The Angler's Guide to Fishing Hooks – Foundry Outdoors

The Angler's Guide to Fishing Hooks

Fishing dates back many ages, and though equipment has advanced through the years the basics of the sport remain virtually unchanged. Looking back in history we find that fishing was a means of survival and from the Romans to the Chinese in the 4th century BC all used some form of rod, line, and hook. Fast-forward to the present and anglers find themselves overwhelmed with options in all three categories. Today we evaluate the hook, and the importance of selecting the right one to ensure success.

 Three considerations to keep in mind when selecting a hook:


1. Anatomy of a Hook

2. Hook Sizes

3. Types of Hooks


As we look at each one of these topics in more depth, perhaps the first thing to consider as an angler is species. Establishing this early will ensure an easier route moving forward in the selection process. To help with narrowing your fish species down check out the types of fish near you.

Anatomy of the Hook

Not all hooks are created equal, but the actual anatomy is quite similar. All humans are created different, yet we all have a heart, brain, etc. this same concept is true for hooks. The basic components of any hook include:

1. The Point

2. Barbs

3. The Bend, Shank & Gap

4. The Eye


    The point on the hook represents the actual tip or sharp edge that pierces the fish’s lip or mouth when you have a strike. There are a variety of different points including some of your most popular points like the needle to others such as a hollow point or rolled in point. No matter what type of point you select the important thing is to always ensure that it is sharp. Find yourself a hook sharpener and use it often to ensure consistent hook sets while on the water. Moving from the point of the hook you will find the barb or barbs on a hook. The purpose of the barbs is to make it more difficult for a fish to slide off once the initial hook set has been made. If you are doing catch and release I would recommend pinching the barbs with your pliers or buying hooks without barbs as it is much easier to get the fish off your hook in a timely manner; and is easier on the fish overall. The bend and shank of a hook connects the point and the eye. The gap is the distance between the point and the shank of the hook; this will be important to consider when looking at different size options. Last but not least you have the eye of the hook, the eye serves as the connection spot to tie your line to. As the picture demonstrates there are a variety of eyes as well. Different types of eyes have an impact on weight, strength, and presentation of the hook. To examine the different types of eyes check out hook eyes.

    Hook Sizes

    Now that you know the anatomy, lets look at hook sizes. Size is critical when choosing a fishing hook, it can result in a great day or just a day that beats a good days work. An easy rule of thumb is the bigger the number the smaller the hook. So a size 32 hook is extremely small whereas a size 1 hook is quite large in comparison. Once you get to size1 hooks it then begins to go into a measurement known as aught, in which as the number begins to increase so will the size of the hook. For example a 1/0 aught hook will be larger then a size 1 hook, and a 20/0 aught hook will be the largest hook. Choosing the size of your hook will depend on the fish species you are after. Generally speaking as mentioned before, the smaller the hook the smaller the fish and vise versa. Also think about the type of water you are fishing is it calm or rough, dark murky water or free of debris? A larger hook might be the ticket for murky water where a smaller hook might go unnoticed among the debris. Last but not least consider the style of fishing for example are you fly fishing, bass fishing, or deep sea fishing? For fly fishing you have to choose a hook size that fits your fly well. A larger jig might require a larger gap. If bass fishing you will want to use a larger size hook like 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0 aught hooks. Think about how long your bait is and pick the right size hook. If seeking out a sailfish or a tuna out at sea a much larger hook like a 9/0 may be required. The idea is to ensure your presentation in the water is evened out or in other words you want your bait or lure to look appetizing to the fish while having the confidence that your hook will hold up once the fish strikes.

    When it comes to hook sizes it is easiest to have a visual:

    Types of Hooks

    Now that you know the anatomy and how size works it is important to consider the different types of hooks available. To keep it simple we will look at three of the most popular types of hooks:

    1. J-Hooks

    2. Circle Hooks

    3. Treble Hooks


    J-hooks are the most common hook you will find, and the oldest type of hook. A J-hook works well for live or dead bait, and as the name refers the hook is in a J like shape making it ideal for using worms or night crawlers. J-hooks require the angler to often times set the hook, and is better suited for those anglers looking for fillets as J-hooks can cause much greater damage to a fish then other types of hooks like circle hooks. J-hooks are swallowed more frequently by fish and basically hook onto anything making it rougher on fish’s mouths as well.

    Circle hooks are the ideal option for catch and release fishing as they are made to set perfect lip hooks most every time. This makes it very easy to remove the hook and release the fish in a timely manner. Circle hooks require much less hook set then a J-hook as well, meaning the hook sets itself. The angler simply keeps the line taught and raises the rod up once they feel a strike and the hook will set in the lip of the fish. For conservation purposes you can’t go wrong with a circle hook!

    Treble hooks are completely unique in the fact that they showcase three points. These types of lures work well on artificial baits as well as top water baits. Treble hooks have three shanks and three points all leading up to one eye. In conclusion remember to always begin with the fish species, from there use your knowledge of the anatomy of the hook to guide you in choosing the right size and style of hook to ensure success on the water. Happy Hooking!


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