You buy a bait, remove it from the packaging, tie it to your line and make a cast. Everything should work as expected, right? Yeah, that’s generally how it goes; and as long as you’re selecting reputable products, you should expect reasonable teamwork between the piece that attracts a fish and the piece(s) that make them regret their mistake.

But that’s the standard deal — baits and hooks matched by the manufacturer for a predetermined performance. Nothing wrong with sticking to the playbook, but the savvy angler keeps his/her options open; and by that, we mean hard bait hook changes.

Indeed, crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters all arrive ready to play; but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what a little retrofitting can accomplish. Options are many, but let’s outline some of the key considerations.

Ups & downs

Going lighter or heavier on hooks influences sink rates and that’s particularly significant with jerkbaits. Perhaps you need that slow sinker to descend a little more slowly, or suspend for lethargic winter bass; maybe your suspending bait needs to reach a couple of feet deeper.

Bassmaster Elite pro Mike McClelland likes his namesake Spro McStick 110 for prespawn bass, but he finds the 115 floater/diver appeals to territorial females advancing closer to the nesting zone. The key here, McClelland says, is swapping the bait’s standard No. 5 Gamakatsu trebles with 2X No. 4s, which transform the bait’s action into a nearly suspending posture that allows him to fish the larger profile bait slowly through a targeted area.

On the flip side, say you’ve done well with a smaller profile jerkbait like a Spro McStick 95, but the fish drop a little farther than you can reach with the bait’s range.