Hook sizes explained

The Ins and Outs of Hook Sizes: A Primer for Anglers

Understanding the intricacies of hook sizes is fundamental to successful angling. Whether you’re a beginner looking to secure your first catch or a seasoned pro aiming to land a record-breaker, choosing the right hook size can significantly increase your chances of success. This guide will demystify the world of hook sizes, providing a clear, concise understanding of selecting the right hook for various fish species and environments. Let’s dive in and reel in some knowledge!

Understand Hook Sizes

The size of a fish hook is referred to by a number and possibly a prefix/suffix. In hook sizing, the higher the number, the smaller the hook. For instance, a size 1 hook is significantly larger than a size seven hook. Generally, sizes from 1 to 14 are used for most freshwater fishing, while hooks sized 15 to 25 catch species like Surf perch and Sea Bass

However, when it comes to large hooks, the sizing system flips. These hooks are represented with a ‘/0’ after the number, and here, the larger the number, the bigger the hook. These hooks are commonly referred to as ‘aughts.’ So, a 1/0 hook is smaller than a 2/0, smaller than a 3/0, and so on. These larger hooks, ranging from 1/0 to 20/0, are used primarily for big saltwater species.

Understanding this numbering system is essential for selecting the appropriate hook size for the species of fish you aim to catch.

Here is a simplified table to help you match hook sizes with commonly targeted fish species:

Hook SizeCommonly Targeted Species
1-6Panfish , Bream
6-14Trout, Bass
15-25Surf perch, Sea Bass
1/0-5/0Larger Bass, Catfish, Small Saltwater Species
6/0-10/0Grouper, Snapper, Medium Saltwater Species
11/0-20/0Shark, Giant Tuna, Large Saltwater Species

Fishing Hook Parts

Understanding the different parts of a fishing hook is just as important as knowing the sizes. Here is a breakdown of the essential components:

Fishing Hook Parts

The Eye

The eye of the hook is the circular part where the fishing line is attached. There are various styles, including a ringed eye, tapered eye, and needle eye, each providing a unique way to secure your line.

The Shank

The shank is the straight part of the hook that extends from the eye to the bend. The length of the shank can affect how a fish is hooked. Longer shanks are more accessible for the fish to see and may be beneficial when using live bait.

The Bend

The bend is the curved part of the hook that leads to the point. The shape of the bend can impact the hook’s effectiveness. Some hooks have wider bends for larger baits, while others have narrower bends for smaller baits.

The Point

The point is the hook’s sharp end penetrating the fish’s mouth. There are several styles of points, including needle, rolled-in, and knife-edge points. Each style has specific advantages depending on your fishing technique and target species.

The Barb

The barb is a small projection extending backward from the point. It is designed to prevent fish from unhooking. While effective, it can make unhooking the fish more challenging and potentially harm the fish, mainly if catch-and-release is intended.

Understanding these parts’ roles can help you choose the right hook for your fishing needs.

Treble Hook Sizes

Treble hooks have three points and come in various sizes, from 1 to 1/0 for freshwater fishing and 1/0 to 12/0 for saltwater species. They are commonly used with lures and artificial baits like crankbaits, spoons, and spinners. Treble hooks can be effective at catching a wide range of fish.

Treble hooks are a unique type of hook that you might encounter in your angling adventures. These hooks consist of three points, all connected to a single eye. These three-pronged hooks increase the chance of a successful catch, mainly when using lures. 

Circle Hook Sizes

Circle hooks offer a unique design to ensure a higher hook-up rate and safer catch-and-release. These hooks are characterized by a pronounced circular shape – the point of the hook points back towards the shank, creating a circular profile.

Circle Hook Sizes

Circle hook sizes range from tiny one hooks to 19/0 for monster species. For instance, the smaller sizes, from 1 to 6, are typically used for freshwater fishing, targeting species like trout and panfish. Sizes 4 to 15 are ideal for larger freshwater fish and small to medium saltwater species like bass and flounder. 

For larger saltwater species, hooks ranging from 16 to 19/0 are preferable. It’s important to remember that, similar to standard hook sizes, the larger the number after the slash, the larger the hook. For example, a 19/0 circle hook is significantly larger than a 2/0.

Hook Costs by Size

The cost of hooks can significantly vary based on their size, type, and quality. Smaller hooks, such as sizes 1 to 6, are generally more affordable, ranging from $0.10 to $0.50 per hook. Medium-sized hooks, such as sizes 6 to 15, can cost around $0.50 to $1.00 each. 

Larger hooks, particularly those used for saltwater fishing, like sizes 16 to 19/0, can be more expensive due to their larger size and the robust materials used to withstand larger, more substantial fish; these can range from $1.00 to $5.00 or more per hook. 

It’s important to note that these are approximate costs, and prices can vary based on brand, quality, and location. Regardless of cost, investing in the correct hook size and type for your target species ensures an enjoyable and successful fishing experience.

Hook Materials and Finishes

Fishing hooks are crafted from various materials to ensure strength, durability, and corrosion resistance. The most common material is high-carbon steel, known for its hardness and durability. Some hooks are made from stainless steel, highly valued for its rust resistance, especially for saltwater fishing. 

In addition to the base material, hooks often undergo various finishes for enhanced performance. Some are coated with nickel or gold for added corrosion resistance, while others feature a black or red finish to reduce the hook’s visibility underwater. Bronze hooks are also prevalent, especially for freshwater fishing, due to the material’s natural corrosion resistance.

Another prevalent finish is Teflon or PTFE, which provides a smooth surface for easier penetration. Chemically sharpened hooks have an additional finish that allows for a sharper point, improving the hook’s effectiveness.

Each material and finish offers specific benefits, and the choice largely depends on your fishing environment, target species, and personal preference. Understanding these options can help you choose the most suitable hook for your fishing needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about hook sizes and their answers:


Hooks are an essential component of fishing gear and come in various sizes to accommodate different species and techniques. Understanding hook sizes and their corresponding uses can significantly improve your chances of a successful catch. Whether you’re using treble hooks for lure fishing or circle hooks for catch-and-release, knowing the right size and type can make all the difference in your angling adventures.