How to Choose a Fishing Hook

Learn more about fishing hook anatomy, fishing hook sizes, different types and how to sharpen a fish hook.

Choosing a Hook

The most important characteristic of a fish hook is its size. If a hook is too big, a smaller fish won’t be able to get it in its mouth. You’ll feel the strike, but wind up with nothing. If a hook is too small, a larger fish might swallow it entirely. Deep hooking a fish is more traumatic for the fish, and makes it harder to practice catch and release successfully.

Use our Species Explorer to figure out what sort of species of fish are common near you and how big they might be to help pick out a hook that’s an appropriate size.

Fishing Hook Anatomy

The Point: The point of a fish hook is the sharp end that penetrates the mouth of a fish.

The Barb: The barb is the projection extending backwards from the point that keeps the fish from unhooking.

The Eye: The eye is where you connect the hook to the line or lure.

The Bend, Shank, and Gap: The bend is the curve in the hook. The shank is the connection between the bend and the eye. The gap is the distance between the point of the hook and the shank.

Fishing Hook Sizes

Regardless of the types of fishing hooks you’re planning to use, one of the most important considerations before tying a hook to the line is size.

Fishing hook sizes are generally referred to by a number from the smallest (size 32) to the largest (size 19/0). For hook sizes from 32 to 1, the larger the number, the smaller the hook.

For fish hook sizes from 1/0 (called a one aught) to 19/0, the larger the number the larger the hook. See more about fishing hook sizes.

Sharpening a Fish Hook

A sharp hook penetrates more easily, making it easier to set the hook. There are many fishing hook sharpening tools on the market. The important thing is to have one and use it between fishing trips to keep hooks performing well.

Visit our section of Freshwater fishing hooks to learn more about the different kinds of fishing hooks for freshwater.