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Even the most novice angler knows that if you go fishing without fishing hooks, you won’t be able to accomplish much – and even the most seasoned fishermen have glanced at the huge selection of fishing hooks in the store and wondered just what all those different types and sizes are for. Fishing hooks are an integral part of fishing, and it’s helpful to know about them in depth.
What are the different types of fishing hooks? There are approximately 37 sizes of fishing hooks, ranging from size 32 at the smallest to size 20/0 (“pronounced 20-aught”) at the largest. Different types of fishing hooks types include:
- J Hooks
- Circle Hooks
- Aberdeen Hooks
- Bait Hooks
- Octopus Hooks
- Offset Shank Hooks
- Egg Hooks
- Double Hooks
- Worm Hooks
- Siwash Hooks
- Treble Hooks
- Saltwater Hooks
- Weedless Hooks
To help you understand the big, wide world of fishing hooks, we’ve compiled a complete guide to all the fishing hook sizes and types. We’ll walk you through the “anatomy” of a fishing hook, all the fishing hook sizes, the different fishing hook types, and even how to handle fishing hooks safely. Do we have you hooked? Keep reading!
Breakdown of Fishing Hooks by Size and Type
As you read in the introduction, there are 37 (yes, 37!) different sizes of fishing hooks, and there are about 13 different main types of fishing hooks.
You may think that’s too much variation, but each type and size of the fishing hook is important–fishing hooks are made not only to help anglers catch certain species of fish but also to fish in different types of water.
To know what type of fishing hook(s) you need in order to catch a specific species of fish or in order to fish in a certain type of water, you’ll want to know more about fishing hooks, their characteristics, and their sizes and types.
Let’s take a look at the “anatomy” of a fishing hook, all the different sizes of fishing hooks, and the different types of fishing hooks and what they’re used for.
“Anatomy” of a Fishing Hook
Since we are breaking down all the sizes and types of fishing hooks, it is helpful to also break down all the different parts of a fishing hook. That way, you’ll also be familiar with any fishing hook terms we use.
Let’s take a look at the different parts of fishing hooks and where they’re located.
|The Eye||The eye is where the fishing hook is connected to the fishing line or lure. It looks like a small circle or oval.||At the “top” of the fishing hook|
|The Point||The point is where the fishing hook penetrates and “hooks” the mouth of the fish.||At the “end” or “point” of the fishing hook|
|The Barb||The barb is the small projection connected to the point in order to keep a fish from unhooking.||At and on the point of the fishing hook|
|The Bend||The bend is simply the curve in the fishing hook.||The entire curve of the fishing hook.|
|The Shank||The shank of a fishing hook is the section between the curve and the eye.||What we might call the “middle” or relatively “straight part” of the fishing hook.|
|The Gap||The gap is the distance between the point of the fishing hook and the shank.||The space between the point of the fishing hook and the shank.|
Fishing Hook Sizes
Now that you know the anatomy of a fishing hook, we can get into the sizes of fishing hooks.
As we mentioned previously, there are approximately 37 different sizes of fishing hooks.
There are a lot of different sizes of fishing hooks, but the most important thing you should remember about them is that the sizing system is essentially backward. When it comes to fishing hook sizes, the higher the (whole) number, the smaller the hook, and vice versa.
So, for example, a size 32 fishing hook is smaller than a size 14 fishing hook, and so on. The largest fishing hook with a whole number is a size 0.
What do we mean when we say “whole numbers?” It comes down to the next important thing to understand about fishing hook sizes: what we call the “aught” measurement system.
In the “aught” measurement system, fishing hooks have sizes defined as a number followed by a forward slash and 0. For example, the first size of the fishing hook in the “aught” measurement system is 1/0.
Sizes that are measured using the “aught” measurement system are nearly the opposite of the other fishing sizes, meaning the larger the number followed by a slash and 0, the larger the hook.
So, for example, in the “aught” system, an 18/0 size fishing hook is larger than a 2/0 fishing hook.
