About to replace or upgrade hooks on your hard body lures? Then now’s the perfect opportunity to step up your fishing too! Fishing hooks may seem like pretty basic items, but whether or not you choose the right ones can make a massive difference to your results.
Quick Tip: Many commercial lures (even top shelf ones) are sold with cheap, nasty hooks. Why? Because experienced anglers will only upgrade their lure fishing hooks to suit their personal needs, that’s why! And because less experienced anglers don’t know the difference!
But a few simple, easy tweaks in the hook department could have you hooking more fish, staying hooked to more fish or fishing cover you never thought possible. That’s a pretty satisfying thought, so let’s get started!
Table Of Contents
Almost all hard body lures come fitted with a couple of treble hooks. But switching to other styles of lure fishing hooks – or just upgrading to better trebles – can make a huge difference. Find out whether to use treble, double or single hooks in this chapter.
There’s no such thing as the perfect all-round lure fishing hook. In fact, manufacturers meticulously design their products to meet specific needs. In this chapter I simplify everything you need to know to maximize the number of fish you land.
It doesn’t really matter what hook you put on your lure…… if it’s not ridiculously sharp, you’re missing fish. In this chapter we’ll talk about sharpening dull hooks – and keeping the rust at bay.
The majority of lure fishermen pull their lure out of the packet and just start fishing. That’s fine. But paying a little attention to your circumstances and tweaking your fishing hooks to suit can really pay off…. big time. In this chapter we’ll go through a few options that can put you into a new fishing league!
There are roughly half a squillion different lure fishing hooks on the market – each with it’s own pro’s and con’s. So how do you boil it all down and figure out which ones are best for you? Well, perhaps I can give you a head start. In this chapter I’ll walk you through some of my favorite lure fishing hooks and when I use them. .
This is what it all boils down to, right? Lure fishing is about hooking fish and keeping them hooked all the way to the net, boat, bank or kayak. And smart hook selection can help you do that. Use this handy hook guide to maximize the time you spend playing fish and to minimize frustrating hassles.
Chapter 1: A Lure Fisherman’s Guide To Fishing Hook
The humble fish hook has been around for literally thousands of years. But it’s still the most important piece of fishing tackle you’ll ever own
I mean, think about it…… without a simple fish hook our boats, rods, reels and a million other tools and accessories are worthless! With all our high tech gizmos, it’s still a few cents worth of bent wire that ultimately connects us to the fish.
And just like boats, cars, houses and spouses, there is no perfect, all-round hook for hard body fishing lures. The many types of fish hooks each have their own advantages and disadvantages. So whether you’re designing a custom lure or just replacing the treble hooks on your lures it pays to know a little about what to look for
3 Basic Fishing Hook Types You Can’t Do Without
There are three broad types of hard lure hooks: Singles, doubles and trebles. And you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that the names refer to the number of points each style has.
Almost all lures you’ll buy from the tackle shop are fitted with low quality treble hooks. These are rarely sharp (or rarely stay sharp), are often quick to rust and generally aren’t strong enough. So serious fishermen and tournament pro’s usually switch out stock fishing hooks for better quality ones
Upgrading hooks enables lure fishermen to get vastly better results than fishing with stock hooks. It also allows them to switch from the standard treble setup to double or single hooks if it’s advantageous to do so.
The Ol’ Faithful Fish Catcher……Treble Hooks!
There’s a good reason why lure makers usually fit treble hooks on crankbaits and other hard bodied lures…… they’re effective. It’s hard to argue with that.
Most hard body lures are fitted with two sets of treble hooks. That means there are six needle sharp points to find their mark when a fish strikes.
So one of the main advantages of treble hooks over singles and doubles is high conversion of strikes into hook sets
But there’s a flip side…… Despite their fearsome appearance, treble hooks can be easier for fish to dislodge than other styles. So if you’re having trouble staying connected to fish is can be worth replacing treble hook with singles.
There are some other disadvantages of treble hooks, too:
- Higher chance of the points fouling the line during casting or retrieving.
- Higher chance of the points burying into a submerged log or other structure during retrieving or fighting a fish.
- Higher chance of a stray hook burying itself into an angler while unhooking a feisty fish.
- Higher chance of damaging fish that will be released to fight again.
