Best Fishing Hooks for 2022



Published Aug 2, 2022 5:02 PM

Fishing hooks are a critical component in any fishing setup, yet they’re all too often overlooked. No matter how expensive your rod and reel setups are, without proper hooks fish are going to get away. Selecting the right hook can dramatically improve your success in that split-second when the opportunity presents itself. Any hook worthy of using should come razor sharp, hold a hooked fish well, and be durable enough to withstand trophy sized fish. With this in mind, anglers can choose the right hook regardless of species and know their choice is ready for whatever they come across. While this can help weed through the endless options, I’ve taken the time to find the best fishing hooks for a variety of scenarios, taking out some of the guesswork. 

Things to Consider Before Buying Fishing Hooks

Fishing hooks can be a contentious topic, everyone has their own preferences and their own anecdotal evidence to support it. While personal preferences certainty is important, I find choosing reputable brands is a good starting point for new anglers. As you spend more time on the water you will find what hooks work best for your technique. Once you find your preferred hook style, experiment with different brands until you find the best options available. To narrow down the decision process, here are a few things to be on the lookout for: 

Species

The most important factor when choosing a hook is thinking about what species you will be targeting. Fish vary widely in how they feed and the shape of their mouth. To get the best out of a hook, choose one hook specific to the type of fish you are chasing after, and your hookups will drastically improve. Another important aspect to consider is if you plan on keeping or releasing the fish you are going after. Certain hooks, namely circle hooks, are designed to hook fish in the corner of the mouth, which makes it much easier to release them.

Sharpness

Pretty much any hook will come out of the package decently sharp. But, what sets the best hooks apart from the others is their ability to maintain that level of sharpness. Most good hooks will stay sharp for months, and they’ll sharpen easily when they do dull. I like to look for hooks from reputable brands, where you can ensure you’re getting the best materials and best construction. 

Design

Hooks come in all shapes and sizes so understanding their applications is key in selecting the proper hook. Bass anglers tend to use EWG hooks for artificial soft plastics. This hook design allows the hook to rest inside the plastic to avoid snagging on weeds and other structure. Anglers fishing dead or live baits may prefer a circle hook designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth for easy releases. Then there’s plenty of specialty hooks to consider, in case you are looking for something to fit a specific technique.

Best for Saltwater Fishing

Why it Made the Cut

A versatile live bait hook with a stout construction and a razor-sharp point to ensure fish stay hooked.

Key Features 

  • Available sizes: 4-4/0
  • Finish: Black
  • Hook Type: Live Bait 

Pros

  • Durable design
  • Stout design helps keep fish hooked
  • Great hook for heavy baits like mullet

Cons

  • Hook wire is heavy for light baits

Saltwater anglers use live baits as an effective technique for catching wary and over-pressured fish. Pairing a good live bait with the right hook is key to your success. The Saltwater Live Bait Hooks from Gamakatsu are a great choice for saltwater anglers chasing big fish with big baits. You get a heavy wire hook with a short shank, great for keeping fish pinned. I prefer this style hook for fishing larger baits like live mullet, especially when tarpon fishing. When a fish grabs a bait quickly, you can set the hook before it spits the bait. Since switching to these from circle hooks during the mullet run, I have dramatically increased my hookups. My only complaint is the heavy wire can be a bit much for lighter baits causing them to swim unnaturally. For that I recommend the light wire version of the live bait hook.

Best for Bass Fishing

Why it Made the Cut

An innovative hook from VMC designed specifically to make drop-shot fishing easy for any angler.

