- Live Bait
When fishing with live bait, it is desirable to have a much shorter hook shank for two reasons. First, a short shank allows the live bait to swim more naturally, and second, the shorter shank means the hook is more difficult for feeding fish to detect. Long shank hooks with live bait draw fewer strikes.
Use these hooks when fishing with small live baitfish or live shrimp.
- Circle Hooks
For years the tuna industry used a form of circle hooks on their catch boats. The tuna hooked themselves running away from the boat and were lifted aboard. Circle hooks are named for the unusual circle like bend in the gap of the hook. The point of the hook actually curves into the hook shank. If the bait is swallowed, the hook will come right back up the throat without hooking the fish. As the fish turns away and runs, the hook is pulled toward the mouth of the fish. When the line pulls the shank of the hook out of the mouth, the hook naturally turns back toward the angler, and the fish is hooked right in the corner of the mouth.
Today these hooks are becoming more popular and are used in catch and release situations. Where size limits mean releasing undersized fish, circle hooks offer a very high survival rate on released fish. A major change has to be made by the angler who uses circle hooks. The rule is – don’t set the hook. It is so hard fro anglers to remember that rule. Setting the hook means pulling the hook and bait right out of the mouth of the fish. Let the fish turn and run and simply start reeling. The hook sets itself!
This hook design, more often called a ‘J’ hook, is considered the basic industry standard hook design. It is the hook design seen in every illustration of a hook. It is the classic hook. It comes in all sizes and is made in a variety of metals. Made with average thickness, this hook is hard to bend and will be hard to set with light tackle. It is the most widely used hook on the market today.
Use this hook for all general-purpose fishing. Just make sure to buy the right size for the fish you are after.
- Kahle Hooks
Kahle hooks were in use for live and natural bait before the short shank live bait hooks became popular. These are deadly hooks, not suitable for catch and release. They hook a fish much farther back in the mouth, often in the throat or gill area. These hooks more often result in gut hooking than other hook designs.
Use these hooks where a 100% fish harvest is desirable. In other words, if you plan to keep everything you catch, these hooks work well.
The Right Hook
With all this hook information tucked away, it’s time to decide which hook is the proper hook for you. That answer is going to totally depend on the type of fish and the tackle you plan to use. Light tackle demands thinner hooks. Heavy tackle demands thicker hooks. And the size and species of fish determine the size of hook.
There are numbers of additional specialty hooks on the market and even more variations on the basic hook designs listed here. Quite often the hook design or name is more designed to catch the fisherman than the fish! Stay with the basics at the beginning and specialize only when you feel comfortable doing so.
So plan you next trip accordingly, choosing the right hook application for your particular outing. Successful catches are most often determined by the terminal tackle you use, and the most important part of that terminal tackle is the hook. Choose wisely – and fish often!