Fishing Hooks Guide: Types, Styles & Uses

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Depending on the type of angler you are, knowing everything you possibly can about fishing is a must. I find myself falling into this category more and more as I get older.

A recent deep dive took me on a journey to learn and understand more about fishing hooks. It’s something we all use every single time we go fishing on the water.

Understanding the types of hooks available is crucial for every angler, and the more I have learned about them, the better angler I have become. 

In this article, let us understand all there is to learn about fishing hooks and how to use them correctly.

What Are The Parts Of A Fishing Hook?

Overall, there are seven primary parts of a fishing hook. Depending on the type of hook you’re fishing, each part is made to carry out a specific task. The more you know about the details of a hook, the better informed you’ll be! 

Gap Or Gape

For some avid anglers, they’ll argue the gap is the most important part of the hook. It’s the distance between the bend and the point of the hook. The size of the gap determines the size of the hook. This can get a bit confusing but hang in there. A size 8 hook right next to a size 4 may look the exact same. However, the x rating of the hook is where the differences arise. That size 8 hook may have a 2x long shank and the size 4 is a standard shank so they appear to be the same size. 

The important thing to remember with hook gaps is that the more you shrink your hook gap, the harder it is to hook fish. A wider gap is more forgiving and can help you hook into the majority of the fish you find. Small gaps don’t secure into the fish’s mouth as well and also the hold is faster versus using large gaps.

However, the wider the gap, the easier it is for the fish to actually bend the hook so that it can escape. Therefore, it is critical that you purchase the best and strongest hooks made with forged high-carbon steel.

Shank

The shank is what comes below the hook eye. The eye is the ring that you put your line through to tie it onto your reel.

In terms of size, most manufacturers use a similar formula to establish the length of the shank. It’s generally going to be 2 times the length of the gap plus the hook eye. Remember that the gap is the most important part of the hook. Therefore, companies will throw an “x” rating scale on their hooks to manipulate the shank size but keep the gap. A 1x long shaft on a size 14 hook is going to be the length of a size 12 hook. 

This also works in the opposite way. A 1x short shank on a size 12 would be the size of a 14. It keeps the gap the same size but allows the hooks to be longer or shorter.  

The bend of a hook is the other important detail that anglers need to understand. When fly fishing the bend of the hook is made to help imitate a certain insect. For example, a long and gradual bend is going to imitate some of the longer and skinnier bugs. 

Barb Or Point 

The barb is another facet of the hook that needs attention, it is a critical part of the hook anatomy. This is what the fish are going to first get hit with when they bite down on your bait, fly, or lure.

The barb is the little ridge that sticks out of the hook just below the point. The barb and point are what are going to keep the fish pinned. However, more and more fisheries are requiring barbless hooks due to the damage a barb can do to a fish. As a result, anglers are having to become more skilled because of how simple it can be for a fish to shake a barbless hook.

Whether you are using barbed or barbless always make sure that your points are sharp and keep pressure on the fish. 

Bend

The bend of the hook is where it curves back on itself. It’s essentially the long “U” shape on the bottom of the hook. Depending on what you’re fishing for, this part of the hook is quite important. 

Throat

The throat of the hook is the portion that runs down from the point of the hook toward the bend. Depending on the style of the hook, the barb may be located directly on the point. The throat should be just deep enough to allow the flesh to pass the barb.

Eye

The eye is the hole in the top of the hook that you run your line through. Saltwater, freshwater and fly fishing hooks almost always will have a ring eye that is fully attached to the hook.

There are four main types of hook eyes: 

  • Looped Eye
  • Tapered Eye
  • Straight Eye
  • Needle Eye

It should be noted that the shape of the eye is not so important a factor, all the eye types above do the same function which is to secure the hook to the line. 

More importantly, is the eye direction – Eyes can be straight, turned down, or turned up. The design direction is key for the rigging style you plan to use and also the type of knot that you use. 

Turned-up eyes are used for live bait snells, straight eyes for almost all baits, and rigs that are used with lead shot. Turned-down eyes are used with crawler rigs.

The most popular eyes found on hooks are the straight eye. The straight eye allows for more room in the gap and increases leverage on your hook set. 

Spade End  

A spade is an alternative used as an eye. A spade end hook does not have a looped eye to attach the line, it has a flattened end where the line is tightened against to prevent it from slipping off.  

Spade end hooks are very common in general coarse fishing and match fishing, they do require some skills to tie and attach the line securely and therefore are not as common as an eyed hook. They are almost always for smaller hooks up to a size 10 maximum.

Spade end hooks are sometimes called flatted eye, but in fact, have no eye at all.

What Are The Types of Fishing Hooks & Their Uses?

The fishing world has no shortage of hook designs. Depending on where in the world you’re fishing, you’ll find two dozen unique hook designs that are created for a specific purpose.

Thankfully, there are about ten designs that are the most common and will help you land the majority of the fish you’re targeting. 

What Is A Jig Hook?

For many freshwater anglers, jig hooks are at the top of their list for hooks used. Near the eye of the hook, you’re going to see a right angle that goes all the way to the shank. 

