For any amateur angler, shopping for a tackle box for the first time can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. It is easy to mess things up when confronted with so many gears and items.
But even the most untrained fishermen know they need to look out for the best hooks possible.
The problem is, fishing hooks vary significantly in size, weight, and variety. If you fail to grasp their complicated classification, chances are you cannot pick out a hook that goes with your fishing trip.
Hence, make sure that you spend time getting to know about this fishing gear before making a final decision. Below is a fishing hook size chart and other crucial information to assist you in this task.
What Is The Difference In Hook Sizes?
How big or small a fishing hook is will be determined by a system of numbering. On the one hand, you have fishing hooks numbered #1 to #32. Here, the larger the number gets, the smaller your hook becomes. On the other hand, there are fishing hooks numbered #1/0 to approximately #19/0, also known as the aughts.
Small aughts are equivalent to small-sized hooks, which means this scale is the complete opposite of the one we have mentioned before.
That being said, some of these sizes are rarely found in real life.
A #10/0 hook is enough to handle a shark, and a #22 hook is too tiny to use in anything except for tying flies.
You are most likely to encounter medium-sized hooks that anglers actually use for typical fishing trips. On average, a #1 fishing hook is the biggest size you will ever need when fishing in bodies of freshwater.
For those intending on saltwater fishing, use hooks size #1/0 and above.
But the nature of your fishing conditions is not the sole factor here.
Remember to pay attention to the size of the species you are trying to catch, as well as their mouths.
When confronted with small-mouth fish, you need an equally small hook to pierce through the corner. And do not forget about the baits/lure you wish to attach to your hooks.
Let’s say you want to use live minnows.
Since these creatures are supposed to move around even after being secured to the hook, anything too small and narrow will not suffice. You need the gape to be wide enough for the minnows to squirm.
You should also note that these hook sizes do not apply to all hook types.
A #2 octopus hook is not necessarily the same as a #2 jig hook, as they vary in design and build quality.
And that is not to mention the manufacturers. Each factory and company has a distinctive set of qualities, which explains why a #2/0 fishing hook of brand A is slightly bigger than that of brand B.
Therefore, do not assume the fishing hook size scale is universally recognized.
While it acts as a reliable reference, it does not standardize the entire fishing hooks industry.
When you try to buy a fishing hook, it is best to look at the package and see what the manufacturers explicitly say there.
How To Choose A Hook
If you are unsure about what makes a good hook, check out these elements and see how they contribute to your decision.
Types of fish
Understanding your target gives you a better idea of the fishing hook size that goes along. It is natural to use a #3/0 fishing hook if you aim at a big fish game.
But if you intend on catching tiny flies, a #25 hook will do the job just fine.
Besides, it also helps if you take a look at the mouth of the intended catch.
Once a fish takes a bite, the hooks will attach themselves to the corner of a fish’s mouth in most cases.
If you select a hook a few sizes too small compared to the mouth, it stands a chance of slipping away and losing the fish. But if the hooks are too big, you will have a harder time trying to get the fish hooked on. Last but not least, check out the weight of your intended fish.
The rig must be sturdy enough to reel in without snapping for heavy ones. If your catch is relatively minimal, you do not have to worry about whether the rig is sufficient.
Most fishermen recommend hooks made from ultra-light wire, thin and elongated, like Aberdeen hooks if you want to use live bait.
Feel free to choose anything from treble to circle hooks for those sticking to artificial lures.
Available on the market are numerous types of fishing hooks, each with its own pros and cons. It is essential to familiarize yourself with these categories if you want to make the most out of your fishing trip.
- Circle hooks: Arguably the most popular fishing hook, circle hooks are best known for their circular shape. With a point bent towards the eye, circle hooks help lower the mortality rate by cutting through the corner of a fish’s mouth instead of penetrating deep inside the organs.
- Octopus hooks: Octopus hooks have a straight throat and an eye bent backward, narrowing the gap between them. Octopus hooks are easier to use and are mostly utilized in bait fishing. That being said, fish are more likely to swallow these hooks and suffer from damage.
- Bait hooks: Bait hooks are pretty similar to octopus hooks, with the exception of multiple barbs on the shank. Not only do these tiny spikes keep the bait in place, but they also ensure the fish do not get away easily.
- Aberdeen hooks: Aberdeen hooks are way thinner and longer than their counterparts, making them ideal for live baits. A worm or leech can cover the track of these hooks within seconds while remaining alive for quite some time.
- Treble hooks: Treble hooks are the combination of three different hooks, which are tied together by a shared shank. They are extremely lethal and provide wide bite coverage.
Most anglers use treble hooks with artificial lures and reserve these beasts for the most aggressive fish. Once stuck inside a fish, chances are the hooks will not come off.
However, given their characteristics, treble hooks are not legal everywhere.
- Offset shank hooks: Offset shank hooks differ from the rest with its L-shaped shank when the eye is bent 90 degrees forward. If you are a fan of soft plastic lures, then these hooks are your best choice.