There’s also the additional weight and drag caused by treble hooks, which can dampen the action of a lure. Treble hooks are the worst style for fouling when you’re fishing over grass and weed.
Using a treble hook on the belly of a crankbait can results in two points facing down and the third facing up into the lure. This causes scratching of the lure body and interferes a little with the action. If reversed, two points nestle the lure body and only one point faces down, reducing the hook set rate.
Replacing Treble Hooks With Single Hooks
Single hooks on hard body lures have become more popular over recent years. Some guys love ’em, some hate ’em. But they definitely have a place. Personally, I love ’em!
In fact, I routinely replace treble hooks with single hooks when I’m fishing for pelagics. Single hooks are great because they’re very difficult for a fish to dislodge. More importantly, they don’t “button up” a fish (hook the upper and lower jaws together), which can happen with doubles and trebles.
Single hooks do a ton less damage to fish than treble hooks do. Plus they’re far easier to remove when you want to return a fish to the water with minimal damage. And with less exposed points, you’re less likely to damage yourself while you’re unhooking a lively fish, too.
Adding to the advantages, single hooks are lighter for better lure action. They’re less prone to pick up pieces of debris or bite into timber that you’re bouncing a lure around. When a fish is hooked deep in cover there are no other points to catch on structure while the fight is on – and that means less lost fish!
Even when I’m freshwater fishing I’ll often prefer single lure hooks if the fish are being aggressive. Under these conditions most strikes are converted into hookups, so changing to single hooks doesn’t harm your chances too much. If the fish aren’t taking lures confidently I’ll increase my chances of a hook finding it’s mark by switching to trebles.
Double Fishing Hooks: Misunderstood And Under Utilized!
Of the three styles of hooks, double hooks (not to be confused with tandem hooks) are the least commonly used. That’s a real shame because they have some great advantages.
The first is that they are stronger than trebles. Being made from a single piece of wire, double hooks don’t have a solder joint to fail during a tough battle.
When you’re fishing in heavy cover, double hooks can be fitted with both points facing upwards. This allows the hook to nestle the lure body, and with no point facing downward it’s virtually snag-proof. Sure, you’ll miss a few hook sets – much as you do when you fish weedless plastics. But it can allow you to fish really tight structure with less hang ups. So the low hook set rate can be offset by the higher strike rate and the fishing can still be rewarding.
I also like double hooks when I’m fishing open water with shallow running crankbaits or surface fishing with poppers and stickbaits. In this scenario I fish with the points facing down, and find that I get a higher hook set rate than I do with trebles. They are superb as a belly hook on crankbaits and other hard body lures because there is no superfluous third point to interfere with action or scuff the lure.
Double hooks are fitted by sliding the hook hanger between the split shanks, so there’s no split ring to fuss about. It’s super fast and easy to switch hooks, and also makes them lighter, which translates to more lure action. And with no split rings, double hooks make for a quieter lure – great when fish are shy or you are looking for that reaction strike.
So there’s a lot to be said for double hooks. And not too much of a downside, actually.
The main thing that you might find is a slightly lower hook set rate than with trebles. I have to say though, I personally haven’t experienced too much of a difference.
The second disadvantage of double hooks is the more limited range of products when compared with trebles. There just aren’t as many to choose from, which reflects the general lack of enthusiasm of lure fishermen. What a shame!
Chapter 2: Nine Fish Hook Features That Can Make The Difference Between “Fish On” …. Or “Duoh”!
Choosing between single, double or treble hooks is just the start…. then it’s time to look at the basic architecture. The shape, point style, wire gauge, shank length and other factors all affect fish hook performance. So here are some tips for choosing the right hooks for crankbaits and other hard bodied lures.
But first, let’s have a quick look at the basic anatomy of a hook…..
Size Matters. How It’s Measured In Fish Hooks
Fishing hook sizes follow a strange numbering convention that is actually quite simple once you understand it. Basically, the numbering system divides the small and large hooks. In theory, size “0” would be in the middle – but I’ve never seen a hook designated as Size “0”.
Hooks that are smaller than the nominal size 0 are given a number. The higher the number, the smaller the actual hook. So a size 6 hook is 4 sizes smaller than a size 2….. and they go down to around size 32. Make sense?
