|Brand/Model||Size||Cost per Hook||Welded Eye?||Keeper Type||Wire||Length||Gap to Shank||Gap to Eye||Lb. Force to Bend|
|Trokar TK-130 Flipping Hook||5/0||1.75||yes||shrink tube||.064||2.047||.790||1.356||8.03|
|Trokar TK-130 Flipping Hook||4/0||1.75||yes||shrink tube||.061||1.945||.732||1.287||8.00*|
*- best in 4/0 class strength/bend resistance.
4/0 – $6.99 per package of 4
5/0 – $6.99 per package of 4
(Reviewed for the BNF Flipping Hook Shootout: http://bassnastyfishing.com/bass-nasty-tackle-reviews/flippinghookshootout/ )
Lazer Trokar Hooks have a serious marketing plan with well known Bassmaster Elite Series pros such as Skeet Reese, Shaw Grigsby, Rick Clunn and Gerald Swindle swearing by them, and they come in some badass looking packaging. But are they all show and no go, like 70′s era muscle cars and decaffeinated coffee? Do Trokar’s TK130 series Flipping Hooks live up to the hype? My experience using the Trokar Flipping Hooks in the BNF zone says they pass with flying colors.
Lazer Trokar Hooks (a division of Eagle Claw/Wright & McGill) are manufactured in the USA, which is always a plus. My research indicates that the upgraded gauge wire they employ for their Flipping Hooks is made from Q741 cold forged high carbon steel, which has fewer impurities than typical industry standard hook wire and was created specifically for Trokar. It is then subjected to a heat treating process which tempers the wire and manipulates the molecules for additional strength but also allowing for some flexibility to eliminate breakage. The hooks are finally finished with a black chrome auto-catalytic plating process to reduce corrosion.
Trokar employs a sharpening process that they call S.S.T. to sharpen their hooks, which stands for ‘Surgically Sharpened Technology’. (interestingly enough, the name Trokar is derived from the medical term trocar: a sharp pointed instrument used for withdrawing fluid from a cavity, such as the abdominal cavity. The word ‘trocar’ has it’s origins in the French language, from the word trocart which literally means ‘three sided’ or ‘with three sides’.) In essence, the hooks are sharpened using a patented computer controlled machine and process. Each hook point is a tetrahedral pyramid constructed of 3 perfectly flat sides, and so has three cutting edges in addition to the point. This is somewhat similar to X-Point’s 4 cutting edges or Owner’s Cutting Point design. However, where the Xpoint and the Owner look similar to a modified Philip’s head screwdriver and the cutting edges transition smoothly into the wire, the Trokar is three mirror flat surfaces that transition more abruptly into the round part of the wire. The exact angles, bevels and geometric measurements of the TK130′s hook point and barb are a confidential part of their patented sharpening process (and unfortunately I don’t have the instruments to measure them). What I can say is that from both casual and close up inspection, the hook point itself is obviously constructed differently than any other hook point on the market that I could find, and is incredibly sharp.
Trokar advertises on it’s site and in it’s literature that it takes up to less than half the force for Trokar’s hook point to penetrate a test medium (that test medium being BoPet – biaxially-oriented polyethylene terephthalate, which is a type of mylar film) than other competing hooks/brands. I can believe this, as the Trokar’s are almost dangerously sharp, it takes only a moment’s inattention then tying a hook or unhooking a fish to penetrate the skin on a finger or hand. One of the issues regarding the Trokar hook points that I have seen brought up on numerous occasions in other reviews or comments in forums is that the hook points are so sharp (almost too sharp for durability’s sake) that the points roll over easily and therefore lose that incredible sharpness. I have personally not experienced this over the better course of 8 months fishing with the TK130, (and other Trokar hook styles). The only time that I noticeably rolled a hook point was in the bend strength testing that I subjected to all the flipping hooks in the Shootout, but even then, the diameter of the hook point is so small that it retained a large measure of it’s sharpness. In my observation, even with the TK130′s point rolled and blunted, it still was equal to and even sometimes sharper than other hooks in the comparison. In fact the Gambler K.O. Flipping Hook that I compared fresh out of the package to the TK130s that I used in the bend strength test that had been bent and blunted did not even come remotely close to the TK130 in sharpness. And to take it a step further, the point of the Gambler K.O. Flipping Hook that I used in the same bend strength test was unusable for fishing unless sharpened, whereas I would have had no problem tying on any of the TK130′s I had tested due to their continued sharpness had they not been bent out of shape.
