackle provide a stronger option for anglers by, in most cases, multiple percentage points. While some competitors boast “stainless steel construction,” they’re often simply pairing a stainless steel ring with a brass body. Some competitor’s products are even made entirely of brass.
“The benefits of high-end VMC terminal tackle are clear,” says Tharp, a Florida resident who fishes for many saltwater species in the Bassmaster off-season. “Not only does stainless steel provide a smaller profile, it also supplies more strength and durability, and is not vulnerable to saltwater corrosion.
Boasting tapered ends to minimize line abrasion, VMC Split Rings are constructed of stainless steel with a Premium Black Nickel finish. Available in eight sizes, these tough-as-nails split rings are up to 38 percent stronger than the competition.
Stainless Steel Tournament Snap Swivels
Built to both eliminate line twist and withstand the most demanding conditions on the water, VMC Stainless Steel Tournament Snap Swivels feature stainless steel snaps, rings and bodies.
These ultra-durable snaps swivels are available in seven sizes and offer an option that is up to 55 percent stronger than conventional snap swivels. Come three or two per pack.
Stainless Steel Heavy-Duty Ball Bearing Tournament Snap Swivel
Featuring independent, dual-rotating top and bottom axes, VMC’s Stainless Steel Heavy-Duty Ball Bearing Tournament Snap Swivels eliminate line twist and are saltwater-ready with stainless steel snaps, rings and bodies. Welded rings add strength and performance. They’re available in five sizes and come 3, 2 or 1 per pack.
Ball Bearing Swivel with Split Rings
Featuring a one-piece brass body with dual individual rotation and an exclusive “ROBO” body design, VMC’s Ball Bearing Swivel with Split Rings provides a smoother, stronger and more durable connection than other swivels.
Featuring a premium snap that won’t pop or pull open, VMC’s Touch-Lok Snap is built from stainless steel with a Black Nickel finish. A revolutionary locking mechanism makes for easy opening and closing.
Touch-Lok Snaps are considerably more durable than the competition. They’re available in five sizes and up to 43 percent stronger than lesser snaps.
Constructed from stainless steel with a Black Nickel finish, VMC Duolock Snaps open at two positions, making them incredibly versatile and easy to use. Duolock Snaps are ready for action in seven sizes and up to 10 per pack.
Stainless Steel Rolling Swivel
With a stainless steel body and rings, VMC’s Stainless Steel Rolling Swivels eliminate line twist and are saltwater-ready. They’re available in 10 sizes, up to 41 percent stronger than similar products and come 10 or 5 per pack.
Line Tie Split Ring
VMC’s Line Tie Split Ring a dream for serious anglers. Its tear-drop ring shape effectively secures knots in place, while tapered ends minimize unwanted abrasion with lines and knots. Constructed with premium stainless steel and a Black Nickel Finish, this ultra-strong split ring is available in five sizes and comes 10 per pack.