At the other end of the scale, hooks that are bigger than “Size 0” get given a “/0” label…… and the higher the number the larger the hook. So 4/0 is two sizes bigger than 2/0. And they go right up to 20/0.
Once you get the hang of it, the sizing convention makes perfect sense – except for one thing. There’s no agreed standard between manufacturers. So a size 2 hook in one brand could be significantly bigger or smaller than the same size in a different brand.
Double and treble hooks tend to have a more limited size range: In most brands a size 12 is as small as they go, with a size 8/0 being about as large as you’ll usually find.
Bend Style: Round-Bend, O’Shaughnessy and Extra Wide Gape Hooks
There are various different shapes of hook bend available, but we’ll focus on the three main styles that cover 95% of all lure hooks: Round, O’Shaughnessy and extra-wide gape.
Round bends are the most common on fishing hooks and are a great general purpose option. When the point of a round bend hook strikes an object (hopefully a fish’s mouth), the direction of pull causes the hook to swing slightly outwards.
This makes round bend fish hooks particularly “sticky”. They’re a great choice when the fish aren’t being super aggressive because they’ll give you the best hook-set rate. But on the flip side, that outwards pull makes round bend hooks more prone to pulling from the fish or straightening out.
At the other end of the scale are the so-called “Extra Wide Gape” (EWG) hooks. These are wider at the bottom of the bend, causing the hook points to angle inwards and reducing the outwards swing that round bends get.
The first great advantage of extra wide gape fishing hooks are the ability to stay in the fish. Once hooked it’s very difficult for a fish to throw an EWG. The second advantage is strength. The points are more aligned with direction of pull, and the bend shape tends to reduce the chance of straightening.
Then there are the “O’Shaughnessy” styles, in which the hook points are aligned with the shank, but the bend of the hook is not perfectly round. This style is pretty much a compromise between the round and EWG hook styles, giving good all round hook set and holding ability.
Shank Length: Short, Standard Or Long?
Hooks come in standard, long and short shank versions….. and as you’ve probably come to expect by now, each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The naming convention for shank length mirrors that for other aspects of hook design – the “x” factor. So you’ll see lure fishing hooks denoted as having standard, 1x, 2x or 3x long shank lengths. What this means is that a 1x shank is the same length as the standard shank of that hook, but in the next size up. A 3x shank is the same length as the standard shank of a hook three sizes bigger.
On the other hand, 1x, 2x or 3x short go the opposite way. These hooks have a shank length equal to the standards shank lengths of hooks 1, 2 or 3 sizes smaller, respectively.
Short shank lure hooks are fantastic on short body length crankbaits, jerkbaits and so on. The reduced shank length means you can use a larger sized hook without having problems with front and rear trebles getting caught up together during casting.
But there’s another advantage to short shank fish hooks: They tend to get hung up less often when you’re casting into gnarly snags.
On the other hand, long shank lure hooks are very beneficial when the fish are taking short. The extra shank length can be enough to turn some of those short-takes into solid hook sets.
Of course, you need to balance the hooks to the lure. So if the longer shanks are resulting in the hooks linking during casting, or a poor lure action you may need to rethink your strategy.
Point Style: Needle, Spear, Rolled In, Hollow, Knife…..
The pointy bit of the hook is the most important bit, right? And you might be surprised to know just how many different styles of point there are.
Needle, spear point, rolled in, hollow point, and knife edge are the common ones, so let’s take a quick look at each.
Needle point hooks are shaped as their name suggests, like a needle. They are round in cross section and the point is quite long. Needles are the most common style of fishing hook point and are great for easy penetration of a fish’s mouth. But while the long taper requires less force to drive the hook home, it also makes the point quite easily damaged by contact with rocks or hard surfaces.
Spear point hooks are similar to needle points, except the taper of the point is on one side only. This makes them a little more resistant to blunting on rocks and other structure. But it also makes it harder for the point to be driven home. Because spear point hooks require a little more force to set, you may also need to use slightly heavier line.
Hollow point hooks are ground so that there is less metal in front of the barb. This gives a thinner point, making for easier penetration into a fish. However, the compromise is that the point is more susceptible to damage when it strikes a hard surface.
Knife points are mainly used on large, heavy duty big game hooks. Two sides are ground, as the name suggests, like a knife. These hooks tend to be very sharp and have a large, flat barb that is difficult for fish to dislodge.
