How to Choose the Right Fishing Hook the First Time

Basic Fishing Hooks

How to Choose a Fishing Hook – Basic Tips

We have already discussed with you how to attach your line to a float or rod. In this article, we will talk about hooks. How to attach them, which hook to choose for a beginner, what types of hooks there are, how they differ, etc. After reading this article, you will be sure which hook you need for your fish.

The most basic rule to remember when choosing a hook is that there is no universal hook for every fish. Everything will depend on the fish you are going to catch, your tackle, fishing equipment, and water.

Let’s take a simple example. When you need to catch a 5-pound bass in a muddy lake with long, thick rubber worms, you will need a larger hook than when fishing for smallmouth trout. Hook size is very dependent on fish size and musk, pike, bass, and other large fish require much larger hooks than trout, panfish, and zander.

In addition, the reel, rod, and line also affect the size of the hook. To plunge a hook into the mouth of a 20-pound catfish, you need a powerful reel and rod. In this case, it will be difficult to fish with a small hook. The fish can easily straighten the small hook or jump off of it when fighting.

Now you know that the choice of a hook depends on many factors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t simplify the hook selection process.

What Is A Fishing Hook?

My Vintage Hooks

A hook is a metal fishing accessory, which is one of the elements of equipment for various types of tackle, which carries the bait “on itself”, makes a catch of the prey, holds the catch, and delivers it to the hands of the angler.

What Sizes Of Hooks Are There?

Generally, hook sizes are confusing for every novice angler. The thing is that there is no size standard here, by which all manufacturers would be equal. It is standard in this industry that the size of a particular model increases as the number attributed to it decreases. That is, a size 2 hook will be larger than a size 4 hook.

In addition, the hooks get bigger as soon as / 0 appears to the right of the number. That is, a 2/0 hook is larger than just 2. But at the same time, a 4/0 hook is larger than 3/0, 2/0, and 1/0. This is a rather strange system that just needs to be remembered. You can take a look at the photo below to see how it works.

Choosing the Right Hook Size

Right Hook Size

Beginners usually start with a set of pre-packaged fishhooks made up of many types and sizes of fishhooks. You can also add a hook remover to your fishing tackle box to help with difficult fishing hooks. Use our Species Browser to find out what species of fish are common around you and how big they can be, so you can choose the right size for fishing hooks.

The most important characteristic of a fishhook is its size. If the hook is too large, smaller fish will not be able to catch it in their mouth. You can feel it hitting, but chances are, the hook will end up just stripped of its bait. If the hook is too small, large fish can swallow it completely. Deep hooks are more traumatic for the fish and make it difficult to handle a successful catch and release. Therefore, knowing which fishing hooks to choose from your fishing hook set is vital to your success.

As your fishing experience increases, you will make your choice of fishing hooks. Choosing fishing hooks can be as simple or as difficult as you want, but one thing is for sure: this is usually a pleasant part of fishing, especially for those targeting a specific fish that they haven’t managed to catch yet.

Fishing Hook Size Guide

What Type Are Fishing Hooks?

As with sizes, fishhooks come in a variety of shapes. Each form is more or less effective depending on the fish and the type of fishing. Now we will talk about the basic shapes of hooks and what they are for.

Common Types of Fishing Hooks Guide

J-Hooks. The most popular hook shape is J-Hooks. They resemble the letter J and hold the fish well thanks to their notches. You simply set the hook and the fish clings to the barbs by itself. These hooks usually have a long, straight stem with 2-3 barbs. They are available in many sizes and thicknesses and are suitable for many species of fish from bluegill to large catfish. This is why this design is ideal for many anglers.

Circle Hooks. This type of hook was very popular with Japanese anglers a couple of years ago. Its advantage is its ease of use. Thanks to the round shape, the angler does not need to set a hook or hit. The fish itself clings to it as soon as it turns around when biting the bait. In addition, this hook will almost always stick into the corner of the fish’s mouth, making it easier for you to remove the fish.

Offset Shank Hooks. This design can be used in both round hooks and J-Hooks. Their main difference is that they have a tail curved or offset relative to the whole body. The purpose of these hooks is to rotate in the fish’s mouth to make it easier to serrate. But some models are also used with soft plastic baits. It is much more convenient than with other hooks.

