Fisherman's 'bombproof' hook set to catch big players
Catching fish can be a frustrating exercise at the best of times.
Snagged lines, bloodied parts pierced by razor sharp hooks, and barracuda stealing the catch.
Just ask New Plymouth angler Tran Lawrence.
Lawrence was ready to throw his crew mates overboard after repeated requests to help tie their lines onto hooks, or unfurl tangled traces.
"But I couldn't chuck them over the side because they owned the boat," he said.
Squinting fiercely with narrowed eyes while threading a thin piece of nylon through a small hole on a rolling sea became more difficult for the crew as the years rolled on and their vision worsened.
Instead, the Vietnamese-born fisherman decided to invent an easier, faster, and less painful way to attach a line to a barbed fish hook.
Lawrence wanted a hook "bombproof'' to all ages and genders, and more importantly, not strain the friendship of his fishing mates when he berated them for losing a fish from a poorly tied line.
Over six months, while working shifts as a fireman at the New Plymouth Fire Station, Lawrence drilled, filed and bent pieces of aluminium into shapes of fish hooks.
Finally he fashioned an ideal shape with a hole drilled in the middle of the shank and a gap in the eyelet to thread the line through.
The line is wound around the shank '5-6 times' and over the tail and pulled tight so it slips freely into the eyelet.
An Auckland company was hired to use a laser to make a number of titanium prototype hooks for testing.
Lawrence and his mates, Kerry Bulman, Murray Bryant and Danny Waide, then set off from the Taranaki coastline to catch a fish.
It was a resounding success, Lawrence said.
"We've caught loads of fish with these hooks - snapper, kahawai and kingfish."
Hooks were tied onto lines faster and there were less arguments on board the boat.
"When we used the old style hook, we would have trouble threading the line through the eye," Bryant said.
"Tran would shake his head and grab the line and do it for us.
"It made him frustrated and cut down on valuable fishing time."
Lawrence said the new technique was similar to snelling a line onto a hook.
"The difference is that on our hooks there is the gap in the eyelet, whereas the snell knot uses a conventional hook with the eyelet enclosed," he said.
The new hooks and knot are also environmentally sound and make it less harmful to the fish when taking the hook out of the fish's mouth, he added.
As well the line strain is centred on the loops around the shank, and not the eyelet.
"A knot will weaken the line by up to 40 per cent, whereas this concept put no stress on the line and retained the strain by 100 per cent," he said.
Lawrence applied for a New Zealand patent on the design and hoped to get interest from overseas companies to manufacture and distribute the hooks on a wide scale.
The important element is that his mates are happier, he said.
"It has extended their fishing time, it's useful, quick and has the ability to go global.
"We're going to go fishing with the idea and see who will take the bite."
- Sunday Star Times