Rolled in points are pretty self-explanatory. The part of the point forward of the barb tends to be bent inwards towards the hook shank. This aligns the point with the eye of the hook for easier penetration. It’s more commonly a feature of single, bait fishing hooks, but can sometimes be seen on treble hooks also.
Barbs For Lure Fishing Hooks
The majority of fish hooks (whether for bait or lure fishing) are barbed to reduce the chance of fish throwing a hook. But the popularity of catch and release fishing has resulted in many fishing hook manufacturers developing barbless models.
Even in barbed hooks, the size and degree to which the barb is raised have tended to reduce over recent years. Barbless hooks, and those with smaller, flatter barbs, tend to penetrate more easily. But of course they are also more likely to dislodge.
Fishing Hook Strength
The thickness of wire used to make fishing hooks is obviously greater for larger hooks. But sometimes greater strength is required in a particular hook size. As with shank lengths, hook strength is designated by the “x” factor.
A 2x strong hook is made using the standard wire used to make a hook two sizes higher. 4x and 6x strong hooks are obviously made using the standard wire used in hooks 4 and 6 sizes higher, respectively.
When fishing circumstances require stronger hooks it is often also necessary to increase the strength of the split rings to match. And since heavy duty hooks need greater force to drive home, you’ll likely be using heavier line too……
The bottom line is that not every lure can be fitted with heavier hooks and rings. Most lures are designed to work with a particular style and weight of terminals. Beefing up the hooks can spoil the action – or kill it altogether.
Fortunately, hook making wires have continued to advance, and many manufacturers now use wire that is thinner and lighter than previously possible, without losing strength.
Finish & Corrosion Resistance
Most hooks are made from either vanadium or carbon steel, which is sharpened, bent, barbed, tempered and then given a finish to help protect it from corrosion.
The exception of course are stainless steel hooks, which don’t require corrosion protection. I don’t recommend stainless hooks for three very good reasons: Firstly, the points are soft and tend to blunt easily. Second, stainless steel wire is easily straightened compared to carbon steel wire of the same thickness.
Third (and most important), if you leave a stainless steel hook in a fish it’s not going to rust out. The fish has a permanent piercing. And that’s why stainless steel hooks have been banned in many places……
There are several different electroplating treatments used in the manufacture of fish hooks. The main ones are bronze, tin, gold and nickel plating – plus some top secret, proprietary options that major brands have developed.
- Bronzing is a widely used fish hook treatment. It’s popularity rises from its origins in a time when other corrosion protection options were more limited. Bronzed hooks have an attractive brown coloration, which many anglers feel helps disguise the presence of steel hooks. Unfortunately, bronzing doesn’t offer a lot of protection from rust, so these hooks are best kept for freshwater applications.
- Tinned hooks are among the most corrosion resistant and also the most economical. They’re a great option if you fish mainly in salt water for tough species.
- Gold plated lure hooks? Seems a little Hollywood-esque! But gold is a very inert metal and provides excellent corrosion resistance. Plus, it somehow seems like a double jackpot to divert gold away from womens jewellery and into fishing tackle…..
- Nickel plated hooks are my favorite. They come in both bright and black finish, look great and offer excellent corrosion resistance.
Bear in mind that good corrosion resistance means that it will take longer for a hook that is left in a fish to rust out. That’s not too much of a problem for lure fishermen, as lure caught fish are never hooked deep. But for bait fishermen, the chances of leaving a hook deep in a fish makes bronzed hooks a better option.
Hook Eye Styles
For the bait fisherman there are various different styles of fish hook eyes. But in terms of lure hooks, it’s much simpler!
Treble Hooks: These basically come in three options: straight round eye, inline eye or straight, open eye. Round eye is pretty self-explanatory. Inline eyes are just round eyes, but oriented so that the lure body is nestled between two of the points, allowing the hook to sit more snugly against the body. Open eyes are less common and are used when there’s an advantage to omitting the split ring. They’re great for reducing noise and reducing the potential for front and rear hooks to get interlocked.
Double Hooks: While the shanks of treble hooks are soldered, doubles are made from a single piece of wire. The lack of solder leaves a split shank, which means the hooks can be attached to the lure without split rings. Apart from being extremely strong, double hooks are light and the lack of split rings makes them less noisy, too.