Weedless Hooks. As the name suggests, the main purpose of these hooks is to avoid algae when immersed in water. They have a wire guard at the end of the hook and are designed for catching pike, musk, and other fish that like to dwell in weeds. These hooks can be used with live and dead soft plastic baits.

My Worm Hooks

Worm Hooks. If you love fishing with live or rubber worms, then you will probably love these hooks. They have a curve near the eye that holds the worm’s head in place. The tip pierces the body so that the fish can grab onto the hook, and the rest hangs freely in the water so that the worm moves naturally.

My Jig Hooks

Jig Hooks. This type of hook has an incredibly simple yet effective construction. The eyelet is located 90 degrees to the shank. This gives the bait more mobility than other hooks. Besides, you can easily modify this hook for catching and releasing by sawing off the barbs at the end.

Treble Hooks. Treble hooks attach to most split ring lures. If you have special pliers for these rings, you can easily replace the hook, as many anglers do. Some fishermen are replacing treble hooks with larger, stronger ones, believing that this will be a more reliable solution for larger fish and tackle. Some also replace all treble hooks with single hooks or keep only the rear treble hooks, believing that single hooks or fewer treble hooks make it easier to catch and release the fish. Night fishermen also remove treble hooks to avoid injury when handling fish when working without light.

My Treble Hooks

Double Hooks. You will most often find double hooks on frog lures, but anglers also often use them on spoons, spinnerbaits, or even live lures. Double hooks are mainly for bass, pike, and weed-dwelling musks. Therefore, these hooks are made from strong and thick wire.

Siwash Hooks. This type of hook is often used by anglers to replace treble and double hooks on their spoons and spinnerbaits. They are easier to remove and less dangerous for fish, and this is their advantage. Therefore, they have an open eyelet for easier attachment.

Octopus Hooks. Octopus hooks serve one purpose – it is easy to use with small baits. Their short, rounded shank reduces the size and weight of the hook while still being suitable for big fish.

Other Types Of Hooks

Above, we have listed only the most basic and popular types of hooks. Of course, there are dozens of other types of hooks. The main thing is to choose the one that best suits your goals and needs.

Choosing the Right Hook Type and Thickness

Okay, we understand that the size of the hook depends on the size of the fish you are hunting. Based on this, you can choose the optimal size, which will be large enough to hold the fish and not bend, but at the same time small enough for the fish to bite through it. Now let’s talk about the shape and thickness of the hook.

Important! We recommend the J-shaped lure hook, which remains the most popular of the beginner fishing hooks. These hooks are increasingly being added to the selection of fishing hooks for young anglers.

If we think about what the fishhook should do, then we can simplify the selection process.

The first thing we need is a sharp hook because the first thing the hook has to do is get into the mouth of the fish.

Secondly, the hook must be strong to maintain its shape under pressure. So, start looking for a sharp hook strong enough to match your fishing goal at that particular time.

Thinner fishing hooks are usually sharper and great for setting the hook, but they are more likely to bend under pressure. On the other hand, thicker hooks are suitable for fish with stiff jaws and great strength. These hooks usually require a few strokes (quick pulls on the line) for the hook to be set well enough.

The value before the X on the package is responsible for the thickness of the wire from which the hook is made. That is, a 4/0 4X hook is made of a stronger and heavier wire than the same 4/0 hook but with a 3X or 2X rating.

Choosing a Bait Hook

It is quite easy to pick up hooks for the bait, but you need to carefully calculate some factors. For large baits, the hooks should be heavy and heavy with thick wire. And vice versa, for small bait, it is better to choose small hooks made of thin wire, you do not need to go further than 2-3 sizes. Whenever you are going to use large baits for large fish, you need to make sure that your hook is thick and long enough to accommodate the entire bait. This will also allow the tip of the hook to effectively grip the fish.

