Dating back to the Stone Age, fishing hooks are one of the most important human inventions. We’ve improved on the design quite a bit since then and it can be difficult to know which hook to choose when you go out bass fishing. Like most other fishing equipment, there are lots of terms and technical specifications that can be confusing the first time you come into contact with them.
Fishing hooks come in many different styles because some fishing methods call for different hook sizes and weights. The most important thing to remember is that, if you want the right size hook, you have to consider how you’ll be fishing and what you’ll be fishing for.
Bass fishing can be done with numerous different lures and baits, such as plastic worms, crankbait, spinnerbait, chatterbait, creature lures, jigs, squarebills, jerkbait, and more. Even the simplest fishing with live bait will require the right hook in order to fit the bait with a Texas rigging or a Carolina rigging. There are a variety of hook shapes, like worm hooks, weedless hooks, circle hooks, treble hooks, octopus hooks, wide gap hooks, baitholder hooks, and Aberdeen hooks, to name a few.
They come bare or attached to lures meant to mimic popular fish food sources like a minnow or other baitfish. It’s helpful to have a variety of fish hooks in your tackle box, but in order to do that, you have to know how to tell one fish hook from the other.
Tackle is also important in deciding on the right fish hook. What fishing line you use is as important as what kind of fishing rod you use. Fishing line comes in different sizes and weights. One of the most popular kinds of fishing line is a braided variety that has just the durability bass fishermen need to reel in a bass.
In addition, hooking a bass the right way to keep it on the line and get it into the boat requires a nice hook set. The right hook will let anglers get a good hook set a majority of the time. Of course, you have to understand how to perform the fishing style you’re attempting for it to really work, but learning new ways to fish is one of the most fun things about sport fishing and fishing in general.
At risk of supplying a non-answer, the right hook for bass fishing could be almost any of the wide variety that exists on the market. Luckily, a survey knowledge of fish hooks is fairly easy to come by with a little research. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling all the information you need to choose the right hook (or hooks) next time you go bass fishing. Read on to get a general description of the best hooks for bass fishing so you’ll be well-prepared next time you’re out on the water.
Parts of a fishing hook
There are seven parts of a fish hook that you should know before we start talking about how they change between the different hooks. If you have a vague idea of what a fish hook looks like, you can likely imagine what all these terms describe. Here are the parts of a fishing hook:
- Eye: The eye is the part of a fish hook that the fishing line goes through. The eye is important because it can be the source of increased strength and weight tolerance for the whole fish hook. The ring eye, or ball eye, is the most common variety, but there are also brazed eyes, and some fish hooks have no eye at all. Hook eyes can be turned, straight, or downturned on a fish hook.
- Shank: The longest part of the hook is called the shank. The length of the shank can vary from fish hook to fish hook. Longer shanks are easier to bend, but they are necessary to accommodate larger types of bait.
- Bend: The bend is the part right after the throat, the curved part of the fish hook. Many of the different styles of fish hooks alter in their bend, which is altered by changing the throat and/or the gap. A round bend affects how snug the hook set will be in the fish’s mouth and varies with the type of fish.
- Throat: After the shank, where the hook starts to bend, is a place called the throat. Essentially, the angle of the hook depends on how it bends at the throat.
- Gap: From the sharp point of the hook to the shank is a space called the gap. To hold larger bait, a wider gap will be needed. Anglers can really get a good hook set with a fish hook that has the right gap, but a gap that’s too wide will give anglers trouble when they try hooking a bass.
- Barb: Just below the sharp point of a fish hook is a hook that points the opposite direction. This second hook is called a barb. Once you have a hook set, the barb is designed to prevent the hook from slipping back out. Like the gap, the barb can be larger or smaller. A large barb will help keep the fish on the line, but if it’s too large it can be difficult to get a good hook set. Catch-and-release bass fishermen often fish with barbless hooks to speed up the process of getting the bass back off the hook and throwing it back in the water.
- Point: The sharp end of the fish hook is called the point. As you can imagine, the point has to be nice and sharp if you hope to snag a bass at the end of your line.
Now that you have some idea about the parts of a fish hook, let’s take a look at some different styles that make alterations to these different parts for different effects on the water.
Types of fishing hooks
There are advantages and disadvantages to every kind of fish hook. The shapes can accomplish different goals, from offering an easy hook set or eliminating them altogether to suitably holding various types of bait. Some are certainly better for hooking bass than others, namely the treble hook. Here are some of the most popular types of fishing hooks:
The oldest style of fish hook is the circle hook. The nicest thing about a circle hook is that they can hook a fish with little additional action on the part of the angler. They hook the fish in the jaw, which is easier to remove and healthier for the fish and therefore likely to be more useful in catch-and-release bass fishing. They snag less often and are safer to handle for anglers. Many who are new to fishing start with a circle hook.
A j-hook is a circle hook that curves in further. This makes the bend sharper and will require some extra effort from the angler to get a good hook set. J-hooks usually work better with bass fishing because the additional curve helps with hooking fish that turn away after an attack like bass tend to do. They aren’t as nice for catch-and-release and may cause more damage to the fish, but they won’t slide out without hooking as often as a circle hook will.
A treble hook looks like three J-hooks combined into one. They’re really common on jerkbaits and crankbaits because the shortened shank helps keep the treble hook near to the lure. Treble hooks are great for keeping larger fish on the hook, however, they are not hooks to use with live bait. They work best on jerkbait and similar kinds of lures.
