Sea Fishing Tackle

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Hook Sizes & Types Explained

Hooks are hooks in most anglers' minds. They figure they either need a big one or a small one, depending on the fish they are pursuing. Lots of anglers go through life completely missing the importance of using not only the right size sea hook, but probably most importantly the right type of sea hook.

It's not just pure fishing luck that makes the difference in all sea anglers catching more than you. Most of the time it's the hook choice you make on the day. A thick forged hook is not the right choice for small fish, fish with small mouths or soft lipped fish. A thin Aberdeen wire hook that can penetrate quickly in the inside of the mouth would be a better choice however you would also need a hook that holds its strength and shape.

Hook size is probably the first thing a sea angler should think of when buying hooks. Most are smart enough to know which hook is the right size for the fish they are after but it takes experience. Sizes from most manufacturers range from the very smallest freshwater trout hook at a number 32, to the very largest game fish hook at 19/0.

The size breakdown from smallest to largest looks like this:32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 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, 13/0, 14/0, 15/0, 16/0, 17/0, 18/0, and 19/0.

In sea fishing in the UK, average range is from a Size 1 to a Size 10/0 been a boat hook. For example Mackerel fishing, you should be using a size 1/0 hook, for Pollack from the shore you could use a size 3/0 or 4/0 and also you can use this size for most bottom fishing needs. Flatfish you are better off using a size 1 or 1/0 due to their small mouths. Remember all of these hooks come in a short, regular, or long shank version. The shank of the hook is the part between the eye of the hook and the bend. For example long shanks are very well suited for Sandeel baits, Lug or Rag threaded up the shank for a more natural presentation.

Fish hooks also come in several types. Knowing a few of the more popular ones and their uses can help you be successful:

This hook is named for the specific design of the hook. It's a standard hook, forged with a very strong bend. This hook is relatively thick, very strong, and not likely to bend out of shape. Generally designed for saltwater, it is good for general bottom fishing use. Sizes range from #3 to as large as 19/0.


They are generally made from shaped wire. Unlike the O'Shaughnessy, it can and does bend. It can be bent back into shape several times before it becomes too weak. However, once a fish is hook and the barb has completely penetrated, this hook holds very well. These hooks are modified with bends in their shanks for use in jig molds.

Perhaps the best innovation in hooks to come along, circle hooks promote healthy catch and release. The design of the hook itself, when used properly, prevents fish from being hooked in the gut. Many sea anglers have a problem using these hooks because they require no hook set. If you do try to set the hook, it will generally come out of the mouth of the fish. These hooks are designed to move to the corner of the fish's mouth and set themselves as the fish swims away from you. Anglers feel a bite and simply begin reeling, slowly at first, then faster as the hook gets set.

These hooks generally have a shorter shank than other hooks. Whether that is to allow the live bait to swim more freely or to be less apparent to the fish is debatable. My vote is to allow the bait to swim more freely. These hooks come in regular and circle designs. Regular live bait hooks will be swallowed and result in gut hooks most of the time. Circle live bait hooks provide a greater chance for a good release.

Baitholder Hooks - These are very widely used by sea anglers. These are good hooks for worm bait they have a ringed eye and have 2 slices or barbs in the shank to assist with holding the bait up the shank of the hook.

The curve on these hooks makes them ideal for live bait. Made from the same wire as the Aberdeen hooks, they will bend if hung on the bottom of some structure. However, once a fish is hooked, the design of the hook prevents it from being straightened.
Hook Choice!

First, use common sense. As simple as that may sound, I can't tell you the number of times I have seen people make some really bad hook choices. Match the hook size with the fish!
Second, use some trial and error and learn from your mistakes. No one became a good fisherman overnight. All of us had to learn either from someone else or by trial and error.
Thirdly, get a good brand of hook, such as Sakuma or Mustad. Try to avoid cheap hooks for the reason that they are just not up for the job, you don't want to let that fish of a life time get away because of a crap hook bend out on you! If you are going to spend any money on Terminal tackle you hooks should be the number one first choice.

My personal favourites are Sakuma Singers and Mustad Worm hooks for flatfish and Mustad Aberdeen and Ultra Point Bass Hooks for Bottom Fishing for Huss off the rocks where a stronger hook is needed but a larger gape for bigger baits is required.

Finally, to all of you who are new to fishing, try taking these examples and build your learning experiences upon them. Trial and error are often the best teachers in any skill.

Hook Sizes & Types Explained

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