Choosing a Lure Hook

The choice of hooks for bait fishing is the same as for bait fishing. But in most cases, here the hooks (most often treble) are already attached to the bait itself, bought in the store. The manufacturer chooses treble hooks by himself depending on the size of the bait, so they are well balanced and the bait works correctly. In addition, the manufacturer’s treble hooks are made of quality materials, which ensures good fishing.

Parts of a Fishing Hook

Fishing Hook Anatomy Guide

There are several types of hooks for freshwater and saltwater fishing: bait, circle, treble, and many special hooks, they all share the same basic anatomy.

The Point: The tip of a fish hook is the sharp end that goes into the fish’s mouth.

The Barb: A barb is a protrusion that extends backward from a point that prevents the fish from detaching.

The Eye: The eye is where you attach the hook to the line or bait.

The Bend: The bend in the bend of the hook.

The Shank: The shank is the connection between the bend and the eyelet.

The Gap: The gap is the distance between the tip of the hook and the shank.

Types of Hook Point

Fishing Hook Points Guide

This is the main part of your setup. This is the difference between reliable communication and a near miss. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that various hooks have been developed over the years. Here are five of the most common tips.

Needlepoint. The tip of the needle tapers slightly towards the shank. They are designed in such a way that they are easy to penetrate and do minimal damage after passing. This will keep the hole small, making it harder for the fish to get rid of the hook.

Spearpoint. This is the most common and versatile point. The spear points run straight from the throat, providing decent penetration and limited damage to fish. They are also easier to sharpen than other tip types.

Rolled up point. The rolled tip pierces the fish deeply with minimal pressure. The tip is directed towards the eye of the hook, keeping the force in line with the path of movement through the mouth of the fish. They are ideal for boat fishing.

Hollowpoint. Hollow-tipped hooks have a curved spike that curves down towards the notch. They cut through fish with a soft mouth and stay in place when they get there. However, they can make the hook installation much more difficult for tougher rocks.

Knife Edge. Tapered on both sides and directed away from the shank, they are designed for maximum penetration. The problem with the edge of a knife is that they do a lot of damage to the fish.

Types of Hook Eye

Fishing Hook Eye Guide

Moving on to the blunt end, choosing the right eye can be just as important to your catch. There are special eyes for certain knots and tying styles. Some eyes are also enhanced to cope with larger fish.

The most common is a simple eye with a ring. It is easy to thread and works with a wide variety of knots. For larger fish, anglers usually use a soldered loop – a loop sealed with molten metal. Soldering the hook prevents it from bending or breaking during the scrum. Finally, needle hooks are ideal for bait fishing. You can easily thread the entire hook through the bait like a sewing needle.

There is also a pair of eyes that can only be used for certain fishing techniques. Dry fly anglers prefer a tapered eye that gets thinner towards the end of the loop. This reduces weight by helping the fly swim properly. On the other hand, the looped eye gives wet flies a bit more weight. It also allows fishermen to be more creative with designs.

Choosing Fish Hooks For Fish Under 3 kg

Fish Hooks For Fish Under 3 kg

The best hook for fish up to 3 kg is the one that works for the bait being used. A small hook can catch a big fish, but a big hook will make it much more difficult to catch anything. This is why it is always beneficial to use the smallest hook that will still be practical for the bait of your choice – which should fit the fish and the size of its mouth.

The smaller hook makes it easier to find the right weight for the bait and gives the bait a better look. Choosing the best hook gets a little tricky when you are aiming for fish weighing over 3kg because extra pressure comes into play. Also, choosing the right treble hooks for lures is a little more difficult than choosing single hooks. But you need to have one sharp hook. You can check the sharpness with a thumbnail. Slide the hook over the nail carefully. If it grabs, the hook is sharp enough to continue to use. If that’s not the case, it’s time to get another hook.

My recommendations! Choose in a fishing store hooks of good quality and reliable manufacturer – Mustad Fishing Hook. This brand will not let you down.

Fishing Hooks FAQs

Here we have collected answers to the most popular questions that we received from you regarding the choice and use of fishing hooks.

What are fishing hooks made of?

The main material is a metal wire, which combines three grades of steel that affect the diameter of the future hook and its quality. Only a few factories around the world are engaged in the manufacture of hooks, the rest of the companies only purchase hooks and deliver them to consumers in colorful packaging. But there are other materials from which manufacturers make fishing hooks.

