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Fish Hook Selection Makes a Difference

Catch Bigger Fish and Loose Less Fish with the Proper Fish Hook


Hook Sizes

  • Hooks are hooks in most people’s mind. They figure they either need a big one or a small one, depending on the fish they are pursuing. Lots of anglers go though life completely missing the importance of using not only the right size hook, but probably most importantly the right type of hook.
  • Hook choice depends on several factors. Obviously, the smaller the fish, the smaller the hook required. What most anglers miss is, that line size, fish species, type of bait, and fishing structure play a major role in hook selection.
  • Have you ever fished next to someone who seemed to be catching three or four fish to your one? Perhaps your fish kept getting off before you got them to the boat, or your line kept hanging on the bottom while your neighbor never hung even once. It’s not just pure fishing luck that makes the difference. Most of the time it’s the hook choice you make.A thick forged hook is not the right choice. A thin aberdeen wire hook that can penetrate the hard inside of the mouth would be a better choice. A number 1 or 1/0 regular shank aberdeen works very well for these bait stealers.
  • Hook size is probably the first thing an angler thinks of when buying hooks. Most are smart enough to know which hook is the right size for the fish they are after. Sizes fro most manufacturers range from the very smallest freshwater trout hook at a number 32, to the very largest gamefish hook at 19/0. There is no world or industry standard method of measuring hooks, but here in the US, the measures go from the smallest size 32 (which is barely large enough to hold between two fingers) and count down. As the number decreases, the size increases all the way down to a number 1 hook. At this point the number changes to a designation of “aughts” or zeroes. A 1/0 (pronounced “one aught”) hook is the next larger size to a number 1. A 2/0 is larger still, and this numbering scheme goes as high as 19/0.
  • The size breakdown from smallest to largest looks like this:32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0, 10/0, 11/0, 12/0, 13/0, 14/0, 15/0, 16/0, 17/0, 18/0, and 19/0
  • All of these hooks come in a short, regular, or long shank version. The shank of the hook is the part between the eye of the hook and the bend.

Hook Types

Fish hooks also come in several types. Knowing a few of the more popular ones and their uses can help you be successful:

    This hook is named for the specific design of the hook. It’s a standard hook, forged with a very strong bend. This hook is relatively thick, very strong, and not likely to bend out of shape. Generally designed for saltwater, it is good for general bottom fishing use. Sizes range from #3 to as large as 19/0.
    These hooks, while primarily used in smaller sizes in freshwater, are also used by saltwater anglers. They are generally made from shaped wire. Unlike the O’Shaughnessy, it can and does bend. It can be bent back into shape several times before it becomes too weak. However, once a fish is hook and the barb has completely penetrated, this hook holds quite well. These hooks are modified with bends in their shanks for use in jig molds.
    Perhaps the best innovation in hooks to come along, circle hooks promote healthy catch and release. The design of the hook itself, when used properly, prevents fish from being hooked in the gut. Many anglers have a problem using these hooks because they require no hook set. If you do try to set the hook, it will generally come out of the mouth of the fish. These hooks are designed to move to the corner of the fish’s mouth and set themselves as the fish swims away from you. Anglers feel a bite and simply begin reeling, slowly at first, then faster as the hook gets set.
    These hooks generally have a shorter shank than other hooks. Whether that is to allow the live bait to swim more freely or to be less apparent to the fish is debatable. My vote is to allow the bait to swim more freely. These hooks come in regular and circle designs. Regular live bait hooks will be swallowed and result in gut hooks most of the time. Circle live bait hooks provide a greater chance for a good release.
    The curve on these hooks makes them ideal for live bait. Made from the same wire as the Aberdeen hooks, they will bend if hung on the bottom of some structure. However, once a fish is hooked, the design of the hook prevents it from being straightened.

Which hook should you use for which fish?

  • You can see that there are choices to be made. Perhaps a more important choice would be which hook should you not use for a particular fish?
  • Judge your hook choice by the physical characteristics of the fish. Let’s take the sheepshead, a member of the porgy family, as an example. These fish have a small but extremely hard mouth, and two rows of almost human looking teeth. It is extremely difficult to set the hook inside their mouth.
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