I am a firm believer that the addition of a stinger hook to an angler's presentation can make or break the day. I have been fishing many times and caught the majority of my fish on the stinger only. Would the fish had been caught without the stinger? I can't tell for certain but I will continue to tie one on when over half of my fish this spring were "stung".
The use of a stinger hook (check state regs first guys.... Michigan allows them/don't know about others) can only help your presentation year round but I primarily utilize them in the spring when the water temps are cooler. During this time of year, the fish are more lethargic and "light bites" are more common. The stinger hook helps put the light biters in the boat.
So what is a stinger hook? A stinger hook is basically a small treble hook that is on a short amount of line that you attach to your jig or most commonly the main hook of your jig. Some jig manufactures make jigs with a second hole for a stinger to be tied but I prefer the main hook version myself only because they are cheaper. In honesty, I haven't tried the type that tie to the hook but I would rather pay fifty cents for a jig without the frill of the added hole.
Stinger hooks can be purchased or can be made up at home before the trip. Purchased stingers are obviously more convenient to use but you will save money tying your own. The stinger hooks you can purchase in the store vary but I prefer the ones with the wax on the opposite end of the line from the hook. This makes adding a stinger hook to your presentation very simple even when you are on the water.
The homemade versions can be as easy as tying a treble on to your main line with another piece of fluorocarbon or as advanced as the "hot-wired" version made popular by a local Detroit river fisherman. I have tried both and the hot-wired version takes a little too much time for me but I have had success with the simple version. This version can be a pain though especially if you try it on the water.
Advantages of using stinger hooks- This one is pretty obvious. The more sharp things you have in the water the better your odds are of hooking fish but why does it work? Stinger hooks work because of the way walleye inhale their prey. Search for videos on-line of walleye biting a lure and you will see why. A walleye can suck in and blow out your lure so fast you might not know it. This is where the stinger comes in.
My theory is that as the fish spits back out the lure the stinger hooks them on the way out. This is a very beneficial thing especially when you are vertical jigging. Most anglers that vertical jig use heavier jigs than when pitching jigs. The theory is that the lighter the jig the easier it is to hook fish so it makes sense when using heavier jigs you will miss more bites.
Disadvantages of using stingers. Sounds like a no-brainer until know didn't it. Although using stingers is definitely the way to go, there are some disadvantages to using them. The first one is the price. By adding a store bought stinger, you could be adding up to a dollar to a presentation basically doubling the cost of jigging.
Adding an extra hook to your presentation will catch more fish but it will also catch more snags. You definitely won't be seeing me using a stinger in the Trenton Channel but I am a cheapskate. To overcome the snag issue, some angers stick the stinger hook into the body of the plastic bait. This probably helps but I feel it throws of the natural way the plastic was designed to fish. I will utilize this tactic however when fishing a snaggy bottom.
Even though there are disadvantages when using stingers, I always make sure I have some in the spring. If you haven't tried using a stinger hook before, I strongly urge you to try them. Like I said in the beginning, they can make or break your day.