Currently, the largest size of the fishing hook is 20/0. As you can see, that number uses the “aught” measurement system. The smallest size of the fishing hook is 32; you can see that number is a whole number.
BadAngling puts the sizing system of fishing hooks into some simpler terms with a great example:
“Generally, the biggest hook you would ever need when fishing in freshwater is a size 1; therefore, some fishermen like to look at hooks which are size 1/0 and above as saltwater hooks only, which simplifies the system somewhat.”
The different sizes of fishing hooks are as follows:
Smallest Sizes (Left)
Largest Sizes (Right)
Types of Fishing Hooks
Just like there are a lot of different sizes of fishing hooks, there are a lot of different types of fishing hooks. You previously read that there are about 13 main types of fishing hooks, all of which we will discuss in detail.
However, we can break down these types of fishing hooks even further. When we talk about the different types of fishing hooks, we can look at three main characteristics:
- Different point variations
- Different eye variations
- Different hook variations
Fishing Hook Point Variations
Remember that, as we discussed in the “‘Anatomy’ of a Fishing Hook” section, the point of a fishing hook is literally the pointy end of the hook. It’s located at the end of the hook and at the end of the hook’s curve. This is part of the hook that penetrates the mouth of the fish so that it can be caught.
While you may just think that the pointy end of a fishing hook is simply just “pointy,” that’s actually not the case. Fishing hook manufacturers have come up with a number of different point variations in fishing hooks to have different aspects and benefits.
Right now, there are approximately 5 different types of fishing hook point variations:
The needle point variation of a fishing hook point closely resembles an actual needle point. When you look closely, you can see that a fishing hook with a needle point is evenly tapered with round sides.
Fishing hooks with a hollow point are rounded, with a curve from the tip of the base to the barb. Hollow points are best for fish that need to be hooked and handled gently, like soft-mouthed crappie.
The spear point variation of fishing hooks has angles that are shaped like – you guessed it – a spear. The point is aligned in a straight line from the tip to the barb on the fishing hook.
Fishing hooks with a rolled-in point have a curve that points directly to the eye of the shank, and therefore directly to the fishing line. Rolled-in points are made to, in theory, reduce the pressure that’s needed to set the hook. They set easily and deeply and are best used with fish that tend to fight and thrash a lot.
Knife Edge Point
Finally, fishing hooks with a knife edge point have two flat sides that form one single edge. This variation of fishing hook point is sharp, penetrates fish easily, and is easy to sharpen if needed.
Fishing Hook Eye Variations
You’ll recall that during our fishing hook anatomy lesson, we mentioned the eye of a fishing hook. The eye of a fishing hook is located at the “top” of the fishing hook. This is the place where the hook can be connected to a fishing line or lure in order to be used.
Because it is usually oval or circular, the fishing hook eye is named primarily for its shape. There are three main types of fishing hook eye variations.
A fishing hook with a looped eye will have an eye that’s nearly circular. It extends along the shank of the hook and aligns with the direction of the bend of the hook.
The tapered eye variation of fishing hooks is similar to the looped eye variation. The tapered eye is more oval in shape than the looped eye, and it is what we’d call more “tapered.” Tapered eye fishing hooks are commonly used with dry flies.
This variation of fishing hook eye is named for its appearance; needle eyes look like the open end of a sewing needle. Since the needle eye is less wide than other fishing hook eyes, it makes it easier for the entire hook to be buried in dead or live bait.
Fishing Hook Variations and Styles
There are also some variations in fishing hooks themselves. These are what we’d call the different “styles” of fishing hooks.
We previously mentioned these 13 main types of fishing hooks in our introduction, and now it’s time to visit each of them in depth.
J hooks got their name from their shape; they resemble the letter “J.” J hooks have a straight shank followed by a curve. J hooks are a type of fishing hook in which it’s necessary to set the hook, meaning it’s necessary to give a quick, upward jerk of the fishing rod to embed the hook in the fish.
