All About Hooks


 (A) The Point -- Must be sharp. The longer the point, the longer it takes to penetrate. Reduce barbs with a file to ensure quick penetration.

(B) The Bend and Shank -- Shank wire gauge and weight and hook size must match line weight. A thick-shanked #1 won't sink past the barb if the hookset is fueled by a light-action rod and 4-pound line. Some steel shanks have less torque or bend during a hookset. Others bend easily. Which you choose depends on the situation.

(C) The Eye -- Eyes are straight, turned down, or turned up. The design determines the knot you use and the rigging application. Turned-up eyes are used for livebait snells, straight eyes for pitching bait coupled with a lead shot. Turned-down eyes are used with crawler rigs.

(D) Hook Gap -- Critical. Small gaps don't grab and hold as quickly or efficiently as large gaps. Use the largest gap you can get away with. Bending the base of the shank of a hook out 5 to 10 degrees opens the gap enough on some hooks to improve hookups.

(E) The Throat -- It must be just deep enough to allow flesh to pass the barb. Short's better than long for most walleye applications.


Most fishermen prefer a #8 for leeches and small crawlers, a #6 for crawlers, and a #6 or #4 for minnows. The trend among good fishermen, though, is to use a size or two larger hook when they can get away with it. Increased hook size increases the size of the hook gap, which tends to improve hooking percentage.


Hooks can be straight or offset. "Kirbed" hooks are offset left; "reversed" hooks are offset right. While a theoretical case can be made for offsetting left instead of right, or vice versa, it has little to do with basic fishing.

Fishermen who prefer offset hooks believe they increase the potential to catch hold. Offset hooks require slightly more force to sink in, however. Other fishermen prefer straight hooks. To ensure high-percentage hooking, some fishermen increase gap size by fishing a larger hook -- a #6 instead of a #8, and so on.


Up-eye hooks must be snelled to create direct pull, where line and hook point move in the same direction. On straight-eye hooks, tie directly with your favorite knot.


Small (2- to 4-inch minnows) or leeches -- #4 to 1/0 light-wire wide gap hooks (Eagle Claw 42, Daiichi D18, Gamakatsu 514 & 504)

Nightcrawlers -- #8 to #2 baitholder hooks with barbs on the shank (Eagle Claw 181, Daiichi D24)

Medium (3- to 5-inch) minnows, crayfish, waterdogs and leopard frogs -- #2 to 2/0 wide-gap hooks (Eagle Claw 42, Daiichi D18, Gamakatsu 514 & 504)

Large (6- to 10-inch) minnows (particularly shiners) and other large livebaits -- 1/0 to 10/0 wide-gap or kahle-style hooks (Eagle Claw 42 or 141, Gamakatsu 514)

Various livebaits in heavy cover situations -- #1 to 4/0 hooks with wire weedguards (Eagle Claw 249WA or 151WA, Mustad 3369)

To avoid gut-hooking fish -- 1/0 to 6/0 circle hooks (Eagle Claw L702, Gamakatsu Circle Octopus, Daiichi Bleeding Bait Circle).


New hooks are designed for particular plastic baits or are weighted to give a different look to standard presentations. Jigheads also alter the action of worms, craws, tubes, grubs, and lizards. Lindy-Little Joe's Floatin' Fuzz-E-Grub is a floating, swimming jighead that raises Carolina-rigged baits higher off the bottom.

(1) Mustad Needle Power Lock Series; (2) 1/0 Tournament Lures Point Plus Shadoss; (3) 1/8 ounce hBlue Fox Hidden Head; (4) 3/0 Oldham's Mega-Bite; (5) 1/0 HP Hook; (6) 3/0 Owner Rig'N Hook; (7) 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG; (8) Bait Rigs Odd'ball Jig; (9) Legacy-Loc Jig; (10) Jaker; (11) Katsuichi Violence Jighead; (12) Lindy-Little Joe Floatin' Fuzz-E-Grub.

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