The first thing to consider when selecting a hook is size – often the bigger the fish being targeted, the bigger the hook required. There are other considerations like the hook’s style, pattern, and strength that need to be considered within the context of the conditions in which the hook will be used, and the target species and bait being used.
Over the years the basic design of the fish hook has not changed, however significant improvements have been made. These include chemical sharpening and the use of lighter but stronger metal alloys. Many early hooks were made of bone, at times even human bone, or reindeer horn. The three main parts of the basic fish hook are the:
The shank is the leg of a hook which extends from the bend up to the eye. Hook shanks are manufactured in many different shapes. The most commonly used are:
Straight Shank: The hook shank is straight from eye to bend.
Curved Shank: Shanks are often curved for specific reasons, e.g. to accommodate a special fly imitation. Various fly hooks require the shank to be shaped so as to imitate the body of a special insect.
Sliced Shank (Bait holder): In order to anchor baits, such as prawns and soft baits, a barb or barbs are cut into the shank.
Knife Edge Point: This is a very sharp point used mainly for big-game fish. Two sides of the point are ground. The inner surface of the barb is flat and wider than normal, thus making it difficult for a big fish to throw the hook.
Needle Point: This is a high-tech process used for making high-grade points. The needle point is ground on all sides so as to get a conical shape, and when properly made it has the best penetrating quality.
Barbless Hooks: “Catch and Release” fishing is now quite popular and in some areas regulations have been introduced in order to protect vulnerable fish populations forcing anglers to release fish caught. By using “barbless” hooks it is easier to unhook the fish and the damage to the fish’s mouth will be minimal. Instead of buying a barbless point it is very common to use a pair of pliers to pinch down the barb.
In order to increase the strength of the bend (by approx. 25%), the wire of the bend is slightly compressed sidewise.
Hook Sizes & Styles
a. Size 8 (Kirby Style)
b. Size 1 (O’Shaughnessy style)
c. Size 2 (Aberdeen style)
d. Size 2 (Carlisle style)
e. Size 10/0 (O’Shaughnessy style)
Hooks come in different sizes and styles. For the beginner angler, looking at all those numbers on the packages of hooks can get confusing. However, once we become aware of how the numbering system works, it is easier to picture what size hook corresponds to what number.
The smallest hook available is about a size 22, and hooks increase in size as they decrease in number to 1.
Following this size, they are numbered 1/0, 2/0, 3/0 and so on. The largest size is generally 20/0.
Smaller 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0, 10/0, 11/0, 12/0 Larger
Choosing a Hook
The type of hook needed depends largely upon the mouth of the fish you want to catch, its size, shape, structure, its feeding habits, preferred bait, and fighting style. The type of hook chosen will also depend on the type of tackle, bait or the lure to be used. Most veteran anglers know how important choosing the right hook can be. For the beginner, studying the many designs, parts, and uses of hooks can certainly pay off. It could mean the difference between celebrating the big catch and mourning the one that got away. Some hooks have packaging that suggest what species they are designed for using text or images, a fishing Team Member can assist you when selecting a hook.
Baitholder hooks have small barbs in their shank to help hold baits on the hook. They are ideal for soft natural baits in both freshwater and saltwater, e.g., yabbies, prawns, cut pilchards, flesh baits, mullet and chicken gut, pippies and mussels. This hook is a real all-rounder for catching carp, bream, snapper, trevally, trout, flathead, bass and a host of other species.
Longshank hooks are another popular hook. They are used for presenting baits such as worms, prawns and yabbies naturally. They are often popular when fishing for whiting and other fish with small mouths that suck the bait into their mouth. They are popular in larger sizes for flathead and fish with teeth because the longer shank prevents the fish from biting through the line.
Beak hooks are popular among anglers fishing for bream in the estuaries. They are also possibly the most popular hook, in a size 5/0 to 8/0, among anglers fishing the reefs. Having the eye of the hook bent outwards also allows these hooks to be snelled together allowing more than one hook to be placed in larger baits.
The Kahle hook has a few other names including Bigmouth and is based on a long line hook that was originally shaped from bone. The design of this hook has the eye directly aligned with the point of the hook which means that the slightest pressure placed on the point of the hook by a fish moving away with the bait pulls directly on the line causing the point to penetrate. This hook is popular among anglers chasing fish that will subtly pick up the bait and move away with it including silver perch and yellowbelly in the fresh and grunter bream in the salt. The shape of this hook also makes them an effective hook for live baiting with baits such as large prawns or poddy mullet.
The circle hook, like the Bigmouth hook, has been popular among long liners for many years. The advantage of using a circle hook, and the reason why they have become popular among marlin and game anglers, is that there is much less chance of gut hooking a fish which is to be released. The shape of the circle hook allows the fish to eat the bait and begin to swim off like any other hook. Once the line pressure begins to pull the hook out of the mouth of the fish a normal hook would penetrate deep in the fish, where a circle hook is unable to penetrate and slides towards the mouth of the fish. As the line pulls the eye of the hook out of the fish’s mouth it causes the hook to roll and the barb to penetrate into the fish, commonly locking on the jaw hinge of the fish. The way to fish this hook then is to allow the fish to pick up and run with the bait, virtually hooking itself. By hooking the fish in the jaw hinge they are also much less likely to work the hook free.
