As part of my plan to get back to being an active angler (this is not a contradiction in terms...) I'm going to have a serious crack at single-hook pike rigs.
Treble hooks on pike traces have been the norm for as long as I've fished for pike (40 years or so), and there's no doubt that they work.
But I've had enough problems with trebles, including the rare deep-hooked fish (rare being the operative word - I've always hit runs early, subscribing to the argument that if you miss a fish by striking quickly, it was almost certainly a little 'un); and more regular practical issues like trebles getting caught up in the net and in clothing (and once, right through the nail of my thumb and out through the other side. While I was in a boat. In the middle of a Scottish loch. Alone...) that I've used barbless double-hook rigs for years - a decision I've had no cause to regret.
But double hooks are getting harder to buy these days, and I was also recently influenced by this persuasive article from Bury Hill Lakes, a premier predator venue which has made single hook rigs mandatory, to great effect.
Simply put - why would I not want to give this approach a go? The idea of easy unhooking; safer rigs; less hassle - where's the downside?
And yet even among my closest angling friends, the resistance to trying anything other than trebles is strong.
My buddy Chris, for example. He's resolute in his determination not to change, and this resolve seems to be founded on the idea that treble rigs are straightforward and don't need any rethinking of old habits - which is true of course. But I quite like the idea of "new", particularly when "new" = "better".
Another reason I like the idea of singles is that they will work particularly well with the kebab rig.
There's a bit of the chicken-and-egg about this: I'm not sure whether I like the idea of the kebab rig because it'll be easy to use with singles; or whether I like the idea of singles because they'll be easy to use with the kebab rig...
But I do know that on the venue where I plan to do the majority of my pike fishing - it's the only pike venue for at least 60 miles in any direction (Northumberland is a coarse fishing shit-hole) - and although it's not heavily fished for pike these days, the fish will have seen most bait presentations, and this one might well be enough to provide a real edge.
So that's the plan: I really see no downside to single hook rigs (even... errrmmm... double single hook rigs - two singles on the trace) and nothing but upsides.
From a practical standpoint, I'll have no problem with getting hold of suitable single hooks locally - including "circle" hooks.
I think these will work particularly well: they're explicitly designed only to hook up in the scissors of a fish as it's swimming away, and deep hooking should be all but impossible, because the point cannot catch unless the hook is turning into the corner of the pike's mouth as the fish swims off. They're popular sea-fishing hooks (maybe not in barbless, though: I might be spending some time grinding off barbs before I hit the bank) and I've already sourced a supply in my local tackle shop that look just the job.
The idea of a big pike, hooked cleanly in the scissors by a single, easy-to-manage barbless hook, is one which I think every caring pike angler should be able to appreciate.