So, you’re going fishing and need to buy some hooks. You step into any tackle shop, walk up to the hooks section, and there, in front of you, is the embodiment of confusion. Your brain begins to hurt as you look at all of the different hooks that are available. There are Worm Hooks, Octopus Hooks and Aberdeen Hooks. There are Bait holding Hooks, Circle Hooks, Siwash Hooks and Treble Hooks. There are Weedless Hooks, Double Hooks, Saltwater Hooks and Kahle® Hooks. Each comes with various points such as Needle, Spear, Rolled-In, Hollow and Knife Edge. They come in a bewildering range of sizes from the smallest 32 to the largest 20/0. They come in different finishes and painted hooks are now very popular because they can serve as a visual attractant, as in the case of red hooks which simulate a wounded baitfish.
OMG! How are you ever supposed to choose a hook? There are a few factors to consider when choosing hooks.
The numbers that define hook sizes can be confusing, but all you really need to remember is that hook sizes with a number followed by a zero get larger in size as the number goes up. For instance a 4/0, (“four aught”) hook is one size larger than a 3/0, which is one size larger than a 2/0, etc. Hook sizes that are not followed by a zero get smaller in size as the number increases. For example a size 3 hook is smaller than a size 2 hook, which in turn is smaller than a size 1 hook.
So what size hook do you need? Well, we can eliminate a plethora of choices simply by figuring out what type of fish you are after because knowing what fish you want to catch will determine the types of baits you will use and in turn, it is the baits you use that will determine the size of the hook. For example, if you are fishing for trout in the 7” to 21” (1-3 lb.) range, then you will not use a 12” power worm on a 6/0 hook. As a general rule, if you are using a whole Mackerel when deep sea fishing, you will use a 10/0 to 12/0 hook, but when using 2” Minnows in fresh water, a 1/0 to 5/0 size hook is the norm. Similarly, if you are using a Salmon Egg while after trout then a hook size of 8 to 14 will be the choice. Just remember this easy way of choosing hooks. The smaller the bait you are using, the smaller the hook you will use and the larger the bait, the larger the hook.
Extra Strength Hooks
Some hooks will be marked as ‘2x strong’ or ‘2x’. These hooks are designed to provide as much strength as a hook one or two sizes up, but where a smaller hook is required. For example a ‘2x 4/0’ hook has the thickness and strength of a 5/0 hook, and a ‘3x 4/0’ hook has the thickness and strength of a 6/0 hook. The purpose of these hooks is to avoid having too much hook visible to the fish when live-baiting.
Wide Gape/Gap Hooks
A wide gape/Gap hook is one where the Gape/Gap, (the gap between the hook point and hook shaft) is wider than the standard hook.
The prime advantage of barbless hooks is that they are easy to remove from a fish. The disadvantage is that if the hook is easier for you to remove, then it’s also easier for the fish to shake it. It’s entirely up to you, but if you regularly ‘catch and release’ fish, you should use barbless hooks. You can make hooks barbless by filing off the barb, but sometimes the heat generated by filing weakens the hook. You can also use a pair of pliers to crush down the barb. This does the job without damaging the hook. There is one other advantage to barbless hooks and that is that if you unluckily get the hook into part of your body it will be much easier to remove than having to go through the drama of having a barbed hook removed.
Below are just a few of the types of hook that I actually use.
Bait Holder hooks
This hook is good for keeping slippery, wiggling live bait such a worms or minnows on the hook. Generally, bait holder hooks have long shafts, and there are often one or two barbs on the shaft to assist in keeping bait securely hooked. These hooks are also available as snells. A snell is a hook that is pre-tied to line that is looped at the end and ready to be attached with a knot, swivel or snap. I use this hook when fishing for Trout.
Worm hooks & Wide Gap Worm Hooks
These particular hooks are generally used for plastic baits like worms when fishing for larger warm water fish such a Bass. Since Bass are heavy fighters, worm hooks are built sturdy for deep penetration and durability.
Skip Gap Hooks
The Skip Gap Worm Hook was designed to allow anglers to skip and pitch their Texas-rigged baits without having the bait slide down the hook’s offset. This is a common problem when skipping tubes and worms under docks, and the Skip Gap Hook promises to help ease that annoyance and let you spend more time skipping your baits worry-free.
Multiple hook points provide superior hooking and holding power and are most often used on lures such as Crankbaits, Spoons or Bucktail jigs. Crankbaits for Bass or Walleye usually employ treble hooks sized 1 to 2/0, but sizes vary with the size of the lure. You can find these hook on a wide range of lures, from the small Trout lures to the larger Bass lures
Aberdeen hooks are made of light wire with a slightly squared round bend. This style of hook is extra wide between the point and shank, which makes it ideal for baiting with Minnows, and the light wire eliminates excessive damage when puncturing the bait. Their specially tempered wire will flex before breaking, making them ideal for fishing brushy areas that hold Panfish or Crappie. I use this hook mostly when Ice fishing.
When fishing heavy cover such as tree limbs, logs, stumps, weeds and rocks, a weedless hook can save you a lot of time, money and frustration. You’ll find several different approaches to making a hook weedless and they all work fairly well, but remember – they’re weed-less, not 100% weed proof. You’ll still have to work your bait or lure carefully.
Jigs are simply hooks that have been molded with lead or other heavy metals. Jigs are used for both live bait such as Minnows or Crawlers, or for soft plastics. When using plastic baits such as twister tails, crawdads or worms, select a jig with a molded collar just behind the jig head. This collar is provided to hold plastic baits more securely, so make sure you force the bait onto the collar.
Quick hook storage tip:
Never store used hooks with unused hooks. In fact, try to keep new, unused hooks in their packets and only take out what you think you need for the trip. Any amount of water, especially seawater, can start the hooks rust and corrosion. Save those little packets of desiccant drying powder that come with pills and many electrical products. They are great to put in hook containers, tackle and lure boxes.
Tight Lines, the Amateur Angler