Bass Hooks – The Ultimate Guide
There’s many a slip between the hook and the lip of a largemouth bass, but the number of slip-ups that let bass escape can be cut dramatically by using quality bass hooks in the right size and style for your fishing tactics.
Fortunately, quality hook-makers offer just about every conceivable design for bass anglers, and chemically-sharpened hooks have extra-slippery coatings that make point penetration even more certain.
There are a number of established hook designs that the long experience of thousands of anglers have proven most effective for various soft plastic and hard baits. The designs must be sized to the bait and the tackle, of course, but here’s a look at what usually works best for most waters.
Offset Worm Hooks
Offset worm hooks like the Hayabusa WRM114HD Round Bend are probably the most-used bass fishing hook in the nation because they’re used for Texas-rigging plastic worms and many creature baits. It’s designed with a dog leg in the wire near the eye, and this double bend allows a rigged plastic worm to sit perfectly straight on the hook when the barb is inserted at just the right distance in the belly of slender bait.
You slide a worm on head first, bringing the point out about a quarter inch from the head, then up and over the dogleg until the eye of the hook is hidden in the worm. Bring the point up through the belly so the worm remains straight and just barely exposes the hook point and you’re ready to catch bass in the thickest cover any lake has to offer.
The same style hook with a longer section from the eye to the dogleg and a bigger bend is also very effective for fishing soft frogs like Z-Man’s deadly GOAT ToadZ and other creature baits because this puts the hook where you can “Texpose” it, just barely burying the point in the plastic so that it will come through pads, mats and brush every time without snagging. Use the largest size hooks for the largest, fattest soft plastics. Some hooks are “big bend” or extra wide gap (EWG) designs better suited to thicker lures—again, choosing the best offset hook size for bass depends on several factors, including the size of the bait you are using and the type of bass you are targeting. Sizes 1/0 to 6/0 allow fitting a variety of bait thicknesses perfectly.
Drop Shot Hooks
Drop Shot hooks, short shank, and fine wire models like the Hayabusa DSR132 are suitable for presenting small baits in finesse situations where a lure is often wacky-rigged with the point fully exposed. They’re typically used in sizes 1, 2, 1/0, and 2/0 and are made of fine wire that’s carefully tempered for strength. Since the hook goes through an O-ring on the worm body, or through the head of a small worm, smaller hooks can stick any fish that bites.
When choosing a drop shot hook, here are some things to consider:
Hook size: The size of the hook is essential, as it determines the type of fish you can catch. Smaller hooks are best for smaller fish, while larger hooks are better for larger fish.
Shape: The shape of the hook can influence its ability to hold onto the bait and the fish. Drop shot hooks come in various shapes, including straight shank, offset, and circle hooks. Straight shank hooks are best for rigging soft plastics, while offset hooks are ideal for live bait. Circle hooks are suitable for catch-and-release fishing.
Material: Hooks can be made from different materials, including steel, carbon, and titanium. Steel hooks are strong and durable, but they can rust easily. Carbon hooks are lighter and rust-resistant, but they are not as strong as steel hooks. Titanium hooks are the strongest and most durable but are also the most expensive.
Eye position: The position of the hook’s eye can affect its effectiveness. A drop shot hook with an upward-facing eye will provide a better hookset, while a downward-facing eye will provide a more natural presentation of the bait.
Straight Shank Hooks
Straight shank hooks like the Hayabusa FPP Straight are sometimes preferred for fishing the heaviest cover when flippin’, pitching, or punching a plastic worm, on the theory that they go through weed mats and other thick stuff more easily than other designs. Used in heavy-duty flippin’ hooks with heavy braid, they may also be stronger since they have no extra bends in the shank. The FFP has a small keeper just below the eye to help keep baits in place. They’re typically used in 3/0 to 6/0 depending on bait size and often made of thicker, high-carbon steel since they may be fished on 65-80 pound test braid in the heaviest cover.
Choosing the best straight shank hook size for bass fishing depends on several factors, including the size of the bait you are using and the type of bass you are targeting, but one important thing to remember about straight shank hooks is that they have a smaller gap than other hook types, such as offset hooks. If you are using a straight shank hook for bass fishing, make sure that the gap is large enough to ensure that the hook can penetrate the fish’s mouth and set properly.