Circle hooks are similar to J hooks, but they’re not quite the same. Circle hooks more closely resemble a circle than a letter “J”; they have a less straight shank and begin curving sooner. Circle hooks have a curve that points further inward towards the shank.
The big difference between circle hooks and J hooks has to do with setting the hook. J hooks need to be set, but circle hooks don’t. Circle hooks are made to rotate in the fish’s mouth and settle in the corner of the jaw.
Aberdeen hooks have a shape very similar to J hooks. They’re made of skinny, light wire and have an extra wide gap between the shank and the point. The thin diameter of Aberdeen hooks is made to hook bait easily and with minimal damage, so bait is more likely to stay alive on the hook.
Additionally, Aberdeen hooks can easily be bent with a bit of pressure in order to be taken out of a fish or other object.
Bait hooks are the most commonly used style of a fishing hook, and they can sometimes take on different small variations in shape. Most bait hooks have a barb on the point or a small spring attached to the point that helps keep the bait in place.
Bait hooks are commonly regarded as being great to teach children and beginners how to fish. They’re also great for catching a wide variety of fish species and sizes, from panfish to bass.
Octopus hooks aren’t named after their shape or because they hook octopus. Rather, octopus hooks have a short, curved shank, sharp point, and barb. These fishing hooks are commonly used for bait fishing, when a low hook size and weight are needed.
Offset Shank Hooks
To picture an offset shank hook, think of a classic fishing hook, but with the shaft bent into an “L” shape. That means rather than the eye of the fishing hook being straighter in the air, it is sideways.
As you probably guessed, offset shank hooks are named after their shape–they have an offset shank. These fishing hooks are most commonly used to hold plastic worms on the hook.
Egg hooks are short and circular in shape. They have a short shank and a wide gap between the point of the hook and the shank, leaving a lot of space. These types of hooks are intended to be used with prepared baits, like dough balls and salmon eggs.
Double hooks also have characteristics that are similar to their name. Double hooks are just what they sound like a fishing hook with two hooks. The shank of double hooks leads into two curves and two points (or “prongs”).
Worm hooks are mainly intended to be used by bass fishermen, as they are made for holding plastic worms. Bass are fish that fight heavily and thrash a lot, and in order to compensate for that, worm hooks are heavy, durable, and large. They are able to penetrate fish easily and hold them strongly.
Siwash hooks are defined by two main characteristics, and those are a long, straight shank with a straight eye. The long shank and straight eye allow siwash hooks to sit correctly on lures like spinnerbaits.
Siwash hooks resemble what you think of when you think of a good old regular fishing hook, but the difference is in how hard they are. These fishing hooks are great for hooking and holding strong, thrashing, or jumping fish like salmon and steelhead.
Treble hooks are similar to double hooks, except rather than having two prongs, they have three. So, treble hooks have three curves and points (prongs) that come together to form a very short shank and a large eye.
These fishing hooks naturally have hooking and holding power that is much better than other fishing hooks, but they’re typically used on lures and when fishing for fish like catfish.
Saltwater hooks are hooks that are intended to be used for what their name implies: saltwater fishing. They are made up of hard wire that’s molded into long, sharp points. Saltwater fishing hooks are also made with corrosion-resistant finishes so that they hold up in the corrosive environment of saltwater.
Last, but not least, we have weed-less hooks. These fishing hooks also have a function that their name implies; weed-less hooks are made to be prevented from getting caught in weeds or other debris.
Weed-less hooks have a different shape than most other fishing hooks. They have a plastic weed guard that runs from the eye of the hook to the point of the hook, essentially closing off the space in between and forming an “O.”
Fishing Hook Sizes and Styles to Use for Different Fish
At this point, you know all about the different sizes and styles of fishing hooks. However, you may not know just yet which fishing hook sizes and styles to use in different situations or to catch different fish.
Let’s take a look at some of the different hook styles we’ve discussed, and what they should be used to fish for.
To Get Started Fishing: Bait Hooks
If you’ve just started out fishing, don’t have a lot of fishing experience, or plan on teaching a new beginner to fish, bait hooks are the best choice for you all around. Bait hooks can be used to bait worms, insects, or artificial bait.
