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First the definition: A fishing hook is a hook used to catch fish. It may be barbed or barbless. It is usually attached to a fishing line. In general the hook is concealed within the bait or trailed closely behind or within the lure.

I just got back from my regular tackle shop and I saw a group of young anglers looking at the rack for hooks. They looked puzzled and couldn't decide what hooks to use. And usually they will go for the mid range - the one that's the "average size".

Who could blame them there are more than 50,000 different hook designs out there.

Here we try to shed some light on hooks.

Where is a good place to start but from sizing and naming conventions of the major categories of hooks and in fact is a very important part of your tackle because the type of hook you select will make a difference, and hook selection depends on the species of fish being sought.

Parts of a Hook

Fishing hooks come in many shapes and sizes and materials each variety serving a different purpose. Here is a brief overview of the parts that make up a fly-fishing hook.

The Eye is where your leader is threaded
and tied.

The Bend is the part that is curved.

The Shank of the hook is the straight
part that extends from behind the eye to the beginning of the bend.

The Gap is lies between the shank and
point of the hook.

The Barb is what makes a hook stick in a
fishes mouth (or your body parts). Some CnR anglers will remove the barbs before
using. This is to ensure easy de-hooking of the fish.

Hook Sizes- Size does matter

Fishing hooks use a twofold numbering scheme that measures from the smallest hook to the largest hook.

The smallest hook readily available is size 24. This is a hook with a 1/16 of an inch gap and it’s used for tiny fishes such as whiting or Tamban (sardines). As the size number decreases, the width of the hook gap increases, all the way to a size 1. A size 1 hook has a gap about ½ inch in width.

At this point the numbering scheme changes and begins with 1/0 , which is larger in size than a number 1 and goes all the way up to 20/0, the largest commercially made hook.

Don't bother remembering the numbers because there isn't really a standard although most manufacturers should make hooks pretty close to this numbering scheme. Variations still occurs.

For novice angles I would recommend a size 1 up to size 3/0. However a study of the anatomy of the target fish is important to decide upon the best choice of hook.

Types of Hooks:

Hook offset: For Up eyed hooks the shanks require more force and heavier line to set. And must be snelled in order to allow proper setting. On straight-eye hooks, tie directly with your favorite knot.

Besides sizes of hooks you would need to pay attention to the thickness of the hook depending on the target fish.


(From the Scientific Catch-and-Release Studies - South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)
Non-offset Circle hooks gut hooked the least number of fish in both studies (sub-adults and adults). Offset Circle hooks were intermediate. J-hooks gut hooked the most fish in both studies.

Despite the fact that offset Circle hooks gut hooked an intermediate number of fish, the largest percentage of these fish died as a result of hooking injuries.

When fishing for adult red drum, Non-offset Circle hooks caught almost 2 times as many fish as J-hooks did. They also gut hooked substantially fewer fish than J-hooks did.

The best hook to use when you will RELEASE some of your red drum is the Non-offset Circle hooks.

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Key West Fishing

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