The eye of an octopus hook is bent back away from the point of the fish hook, as opposed to a normal hook where the eye is straight with the shank. The octopus hook is common in fly fishing because it is usually used when you want to snell the hook, a technique which describes tying the line to the base of the shank of the hook after you pass the line through the eye. It can also be useful in bass fishing because it offers better line control and, theoretically, a better hook set, although it is not very common to use an octopus hook in bass fishing.
Wide Gap hooks
This is a good hook to use when Texas rigging soft plastic baits because it gives more space for the baits to move away from the point, which could cause some interference between the hook and the fish. Also called EWG hooks, wide gap hooks aren’t as useful in tandem with thinner or smaller baits. Most bass fishermen will have to modify a wide gap hook to accommodate their favorite bait, so they are so common in bass fishing overall, but especially common when altered to catch largemouth bass.
Spinshot hooks swing on a swivel. They let the bait move more naturally underwater and prevent line tangle. Spinshot hooks are especially useful for drop-shot rigs when you’re right above a nest of bass and want to drop that bait right in on top of them and also give it the appearance of a real-life baitfish.
Fishing line for bass fishing
As you can see, the size of your bait will determine the size of the fish hook. The size of the fishing line and the fishing rod will also play a part.
There are three types of fishing lines that are good for bass fishing. They are fluorocarbon, monofilament, and braid. Many bass fishermen prefer the braided line because of its added durability and resistance to tangles. Some anglers carry all three types of line in their tackle box. Braided line is more visible than the other two types and sometimes that invisibility is more important than the strength of the line. Line strength is good when there is a lot of cover and the line might snag. Ripping a lure through grass is a great time to use braided line.
Fluorocarbon is less visible but it tends to sink more quickly, which means topwater fishing and floating lures are not ideal with it. For crankbaits and jerkbaits, it can work just fine. Monofilament is kind of a mixture of the two. It is invisible to the fish and tends to float on the top of the water. It also casts more easily than the other two kinds.
Fishing line strength is measured in pounds and described as ‘test,’ as in, 6-pound test, 7-pound test, etc. Bigger fish mean heavier lines. For bass, somewhere between a 6-pound test and a 10-pound test is great. If you’re after largemouth bass, stick closer to 10.
A larger hook usually works better for heavier-test fishing line. Let’s talk about the sizes of fish hooks and then we’ll put all this information together to decide what size hook you should use for bass fishing.
Fishing hook sizes
The size of a fishing hook is one of twenty on a scale. That scale doesn’t go from zero to twenty, however. Rather, it goes from the smallest hook, #10 to the larget, 10/0. The scale for smaller hooks looks like this:
#10 – #9 – #8 – #7 – #6 – #5 – #4 – #3 – #2 – #1
While the scale for larger hooks looks like this:
1/0 – 2/0 – 3/0 – 4/0 – 5/0 – 6/0 – 7/0 – 8/0 – 9/0 – 10/0
Zero is in the middle of the two scales to form a complete spectrum. Numbers on opposing sides represent hooks either larger or smaller by a factor of ten. A 5/0 is ten times larger than a #5, for example. The spoken word for ‘#’ in this context is ‘size,’ while the term for ‘0’ is ‘aught,’ as in 8-aught, 9-aught, etc. Sizes get smaller as the number gets larger and aughts get larger as the number does.
Anglers have to choose the right hook to match the test weight of their line and their fishing rod should also be chosen to accommodate that weight. The weight of the target fish should be factored in as well as possible, although that’s pretty difficult to do with the fairly wide range of bass weights. The right hook should also be proportional to the bait you want to use. Generally for bass, it will be in the upper mid-range in these categories.
A smaller, thinner line is good for a smaller, thinner hook. A light action rod is best to use with these, and smaller fish that can be caught with that setup is ideal. If the line, rod, and hook are too weak and thin, the hook will straighten or the light wire will break and the fish will be gone.
Everything in your rig should be proportional. For most bass fishing, anglers will have three or four different types of hooks and switch between them throughout the day. Smaller hooks are better for finesse angling while hook styles like the wide gap hook tend to be larger since their goal is to be large enough to accommodate larger bait.
There are many ways to fish for bass and they can almost all be done with a different type of hook. Whether you’re after largemouth or smallmouth bass might determine the size of the bait, the strength of the line, and therefore the size of the hook you want to use.
Like lots of other fishing tips, advice on the size of a hook is difficult because it changes with the particular conditions under which you’re fishing. One thing you can always use to gauge which size hook to use is that everything should be in proportion with one another. A small hook doesn’t go with heavy wire, a large hook doesn’t work with low test weight fishing line.
Hooks with a long shank will bend more easily and aren’t likely to be successful with larger bass. That being said, a short shank doesn’t leave room for larger bait, so most anglers turn to medium-size shank hooks. There are some hooks with a straight shank and some, called octopus hooks, with an eye bent backward to enable snelling the hook for more line control.
Anglers argue about the sharpness of the hook point of their favorite hooks all day long but there’s not really any way to say definitively. The most important question to ask is whether or not the hook catches into the fish’s mouth and brings it back to the boat.
Well-known brands like Mustad make nice, durable hooks that can take the beating bass fishing will likely give them. There are many styles, but the sizing system is usually the same. Anglers who are really in doubt about what size hook to bring should know that it’s common practice to bring several sizes along and switch between them strategically.
Luckily, hook size can remain about the same whether you’re fishing for crappie, walleye, or bass, so you won’t be limiting yourself by going with a small range of hook sizes. Just bear in mind what size bass you want to catch with what size bait and plan your tackle accordingly.
Bonus tip: If you’re really into DIY, check out this video of a survivalist making his own fish hook by hand!