There are many hook sizes for sale, and it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options available. However, it is crucial to know how to choose the right-sized hook if you want to catch fish.
The best hook size for surf fishing will depend on what kind of fish you are trying to catch. For surf fishing, this is generally between 2 and 0/6. It also depends on the size of the bait you are using. It’s best to test a few different hook sizes to find the one that works best for you.
To learn how to read hook sizes and choose the best one for the type of fish you are trying to catch, continue reading.
How to Read Hook Sizes
There are a lot of confusing numbers that are used for hook sizes. You may be wondering whether a size 2 and a size 2/0 are the same things, or whether a size 8 is larger than a size 3/0.
Here’s how it works:
Hook sizes run from 30 to 1, in increasing sizes. This means that a size 30 hook is the smallest, while a size 1 hook is larger.
However, it doesn’t stop there. After size 1, sizes continue to get bigger, but from now on, sizes are measured in “aughts.”
Size 1/0, which is one aught, is larger than size 1. Size 27/0, or 27 aughts, is the largest, which you will probably never need to use unless you are catching sea mammals.
If you are catching an eight-foot shark, for example, you might need a 20/0 hook.
Therefore, a size 2 and a size 2/0 are NOT the same things, and a size 8 is NOT larger than a size 3/0.
There are a number of other measurements you should be aware of as well.
The first is the gauge, which tells you how thick the metal of the hook is. The second is the shank length.
Finally, there is the width, which generally refers to the distance between the shank and the hook. This is often called the gape.
These measurements are also vital, as we will see later.
Not All Sizes Are the Same
If that wasn’t confusing enough for you, here’s another fact you need to know: Not all size 3 hooks are the same size, and not all size 8/0 hooks are the same size.
Actual hook sizes vary based on hook type. We will go over some various kinds of hooks later on.
In addition, there is no global standard that all hook manufacturers stick to.
It is highly possible that if you buy a size 3 hook from one manufacturer, it will be of a slightly different size than a size 3 hook made by another manufacturer.
Nevertheless, although they may not be 100% equal, hook sizes are generally in the same range, and you CAN and should use hook sizes as a guide for choosing the right hook, based on the type of fish you are trying to catch.
For a full overview of hook sizes and the different hooks you can use, watch this video:
Video credit: Catfish And Carp
How to Choose Your Hook Size
The first thing that you should pay attention to when choosing your hook size is the type of fish you are trying to catch. You can’t catch a tiny fish with a huge hook; it’s just not going to work.
However, although larger hooks are often chosen to catch larger fish, smaller hooks will usually work as well.
Therefore, if you doubt what size hook is best, you might want to err on the side of caution and choose a smaller hook instead of a larger one.
If it turns out to be too big, you won’t be able to use it.
It also depends on how big of a mouth the fish has. The bigger its mouth, the more you can afford to use a larger hook.
However, it is also very important to pay attention to the size of the bait you are using.
Of course, the size of your bait will depend on the size of the fish, as you don’t want to use a huge piece of bait for a tiny fish.
There’s a simple reason why bait size is so important. If you put a tiny piece of bait on a huge hook, you will scare away fish.
If you put a huge piece of bait on a tiny hook, the fish will eat the bait without getting its mouth caught on the hook.
That’s why if you have a few different hook sizes but only one type of bait, you should match the hook to the bait size instead of the fish size.
It’s also important to pay attention to the gauge, or thickness, of the hook. If it is too thin, it will bend easily when dealing with heavier fish, regardless of the hook’s actual size. Make sure that it is thick enough.
Here are some popular fish commonly caught by surf anglers and the best hook size for each one.
However, remember that bait size is just as important, so if you are using bait like sand fleas, use smaller hooks.
I like to use a 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook or size #1 or #2 baitholder when using sand crabs for Striped bass. I’ve been using this size of a hook for a while, which works well for me.
For Surfperch, I like to use a size #2 or #4 either circle hook or baitholder hook. I use a baitholder hook when using sandworms as baits, due to baitholder has a longer shank than a circle hook.
For a bluefish, a 6/0 hook is usually good. This is assuming that the bluefish is of average size, meaning between one and five pounds.
You will want to go a little smaller for a redfish and opt for a hook of around three aughts. Assuming that you are fishing at the surf, a 3/0 hook or even a 1/0 hook will usually work.
If you go further out to sea, you might need a slightly larger hook, such as a 5/0 hook.
For blackfish, a size 4/0 hook will generally work. You can go a little lower or a little higher, too, and use either a 3/0 hook or a 5/0 hook.
Flounders have larger mouths, so it is okay to use larger hooks. 5/0 hooks will generally work if you are using circle hooks. If you are using worm hooks, you can go a little smaller.
Albacore tuna can generally be caught with slightly smaller hooks. 2/0 is fine, and you can even go as low as a size 1 hook.
The Different Types of Hooks
We mentioned several types of hooks, so let’s go through the most popular ones quickly. This is not a comprehensive list, but it will help give you an idea of the available options.
Circle, jig, bait holder, and worm hooks are some of the most common types. Baitholder hooks are great for holding on to the bait, but they can rip apart the fish’s mouth.
Worm hooks are for plastic worms, jig hooks are good if you want to release the fish after catching it, and circle hooks are designed to catch the mouth’s corner without ripping the fish apart.
As you can see, it’s essential to choose the right size and type of hook based on the bait you are using and the fish you are targeting. However, don’t be afraid to test out a few different hook sizes and types until you find the ones that work best for you.