Key Features

  • Available sizes: 4-4/0
  • Finish: Black Nickel 
  • Hook Type: Dropshot hook 

Pros

  • Built in swivel for improved presentations
  • Flat spot on the hook to rest the bait
  • Spark point hook sharpening technology

Cons

  • Can be hard to find in certain stores

Drop-shot fishing has exploded in the bass fishing industry, especially in northern fisheries. It’s responsible for countless tournament wins on water bodies with wary fish. Traditional drop-shot rigs run a long tag line through a hook to a weight below. VMCs approach eliminates the need for any complicated knots and line twist with the traditional rig. The hook itself is similar to an octopus style hook with the addition of a swivel through the eye of the hook. The barrel swivel allows you to connect your dropper with your knot of choice to the weight below. When casting, the swivel removes any line twist that would otherwise occur, giving you a natural presentation every time. For Great Lakes smallmouth fishing this is my preferred hook, and the wide range of hook sizes allows me to fish anything from finesse worms to larger fluke or goby style baits. Fished slow and around structure, this is a deadly tactic when you need to put fish in the boat. 

Best for Trout Fishing

Why it Made the Cut

A true all-around hook for trout fishing that comes razor sharp with multiple finish options.

Key Features

  • Available sizes: 8-6/0
  • Finish: Black Chrome or Red
  • Hook Type: Octopus 

Pros

  • Consistent quality
  • Super sharp and sticky
  • Great for all trout fishing techniques

Cons

  • Not all shops will carry owner hooks

Trout fishing is an easily accessible and fun way to catch fish using a variety of techniques. When a hook can cross over between multiple techniques, it instantly catches my attention, and the Owner SSW octopus hook is one of these. The octopus hook design is a great all-around hook for live bait fishing, drifting beads or bait, and even swinging flies. A lot of anglers like to fish various dough baits or egg sacks for trout come opening day, and this hook works for it all. An octopus hook has a compact design that hides well and sets even better when a fish takes your bait. I prefer to fish artificials such as trout beads where the hook is suspended under the bead for consistent hookups in the corner of the mouth. This technique is super effective for trout and with the range of hook sizes transfers over to larger fish like steelhead and salmon. Of all the octopus hooks I’ve tried, the Cutting Point on the Owner SSW is by far the sharpest. Rarely do I drop fish on this hook and I have even incorporated it into my spey flies as my go to hook when swinging flies on a two-handed rod. 

Best for Surf Fishing

Why it Made the Cut

The sharpest circle hook on the market, it’s perfect for bait fishing from the beach.

Key Features

  • Available sizes: 3/0-9/0
  • Finish: Platinum Black
  • Hook Type: Circle Hook

Pros

  • Surgically sharpened
  • Inline design is legal anywhere
  • Chrome plating prevents rust

Cons

If you’re not throwing plugs off the beach, chances are you are fishing some sort of bait. This style of fishing is a waiting game, hoping for a fish to cross paths with your offering. The Trokar Saltwater Circle Inline Hooks were designed specifically for this purpose, ensuring the fish gets hooked in the corner of the mouth every time. The surgically sharpened design improves hookups over traditional circle hooks, especially on large predatory fish with hard mouths. Fishing a dead bait off the beach is effective, but tides and currents can be tricky to detect bites. With a circle hook there is no need to set the hook, when a fish does grab the bait, it will set itself when it starts to run. In stained water, or when I’m not actively on the rod, the Trokar Saltwater Circle Hook is my preference; it’ll prevent fish from spitting the hook when it’s hard to detect a bite.

Best Treble Hook

Why it Made the Cut

A consistent and sticky aftermarket hook to improve hookups on crankbaits and other lures with mediocre factory hooks.

Key Features

  • Available sizes: 2, 4, 6 
  • Finish: Black Nickel
  • Hook Type: Treble

Pros

  • Consistent quality
  • Long shank
  • Ultrapoint Technology

Cons

Lure design has reaped the benefits of technology, with new and innovative lures coming out each year, every lure has the perfect flash, pop, or rattle, or they swim exactly like a live baitfish. One thing a lot of these lures lack: a great hook. Whether its quality control or overall sharpness, the hook department is sorely lacking, and hooks rarely match the quality of the lure they come on. Mustad partnered with Kevin Van Dam to design the KVD Elite Triple Grip Treble Hook, and it’s a one stop solution for any bait. The 1X version has a slightly larger shank design than most factory hooks, which improves hookups on big bodied lures like deep diving or square bill crankbaits. Many baits also run better with these hooks, so you’ll get a more realistic action in the water. These hooks benefit from Mustad’s Ultrapoint sharpening technology which creates a super sticky hook, crucial for crankbaits and jerkbaits that can be prone to dropping fish. If you prefer shorter shank treble hooks Mustad also offers the same hook in a short shank version for low profile jerkbaits. Short shank hooks are a great option if the hooks consistently tangle on your lure.

