How to rig and fish with them
When I unpackage the rigs and take the hooks from the foam, the first thing I do is tie a double loop knot on the end of the rig for the sinker. This allows you to put the sinkers on and take off easily, whether it is to change weight of sinker, or travelling between destinations and saves having to cut sinkers off and retie them, where each time you end up shortening your trace. You don’t want to travel long distances with a sinker still attached to your rig and wrapped around reel as the sinker can swing and damage your reel or rod.
There’s a 15kg Black Magic barrel swivel at the top of each rig, and I tie my mainline directly to this. I only fish with braid, and I will tie a double at the end of my braid, at least one metre long, and this provides a stronger knot as well as further abrasion resistance from larger fish should their tail touch the mainline, or if a barracouta goes for your swivel on the way down.
Although I have caught fish without bait on these rigs, it’s certainly advantageous to use bait. Pilchard, squid, piper and any freshly caught bait (i.e. kahawai, barracouta, mackerel) is my preference when using these rigs. You only need to put the hook through the bait once, and you want to keep the point and barb nice and exposed (not buried in the bait) and also ensure there are no scales left on the point of the hook – especially when using kahawai. My personal favourite for these rigs is a cube of pilchard. This particular combination has accounted for many good snapper over the years and why change a winning combination.
When you are travelling, or even storing the rod at home, I have found the best way to do this is take your sinker off and put the sinker loop around the handle of the reel. With the hooks, hook them inside of each other and wind the trace tight. This keeps the hooks from catching on anything they shouldn’t, or damaging the inserts of your guides, or if left for a while, causing rust stains on your guides. The hooks used on Snatcher® rigs have a black or red coating, which provides an improved level of rust resistance, but you still need to wash the salt water off your hooks prior to storing them. This ensures a long life and prevents the tips going blunt over time.
When fishing the Snatchers® with recurve hooks, you need to avoid the temptation to strike the rod whenever you get a bite. This will often result in pulling the hook out of the fish’s mouth before it has the opportunity to hook in well. The best thing to do to maximise your success when using these rigs is to avoid striking when you first feel a bite. It can be very hard to resist, but as the fish continues to bite, slowly lift the rod up. This will then roll the recurve hook into the corner of the fish’s mouth and provide the best chance of hooking up solid. Once the hook is in, you can then give it a good strike to really drive the hook home.
I have also found longer flexible rods fish much better with the recurve hooks and have better success rates, especially when chasing snapper in the shallower water. The longer rods absorb a lot of the weight of the fish up and also provide a bit more give should the fish take a quick run as it tries to escape.