Flipping hooks used to be just straight up J hooks with maybe a couple of keeper barbs manufactured/cut into the shaft of the hook wire to keep baits from coming off. Those barbs rarely worked well, if at all, and in the BNF zone, they would be overwhelmed by their first contact with any degree of slop. Trokar has again employed advanced techniques to it’s approach to it’s keeper, using precision molds, thermoplastics and co-polymers to create a keeper that they feel holds soft plastics better while reducing damage to the baits. I can attest that yes, the keeper on the TK130 hook, or B.A.R.B. as they have named it (Bait Alignment & Retention Barb) does keep baits aligned and on the hook through even the worst cover. Whether through lily pads, slop, stems, reeds, the plastics on the TK130 usually made it through unscathed. The TK130′s B.A.R.B. works almost too well however. For when a fish strikes, and you set the hook, I would say 8 times out 10 the head of the bait would be torn beyond any hope of reuse rather than sliding down or up the hook shank. For some reason this seemed to happen to softer, thicker styles of baits, like the Jackall Cover Craw in 4”, where it was a perfect 10 baits for 10 fish. I will say though that I landed each of those 10 fish, and that in the end, I find that ratio of baits used to fish caught perfectly acceptable, especially considering the availability of Mend-It, Huddlebond and other soft plastic repair glues on the market. I am of the viewpoint that first and foremost, you need to get the bait into the tough situations and locations to get the fish to react, and whatever damage happens to the bait after the fish strikes and the fight is on is considered acceptable, be it reusing the bait or losing the bait in the fight. So in this regard, the TK130 ‘s B.A.R.B. keeper design succeeds without a shadow of a doubt. The B.A.R.B. also never suffered any slippage, breakage or failure of any sort during hard usage, which was a welcome change from my experience with the Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Hooks’ keeper, which would start to slide down the shank after only a few fish.
The TK130 has a wide gap from hook point to shank and from hook point to eyelet that comfortably allows any thickness of soft plastic baits to be compressed upon a hook set.
Another point to consider when looking at flipping hooks is if the eyelet is welded. If the eyelet on the hook is not welded, there is usually a gap that creates two distinct problems. The first is that when using the modified snell knot with braid to tie to the hook, the braid can and will slip through the gap and compromise the knots integrity and inherent mechanical advantage. The second issue is that the wire at the gap tends to be sharp, and will cut into the braid, reducing the braids strength. The chances of either of these events occurring may seem remote, but I for one enjoy fishing in areas that challenge all aspects of my tackle on every cast and every fish, and even a single occurrence of these issues when hooked up to a monster fish in difficult cover can and will result in a lost fish, and is unacceptable. The BNF zone has no mercy! The originally released versions of the TK130 did not have a welded eye, but that was soon corrected and now all the current TK130 versions have the welded eyelet.
So in looking at the Trokar’s specifications and design we can see that they seem to have all the bases covered; a stronger wire, a sharper point, and a welded eyelet and a bait keeper that keeps the bait on the hook through heavy cover. So how do these disparate design elements come together as an effective tool when fishing heavy cover, it’s ultimate purpose? It works well, extremely well in fact. It has addressed as many issues that have plagued fishing flipping hooks as possible, made improvements midstream (welding the eyelet), and raised the bar for the other makers of flipping hooks. Which in short, means increased consistency in the presentation of baits to bass in tougher conditions, increased hookups, retention of hooked fish while fighting, less structural failures under duress, and increased landing percentages.
A lot of the negative hype regarding these hooks was frankly down to it’s premium price tag. Originally retailing at a steep $9.99 per package, even with all of their improvements and technology, it was a hard sell to the average angler who was used to paying $3.99 for a package of Gamakatsu or Mustad hooks, and could buy almost 15 hooks for the price of Trokar’s package of 4. I think that someone in Trokar’s upper management might have misread the burgeoning market for higher end fishing tackle like rods, reels, and lures and thought that with their premium product they could charge premium prices. However, combined with the economic downturn and a lot of competition in the hook market, this didn’t seem to be the case, however, no matter how above and beyond the norm they considered their product. On October 13, 2011, Trokar announced that due to increased production efficiency, advanced manufacturing methods, and different packaging, they were able to reduce the cost per unit of their hooks 30%, which effectively dropped the price to a wholly more palatable $6.99 per package. $6.99 is still on the higher end of the price range for flipping hooks, but it’s not the highest (that honor goes to the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flipping Hooks and Paycheck Baits Punch Hooks at $7.49) and in my opinion $6.99 now represents a very fair value for the amount of advantages that the TK130 has when compared to it’s competition.