- Weedless hooks: Weedless hooks are mostly found in water bodies with lots of plants or debris. By having a safety guard that connects the eye and the point together, a weedless hook can slide through dense vegetation without getting stuck.
- J-hooks: As the name already indicates, a J-hook is shaped like the letter J. Their best company is cut or live bait, such as small minnows and worms. J-hooks are a safe option if you want to land panfish.
- Siwash hooks: Siwash hooks are the same as J-hooks, with the exception of the eye design. Instead of forming a total loop, a siwash hook leaves an open gap of approximately 20% near the shank.
The purpose of this is to allow a certain level of flexibility, giving anglers more space to attach artificial lures. In places where treble hooks are banned, a siwash hook provides an alternative to hunting down big salmon and trout.
- Kahle hooks: Kahle hooks are a slightly larger version of circle hooks. A kahle look extends the gape and bents the point backward, which pierces through a fish’s mouth more effortlessly. They offer a steady weight to hold large baits and are perfect for fish that thrash violently.
Most fishing hooks are made from steel variants. The most popular substance is stainless steel, which can be found in virtually all freshwater hooks. They are cheaper and easier to purchase but are not rust-resistant.
After being used for several months, you will start to notice how the metal becomes corroded.
For those who wish to invest in longer-lasting hooks, let’s have a look at high-carbon steel.
They are more protected against external factors and are also sturdier, thus lessening the chances of getting snagged. For saltwater fishermen, Vanadium steel hooks are the best bet.
These items are highly corrosion-resistant, and they can be used for quite a long time before giving out.
Barbed or barbless
A barbed hook means at least a spike bent backward from the point, allowing anglers to secure their catch. Despite being highly effective in retaining fish and minimizing their chances of escaping, barb hooks are not everyone’s favorite.
This is because of the damage they deliver to caught fish, which leaves these animals permanently injured, especially if they manage to flee.
Therefore, only use barbed hooks if you are confident about your skills and would like to bring home your catch.
Otherwise, a barbless hook serves as a better option. Not only is it legal everywhere, but it is also more tolerant towards fish.
Suitability with other fishing gears
If you wish to maximize the effectiveness of your fishing hooks, you must ensure they are paired with the right fishing items. A #20 fishing hook is not likely to work well with anything besides a fly fishing rod.
For thick, heavy hooks, the fishing line and rod must be strong enough to lift them up.
How To Determine Size
The size of a fishing hook is mostly calculated using the distance between the shank and the throat. The shank means the long shaft that runs from the eye downward. Meanwhile, the throat is at the opposite end, starting from the point to the bend.
In some cases, manufacturers also take into account a throat’s length. For example, a typical #6 hook usually has a 5/8-inch throat.
If it is shorter or longer than the commonplace measurement, you will spot a number followed by a letter x to denote the change. A #3 3x Short means this #3 fishing hook shares the length of a #1 fishing hook, which is three times smaller.
Vice versa, a #3 3x Long has the length of a #6 fishing hook.
But using mere numbers to illustrate a fishing hook size is not sufficient, especially if you are new to this sport. This is when the centimeters/inches measurement comes in handy.
A big-sized hook at #9 is 7.6 cm/3 in length and 2.7cm/1.1in width.
At the same time, a #8 fishing hook is 1.7cm/0.7in long and 0.5cm/0.2 in wide. Unfortunately, these numbers are not always consistent.
While there have been attempts to standardize fishing hook sizes, the results are not satisfying.
If you want the exact measurement of each size, you need to ask the sellers or check the outside of the package.
While some people are dismissive of these issues and do not care about the difference in centimeters/inches, it is worth knowing that when a hook gets smaller, even a 0.1 centimeter can make or break your success.
If you do not get how this system works, it is best to follow the rule of thumbs of more experienced anglers.
Hook size for trout depends on the type of bait you are using and the type of fishing you are doing.
For instance, fishing hooks ranging from #4 to #18 are ideal for catching trout.
The larger your catch and bait are, the bigger your hook has to be.
Any fish that is not too big or too small can fit in this category, like carp or crappie.
In case you want to use small-sized dry flies, utilize hooks from #14 to #22.
Fishing Hooks Sizes Chart
As stated above, there is no definitive answer regarding which fishing hook sizes you should use for a particular type of fish.
However, experienced anglers have compiled a list of recommended sizes for different species if you want to have a general idea.
Bear in mind that these numbers only illustrate the two ends of a spectrum. In real life, you do not have to employ these exact sizes, but rather something in between.
Fishing Hook Size Chart
|Fish species||Minimum size||Maximum size|
Now that you have finished reading this article, let’s have a recap of what you learned so far. First, you get to know how hook sizes are determined by the numbering, and several techniques required to choose a suitable hook for landing fish.
Then, you are introduced to different ways how to select a size for your fishing hook, including the help of a fishing hook sizes chart.
With these valuable insights, rest assured that shopping for the right fishing hook will no longer be a problem.
And in case you find these guidelines helpful, do not forget to send them to fellow fishermen and hear what they have to offer!
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.