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Fishing Gear & Accessories

All About Fish Hooks

by Ken Freel   |  July 6th, 2012 0

Though there are many different styles and sizes of hooks to choose from these days, let’s take a look at five tried-and-true hook designs that have been catching fish long before most of us cast our first worm. The most common hook style even today, and one that most all of us start out using, and continue to do so, is the perfectly named J-style hook. Most hooks are actually variations of the J-style.

J-STYLE
The J-style is basically the shape created where the bend of the hook turns up to its point. The hook created by this bend looks like the letter J, and this style is one of the most commonly used hooks. It is also one of the most productive hook styles that fishermen can use.

Interestingly, J-style hooks are what most of us have learned to fish with, including setting the hook when you feel the tap of a feeding fish. Some anglers’ say this is one of the most enjoyable parts of fishing, and it sure does feel good with you get a solid hookup!

The J-style hook is still the most popular type of hook used by anglers, as it provides the perfect hook for so many different fishing situations and species of fish.

The Daiichi Bleeding Bait hook is ideal for use with a Senko worm when targeting largemouth bass. Photo by Ken Freel.

BAIT-HOLDER
Aptly named, the bait-holder hook is designed specifically to hold bait! The main improvement of this type of hook is the additional barbs found along the shank of the hook. The bait-holder is a J-style hook design with barbs on the shank. Most bait-holder hooks have two barbs along the shank, which helps to hold a worm or other bait in place. Thus the bait doesn’t come off during the cast or when a fish begins to nibble.

The simple barbs keep the bait put, and can make all the difference between catching fish or feeding the fish you intend to catch. It’s a simple, but devastatingly effective design improvement! Most fishermen start out with this style of hook, as most of us begin our fishing careers by using bait.

LONG-SHANK
Long-shank hooks are necessary in cases where the quarry you’re seeking have sharp teeth, or if you’re a fly-fisherman who’s interested in tying long streamer flies.

A long shank on a hook definitely helps keep a sharp-toothed fish from biting through your line, as the shank itself sticks out of the fish’s mouth, preventing direct line-to-tooth contact. Long-shank hooks are also easier to remove from a fish’s maw because you actually have something to grab onto.

Another benefit is that most fish don’t swallow the entire hook to become gut hooked, though this is not always the case with big-mouthed species.

SHORT-SHANK
To get the perfect picture of a short-shank hook, just think of the venerable salmon egg hook. Talk about a hook named for specific bait and type of fishing — the salmon egg hook is it! Most anglers use this type of hook to catch trout, as trout are known to feed on salmon eggs.

However, the features of the short-shank salmon egg hook make it perfect for holding many types of small baits. The small size of the short-shank hook allows fishermen to hide the hook in the bait. So it is a great hook to use with many species of fish, from panfish to any species with small mouths.

Also, the short-shank hook offers good penetration on soft-mouthed species to boot.

Circle hooks have been a rage since the 1990s, particularly because they allow ease in unhooking fish. Photo by Polly Dean.

CIRCLE HOOKS
You know the old saying, “saving the best for last.” This may be the case with the recently revived circle hook, which was invented more than 100 years ago by Australian commercial fishermen.

Interestingly, circle hooks, which are named for their peculiar, tight-circular shape, first came into vogue with southern California recreational tuna and billfish anglers back in the early 1990s. Since then, circle hooks have become highly popular for all types of fishing situations and species of fish.

One reason is that circle hooks actually hook a higher percentage of fish! Also, you don’t set the hook with a circle hook. Instead, you just wait for the line to become tight and then begin reeling in your catch.

On top of it all, the shape of the circle hook means that almost 100 percent of fish caught are hooked in their lips, not their stomachs or gills! This means a higher percentage of fish live if released. It doesn’t get much better than that.

All you have to do is to remember not to set the hook. Doing so pulls your bait right out of the fish’s mouth. The circle hook has definitely been a welcome and valuable addition to sport fishing. It’s amazing to think this type of hook only became popular some 20 years ago.

There you have it, a brief description of the most important part of all fishing tackle — the hook! Without a hook on the end of your line, you’re just like a fish out of water.

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