Your Complete Beginners Guide to Fishing Hooks

This entry was posted on by

Your Complete Beginners Guide to Fishing Hooks

Hooks are one of the most important pieces of terminal tackle you will have in your tackle box, but an item that is often overlooked. We, here at Angling Direct, want to guide you to the right hooks for your type of fishing, hopefully bringing you more fish to the bank.

What makes up a fishing hook?

Point -  The business end of a hook. It is the point that first makes contact with a fish’s mouth, so make sure yours is extremely sharp. If it’s not, either sharpen it or chuck it away. A sharp hook with undoubtedly catch you more fish.

Bend -  The bend is the curved part of and can be split into two areas – the throat and gape. The throat is the depth that the hook penetrates and the gape is the width of the hook from point to shank.

Shank - The shank connects the bend to the eye. A shank can be long or short.

Eye - The eye (the loop through which line passes) may be turned up, down, or straight.

Gauge  - The gauge refers to the diameter of the hook’s wire. Heavier-gauge hooks resist bending even when embedded in the mouth of a big fish. Smaller-gauge hooks are lighter and easier to hide.

Gape - The distance between the point and the shank. The wider the gape, the better the chances of the hook catching hold as the fish expels your hook bait.

What type of fishing hook do I need?

There are some types of fishing hooks, some of which have a very wide gap between the point and shaft, meaning they can be used with thick artificial worms and still have a small gap for the bait to fill when you set the hook on a fish. Other hooks use barbs, distinctive bends and tiny wire coils to ensure that you never lose your bait. To understand what hook best suits your fishing, it is best to break it down into the different hook styles that we stock at Angling Direct.

Circle-Hook – getting their name from its circular appear, these hooks are sharply curved back in a circular shape. They have become widely used in recent years because they provide a great hook-hold. They’re particularly good for Method work and using live baits. When a strike happens with a circle hook, the barb penetrates once the hook has reached the corner of the fish’s mouth and the hook point rotates to sets itself. Make sure to crank down and apply steady pressure when hooking with a circle type.

Wide-Gape-Hook - Very popular for carp and specimen fish because of their hooking properties and strength. These are usually employed for bigger fish and see a wider gap between the shank and the point. This increased distance allows for more pressure to be applied to the hook point and give a strong hook-hold.

Crystal-Hook- Bend These see the bottom of the bend sitting forward towards the point; it’s a common pattern in smaller hooks for smaller baits such as maggots because they offer good presentation and give an increased chance of hitting bites because the bait hangs right below the hook point.

Aberdeen Hook – Mostly used in sea fishing, these are made from light wire and boast a thin diameter meaning that the bait is hooked with no trouble and minimal damage.  Live bait can remain lively whilst on the Aberdeen style hook so can also work well for freshwater fishing. If an Aberdeen hook gets snagged, by using a bit of pressure they can be bent and pulled free.

Long Shank - In smaller hooks, a longer shank gives anglers more hook to grip when removing it. In recent years, carp anglers have used long-shank hooks for specific rigs to apply more pressure to a hook-hold. These are especially effective when the shank is bent inwards.

Eyed Hook - have a round ‘eye’ at the top of the shank that your line can be passed through and tied on to. Used in bigger, stronger hooks, the eye has to be big enough for the line to pass through, so when they are used in smaller hooks they tend to be a bit disproportionate to the hook and don’t provide the best bait presentation.

Snelled Hook - Instead of the line being tied to the eye of the hook, on a snelled hook, the line is tied to the shaft of the hook. Some snelled hooks don’t even have an eye, but a spade-shaped foot at the end of the shank. The line is wrapped around the shaft and tied so it pulls in a straight line.

You may come across even more hook types when looking for your ideal fishing hook. If you want to know more about a hook style not mentioned in this guide, pop in to your local Angling Direct store and ask a member of staff or give customer services a call!

What is a Treble Hook?

You can also invest in hooks with two or more gangs, meaning that there are two or three hooks on a single shaft. Treble hooks can be used for better coverage on artificial baits such as lures. Crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwater baits benefit from a treble hook attachment as they stick in the fish’s mouth no matter what angle the bite comes from. It is worth noting that the sizes on double or treble hooks can differ when compared to single hooks.

How are Fishing Hooks sized?        

Hook sizing is not particularly easy to follow so we shall break down the different sizes in this guide. The size of the fishing hook is based on the gap between the shank of the hook and its shaft (aka, the gape) as well as the length of the shaft. The size of the ‘gape X length’ of the hook is then given as a number.

When looking at these numerical measurements, most of the time the bigger the number, the smaller the size of the hook. For example, a sized #22 hook is very small and is best used for tying flies, whereas a sized #6 will often boast a shaft of five-eighths to seven-eighths of an inch long and is great for catching bream.

