Hooks are available in a range of sizes and styles designed to catch anything from a minnow to a marlin. Hooks also come in many different colors. Despite the myriad of choice which is available, a few basic sizes and styles will most likely suit all your fresh- and saltwater fishing needs.
Fishing Hook Sizes
This article will discuss hook sizes as well as the most common hook styles and their uses.
How hard could it be to think of a system to describe fishing hook sizes in a logical manner? Perhaps a basic numerical measure, with 1 being the smallest size, up to 20 which would be the largest? Or maybe a sizing system, with XXXS to XXXL? (Although there are probably too many hook sizes to make that one work). You get the idea though; both you and I could think of a simple system to use, so surely there is a simple system in use? Unfortunately not.
The size of the hook is based on the gap between the shank of the hook and its shaft (known as its gape) as well as the length of the shaft. It’s given as a number and the bigger the number, the smaller the size of the hook — up to a point. A #22 hook is miniscule and used for tying flies, whilst a #6 hook with a quarter-inch gap is perfect for catching bream. This size system is consistent until you reach a #1 hook. From here, the next size up is a 1/0, then 2/0 and so on, with a 2/0 being a suitable size for plastic worms being used to catch bass. The largest hook is a 10/0 which is big enough for a shark.
The shaft of the hook also has a somewhat standard length. A #6 hook will generally have a shaft about five-eighths to seven-eighths of an inch long. If the number of the hook is followed by another number and an x, it signifies that the shaft is either longer or shorter than normal. For instance, “#6 2x Short” denotes a #6 hook which has a shaft the length of a hook two sizes smaller. A #6 2x Long has a shaft which is the length of a hook two sizes bigger fishing hook sizes.
Generally, the biggest hook you would ever need when fishing in freshwater is a size 1, therefore some fishermen like to look at hooks which are size 1/0 and above as saltwater hooks only, which simplifies the system somewhat.
The size of the hook you should use depends on the size of the fish you are trying to catch, or more specifically, the size of its mouth. A five-pound carp and a five-pound bass are pretty much the same size, but you will need a much smaller hook if you want to catch the carp as it has a far smaller mouth. You also need to consider the size of the bait you’re using with the hook. Live minnows require a larger hook than earthworms, even if being used to catch the same species of fish, as the gap in the hook needs to be wide enough to allow the minnow to move. Just try to keep in mind that you can catch both big and small fish with a small hook, but only big fish with a big hook
How Fishing Hook Sizes Work
You can save a lot of money buying hooks online, but do not get burned buying the wrong size hook. Here is a useful diagram I made to help show how fishing hook sizes work.
Fishing Hook Size
A hook’s measurement is defined on a spectrum by “Sizes” and “Aughts”. “Sizes” are smaller while “Aughts” are larger, with 1/0 (Pronounced One – Aught) being the middle or median of the scale. On the smaller end of the spectrum you would have a Size 10, on the larger end of the spectrum you would have a 10/0 (Pronounced Ten-Aught) with 1/0 generally in the middle.”Sizes” are the inverse of “Aughts”, as “Size” gets larger the hooks are smaller, as “Aught” gets larger the hooks are larger. Example: A Size 6 hook is 10 times smaller than a 6/0 hook. You would fish for Panfish with a Size 6, you would fish for Sturgeon with a 6/0.
The Baitholder Hook is the best hook to get started fishing
The Baitholder is a very versatile hook that allows you to start fishing the basics. Use this hook for worms, insects, and grocery store concoctions. The baitholder hook is great for using natural bait because it has 2 barbs on the shank that keep the bait from falling off the hook.
Alternatives to worms include 3-4 kernels of corn, a slice of hotdog, or a balled piece of bread. You may want to go down a size to #6 for pesky panfish, but this will be more challenging to bait and remove from the fish for those just starting out. Use the Larger #2 with a full Nightcrawler for Walleye, and move up to a larger 1/0 with a full Nightcrawler on a Texas Rig or Carolina Rig for Bass.
Octopus Hook for Live Minnows & Leeches
Best for Live Minnows and Leeches, the short shank with a wide gap on an Octopus hook is great for hooking large fish. Use a smaller #6 or #4 for 1-2″ minnows and small leeches to target Perch and Crappie. Use the medium size #4 & #2 on larger 3-4″ minnows and jumbo leeches for Walleye. Lastly, the 1/0 is great with larger 4-6″ minnows used to target Pike and Bass. Red is a popular color for Octopus Hooks as it signals to your presentation at deeper depths.
Aberdeen Hooks for Insects & Removal
Thin, long wire shanks make these hooks great for fragile bait, removing swallowed hooks, and freeing up your line in a snag. Aberdeen hooks will bend, but that’s great because it serves their purpose. The thin wire makes this hook an ideal design for bottom fishing cats. When you are snagged the hook will bend and twist for an easier release. Use the smaller #4 for insects like crickets and grasshoppers to target Trout and Panfish. The light wire keeps these fragile baits in tact, and the long shank lets you easily remove the hook. Use the #2 & 1/0 with a ball of Nightcrawlers for Catfish.
Popular hooks can be found with the sizes above in our Fishing Hooks Kit.
Wide Gap Hooks
The less common Wide Gap hooks are used with large Minnows or Cut-Bait. Think of them as a narrower version of the Circle Hook. The Wide Gap allows you to target big Cats and Largemouth Bass, while keeping a tighter profile for Live Bait presentations or covering your hook shank more thoroughly with Cubit. 2/0 is a popular size for both techniques.