Common bait hook sizes that are easy to use are 6, 4, 2 and 1/0.
|Bait Hook Size||Bait to Use||Fish You Can Catch|
|6||A few kernels of corn||Panfish|
|4||1 inch cut of worm||Sunfish, perch, crappie|
|2||A full nightcrawler||Walleye|
|1/0||A full nightcrawler with a Texas Rig||Bass|
For Fragile Bait and/or Fish: Aberdeen Hooks
You’ll recall that when we discussed Aberdeen hooks, we noted that their thin wire material is great for hooking fragile bait and/or fragile fish. Aberdeen hooks are great to fish with when you plan on fishing with fragile bait like insects and when you plan on fishing for more fragile fish like panfish.
Common sizes of Aberdeen hooks to use are 4, 2, and 1/0.
|Aberdeen Hook Size||Bait to Use||Fish You Can Catch|
|4||Grasshoppers, crickets||Trout, Panfish|
|2||A ball of Nightcrawlers||Catfish|
|1/0||A ball of Nightcrawlers||Catfish|
When Using Soft Plastic Baits: Worm Hooks
As previously mentioned, worm hooks are a staple for Bass fishermen because they are best when used with soft plastic baits. The most commonly used sizes of worm hooks for catching Bass are 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0, and they’re basically always used with soft plastic worms.
|Worm Hook Size||Bait to Use||Fish You Can Catch|
|2/0||Soft plastic worms||Bass|
|3/0||Soft plastic worms||Bass|
|4/0||Soft plastic worms||Bass|
Tips for Using Fishing Hooks Safely and Effectively
You may think using fishing hooks is relatively simple and straightforward, and for experienced anglers, that’s probably true. However, for those with less experience with fishing hooks and fishing in general, there are some useful tips for using fishing hooks safely and effectively.
Popular Knots for Tying Fishing Hooks
By now, you know that fishing hooks have eyes so they can be tied to fishing line or lure, and to of course do their job of hooking fish!
There are five very popular knots used among fishermen to tie fishing hooks to line or lure that can be useful to master. They are:
- Uni Knots
- Snell Knots
- Improved Clinches
- Loop Knots
- Palomar Knots
Removing Your Fishing Hook From a Catch
One of the essential parts of catching fish is removing your fishing hooks from any fish you catch, whether you plan on keeping them or releasing them.
The following are some tips to more safely and easily remove your fishing hooks from your catches:
- Be quick, but be careful.
- Twist the hook while simultaneously pushing it towards the bend.
- If the hook is deeply embedded in the fish’s mouth, use a dehooking tool or small pliers to remove the fishing hook instead of your fingers.
- If you’re removing a treble hook, remove each prong one at a time instead of attempting to remove all three prongs at once.
- If the fish you caught swallowed the hook, simply cut the fishing line in the fish’s mouth and release the fish.
It’s important to note that stainless steel fishing hooks should never be left inside a fish, especially if you plan on releasing it. Stainless steel hooks don’t rust, which is a great benefit for fishermen, but it’s not a great benefit for fish.
Stainless steel fishing hooks won’t deteriorate fast enough inside the fish in order for it to survive when it’s released back into the water.
Where to Buy Different Fishing Hooks Online
In today’s day and age, just about anything can be purchased online and shipped right to your front door. The same can be said for fishing hooks!
If you know what size and type of fishing hook you need, but don’t want to have to get out of those pajamas and leave your house to brave the crowds at the store, you can purchase fishing hooks online.
Fishing hooks are an integral part of fishing, and if you didn’t realize why before, you probably do now!
Remember, there are approximately 37 different sizes of fishing hooks and over 13 types of fishing hooks; each has its own set of characteristics and uses. All that information has a purpose, though!
Being familiar with the different sizes and types of fishing hooks, as well as the anatomy of a fishing hook, will allow you to choose the right fishing hooks for every fishing adventure – and it’ll likely give you more success.