How I Made My Picks 

Growing up on the East Coast I had the luxury of chasing a wide range of saltwater and freshwater species. I’ve fished with conventional gear and fly gear, using a wide variety of techniques. Along the way I ran through plenty of hooks, and even more lost fish, until I narrowed down my hook preferences. All my go to hooks come razor sharp, have consistent quality, and, above all, keep fish hooked. Hopefully my recommendations help you avoid the heartbreak I’ve been through losing the true giants. Here are the criteria I evaluated my choices on:

  • Durability: How strong is the hook wire and will it snap?
  • Sharpness: What technology goes into sharpening the hooks?
  • Consistency: Are the hooks consistently the same?
  • Corrosion Resistance: Do the hooks prevent rust from accumulating?
  • Size Range: What sizes are offered in the lineup?
  • Finishes: What finishes do the hooks come in?

FAQs

Q: What are octopus hooks used for?

Octopus hooks are one of the most versatile hooks on the market. For live bait fishing they work great with a nose hooked bait like a shiner or mullet in saltwater scenarios. They stay in the bait and set well when a fish takes the bait. They can also be used for drifting smaller dough baits or egg sacs for trout. Western steelhead fishermen prefer octopus hooks for bead fishing when the fish run the rivers. Some fly guys will even use them to tie egg patterns or as the trailer hook on spey flies.

Q: How do you bait a hook?

Baiting a hook depends on the type of bait you use. For simple baits like worms, thread the worm over the hook point a few times depending on the size of the worm. For anglers fishing live fish as bait, hooking them through the nose is an easy way to consistently catch fish. This technique is straightforward and works on practically any live fish. Trout anglers fishing dough baits prefer to mold the bait over the hook, hiding some of the hook and improving hookups when a fish bites.

Q: Do fishing hooks dissolve in saltwater?

Yeah, fishing hooks will dissolve in saltwater, but it takes longer than you may think. A fish may take several weeks if not months to drop a hook that it got away with. This is especially true for hooks with coating designed to ward off rust. While they eventually will rust away, the coating certainly slows the process. Anglers fishing for sharks or other toothy creatures that can be hard to retrieve hooks from should be aware of this. Choose hooks that are uncoated so they will rust out quicker if you have to cut the line. Another good option is to bring a bolt cutter to cut the hook in half. The long handles will keep your hands away from a mouth full of teeth and allow the fish to swim off without any unwanted jewelry. 

Q: What’s the difference between octopus and circle hooks?

Octopus and circle hooks may look similar, but how they work is actually quite different. Octopus hooks are designed to be able to set the hook. When a fish bites, you can set the hook instantly. It’s a versatile hook with many uses. On the other hand, circle hooks are designed to not set the hook. Rather, when a fish takes the bait and runs, the pressure from the drag pulls the hook into the corner of the fish’s mouth for a perfect hook set. This is a great technique for fishing dead baits or baits when you’re not actively managing the rod.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right hook for the job is arguably the most important part of catching fish. Properly pairing a hook to the style of fishing you do most is key to being successful. Bait fisherman should look for a good octopus or circle hook depending on the conditions. Bass anglers should look for technique specific hooks to get the most out of their baits. No matter what you choose, make sure the hooks come sharp, are good quality, and keep fish hooked. Once you find your preferred style of hook, test as many brands as you can to find the best possible option.



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