Treble Hook for Dough Bait & Lure Replacement
Treble hooks are often associated with Lures such as Crankbaits, Spoons, and Spinners. However, Treble Hooks are also effective for Dough Baits and Nuggets as the 3 prongs secure your soluble bait longer than a single barbed hook.
For targeting Catfish, we recommend using a Size 4 Treble Hook to pair with your Dough Bait.
For Trout, a Size 12 Treble Hook is a small, precise medium for securing Trout Nuggets.
Most of the common lures, in popular sizes have #6 Treble Hooks attached. It is a good idea to keep a a few of these on hand for rusty or dull hooks that need replacement.
Worm Hooks for Soft Plastic Baits
Worm hooks pair with soft plastic worms are a popular staple among Bass fishermen. These artificial models are typically 4-8″ in length, while profile depends on the style of lure. The most popular hook is an EWG Worm Hook, and the most common sizes range in 2/0-4/0. Use a 3/0 EWG Worm Hook for the majority of soft plastic Bass baits. Round Bend Worm Hooks are also a popular option and are often used in more finesse situations rigged with slender plastic worms. Use a 1/0 Round Bend hook for Worms 6 to 7 inches and a 2/0 for worms 8-10 inches.
Hook Pairings for Soft Plastics
EWG Worm Hooks are often paired with thicker diameter soft plastics such as Stick Worms, Soft Jerkbaits, Beaver Baits, and Creature Baits. However, EWG Hooks are common to use with every style. Round Bend Worm Hooks are used to target Bass with slender profile soft baits. Often paired with Finesse Worms and Ribbon Worms which are longer and narrow for a concealed presentation.
Popular among saltwater anglers and great for conservation efforts. However, these are less common in Freshwater, as they facilitate “Cut-Bait” most effectively. Use a 5/0 Circle Hooks when targeting Catfish with Cut pieces of Shad or Carp.
Final Note on Hook Size
Fishing hook sizes can be confusing, so reference these diagrams when you are making purchases online. Hooks in the Size # range get smaller as the numbers get larger. Hooks in the Aught / range get bigger as the numbers get larger.
First thing first: What is a fishing hook size?
A fishing hook size is simply the measurement of the gap between a fishing hook’s point and shank.
The shank, point, barb, and eye are the four components of a fishing hook. A fishing hook’s shank is the long, straight section. It extends from the gap (the cut-out region between the point and shank) to near where it meets with the eye at its end. The size of your bait can.
The point is the most critical component of a fishing hook, as it allows your hook to pierce an animal’s mouth when you’re attempting to catch fish. It’s also what makes or determines whether it’ll be simple for an angler to pull their caught fish from the water. A decent fishing hook point should be sharp, thin, and robust.
The barb is a small projection on the bottom of the shank that keeps your bait from being removed by any predator once it’s been hooked. The thicker its diameter, the better your catch will be protected during a fierce struggle with a fish or another predator.
A fishing hook’s eye is the end of the line or lure that connects to it, and it’s typically composed of stainless steel. The manner in which an angler ties their knots also affects how well a fishing hook holds on firmly throughout your entire outdoor excursion.
What are the most common fishing hook sizes?
Fishing hooks sizes range from tiny #32 and up to giant 20/0.
In between the scale goes from #32 to #1 and then keeps growing from 1/0 to 20/0.
To get an idea of the actual size, a #6 hook gap is 9mm in width, while a 2/0 hook gap is 17mm. we have a full Fishing Hook Size Chart you can learn more about and find your preferred hook size.
The most common freshwater fishing hook sizes are from #20 for flies to a big 10/0 for catfish, while for saltwater and boat fishing they get larger to handle sea monsters.
At this point, my son showed his brilliant mind (forgive me for this :), and asked me “What hook size should I use if there are different species and sizes?”
Of course, I was proud of him because his question shows a good grasp of the situation. As for the answer, my short version was: Pick the smallest hook size you can get away with (I got A menacing look to remind me of the grouper who got away…)
The longer answer is that you have another option – If you want to hook a big fish and decrease the chance of losing him to wick-hook (or line, or rod), go bigger and know that you’ll miss all small-medium fishes in your spot.
He accepted my longer explanation and asked:
So what hook should I use for the grouper that got away? (Or largemouth bass, or catfish, etc.)
Many newbie anglers ask this question in similar words; the most common is “How do you know what size fishing hook to use?“
As for my son and his specific case, I said, “I’m guessing the grouper was a 10lb (4.5kg) grouper, so a size 2/0 should be sufficient. But a size 2/0 hook would not help you because your junior rod would have snapped under its weight”.
For all anglers asking this general question, generally speaking, you should use the smallest-sized fishing hook that will still fit the bait. utilizing a hook too large for the appeal will often result in missed fish.
As you can probably understand, we’re entering a wider world of baits and the species they are fit to.
Here are a few examples:
- A small fishing hook (#6 – #2) is excellent for use with live bait, like minnows, that would work perfectly for walleye and trout.
- For larger baits, like cut bait or chunks of fish, you’ll want to use a medium or large fishing hook (2/0 – 5/0) that would work well with salmon and gar.
- If you’re using artificial lures, experiment until you find the best size for the lure and fishing conditions. Fishing hooks can be as small as a #16 hook for fishing tiny lures or as large as a #4 hook for fishing more extensive, heavier baits.