Sickle hooks like the, Hayabusa Spin Muscle, have an angular shape to the bend, rather than a round bend. Anglers who prefer these hooks say they help keep fish hooked due to the angle of the point relative to the shank, and those who fish live minnows and shad as bait say the sickle design helps keep lively baitfish on the hook, as well. Sizes used are typically 1 to 3/0 except for big baits like wild shiners, where the size may be up to 5/0.When choosing the best sickle hook for bass fishing, here are a couple of things you may want to think about.
Gap Width: The gap width of a sickle hook is the distance between the hook point and the shank. A wider gap can help to improve hook sets and increase the chances of catching fish.
Hook Point: Sickle hooks come with various point styles, such as needlepoint, knife edge, and round bend. The type of hook point you choose will depend on the type of bait you are using and the structure you’ll be fishing in.
Treble hooks are used on the vast majority of hard plastic lures, but many of the stock hooks are substandard. Replacing them with high-grade, ultra-sharp hooks like Hayabusa TBL930 will mean more of the fish that hit get stuck securely. Experimenting with the size of trebles can also improve the action of some lures. For example, if you want a hard jerk bait to go deeper, you might increase the size of the front treble to force the nose down. If you want a topwater to sit nose-up, you put a larger treble on the tail. Hayabusa’s fluorine coating also decreases rust on hooks put away wet. Sizes 2 through 8 work for most bass lures.
Wacky Rig Hooks
Wacky rig hooks like Hayabusa’s WRM962, which includes a weed guard, allow rigging small worms and other soft baits to come through brush and grass without sticking or picking up debris. Wacky rigs are typically used in relatively shallow water and are great just before and after the spawn. The company also makes a lighter version, the WRM961 WG, for a slower sink rate, and additionally makes these hooks without the weed guard for open-water fishing. Sizes 2 to 2/0, matched to the size of the bait or the sink rate preferred, do the job.
Trailer hooks help assure that bass-hitting fast-moving single-hook spinnerbaits and buzzbaits get stuck. Designs like the Hayabusa WRM929 are designed to keep the hook horizontal when fitted to the main hook of most spinnerbaits, with an oval eye to keep the hook trailing true. They come packed with rubber stoppers to slide on the main hook above and below the trailer to keep it straight, in sizes from 1 to 3/0. Fishing a spinnerbait or buzzbait without a trailer usually results in lots of missed strikes. (On the other hand, the trailer also makes the lure more likely to pick up weeds or get snagged—it’s a tradeoff.)
Weighted Screw Lock Hooks
Weighted screw lock hooks like the Hayabusa WRM958 Weighted Hooks are designed for thick-bodied lures like large swimbaits. The wire screw keeps the head in place while the wide bend of the hook lies straight in the body of most lures. The weighted “belly” of the hook keeps the lure upright. They’re available in 1/8 to ¼ ounce weights and sizes 5/0 to 7/0. In general, the less weight you use on the hook, the more lively the action, but in deeper water, you’ll need a heavier weight to keep the lure in the strike zone.
Swimbait hooks like the Hayabusa WRM958 are wide gap designs with screw locks aimed to fit large-bodied shad and fluke designs as well as frog lures and critter baits. Rigged right they let these lures run straight when swam steadily or fished as a jerkbait. Similar designs with a dog leg rather than a screw lock like the Bulky Stage Muscle Gap Offset also do the job. Sizes 5/0 and 6/0 are most common due to the relatively large size of the swimbaits.
Octopus hooks, like the Hayabusa Beak, are a favorite of anglers who fish live shad for jumbo largemouths. These are relatively small hooks made of light wire, and they are easily carried by the baitfish until a bass catches up to them. Sizes 2 to 2/0 are most commonly used for bass-sized baits. Octopus hooks have the eye bent backward, which allows snelling straight to the shank for anglers who prefer the smooth, strong connection of the snell. Unlike circle hooks, it’s necessary to set the hook with octopus designs when a fish picks up the bait. Whatever brand you buy, make sure they’re high-carbon steel because the (usually) thinner wire of these hooks can straighten under pressure otherwise.
