Choosing the Right Hooks

I’m consistently amazed at people who spend thousands of dollars on their boat and hundreds of dollars on their fishing trip, yet refuse to pony up a few extra cents for some good hooks. Underwater video often shows salmon nipping and mouthing the bait, finally swimming away unhooked.

The hapless and clueless fisherman is sitting above, dutifully dodging seaweed, other boats and the occasional log wondering why fishing is so slow. Finally he notices a bite, grabs his rod and starts adjusting the reel, only to realize the salmon has come unhooked.

But when it’s decision time in the hook aisle at the fishing store, there are so many choices. Stainless hooks, circle hooks, octopus style, siwash hooks–the vast array can be confusing to say the least. Then there’s the prices. Why spend a couple bucks on a hook when I can get a pretty good one for 20 cents?


With the invention of chemically sharpened hooks, I reach for the whet stone or file more and more infrequently. Most hook manufacturers offer some type of pre-sharpened hook, but all hooks are not created equal. The different brands vary in shape, thickness, and sharpness.


Gamakatsu hooks are in my top 2 favorite fishing hooks of all time. They are deadly sharp and they set easily. An all-around great choice.


Electrolysis in the saltwater also seems to burn the points off a little quicker than other brands. The nickel colored hooks seem to disintegrate the quickest and the red ones aren’t much better. The black ones are best.

When fishing barbless, what makes the Gamakatsu a deadly hook as far as sharpness and hooksetting abilities works against it when fishing barbless. The super strong narrow diameter wire they use to build the hooks seems to fall out rather easily once the barb is pinched.


My favorite hooks are made by the brand Owner. Most of the better tackle shops carry them, but they are expensive–generally about $1 each. I like the Cutting Point model, because they have a very sharp point that holds it’s edge for days in saltwater. When fishing barbless, the hook widens out below the tip, helping the hooks stay in and giving you an added edge.


For plugs and spoons I usually fish with a large stainless single hook. I use Coyote spoons fairly frequently, but I ALWAYS change the hook to something at least 50% larger. They make a deadly spoon, but they equip it with a wimpy hook.

For some reason, some hooks don’t seem to sharpen very well. I find this most often when attempting to sharpen large plug or spoon hooks that are made from stainless steel. I suspect that in some cases, the quality of the metal is not very good, so it’s difficult to hone a razor sharp point. If I can’t get a good point after a couple of minutes, I’ll generally toss it and find another.

I bend the curve and point of the hook with a pair of strong pliers so they are not in line with the shank. This seems to help in hooksetting. If you need a visual clue, look at the difference in shape between a Siwash hook and an Eagle Claw hook. Try to give your hook the same type of bend.