One of the greatest inventions of mankind was definitely the fishhook. This innovative tool helped to mold civilization, establish cities and establish cultures. The technology of fishing provided food for multitudes for thousands of years throughout history. The hook was the first known tool made of metal, and its invention has put dinner on the table for thousands of years. Let us take a short trip through history and look at how this simple tool has evolved from a simple piece of bone to the space age advanced hooks on the market today.
Histories first account of a fishhook was discovered 22 feet below the surface in a peat bed in the valley of the Somme in France. It is believed to be more than 7000 years old. The crude but effective tool was called a gorge by archeologists. The gorge was spindle shaped bone that was notched in the center for the line or string made from animal matter could be tied to the device. A gorge would then be used to impale a piece of fish or meat and a fish would swallow the bait, as the ancient angler would then set the gorge into the fish’s mouth or gullet. The Eskimos of North America and the Bushmen of South Africa were still found to be using the gorge even in relatively recent times. In as recent years as 1846, The Canadian Ojibway people were still known to be using gorges.
The advancement of the gorge is seen in other cultures in other places on the globe, such as the Swiss Lake country. As the culture began to make tools with bronze they fabricated a metal gorge. A design was created of a straight wire with a bulge in the middle that the line was attached to. This type of a gorge was known as a bricole.
The next evolution history leaves record of was a slight curve to the ends of the gorge. This design later took shape into a hook as the tool evolved. At some point an ancient metal smith took the device to the nest level by fashioning the wire into an eye in the center and curving the arms of the gorge. Over time curve was more defined and the shape of a modern hook came to be.
The first recorded bent hooks are from the First Egyptian Dynasty dating back to ~ 3000 B.C. The first known curved hooks were barbless, but by ~1200 B.C. barbed hooks were discovered to have been used in Ancient Egypt. And since these early innovations, hooks have continued to evolve through the ages and through cultures, even references of fishing with hooks can be found in the Torah and in the Bible, books dating back over two thousand years.
Barbs gave the hooks an advantage to hold fish more securely just as the barbs of a thorn, briar or a quill from a porcupine holds into the skin. A effective design that appears to have been borrowed from nature. The ancient bronze hooks discovered, were made with a single barb, with shape and design as the hooks that we use today.
As the sport angling began to become popular in England after Dame Juliana wrote "The Bake of St. Albans" in 1486. The increased interest in angling as a sport created a greater demand for hooks commercially. In this era of history the hooks were nothing more than bent needles fitted with a crude barb.
This led to the production of fishhooks on a larger scale. Hooks manufactured for sale as a commercial product first began in England and in Scandinavia, as manufacturers competed to develop better products. Newly developed stamping machine that were actually designed for sewing needles, that stamped and drilled eyes into the needles was put in operation in England in 1826. Norwegian and Swedish fish hook manufactures, working in England around that same time took this technology to their homes and in 1832 the famous Mustad Company was founded at Oslo. Many of the processes that had been done by hand were now being massed produced.
The process was labor intense and expensive. The quality of the hooks was nothing like what was later seen. The process began with round steel wire being fed through a hole in a metal block and the end that would be cut was set upon the top of a second block. The distance between the two blocks determined the length of hook from eye to point. The distance between the blocks could be varied to produce longer or shorter hooks. A blade would then shear off the measured length of wire. The cut length of wire was then laid onto a steel block. At this point a chisel-edged tool was applied to the wire at a fixed point, Impact on the chisel nicked into the wire would then make the barb. The wire was then heated red hot and then cooled slowly. The barbed, blunt end of the hook was then placed onto a small anvil and a die was impacted to split the tip in two points. The one on the barb side was then filed off. The hook was laid on a block and bent to shape it. Different blocks were used to produce a definite type of bend. The eye was then formed on the blunt end of the shank.
The relatively soft hooks were then hardened by being out into heavy iron containers, and placed into ovens to be heated to a red glow before being dumped into oil. This made the metal hooks hard, but brittle at this point. The hooks then were heated in a heavy iron container filled with sand. When the hooks were at the right temperature they were then removed and cooled. The tempered hooks were then placed in a revolving drum that tumbled and polished the surface before they were lacquered. The hooks were then tested. Hooks that were too soft would straighten out and the hooks that were too hard would break.
The hooks continued evolving through the years as technology increased and manufacturers were able to modernize the process to mass-produce the hooks with productive and inexpensive methods. Automation of the process as well as the development of various lures and applications evolved the modern industry.
In the late 1920's Drew McGill and Stan Wright formed the Wright & McGill Co.,a quality fly company that brough change to the industry, as Drew McGill was inspired by the talons of an eagle that he watch land on a branch and hold on, while he was on a trout fishing trip in Colorado. He realized that the talons would penetrate and the hooks on his fly would not, so he took out his pliers and changed the shape of the hook and Eagle Claw Hooks were born, the first advancement of fishing hook design in hundreds of years. And Eagle Claw hooks has been a successful company since that day... then more recently the next evolutive Lazer Trokar…
Trokar sent their engineers to collaborate with makers of the sharpest objects they knew of, surgical needles. Using this acquired technology, and adapting it to their products, Trokar engineers developed and patented a geometric triangular point (thus the name Trokar) that would penetrate with speed and ease. The three edges of the point were then honed to a surgical precision sharpness.
2011 Lazer Trokar
This design with a low profile barb penetrates faster with laser precision and with almost no resistance, which dramatically improved strike-to-hook rations for anglers. Undoubtedly the worlds sharpest hook.
But they didn’t stop there. The wanted to develop not only a sharp hook, but also a hook that was as strong as it was sharp.
With advancements in line which made it stronger and knots hold more secure, the hooks needed to be stronger than ever before, so Trokar used purer, cleaner, higher carbon, cold forged steel, that added tensile strength, and with a bolstered shank diameter to add strength during aggressive hook sets.
The team then developed a unique heat-treating process that adds impact resistance as well as the correct amount of flex to prevent breaking.
And the result was a leap into the next evolution of hooks, taking fishing into the space age technology needed for competition angling. Trokar finished the product with a black chrome auto catalectic plaiting process to resist wear and corrosion.
Then by assembling a team of professional anglers, Skeet Reece, Shaw Grigsby Jr, Gerald Swindle, Jason Williamson, Brent Chapman, and Scott Martin put the product to the test and proved that anyone can set their hooks with half the effort of other hooks.
I will be honest with you, I was skeptical, and thought I would “stick” with my less expensive hooks, that is until a friend gave me just one Trokar hook to try, and I realized on the first hook set, the evolution of hooks had taken a leap through time.
I could not imagine using any other hook for competition angling. Give one a try and you will soon know the difference.