Gang hooks commonly consist of 3 or 4 hooks joined together from eye to bend in series. The advantage of gang hooks is that you can present larger baits more naturally and by having more hooks in the larger bait provides better coverage and an increased chance of a hook up. Many different kinds of hooks can be ganged together but probably the most popular is the Mustad 4202D because it has an open eye which the angler closes with pliers after linking the hooks together. Gang rigs can also be purchased that are already joined together ready to be fished. A common gang rig for fishing pilchards may consist of 3 or 4 Mustad 4202D hooks in a size 4/0 to 6/0.
Treble Hooks are generally used on lures. Using a hook that has 3 barbs pointing out in different directions allows increased opportunity for a hook up as a fish will often violently attack a lure and may also attack it from different angles.
It is the point and barb of a hook that penetrates the fish’s mouth parts and holds it. Regardless of the shank, gap and throat style, we need a sharp point, sharp cutting edges, (if present) and a de-burred barb.
A good file is used to maintain cutting edges and angles on a hook. To sharpen hooks, just follow the blade cutting edges and point angles already on the hook and restore them with a file. Remember, a file only cuts on the forward stroke.
A single sided flat file is effective and inexpensive and should be in every angler’s tackle box.
Files designed specifically for hooks are the most effective.
The Model S Eze-Lap Diamond Sharpener is a conveniently sized diamond steel suitable for sharpening fishing and sporting knives and hooks. Eze-lap sharpeners are recognised as the leader in diamond sharpeners and diamond sharpeners are designed to remove metal creating a truly sharp point. The D shaped steel shaft contains a flat surface ideal for knives while the rounded side contains a groove for hooks. This rounded edge will also do the scalloped edge of sporting knives. The pen type shape and size allows it to slip easily into the pocket, tackle box or backpack so it’s always on hand wherever you are fishing.
Hooks: Grasp the lower edge of the hook between the thumb and first finger. Rub in an up and down movement.
Other Terminal Tackle
As well as hooks there is a range of other terminal tackle anglers use when rigging up to chase a few fish.
Swivels & Snaps
Swivels are designed to stop line twist caused by baits or lures that are spinning in the current or when retrieved. Swivels can also be used to keep the sinker away from the bait, allowing the bait to move more naturally in the water. Swivels come in a range of sizes, with a size 10 being suitable for light rigs for bream and whiting, moving to larger sizes as the class of line being used gets heavier. It is important not to use a swivel that is too large for the line class being used as it will be unable to swivel and therefore not do its job of removing / stopping line twist.
If you are fishing an area where aggressive toothy feeders such as tailor or mackerel are feeding many anglers use a black swivel as gold or chrome swivels can create flash and trigger these fish to bite the swivel, biting through your line in the process. Ball bearing swivels are more expensive but also swivel more easily, making them more effective at stopping / removing line twist.
3 Way Swivels
3 way (crossline) swivels are commonly used on paternoster (dropper, bottom) rigs. They are designed to stop line twist caused by baits spinning in the current or on the retrieve. They also allow an attachment point for a dropper, which is a section of line with a hook attached. This rig will commonly feature a sinker on the bottom and two 3 way swivels with droppers attached allowing the angler to fish two baits for example squid and pilchard / mulie.
Snap swivels are basically a swivel with a snap clip attached. The swivel, as with a standard swivel, stops the line from twisting, while the snap clip allows the angler to quickly and easily attach a pre-made rig or lure. There are a range of different styles of snap clips available and like all swivels they are also rated in terms of breaking strain.
Snap clips are basically snap swivels without the swivel. They are simple a clip that can be attached to your line allowing you to easily attaché pre-made rigs or lures. There are a wide range of different styles available and they are weight rated, so it is important to select a snap that is suitable for the line class being fished and the species being targeted. Snap clips are available in tiny models to suit micro bream lures through to snaps rated to 100s of pounds for large saltwater species. More rounded open designs are ideal for lures as it allows the lure to swim more freely, maximising its action.
Solid rings are designed to be used as a connector between line and leader. They do not offer the anti-twist properties of a swivel but are a light, strong and smooth connection point.
Split rings differ from solid rings because they are an open overlapping loop. They are sometimes used as a connector but there is the possibility of the line working its way out of the ring or being cut on the open section. Split rings are primarily used for attaching treble hooks to lures.
Ball and bean
Ball and bean sinkers are the most popular sinkers used in the standard running rig. They are also used without a swivel, with the sinker straight to the hook, in snagging areas as it helps prevent snagging.
Ball sinkers are shaped like a marble and will roll across the bottom allowing the angler to cover a large area. The bean sinker is a little flatter and will not roll across the bottom as easily, allowing the angler to keep the bait in a desired area.