High-carbon steel (high-carbon metal) – is used for the manufacture of most of the manufactured products of the budget option. This is a high-tech material, amenable to many types of mechanical and heat treatment at various stages of production, which allows the wire to be ductile, elastic, and have the desired shape. The main disadvantage of this type of metal hook is corrosion. To prevent the appearance of this “disease“, the hooks need a special protective coating.

Vanadium steel (carbon steel) – requires a high melting temperature of steel (1750 C), which makes it one of the refractory metals, but only 1% of this steel increases the strength of the future product by 30%, which is a significant advantage over high-carbon steel. The surface of the hooks is resistant to oxidative reactions but requires a protective coating on the surface. As a rule, hooks for carp and predator fishing are made of this metal.

Stainless steel is an expensive, technologically advanced material, which contains such metals as chromium, nickel, and other additives. This material does not rust and is the basis for the manufacture of saltwater fishing hooks and hooks for hunting trophy species.

Why does the hook have to be sharp? How to sharpen a hook?
The sharp hook penetrates both the bait and the fish more easily. This makes it easier to install the hook and use it. There are many fish hook sharpening tools on the market. It is important to have one and use it between fishing trips so that your fishing hook selection is ready to use.
Why do you need to dye the hooks different colors?

The color of the fishhook paint has two meanings: the masking of the hook and the protective function against the effects of natural factors (especially for hooks made of carbonaceous material).

Bronzing is one of the ways to protect the hook from oxidation. Plus, manufacturers apply a paint and varnish composition consisting of polymers to give the hook the desired color.

Nickel plating is a method of coating a product in colors from silver to dark (black). This coating is more resistant to external factors, durable, and more expensive.

Tinning is one of the most expensive coating options used in the manufacture of products intended for sea fishing.

Surface colors are indicated by the following abbreviations:

  • BK – black
  • BN – black nickel
  • BZ – bronze
  • GO – gold
  • NI – stainless steel alloy
  • PS – red or pewter.
How to store fishing hooks?

Basic storage rules:

  • The hooks must not come into contact with each other or other foreign objects.
  • If you have a package with hooks, for example, in the amount of 10 pieces, then you can store them in this form.
  • Storage methods – on leashes, in plastic boxes, in a matchbox (in order not to rust, put a small piece of cloth soaked in vegetable oil in this box), in a box with a magnet, etc.

Fishing Hooks And Stoppers

More Than Just a Twist of Metal

In all fairness, we could spend an entire day listing the different types of fishhooks and not even scratch the surface. We’ve covered the most important ones and have kept you out of the water long enough!

In theory, fishhooks are the easiest part of your setup. They don’t need to be made of high-tech carbon fiber or made invisible underwater. It is simply a curved piece of metal with a sharp point at one end.

Watch more experienced anglers, try and catch yourself on hooks of different sizes and designs to form your opinion on this matter. My experience tells me that having mastered the hooks of the classical form, having mastered and understanding their main features, you can safely start using hooks of “special” designs, which are designed for catching specific types of fish, using specific fishing methods. There is nothing difficult in this, the main thing is to try and fish, and the experience will come by itself.

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Sergio Smirnoff
Sergio Smirnoff
Professional fisherman with 40+ years of experience.
Fishing and the ocean is a passion of my life. I am passionate about all kinds of sea fishing: fishing from the shore (spinning, float, baitcasting), from a boat, and spearfishing day and night.

I live in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for the last 10+ years and share my daily fishing experiences on my website. Many years of personal experience as a fisherman and the vast experience of my friends allow me to write professionally on any fishing topics (from choosing a flashlight and equipment to deep-sea fishing).

All of my advice is based on practical real-world experience and will be useful to both novice anglers and professionals. Read more about the author.

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About the author: Each article is verified by the fishing expert Sergio Smirnoff. The articles are written by professional and amateur fishermen with 20+ years of fishing experience.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. The articles are for informational purposes only, share your opinions in the comments and join the fishing discussions, let's share our fishing experiences together!

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