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- Larger fish with a softer mouth would warrant a larger, harder hook. The OShaughnessy would be a good choice here. A larger aberdeen wire hook would not stand up to the fight of a larger fish. Seatrout, red drum, black drum, snapper, bluefish, striped bass, and all fish of this general type can be caught with OShaughnessys.
- Large-mouthed fish, such as grouper, or any of the larger varieties of fish demand larger hooks. A 1/0 hook would probably not find a place to hook up in a twenty-pound groupers mouth.
Do I need a circle hook
- The answer to this question is determined by a couple of factors. First, do you plan to release what you catch? If so, a circle hook is definitely in order. Second, even though you plan to keep fish to eat, do you think that you may catch a large number of undersized fish? If the answer is yes, then, again, a circle hook is in order.
- Circle hooks come in a light wire and a heavy-duty variety. Which circle hook you use depends on the size and type of fish as we already discussed.
Hook and sinker or a jig?
- A standard bottom rig with a leader, swivel and sinker is good for most applications. However, I find that a plain jig head works just as well as the standard rig with some added advantages.
- With a standard rig, a fish can take your bait, and literally swim with it without you feeling them if your leader is too long. With a jig head, you feel every motion and touch of your bait, allowing you to set the hook earlier.
- In bottom areas of rock or other structure, the standard rig has a likelihood of hanging in that bottom structure. A jig head allows you to feel the bottom and control the sink rate of your bait. Hang-ups are much easier to free without breaking your line.
- On the other hand, bottom fishing with live bait often demands a standard rig to allow the bait to swim freely. Jig heads usually prevent that live bait from swimming as freely.
What about line?
- Your choice of hook type and size is definitely influenced by your line size. Eight-pound test line can only exert a maximum of eight pounds of pressure on a hook set. That thick heavy-duty hook will have a hard time penetrating the jaw of a fish with that little pressure.
- Heavy line, say fifty or sixty pound test, can easily force that hook home. But a small wire aberdeen hook will likely be bent straight without penetrating the jaw if used with heavy line.
- The answer lies in matching the line size, the type of fish, and the type and size of hook as a package. I like eight-pound line with a 3/8-ounce jig head and 3/0 aberdeen hook for most of my inshore fishing. The eight-pound line is heavy enough and the aberdeen hook is thin enough so that my hook set actually hooks the fish.
Small hook big fish?
- With all this discussion, youre probably wondering how we catch such big fish on light tackle. The answer is a balance that has to be struck between hook size and anticipated fish size.
- I do catch twenty-pound fish on eight-pound line quite regularly. The line is not the problem. A good drag puts you on a level playing field when fishing with light line.
- The balance is in the hook size. If the hook is too small, it will penetrate easily, but will pull straight even easier causing you to loose a good fish. It the hook is too large or thick, your light line cant exert enough pressure for the hook to penetrate, hence your fish fights for a second or two and then swims free.
Hooks and bait selection
- Bait, both live and dead, plays a major part in hooking a fish. Imagine a huge chunk of cut bait with a number 1 hook buried in the middle of it. Hooking a fish with that scenario is virtually impossible. Conversely, imagine a 5/0 hook with a single fiddler crab on it. I think you get the picture
- The hook you use needs to be large enough to be able to hold the bait and hook the fish, yet small enough that it doesnt actually hide the bait!
- Live bait hooks and kahle hooks should be used for live bait. Choose the hook size according to the bait size. Dont get the hook lost in the bait, and dont kill the bait with a hook that is too large.
- The bottom line to hook selection is threefold. First, use common sense. As simple as that may sound, I cant tell you the number of times I have seen people make some really bad hook choices. Don't expect to catch a huge fish on a tiny hook!
- Second, use some trial and error and learn from your mistakes. No one became a good fisherman overnight. All of us had to learn either from someone else or by trial and error.
- Finally, to all of you who are new to fishing, try taking these examples and build your learning experiences upon them. Trial and error are often the best teachers in any skill.