When fishing in the surf, where the wave action and currents can cause baits to wash back onto the beach, a surf sinker is employed. A surf sinker is round like a ball sinker but squashed flat so that it settles into the sand, much like a pippie, and holds the bait in place.
Split shot sinkers are generally quite small and used to add small amounts of weight to the line. They are commonly round like a ball sinker with a slot in the side of them and they are simply squeezed onto the line. Split shot often come in a small dispenser pack, consisting of a range of sizes, and they are often used to ‘cock’ a float so that there is minimal resistance when a fish tries to pull the float under the water.
Snapper and bomb
The snapper and bomb sinker are designed to be used on a paternoster (dropper, bottom) rig. They range in size from quite small through to over half a kilogram, depending on the depth and current that you are fishing.
By tying a loop knot in the end of your line you can simply change sinker weight by passing the loop through the hole at the top of the sinker and passing the loop over the bottom of the sinker. This allows you to easily adjust the weight of the sinker to suit the conditions without having to tie any knots.
Grapnel (Breakaway), pyramid and star
When fishing a paternoster rig in the surf a grapnel (breakaway), pyramid or star sinker is often employed to lock your bait into the bottom. Once you have cast your bait out into the surf gutter, the last thing you want is the waves and current to wash your bait back up onto the beach. The pyramid and star are simply moulded into a shape that is designed lock into the bottom, while the grapnel sinker on the other hand has a series of metal spikes that anchor it into the bottom, even in extremely rough weather and strong currents. When a fish is hooked or the rod struck firmly the wires on the breakaway sinker unclip and fold away allowing the sinker to come free from the bottom. These wires simply clip back into place ready for your next cast out into the gutter.
Running Sinker Clip / Ezi-rig
A running sinker clip allows you to use sinkers, such as bomb, star and grapnels that would normally be restricted to use in a paternoster (bottom) fishing rig and use them in a running sinker rig. This allows a running sinker rig to be used in fast currents and heavy wave action because you have the ability to use larger sinkers and sinkers that are capable of locking into the bottom.
There are a wide range of floats available to suit a wide range of applications. Floats are ideal for targeting fish that feed higher in the water column, fish that have been attracted to an area through the use of burley, as well as for targeting fish across rough, snaggy bottom where a standard rig would see you continually snagged. As well as a range of sizes, floats come in a range of styles including pencil, blackfish and bobber and with features such as easy clip attachment, as well as some that are pre-weighted and others that have burley holders to bring the fish to the bait.Generally the finer and lighter floats are designed for light gear, calmer water, small baits, fish with small mouths and finicky feeders. Stem, quill and pencil floats are designed for this type of fishing as they are easily pulled below the surface, with less chance of providing resistance and spooking the fish. By ‘cocking’ the float, which simply means weighting them with split shot or sinkers on the line, a float can be set up to offer little resistance to the fish allowing them to easily take the bait. This applies to all floats but these lighter floats can be set up more precisely for finesse fishing. Stem, quill and pencil floats are ideal for targeting species such as gar and mullet.
Blackfish floats as the name suggests were originally designed for chasing blackfish (luderick). They are more buoyant than the finesse stem and pencil style floats which makes them more suitable for faster currents, larger fish and ocean wash around the rocks. They come in a range of sizes to suit a variety of ocean conditions, bait sizes and fish species.
Round bobber floats have been one of the most popular general purpose floats for many years. They are available in a wide range of sizes to suit different fishing applications, baits and fish species. Weighted models are available to make rigging simpler.
Cone floats, sometimes referred to as live bait floats in their larger sizes, are more buoyant and more visible than the range of floats discussed so far. In smaller sizes they are popular for freshwater fishing for yellowbelly and light to medium saltwater work. In larger sizes they are ideal for fishing strong currents, rough water, wash around the rocks and for larger live and dead baits and larger fish species. The added buoyancy makes them more effective and more visible in these more extreme conditions.
Burley floats feature a wire corkscrew that is designed to hold and release burley into the water around your bait and attract bait fish and predatory species to the area. Burley also adds weight to the rig allowing it to be cast further.
Running berley cages are threaded onto your line and can be set at any depth under your float. This allows berley to be dispersed in closer proximity to your bait, however if the float and cage are situated too far apart it can make casting more difficult and decrease casting distance.
Burley Blobs are extremely popular in WA. They are a high density plastic float, making them heavier than foam floats which increases casting distance. They have a swivel from each end to make rigging easy and a hole through the centre that can be filled with burley, again to attract fish to the area where your bait is. By filling the hole in the centre with burley you increase casting weight without taking away from the aerodynamic design of the float and therefore not decreasing casting distance.
Some floats come fitted with swivels, spring clips and stoppers to make rigging easy. For those floats not fitted with these attachment points float stoppers are available. Float stoppers come in two main forms, plastic pins that push into the hole in the float to lock the line against the float and small rubber stoppers that slide firmly onto the line and stop the float from moving along the line. Both of these float stoppers allow easy adjustment of the depth the bait sits below the floatBack to Top