Single Hooks: While bait hooks can have needle, upward, straight or downward facing eyes, single hooks for hard body lures tend to have straight, round eyes. To keep your lures running true, avoid using kirbed single hooks.
If you use a standard single hook to replace the factory trebles on a hard body lure you’ll find the point will face sideways, unbalancing the lure. Instead, use either an inline single hook, or add an extra split ring to get the points aligned with the lure properly.
Forged Bends: Extra Strength, No Extra Weight
Most hooks are made from a straight piece of wire that’s sharpened, barbed, then bent into shape and tempered. That means most hooks have a round (or close to round) shape in cross section.
Forging is a process by which the wire at the bend of the hook is flattened before tempering. This makes the hooks stronger and harder to straighten – without adding weight or affecting its ability to penetrate.
Chapter 3: How To Keep Your Fishing Hooks Insanely Sharp (And Rust-Free)
When I was just a kid learning to fish, one message got drummed into me “Hooks are never sharp enough straight from the packet. Be sure to sharpen them before you use them”.
It was true then….. but it’s definitely not true now.
Chemically or laser sharpened hooks are incredibly sharp out of the box and nothing you can do will make them any sharper. In fact, you’d only be blunting them and removing the coating that protects them from corrosion. So just put ’em on and fish!
On the other hand, used hooks are never as sharp as new ones. Contact with rocks, timber or the bone and cartilage of a fish’s mouth quickly dull a hook point. I use a small diamond stone like the one shown to the left to touch hooks up and restore dull points.
The trick to getting hooks really sharp is to use a stone with a special hook sharpening groove. Grasping the hook by the bend, slide it through the groove so the point trails last. Never go point first or run the hook back and forth.
Of course, sharpening hooks results in a loss of the protective coating, leaving the point susceptible to rust. So I coloring the bare metal with a sharpie to help protect from corrosion. It’s not as good as the original finish, but it’s better than nothing.
Tips For Minimizing Rust:
1. After salt water use, rinse hooks in freshwater and dry fully before stowing.
2. Dipping hooks in denatured alcohol, leaving them in the sun or blowing them with a hair dryer will remove moisture.
3. Use nickel plated or tinned hooks in preference to bronzed.
4. Never stow used hooks with new ones.
5. Take a few replacement hooks out fishing with you, but not more than you need. Leave the bulk of your spare hooks at home where they won’t get wet or salty
6. Unlike humans, fish can’t smell spray lubricants, so a quick squirt of WD40 on your treble hooks after fishing is not such a bad idea.
7. The process of sharpening a fishing hook removes the corrosion resistant coating from the most vital part – the point.
8. Quality hooks can be used straight from the packet without sharpening, so they last longer.
Chapter 4: Rigging Hooks For Hard Body Lures: 9 Killer Options Cover All Situations
Plain Vanilla (Equal Sized Treble Hooks)
This is the standard configuration that you’ll see on 90% of crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters….. two (or three) equal sized treble hooks. It’s a perfectly valid way to rig your lures and usually converts a high propotion of strikes into hooked fish.
Not a lot more to say about this configuration…… Just pay attention to getting the correct alignment of the belly hook(s)to ensure you get a well balanced lure.
Advantage: Great for fishing open water, especially if the fish are not taking the lure with confidence.
Large N Small Treble Combo:
Sometimes it’s necessary to beef up the treble hooks on hard bodied lures, either for better hook sets or greater strength. The only problem: the extra weight of a larger or heavier gauge hook can sometimes kill lure action stone dead.
One option is to beef up only the front hook, leaving the original tail hook in place. I find that this usually preserves the lure action. In fact, it can sometimes improve it!
You’ll see a larger front hook quite often on lipless crankbaits, but it works a treat on all crankbait styles.
Advantage: Can be used to change the weight balance, especially for suspending jerkbaits. I also use this setup if I need more strength but the lure won’t sustain two sets of larger of heavier treble hooks.
Double Front -Treble Rear Combo:
Double hooks attach to the front hook hanger without split rings – and they sit flat against the lure body with two points facing downwards. So even though you have one less hook point, replacing the front treble with a double hook can actually increase hook set rates.
