Hooked on Hooks
I never really thought about all the different styles of fishing hooks until I researched this tip segment. Not only are there a myriad of styles but a myriad of slight modifications within each category. So rather than go through the entire lineup let’s discuss the primary hooks used for rigging soft plastics. Each hook is tailored for a specific purpose, but keep in mind that many of these specialty hooks can be used in situations that they were not designed for.
Let’s begin with the anatomy of a hook. Every part of a fishing hook has a name.
Point: The sharp bit that pierces the fish’s mouth.
Barb: A backward-facing spike that stops the hook from coming loose.
Throat: The section of the hook running down from the point.
Bend: Where the hook curves back on itself.
Shank: The same as the throat, but on the blunt end.
Eye: The ring that attaches the hook to a lure or a line.
Gap/Gape: The distance between the throat and the shank.
Over the years there have been many designs created for the hook point. Generally the sharper the better. The more elongated the point tip is the more susceptible it may be to bend or blunt. There are round points, needlepoints, spear points, and knife-edged points just to name a few. Whatever point type you use always keep them sharp with an occasional pass over a hook sharpening stone or file.
As far as sizes go my research has shown that there are slight differences between manufacturers as well as hook styles so all 4/0 hooks may not always be the same size when compared to each other. Generally though for finesse type presentations the smaller and thinner the wire the better and for power fishing the heaviest you can get away with is the choice. Gauge, length and gape/gap are the main considerations. Gauge is the thickness or diameter of the wire, the length is as it should be, how long the shank is. And gape or gap is the distance between the point and the shank or how wide that gap is. It is usually noted as 2X, 3X, or 4X, etc.
The next category is basic hook styles. There are a lot of sub-styles within each category. Basically they fall into these categories:
Octopus, Wacky, Straight shank, Round bend offset and Extra Wide Gap (EWG)
Octopus hooks because of their compact shape and bend style are widely used for drop shotting.
Wacky style hooks are similar in design as the octopus but have a larger gap size for rigging through the center of baits but leaving sufficient room to set a hook.
Straight shanks are mostly used for flipping or pitching into thick cover because the shank stays close to the lure body and has less surface area to snag weeds.
Round bend offsets are great for thinner streamlined baits to keep a slimmer profile.
Extra-wide gaps are specifically used on bulkier baits and for power fishing big lures. Their beefier wire sizes and gaps excel in staying put in heavy cover.
Of course, there are weedless, weighted, screw lock headed and other specialty versions that apply to more specific needs. But the above versions get the POINT:) across.
One other little tidbit. If you are intending to catch and release and fishing for fun, try bending the barb down with a pair of pliers. There is much less damage to the fish and even yourself if hooked. Truthfully you won’t lose as many as you think by doing so.