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Hooks come in all shapes and sizes.  Lets deal with the sizes first, and move on... This side of the page can deal with hooks' various features and their key uses...

Hook Sizes:

Size matters!  Most sea hooks are rated from 1/0 up to > 8/0. 1/0 are quite small and suitable for flatfish, mullet, and most small baits and thus their target species.  Below 1/0 the scale changes and runs from 1 down to 24. 8 is a really small sea hook.  To make matters worse, across the Atlantic, e.g. in the USA, they use a different scale.  For myself, I rarely drop below 1/0 and as rarely go above 4/0 - I have lost too many mid sized fish on bigger hooks where a 4/0 would have been taken more easily by the fish and avoided the 'lippy' hook holds a 6/0 has given me.  The bigger the hook, the more fish you take out of the equation, and the more bait you have to present on it!  The only circumstances in which you use a really small hook, a 6 or 8 is when seeking sole - they have tiny mouths for their size.  Above 6/0 you tend to buy individual forged hooks for use with toothy critters and big fish like sharks, ray, skates, bull huss and conger eel etc.


The shape dictates the use - and there are some pretty wild shapes out there!  Most people will recognise the standard straight shanked hook aka O'Shaughnessy design, illustrated below : -  

Bend the eye away from the hook point to produce an ideal hook for the top hook in a pennel rig - you can do this with a pliers instead of paying extra for specialist hooks, albeit you might weaken the hook slightly.  If the hook is bent in towards the hook point, this is referred to as a "down eye".  Circle hooks are used in tempting big game fish with large baits.  This one is made by Mustad.  One key to using circle hooks is never to "strike" - as it will never set the hook, hardly surprising given the design! Circle hooks are used in livebaiting.  This awful practice is illegal in Ireland.  Circle hooks are used for presenting crab and other larger baits... but do not ask to use live bait as it will only offend an increasing majority of sea anglers.

Types of Hook:

If you like tying your knots, then Spade End hooks are an ideal 'treat' - these have no eye, only a spade end, under which you tie on your line.  Used a lot in coarse fishing...  Baitholder hooks have miniature barbs along the shank, supposedly to keep the bait on better - never seen them work any better than any other long shank hook with a bit of shirring elastic wrapped around the bait!  Forged hooks are for really big fish, especially sharks, skate, conger eel, and other big toothy critters, you have to use a forged hook and typically this is purchased already set up on a wire trace.  Light Wire Hooks are made of a wire that will bend quite easily - it is not a crazy as it sounds.  Wire hooks that bend have certain advantages - they will tear free from snags, they inflict less damage on the fish, and they can be left inside a fish that is deeply hooked.  The fish's stomach acids erodes away any 'wire' hooks quickly.  Finally there are even hooks that will glow in the dark!  Yes, we found them on the web - hooks that glow in the dark.  People have been using light sticks as lures for years, these hooks promise a lot... but do they work!?!  Let me know if they do!


Hooks come primarily from the USA, Japan and Europe (especially Norway and France).  Good manufacturers include VMC, Kamasan, Mustad, Eagle Claw, Tiemco and Owner.  There are plenty of manufacturers, some specialising in specific areas - for example Gamakatsu are reknowned for their salt water flys fishing hooks, Daiichi for the very light wire hooks... and most of these are now available online.  Check out our links.

What do you look for?

All hooks should be in mint condition with no sign of corrosion and the blurp should include words to the effect of "chemically sharpened".  Without needing a PhD, it means that the barb is part of the original hook material and that it will remain strong and sharp - what hook wouldn't want that!  Match the hook to the use you expect to put it to, i.e. the bait you will use and the target species you are seeking.  Long shank hooks work for worms and mackerel strips. Circle hooks work for bulkier baits, trebles for trolling deadbaits, with fine wire hooks useful in weedy marks/estuaries.

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