Plus, you can often size up without impacting the action of the lure because double hooks are lighter and stronger than trebles.
Advantage: Better hook sets in open water. Not the best option for weed beds, grass and cover where the downward facing points can increase hang ups
Upwards Double-Double Hooks
This setup is definitely worth a try when you’re fishing heavy cover.
Upwards facing double hooks might look strange and they might miss a few strikes. But with this setup, your hooks can glide safely over structure and grass structure. And because your lure can more easily contact and deflect off timber and rocks you’ll find yourself fishing places you otherwise couldn’t.
The upwards double-double hook configuration tends to have a lower hook set rate than a pair of treble hooks. But in the right circumstances this can be offset to some extent by an increase in the number of strikes.
Did you notice the oversized hooks in the photo? Double hooks are lighter and don’t require rings, so you can often size them up without compromising lure action.
Advantage: I reserve upwards facing double hook setups for when I need to work a lure over lilies or through heavy cover like mangrove roots or brush piles. There are better hooks options under most other conditions.
Downwards And Reversed Double-Double Hooks
I don’t use this configuration often, but it can be useful for reducing the weight of the hooks without sacrificing strength. For instance, I’d switch to this configuration to turn a slow sinking jerkbait into a suspending one. Double hooks are light and don’t need split rings, which can be enough to make a difference.
Eliminating split rings and using light, strong double hooks can also give your lure action a little extra boost. And I’ve found that hook set rates aren’t noticeably lower when I use a pair of double hooks rather than a pair of trebles.
The other time I’ll switch to this setup is when I want bigger, wider gape hooks but the lure I’m using won’t sustain larger treble hooks.
Advantage: This method of setting up your lures can be used anytime you’d use a pair of treble hooks. As I mentioned above, I use it for buoyancy adjustments. I also use it when I want to increase the hook size without killing lure action.
Single Hook Times Two:
Replacing treble hooks with single hooks is increasingly popular in many different fishing scenarios.
For one thing, treble hooks are getting outlawed from an increasing number of waters – so there’s obviously no choice in that instance. But the reality is, there are also some good fishing reasons to switch from treble hooks to single hooks.
In reality, less points means single hooks are not as efficient as trebles for converting strikes into hooked fish. But on the flip side, it’s very hard to dislodge single hooks, so you’ll lose less of the fish that you do hook. And the damage to fish that will be released is minimal.
Choosing an inline eye or an open eye hook will allow you to attach the hook straight to the existing split ring.
Single Hook Times One:
This setup is about as simple as they come…..
Remove both sets of treble hooks and replace just the rear one with a single inline hook. Or use a siwash hook and a second split ring.
This is a great setup for tough pelagics and I use it a lot on topwater lures for high speed work. Tunas, trevallies and the like tend to hit a lure hard and fast, so converting strikes often isn’t an issue. But keeping them hooked can be….
The advantage is that they stay hooked and don’t get damaged by unnecessary hardware. There is no trailing point to get hung up and cost you a fish. A single hooks is near impossible for a fish to dislodge. And……. they’re much harder to straighten.
Did I mention that you’re less likely to get damaged while unhooking a feisty fish, too?
The pincer setup is a favorite of mine for many species and many different styles of fishing. It’s basically just two single hooks rigged tandem on the tail of the lure.
For the small crankbait shown in the image to the right I’ve used inline singles direct to the split ring. For the stickbait in the bottom of the pic I’ve used a couple of livebait hooks. Provided you use two identical hooks, the second split ring is optional. It orientates the hooks vertically, If you leave it out the hooks will be horizontal but the lure will still be balanced.
The pincer is great when you’re using topwater lures especially. It has many of the same benefits as a solitary single hook – except it has greater ability to pin a fish.
Advantages: Higher hook set rates than a lone single hook and better lure balance. Almost impossible for fish to dislodge.
Sting In The Tail:
Replacing the trebles with a single assist hook attached to a split ring on the belly or tail is a great option. I see a few guys doing this for tough offshore fishing – but it works just as well for smaller freshwater lures too.
Be prepared to experiment until you find what hooks work with what lures….. it will be worth the effort.
