Alton Jones is a name synonymous with success in the world of professional bass fishing. Jones is a former Bassmaster Classic champion and Angler of the Year (AOY). Add a few Bassmaster wins along the way and you have a man who's had incredible success throughout his career.
You'd think the most important things to a fella who fishes for a living would be his boat and motor, rods and reels, etc. Sure, they are right up there, but there is something simple, small and often taken for granted by many anglers that Jones values just as much. What is that you say? The fishing hook.
Alton Jones (Joel Shangle/BassFIRST)
For Alton, a recent introduction to Gary Bennis, the owner and inventor of the Zoneloc hook has changed how he looks at the first point of contact he and every angler has with a fish.
"I was introduced to Gary Bennis the owner of Zoneloc hooks," said Jones. "Gary is no newcomer to the sport fishing industry. He has some of the finest fishing floats available on the market with his company Rod-N-Bobbs.
"Anyway, this acquaintance introduced us and I was so impressed how thoughtful Gary was about the fishing hook. He shared his thoughts on how fishing barbs, though necessary can often be the culprit in tearing a larger hole in the fish resulting in added fish loss.
"He also shared his Zoneloc bend concept. It's this really neat little bend below the barb of the hook that helps lock the fish and fishing hook in the fish resulting in fewer lost fish. I couldn't wait to get my hands on some."
Excitement over a fishing hook? What? Why would such a legend in the sport get so jacked up over a hook?
"I've never been overly excited about fishing hooks," said Jones. "I just wanted a strong sharp hook. Then I had the chance to use Zoneloc hooks while doing some promotional work for Pradco. I fished a private lake and caught about 160 bass up to 5 pounds using Zoneloc hooks. It became apparent rather quickly we were on to something. I don't think I've ever had to use my pliers so much to remove a hook before. They really stuck the fish and helped retain them. I was sold.
"Something as basic as the hook is so important to your success. Sure, a lot of hooks are sharp and strong, but with the new bend, I believe you'll retain a higher percentage of the fish you hook. For me as a professional angler, that is the difference between a poor season and a decent one or a good season and winning AOY (Angler of the Year). I can't wait to use them on the Bassmaster Elite Series and at the Bassmaster Classic."