With the winter cod season well and truly upon us Planet Sea Fishing takes a close look at the Sakuma 543 Pennel Manta Extra hook and critiques it against a Mustad classic.
Anglers mourned the passing of the classic Mustad 79510 ‘pennel’ hook before its magical reappearance years later. With its in-turned eye, it was a benchmark; the hook of choice for the top of a pennel rig and beloved of cod anglers in particular. Any new generation hook pushing to fit the pennel slot is going to be compared to the 79510. So before turning attention to the Sakuma 543 Pennel Manta Extra hook, I’ll sacrilegiously drop in that while the old Mustad was/is serviceable enough, gripes persist.
First off, a bone of contention was that the 79510’s eye angled inward towards the point rather than tilting in the opposite direction. With the inward facing eye, it was widely argued that regardless of whether the line was taken around the shank to lock it in position, or if the hook was fixed with a whip-type knot, the outcome was that hooking became impeded as a result of the line being ushered along the inside of shank. Then there was the ‘bendy’ issue. Like the 79515 straight-eyed version, the bronzed hook was formed of timid wire and inclined to surrender its shape under modest strain.
Some rough ground anglers touted that as a bonus because if the hook snagged in rock or kelp, it would straighten rather than snap and often you could get the rig back, albeit worse for wear. Well there was another contingent of very good rough ground anglers that countered by suggesting if a hook would pull straight in kelp without strong encouragement then it might just do the same when holding a good fish. Finally, the old favourite wasn’t the sharpest of hooks and the point required attention before use. In the three key areas of design/shape, strength, and sharpness, the 79510 scored no more than 5 out of 10 in each tick-box.
Hook design and production processes have progressed since the 1980s when the Mustad pattern was most popular, but a dedicated strong pennel hook remained conspicuously absent for years until Sakuma introduced the meaty 543 Pennel Manta Extra to compliment the excellent 545 Manta Extra standard version. Flimsy and retro this hook is not. Made from unflinching steel that sternly resists being tugged out of shape, the PME will hold most anything UK shore and boat anglers are likely to encounter – perhaps with the exception of the odd porbeagle shark – and even then I wouldn’t bet against the hook!
Unlike the 79510 Mustad the 543 Pennel Manta Extra sports a preferable down-turned eyed that angles away from the point. This facilitates clearance between the bend and snood line when snell-knotted in place, and more efficient bait presentation and hooking in my opinion. Sharpness is uncompromising, while a generous gape and ample barb combine to provide excellent big bait presentation, good penetration and a firm hook-hold thereafter. It is perhaps a tad thick in the wire for some, but this is a serious hook for serious fish and not intended to carry off delicate bait presentation. The ‘fuller’ wire ably assisted the angle of the eye, wedges tightly within a piece of silicon or rubber tubing if such is used to help hold the hook in place.
A front line hook for cod, bass and ray, it also strikes me as ideal for heavy-duty saltwater flies the likes of which are used in Norway for cod above a pirk. Fans of the Varivas Bigmouth and Gamakatsu Aberdeen Wide Gape hooks will find the sturdy PME the ideal pennel partner. Big fish anglers countrywide put large faith in these hooks, but some report difficulty in sourcing them. Sakuma also sell direct to the public and all their products can be viewed and purchased through their website address at the end of the review.
Sakuma Pennel Manta 543 hooks come in 2/0, 4/0, 6/0 and 8/0 sizes, and are available in packets of 10 or boxes of 30. RRP for 10 packs varies from £1.85 – £4.30, while the 30 boxes retail from £4.40 – £11.25 for the biggest size. The powerful 543 PME is more than a match for the 79510 Mustad, and winter cod anglers should take the hook very seriously indeed. The 2/0 and 4/0 sizes are perfect for shore pennel rigs, while the bigger sizes are right at home for both uptide and downtide boat fishing.
Sakuma’s Pennel Manta Extra ticks the boxes
Design: Down-turned eye, generous gape, not offset, and well defined barb
Strength: Extra strong hook, that won’t spring straight under pressure
Sharpness: Clinically sharp, and drew blood within about 10 seconds of the reviewer picking them up!