How to Choose Fishing Hooks

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

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 it strike but more than likely only end up with a hook stripped of its bait. 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 so knowing which fishing hooks to choose out of your fishing hook selection is vital to success.

Beginners generally start out with a prepackaged fishing hook selection consisting of a variety of fishing hook types and sizes. You may also wish to add a hook remover to your fishing gear tackle box to assist with difficult-to-remove fishing hooks.   

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 fishing hooks of an appropriate size.

Fishing Hook Anatomy

While there are multiple types of freshwater fishing hooks and saltwater fishing hooks: bait, circle, treble and a host of specialty hooks, they all share the same basic 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: The bend is the curve in the hook.

The Shank: The shank is the connection between the bend and the eye.

The Gap: The gap is the distance between the point of the hook and the shank.

While the J-shaped bait hook remains the most popular of beginner fishing hooks, barbless fishing hooks are increasingly being added to the fishing hook selections of younger anglers. 

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 your fishing hook selection ready for use.

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