Looking back at a full season of fishing with the Trokar TK130′s in sizes 4/0 and 5/0, I feel that Trokar were successful in bringing to the table a flipping hook that covered all the bases, and with the recently lowered price, a premium flipping hook for a price that represents a good value. Fishing with the TK130 in the BNF zone, I could rely upon it to work with the rest of my tackle to extract bass that were located in the heaviest of cover, and to perform reliably and consistently without failure through repeated exposure to those tough conditions. Using a variety of baits and rigs, from punching slop to pinpoint pitching into heavy cover, the TK130 did what it was hyped to do, hook and land bass, and did it above expectations, and did it for many, many, fish per hook.
If there were anything that I could suggest to the hook designers at Trokar, it would be making a super heavy duty flipping hook with the same attributes as a regular TK130, but even heavier and stronger wire to eliminate any doubts or contentions regarding its strength (it’s nowhere near as strong as a Cajun Tackle House Skull Dragger) and eliminate the notion that it is prone to rolling the tip easily due to it’s incredible shaprness. Also, I would like to see the keeper modified so that they still keep the baits solidly on the hook when presenting baits through heavy cover, but also allow the bait’s head on the hook set the ability to move and avoid the one bait one fish syndrome. Perhaps a spring type keeper like the Owner Flippin’ Hook uses would be an option.
Lazer Trokar TK130 Flippin’ Hooks ratings:
Trokar has tried and succeeded in designing a hook that addresses almost every element that is required of a flipping style hook in the BNF zone. Upgraded hook wire? Check. Welded Eye? Check. Keeper that gets the bait through cover to the fish? Check. Sharp and durable hook point? Check and check! The Trokar could improve on a couple of areas: the Cajun Tackle House Skull Dragger’s awesome bend strength is unmatched in any flipping hook and is undoubtedly the standard in terms of strength, and for the keeper’s propensity to destroy baits on and after the hook set.
The quality of these hooks is absolutely top notch, with perfectly consistent wire, points, keepers, and welds, from package to package and across sizes.
In typical BNF conditions (which are abnormally tough!), this hook held up admirably, with absolutely no structural failures, no slipped keepers, or broken welds. The tips do roll, but not easily, and even when rolled, are sharper than a lot of it’s competition. Nothing that a minute with a hook sharpener won’t rectify.
The Tk130′s keeper holds baits aligned the way you place them on the hook, the hook penetrated easily and the hook barb keeps the fish buttoned. I had NO lost fish on this hook.
Trokar’s black chrome plating process reduces shine making it subtler in clear water applications than regular hooks, and increases it’s resistance to rust, but it’s not absolutely rust proof. What hook is?
$6.99 per package/$1.75 per hook is in the upper end of the flipping hook range, but this hook is packed with features that make it’s higher price per hook worthwhile. The high grade of materials used by Trokar and the consistent, high build quality of the finished product make this hook durable and usable over a substantial period of time, and many fish. At it’s originally offered retail price of $9.99, an angler would have a tough choice between the obvious quality and benefits of 4 TK130′s in a package, or the price, which would equal 3 packages of 5 hooks of other brands. That would also have equated to a package of $3.49 hooks and 2 packages of soft plastic baits, which would have been a hard choice. Fortunately, Trokar has made the price adjustment and for me, there is no debate. $6.99 is a fair price and represents a nice value for the product.
Heavy Slop: yes
Grass Mats: yes
Designed specifically as a flipping hook, the TK130 should and does perform as advertised in each type of cover.
The Lazer Trokar TK130 is available in 3/0, 4/0, 5/0. 6/0 and 7/0 sizes. All sizes are priced at $6.99 and widely available online and locally.
The Lazer Trokar TK130 4/0 and 5/0 were tested on the following setups:
Rods: Powell/Tackle Warehouse Punch Rod 8′, Powell 764 Med Pitch Fast 7’6″
Reels: Quantum Smoke 100HPT 7.0:1. Quantum Smoke 150HPT 7.0:1, Deps Zillion ZDV
Lines: Daiwa Samurai Braid 80lb, Sufix 832 80lb, 50lb, 65lb, Sunline FX2 60lb, 80lb
Lazer Trokar website: http://www.lazertrokar.com/
Skeet Reese discusses the TK130
Mark Zona talks about Trokar hooks and shows the TK130
A Trokar promo video that features the TK130 at 1:50
How to tie the modified snell knot with Bub Tosh, the king of punching:
Stay tuned as this review will continually be updated as I continue to fish this hook in the BNF zone.