When purchasing hooks across several terminal tackle brands, it is worth considering that there is no benchmark for the different sizes in fishing hooks, meaning a size 2 fishing hook from one manufacturer could differ from another. Nonetheless, this is usually a small amount is size variation.

This sizing system for hooks can be applied until you reach a #1 hook. The next size up from a 1 is a 1/0, then 2/0 and so on. These written fractions are known as aughts and will often be found on sea fishing hooks. A size 2/0 hook is great for plastic worms or maggots for when catching bass. One of the largest hook sizes available is the 10/0 (which sea anglers will be happy to know) is big enough for a shark!

If you come across hooks that are numbered and followed by an x, this means the length of the shaft is short or longer than the standard measurement. For example, ‘#6 2x Short’ denotes a #6 hook which has a shaft the length of a hook two sizes smaller, likewise a ‘#6 2x Long’ has a shaft which is the length of a hook two sizes bigger.

Picking a hook that is the right size for the fish you are targeting is extremely important. Too big, and the fish won’t be able to fit the hook in its mouth. Too small, and the hook won’t hold or you run the risk of the fish becoming gut hooked.

Remember, when selecting a fishing hook, pick a hook to suit the bait you are fishing and consider the presentation you are aiming for. Whether you are selecting a size for on-hook bait presentation or for bait presented off the hook, on a hair rig.

Top Tip for Hook Maintenance!

Sharpness – Some fishing hooks will be sharp right out of the packet, offers not so much. In order to cause minimal damage to a fish’s mouth and to avoid missed strikes and therefore a lost fish, always keep your hooks sharp. You can always sharpen a hook by using a small clamp and a strong file.

Other Hook Features to Consider…

Hook Strength- The strength of a hook comes from the diameter or gauge of the wire that it’s constructed from. The strength then falls into one of three categories; heavy, medium or light gauge. Smaller hooks in sizes from 26 to 20 use fine gauge. Used for smaller fish, they don’t need to be hugely strong, plus a thin wire allows them to be lighter for a better presentation of light bites and to penetrate smaller fish mouths more easily. A medium-gauge wire is used in hooks between around size 18 and 12, which will be used for slightly bigger fish where more strength is needed, and for bigger baits where an increase in hook weight won’t affect presentation. The heaviest gauge is used for big specimen hooks from size 10 to 2 that need to stand up to the most powerful of fish.

Hook MaterialYou will find that fishing hooks can be made from very heavy metals or light wire, depending on the kind of fish they are designed to catch. Many hooks we sell here at Angling Direct are constructed from pure iron or stainless steel. SS hooks will not rust, great for your tackle box but not so great for anglers that leave these hooks in fish’s mouths. Make sure to always pack a disgorger and remove hooks like stainless steel as these will not deteriorate in the fish's throat and threaten the fish’s life. Alternatively, hooks made for freshwater fishing may differ to saltwater hooks as the sea can erode and rust metal a lot faster.

Barb vs Barbless - Barbs are an extra point near the main point of the hook that allows it to penetrate a fish’s mouth. A barbed hook also makes it difficult for the hook to come back out and, therefore, for the fish to eject. Concerns around barbed hooks are based on the damage they cause to a fish’s mouth, however, this is countered by those that use barbed as you will rarely lose a fish with this feature.

At most fisheries, the choice is taken away from you, with many allowing barbless hooks only. For those a fan of the barbed hook, a halfway house is to use a micro-barbed hook that uses a smaller than usual barb, making it easier to remove when you’ve banked the fish but also gives a better hook-hold than a barbless. You can also make a barbed hook barbless by pinching the barb flat with a pair of pliers.

Eyed Or Spade - This refers to the area that attaches to your line at the top of the shank. Both a spade end and eyed pattern have their advantages and disadvantages. The Spade End features a flat section that allows you to tie the line around the shank and pull it up to the spade. Spade end are great on small hooks for presentation because the line lies straight up the shank. Check out how to tie a spade end in the video below.

What is the best fishing hook?

Brands like Drennan, Korda, and Preston all feature heavily in our range of best sellers here at Angling Direct. These are all brands that pride themselves on the strength and sharpness of their hooks, as well as offering a range of sizes and barbed/barbless options.

We hope you found this fishing hooks guide useful. If you need some more tips and tricks to kick start your angling success, why not check out the rest of the guides on our AD blog or watch the video tutorials found on ADTV over on Youtube. With hooks, always remember, the fish comes first, so pick wisely! For top fish care, check out the serums and unhooking mats we offer on the AD website.

To top