Circle hooks like Hayabusa’s CRL187 are also live bait hooks. The advantage of a circle hook is that you can basically just tighten up on the line and the fish will stick themselves most of the time, with no hook set. You can actually catch fish with the rod left in the holder. The hook usually sinks into the corner of the fish’s mouth, rather than hooking them deep, important when fish are to be released. Sizes 1 to 4/0 are typical, matching the hook size to the bait size. A 3-inch threadfin shad will fish best on a size 1, while a 10-inch shiner will take a 4/0 or larger. The smaller the hook, the more lively the bait will be and the more strikes you’ll get, but if the hook is too small for a large bait, it’s unlikely to stick the bass.
Do I need a weed guard on my hook?
A weed guard can be useful in certain situations, but whether or not you need one depends on the type of fishing you are doing and the conditions in which you are fishing. A weed guard is a piece of material, often made of wire or stiff bristles, that is attached to a fishing hook to help prevent weeds, grass, and other debris from becoming tangled around the hook. Weed guards are commonly used when fishing in areas with heavy vegetation or when using lures that are prone to snagging. If you are fishing in an area with a lot of weeds or other vegetation, a weed guard can help prevent frustrating snags and keep your fishing line free of debris. However, if you are fishing in open water or using lures that are less likely to snag, a weed guard may not be necessary. Ultimately, whether or not you need a weed guard will depend on the specific conditions in which you are fishing and your personal preference. If you find that you are frequently getting snagged on weeds or other debris, a weed guard may be worth trying out to see if it helps.
How do I choose my hook gap size?
Choosing the right hook gap size depends on several factors, including the type of fish you are targeting, the size of the bait you are using, and the fishing technique you are using. Here are some general guidelines to help you choose the right hook gap size:
- Consider the size of the fish you are targeting: If you are fishing for smaller fish, such as panfish or trout, you may want to choose a hook with a smaller gap size. For larger fish, such as bass or pike, you may want to choose a hook with a larger gap size to ensure that the hook can penetrate the fish’s tougher mouth.
- Match the hook gap size to the bait size: The size of the hook gap should match the size of the bait you are using. If the gap is too small, the hook may not be able to fully penetrate the bait, and if it is too large, the bait may not stay securely on the hook.
- Consider the fishing technique: Certain fishing techniques, such as drop shotting or finesse fishing, may require a smaller hook gap size to ensure that the hook is less visible and more subtle. Other techniques, such as Texas rigging or Carolina rigging, may require a larger hook gap size to ensure that the hook can penetrate the thicker plastic baits used in these techniques.
- Experiment: Ultimately, the best way to determine the right hook gap size for your fishing situation is to experiment with different sizes and see which works best. Try different sizes and pay attention to how the hook sets, how well the bait stays on the hook, and how often you are getting bites.
Should I use circle hooks vs octopus hooks for live bait?
When it comes to choosing between circle hooks and octopus hooks for live bait fishing, the decision largely depends on personal preference and the specific fishing situation. However, here are some general differences and considerations between the two hook types. Circle hooks are designed to hook fish in the corner of the mouth, which can help reduce the risk of gut hooking and can make catch-and-release fishing more successful. Circle hooks are often recommended for live bait fishing because the bait is usually left to swim around freely until a fish takes it. The design of the circle hook allows the fish to take the bait and swim off with it before the hook sets, which can increase the chances of a successful hook set.
Octopus hooks, on the other hand, have a more traditional J-shaped design that allows for a faster hook set. Octopus hooks are versatile and can be used for a variety of fishing techniques, including live bait fishing. They work well with a variety of baits, including worms, minnows, and other live bait. In general, circle hooks are often recommended for catch-and-release fishing, especially for larger fish. However, if you are fishing in an area with a lot of structure or if you need to set the hook quickly to prevent the fish from getting away, an octopus hook may be a better option. It can be helpful to experiment with both types of hooks to see which works best for your style of fishing and the fish species you are targeting.
In conclusion, choosing the right bass hook is an important part of successful fishing. Whether you are a seasoned angler or just starting out, understanding the different types of bass hooks and how to use them can help you improve your chances of catching more fish. Consider the fish species you are targeting, the size and type of bait you are using, and the fishing technique you are using when selecting a hook. Remember to experiment with different hook types and sizes to find what works best for your individual fishing situation. With the right hook and a little bit of skill, you can be on your way to reeling in more bass on your next fishing trip.