Jig hooks help your bait to sit more straight up and down and they have quite a bit of movement. They’re great for fishing in weeds and since the eye of the hook often sits higher than the point, the hook sets are far easier as well! 

What Is A Siwash Hook? 

A siwash hook is a fairly standard-looking hook. It has a longer straight shank and a straight eye. It is a great option to use instead of a treble hook and If you ever need to replace a hook on a bait due to local fishing regulations, the Siwash hook should be a great choice.

Siwash hooks are found often on lures and offer a much better chance of catch and release practices due it having a single point to penetrate the fish’s mouth. Hook removal is much easier and safer than using a treble hook. 

What Is A Circle Hook?

A circle hook is a favorite for anglers who use quite a bit of live bait. The throat and point of the hook turn back towards the shank making it look like an almost circle.

One advantage of using a circle hook is that if you’re worried about gut hooking fish, the circle hook helps prevent fish from swallowing the hook. The hook will move out of the throat of a fish when it takes your bait and won’t pin the fish until it reaches the corner of the mouth.

But be a little more careful when you set the hook! It requires a little more pressure than the traditional hook set. 

What Is A Worm Hook?

If you’re the type who uses soft plastics, the worm hook is one you should use.

There’s a small angled bend below the eye of the hook that allows you to attach the soft plastic so it’s more of a weedless presentation while still giving enough room to hook into the fish. You’ll find that the bend of the hook is a bit wider than others! 

What Is A Treble Hook? 

Treble hooks are great for the angler who throws topwater lures and live baits that need a couple of points of hooking up. Treble hooks are predominantly used for predator fishing.

Fish take aggressive angles and swipes at jerk baits, crankbaits, and topwater baits. As a result, the more chances you have to hook into the fish, the better! 

Be extra careful when you’re unhooking the fish because you have a decent chance of hooking yourself if you aren’t careful. Using forceps to remove treble hooks from a fish’s mouth is the easiest and safest option.

You can read more in-depth information about using treble hooks here!

What Is A Bait Hook?

Bait hooks are not a favorite for anglers who practice catch-and-release. There is a traditional barb halfway down the hook and two other barbs on the backside of the hook. These are there to hold your bait in place better than a traditional single-barb hook.

They do the job well but will cause damage to fish, so be careful. These hooks are never used in a coarse fishing scenario and are generally used for saltwater. The additional barbs on the shank are great to hold sea worms threaded onto the hooks and also for live or dead bait fishing. 

What Is A Weedless Hook? 

If you’re a bass angler and fish in heavily vegetated areas, then you need to have your fair share of weedless hooks to access.

In the gap of the hook, you have a plastic weed guard that folds through the eye to the point. This protects the hook from snagging tons of vegetation every time when you reel in your bait. Once a fish takes it, the guard will release itself

What Is An Aberdeen Hook?

An Aberdeen hook is the thinnest of the hooks on this list. Their wires are thin and you are able to hook them into small baits easily without damaging the soft nature of a worm, leech, or any similar type of bait.

Also, If you’re fishing with minnows, this is a great option! It bends easily so you can remove it from snags without too much trouble. 

What Is A Kahle Hook?

The Kahle hook is a large and powerful hook. If you’re fishing with large baits and targeting heavy fish, the Kahle hook is a good option.

The gap in these hooks is wide and the ability to set the hook is quite easy! Use this Kahle hook when you are targeting those bigger fish. 

What Is A J Hook?

J hooks are named after their J shape and are the most commonly used by anglers. J hooks have a straight shank which is followed by a curve. A J-hook can be used in almost all fishing techniques and situations and will catch almost all fish types.

They are perfect to use with smaller-sized baits in both freshwater and saltwater fishing. They are quite commonly found on lures and when fishing with rigs such as Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, and also for Dropshot Rig setups.

What Are Fishing Hooks Made From?

The best fishing hooks are made from High Carbon Steel and are forged for superior strength. 

The carbon percentage in these hooks is much higher making them almost impossible to snap or bend mainly due to the lower amount of impurities in the material.

The Gamakatsu or Mustad hooks are two of the best well-known quality fish hook suppliers. However, there are hundreds of different manufacturers around the world. Always check the material used carefully when selecting your choice of hook.

For saltwater hooks, many anglers prefer to use stainless steel hooks, as these prevent them from corroding in the saltwater and becoming weaker over time.

What Are The Best Fishing Hooks For Beginners?

Circle hooks are the best hooks for beginners to use to catch more fish. Circle hooks tend to attach to the fish’s lips at the corner of the fish’s mouth, and setting the hook is far easier than many other hook types. In most cases, the fish will hook itself and simple retrieval of your line is all that’s required.

Not having to remove a hook from a fish’s stomach has significant advantages for fish care, if you do hook a fish deeper in its throat always use a disgorger to remove the hook.

Fishing hooks can be difficult for beginners to remove from a fish’s mouth, there are two types of tools you can use to help you. One is a basic disgorger, and the other is a pair of forceps, which are extremely useful for treble hook removal.

Final Thoughts

The world of hook types, styles, and shapes can be extremely complicated, hopefully, this article has explained which hooks are best for your fishing style.

You can read more information about hooks in my article on barbed vs barbless hooks here!

Daniel Mooers