Why did we develop new titanium alloy hooks for our gaffs?
Our customers and supporters have come to expect cutting edge technology and “pushing the envelope” from us. The initial genesis of titanium prototype models of our patented gaff hooks came as we did displacement calculations with our stainless steel hooks and gaff handle designs and realized that our gaffs with the needed diameters for stronger hooks made of stainless steel would no longer float without some sort of cheap, expendable foam grips added for significantly more water displacement on the product. That would go against our pedigree. Our pedigree isn’t to use bigger or fatter horses, but instead to use lighter and faster ones! The larger prototype hooks made of heavier stainless also made our gaffs feel extremely out of balance, or “hook-heavy” and much like the gaffs on the market that inspired us to develop our gaffs in the first place.
We approached the problem with grade 2 titanium, but, being 1/3 the strength of the 17-4 stainless we had been using, we couldn’t gain any weight loss without a significant loss in strength. We would be taking one step forward but two steps backwards with ordinary titanium.
By-the-way, our original carbon fiber gaffs used 316 stainless hooks sourced from a since-popularized source. What we began to experience was warrantying the hooks more so than our handles, and this became a more and more obvious deficiency- relative to our carbon fiber laminates and how we would eventually improve their strength even more.
We take our lifetime warranty more seriously than we probably have to- we basically just ask if you felt that a failure was our fault. 9 of 10 people will be very honest and explain a green fish or going too deep followed by a hard hit on the boat’s chine. The vast majority of our warranty repairs or exchanges are from exactly that type of situation- where no gaff could have survived- or been held onto by its wielder! This all being said, our warranty and the needed durability of what we put into your hands – to do whatever you’d like to try and do – has more influence on our designs and assemblies than anything else.
So, as we began looking at the much stronger, but painfully difficult to machine and process 6Al-4V titanium alloy material as a potential solution, we heard two stories of giant bluefin tuna pulling our gaffs and harpoon darts down out of crews’ hands and fading into the deep blue to not be seen again. We knew the challenges had to be overcome not only with the strength and durability needs but also to keep the weight and size of our gaffs down. Accurate, fast placements with deep penetration and unquestionable strength are what had been completely missing from our community in our minds. We forced through the engineering, machining, and processing (both chemical and mechanical finishing and polishing) obstacles and made the titanium 6Al-4V alloy work.
Now, we have everything ranging from a T1 gaff hook weighing only a tenth of a pound being used even to move around 200lb tuna from Venice, LA charter boat boxes to dock carts, and our T5 titanium alloy hook weighing LESS THAN our old 4″ 17-4 stainless steel hook but more than double the strength because of how much more material can be used at a given weight. Why do we care so much about weight? Well, besides knowing that weight has so much effect on how accurate your placement is, remember if it doesn’t float, then it’s a tough one to stomach when it leaves your hands in that fish that wasn’t quite ready to die. We understand what it’s like to lose lures, terminal tackle, and even 50 wide leverdrag combo’s during a trip. (have you ever broke a rod leash?!). Why have something as prone to loss as a gaff not capable of floating?
You can say the “work” was worth it as we now have a workhorse of a gaff hook. As we learned to work the titanium alloy, we started to realize how much potential there was for our smaller gaffs as well. A few ounces are huge when it’s extended out 8, or even 12ft away from your hand! We now have multiple smaller size options that are all fantastic at much more than people realize until they’ve seen them in action. We’ve revolutionized it all. Sorry – NOT SORRY!
How much lighter is titanium vs. stainless steel?
Our titanium alloy and original 17-4 stainless hooks are identical, geometrically, but the titanium alloy versions are 40% to 50% lighter. If you don’t think a few ounces matter, try holding up the differing weights at the end of an 8ft long pole for just a few seconds.
Benefits of a lighter gaff hook:
- less fatigue
- less likely to have rushed shots
- faster response
- more accuracy
- less wasted meat
- less tournament blood loss
- better control of the fish
How strong are the titanium hooks?
Our titanium hooks are not plain titanium but titanium alloy. Our titanium alloy hooks are made of a type of titanium called 6Al-4V. The yield strength, i.e.: the amount of force needed to permanently bend it, of this alloy is 130,000 psi. Our stainless gaff hooks were made from 17-4 stainless steel, which we polished and passivated before attaching into the carbon fiber handles with high strength adhesive and composite insulator bushings in order to bring any corrosion and staining to an absolute minimum (but impossible to totally eliminate without steady upkeep). 17-4 stainless steel has a yield strength of 110,000 psi. 316/316L stainless steel that many other gaff hooks are made of has a yield strength of 30,000 psi. Coincidentally, pure un-alloyed titanium, which has also been used for gaff hooks occasionally, has a yield strength of just 40,000 psi. We are literally using material that is 3-4 times stronger. Similar is also true of these materials’ hardness. With the 6Al-4V, a sharp point remains a sharp point, period. The reason mass produced gaffs do not use the materials we do is because doing so is very difficult and expensive. These hooks simply aren’t for everybody. Some people are content buying a new gaff every few trips, and some people want to buy one gaff and be done with the gaff shopping. Some people want to rely on a tool without any doubts, and some people actually enjoy having to work on their tools to get them back into proper working order before they can get to work with the tools – not us. There’s also a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail necessary in order to make our hooks and gaffs out of such unforgiving materials. Deficiencies or shortcomings in any of our steps are glaring and costly, and that is the reason we understand that only so many of these can be made and appreciated.
What colors can you make your titanium hooks in?
There’s a broad array of colors and hues that our titanium alloy hooks can be anodized in, but red and black are not possible. A matte gray is possible, but we recommend going with no anodizing if you’d like a monochromatic color scheme. Titanium is not anodized with dyed or tinted acids like other metals. The process is actually very environmentally friendly and unique. Titanium oxide is built up on the outside of titanium as a protective coating naturally, but anodizing can control the thickness of this oxide layer in order to have a refractive effect and absorb more or less colors from light visible to the human eye. By altering the thickness of the coating layer, we can produce different colors, such as blue, pink, green, yellow, purple, or blends of these colors. The difficult part is getting this all consistent and uniform across the entire surface(s) of this very tough alloy. If you want a truly unique tool on your boat that will last a lifetime, this is it!
OK. The gaffs are extremely light and good looking, but how durable are they?
All our gaffs are lifetime warrantied. If you aren’t satisfied that your new gaff isn’t the best (including the toughest) you’ve ever seen, held or used, you can return it for a full refund.
T Series Titanium Alloy and Carbon Fiber Gaffs
(links to purchase and YouTube videos)