Advice on choosing fishing hooks

Fishing hooks are an important piece of fishing tackle that is often overlooked. Many anglers spend hundreds of pounds on top of the range rods, reels and other equipment and then tie a cheap, rusty fishing hook on the end of the fishing line. Ultimately it is the fishing hook that keeps the fish on, obviously you need to make sure your knots are up to the job, but if you tie an inferior hook on the line you are going to lose the fish. Because of this you should never scrimp on fishing hooks and buy the best you can afford.

Fishing hooks are available in a variety of different sizes. When freshwater fishing the most common sizes used are size 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 22. You need to remember the larger the number the smaller the hook so a size 22 is a tiny fishing hook used by match fisherman to catch anything that swims. A size 6 hook is a large hook used by specimen anglers to catch large carp. When deciding what size fishing hook to use you need to think about the species of fish you want to catch, i.e. are they large or small, and the type of hook bait you will be using. Whilst it is possible to catch large carp on a size 22 hook you will have more of a chance of beaching it with a bigger fishing hook. The good thing about using large fishing hooks is that it is almost impossible to hook small nuisance fish, such as small roach and rudd. I say almost impossible because these greedy little nuisance fish will still attempt to eat the hook bait and may well foul hook themselves in the process.

Typically small fishing hooks will be used with maggots or small pieces of bread. Larger fishing hooks are best used with corn, maize or trout food pellets. The trick is to match the fishing hook to the size of the bait. This may cause confusion at first but you will soon get used to it.

There are many different patterns of fishing hooks, such as spade end, eyed, reverse bend and long shank to name but a few. The manufactures claim the different patterns of fishing hooks are for different types and methods of fishing. This is partly true and a particular fishing hook pattern will be best for a specific method of fishing but, in reality, you can use any fishing hook pattern for any type of method. At the end of the day, the fishing hook pattern is down to personal preference.

When buying fishing hooks you need to pay careful attention to whether the hooks are spade end or eye. Spade end hooks require a specific knot to tie them to the main line, which is not an easy knot to tie. Spade end knots take time, practice and many lost fish, before you will learn how to tie the knot properly. Consequently, eyed hooks are much easier to tie to the main fishing line and there are many knots that can be used such as the Palomar knot and the blood knot amongst many others. I would always recommend eyed fishing hooks purely because they are easier to tie. There are no advantages to using either spade end or eyed fishing hooks and it all comes down to personal preference in the end.

Fishing hooks are available in barbed, barbless or micro barb varieties. Barbed hooks have a small “barb” hence the name that once stuck in the fish is very difficult to get out. Barbed fishing hooks are advantageous in that once the fish is on the hook it is not going to roll off hence you have a greater chance of beaching it. The disadvantage of barbed hooks is that they are difficult to get out of the fish’s mouth. This is fine if the fish is going to be killed and eaten but if it is to be released back in to the water it is unfair to return a damaged fish as it may lead to premature death.

Micro barbed fishing hooks have a very small barb. Semi barbed fishing hooks are easier to remove than barbed fishing hooks but there is still the potential to damage the fish when unhooking it.

Barbless fishing hooks, as the name suggests, have no barb at all. Barbless fishing hooks are the most humane and very easy to get out of the fish’s mouth. Barbless hooks are also very easy to remove from your finger or other body part if you accidentally hook yourself. The biggest disadvantage of barbless hooks is that the fish can roll off them during the fight, which will lead to a lost fish. The only way to prevent this is to keep the line tight during the fight but there is still the possibility the fish will roll of, which is very annoying. Despite the disadvantages barbless fishing hooks are the only hooks that should be used when fishing the catch and release method.

Barbless fishing hooks are the most humane type of hook. If you are fishing catch and release barbless fishing hooks should always be used to ensure there is no long lasting damage to the fish.

Barbless fishing hooks - The most humane for catch and release fishingCredit: yackers1

Many anglers will use the same fishing hook over and over again and not bother to change it. A fishing hook can be used for multiple sessions but I will only ever use a fishing hook for two consecutive sessions and no more. A fishing hook is made of metal and will rust which will reduce its strength and may result in a break if a large fish is hooked, and an angler never wants a fishing hook to fail. I will always inspect a fishing hook before I tie it on and if there are any problems I won’t use it. If the fishing hook is rusty I will throw it away. If the fishing hook is blunt I will throw it away. A fishing hook has to be perfect for me to use it.

When you buy fishing hooks it far more economical to buy in bulk as there are plenty of deals to be had. Fishing hooks can be bought in packs of ten, twenty five or even fifty. Fifty hooks may seem like a lot, and it is but you will end up using them in the end. When storing fishing hooks you need to ensure they remain dry. If the fishing hooks get wet they will rust and will only be good for the bin. If you think fifty fishing hooks are too many why not buy a box with some mates and split them up? This is a very economical way to buy fishing hooks. When buying fishing hooks there is not a “one size fits all” and you will need a variety of different sizes to cover all situations.

There are savings to be made by buying fishing hooks in bulk however you need to keep clear of exceptionally cheap deals. Exceptionally cheap fishing hooks are often made out of inferior materials and normally blunt. These cheap fishing hooks are plentiful on ebay, so care needs to be taken when buying fishing hooks online.

Monofilament line that is used as a hook link. Fishing hooks should never be tied directly to the main reel line.

Monofilament line for a hook linkCredit: yackers1

When using fishing hooks the hook link should always be weaker than the main reel line, since this is a safety measure. If you hook something large, or the fish dives in some weed or a snag the hook link will snap before the main reel line which will limit any damage to the fish. The hook will remain in the fish’s mouth, however if it is a barbless hook (which it should always be) the fish will manage to shed the hook and any trailing fishing line.

So, when it comes to fishing hooks;

1) Always buy the best you can afford but take advantage of bulk buying deals

2) Always inspect the fishing hook before tying it to the main line. If you have any doubts over its quality, don’t use it

3) Always carry a large selection of different sizes

4) Always match the size of the fishing hook to the type of bait and target species

5) Find a pattern you are comfortable and happy with and continue to use