I never attach my assist hooks directly to the hook hanger, preferring to use a split ring instead. Note that in the pick I’ve used an oval split ring for this. Oval rings help prevent the loop of the assist hook finding it’s way into the split in the ring and working free. Plus they’re stronger than equivalent sized round rings.
The key to fishing this configuration is not to strike when a fish hits it. Just continue retrieving at a constant speed and wait for the rod to load up, much like you’d do if you were bait fishing with a circle hook.
Advantage: Great when you want the holding power of a single hook but the fish are taking short. Having a hook extending behind the lure tends to increase the hook set rate.
Chapter 5: The Best Lure Fishing Hooks (17 Of My Favorites)
Best Treble Hooks For Lure Fishing
These are one of my all time favorite, staple, go-to crankbait, jerkbait and topwater treble hooks. In fact, they’re quite often what I replace factory trebles with. The ST36 is a round bend hook with a reasonably wide gape and straight, needle points – which means great hook set rates.
I normally favor the black nickel finish, but if you’re a fan of red treble hooks the ST36 has you covered. The easy penetration of this hook makes it perfect for light line fishing, suspending jerkbaits, or any time the fish are not wholeheartedly attacking your lures.
These are a great treble hook for open water jerkbait fishing, especially when the fish are slapping at a lure and not seriously nailing it. Actually, they’re pretty good any time you’re fishing light lines and leaders……. The wire is super thin, but Gamakatsu claim it’s a strong as the standard treble hook wire. A forged bend doesn’t hurt in the strength department, either.
These hooks use nano technology that gives a matte finish with friction-less penetration. Combined with a super sharp needle point and small barb (or barbless), this is a well designed treble hook for superb penetration with minimal force. The O’Shaughnessy bend shape gives improved holding power over round bend hooks, too.
In use, I’ve found the corrosion resistance of the nano coating is pretty good, though I’ll admit I haven’t used this hook in salt water for long enough to really compare with other finishes.
These are awesome extra wide gape treble hooks for many crankbait and jerkbait styles. The points are angled parallel with the shank, giving great hook set rates. The fish holding ability is improved by the O’Shaughnessy style bend, although it’s still not as good as inward facing points. Everything is a compromise!
There is a lot to like about this treble hook. The forged bends and short shank give great resistance to straightening and the needle points give awesome penetration. High corrosion resistance due to the black nickel finish – and the inline eye ensures the hook sits snugly against the lure body with the points nicely exposed. And if that’s not enough, Gamakatsu’s magic eye makes it super easy to switch hooks without using split ring pliers!
Perfect For: Tough fish in heavy cover with crankbaits and lipless crankbaits.
I’ve been using Decoy Y-W77 treble hooks on certain lures for several years now…… What a beast! 6x strong, short shank, super wide gape, chrome nickel finish. Fish that get hooked on this thing stay hooked! The inward curving points, extra wide gape and short shank all see to that. Plus they help with snag resistance too.
Generally speaking, fish that lurk in heavy cover tend to bite with a confidence, so hook sets are usually quite solid. What’s needed is a treble hook with snag resistance and the strength to wrangle fish out of structure. Enter Decoy Y-W77….
Owner ST41’s are art in treble hook form! They’re made with a 2X strong wire and the inline eye allows the hook to hug the belly of your hard baits beautifully. ST41’s have a form of knife point that Owner refer to as a “cutting point”. Who cares what it’s called? These hooks are unbelievably S-H-A-R-P.
The sharpness gives great penetration with minimal force, which is why they’re a great treble hook for balancing suspending jerkbaits. The 2X wire gives a little extra weight for turning a slow floater into a suspender. Thicker wire normally makes hook setting hard on lighter lines, but thanks to the super sharp points, these hooks penetrate as easily as a lighter gauge hook.
I particularly like ST41’s for fishing squarebill cranks on braided lines. This combination gives solid hook sets, while the slight inward curve of the points helps reduce hanging up on structure. Great corrosion resistance thanks to their black nickel finish. A great hook!
This is one treble hook that probably needs no intro to the serious offshore fisherman. Owner’s ST66TN has a much deserved reputation as one of the toughest game hooks on the market.
The ST66TN is great if you need a treble hook for tunas, amberjack, kingfish and big GT’s. At 4X strong and with a spear point you’ll need heavy line and a rod with some backbone to get good penetration – despite the super sharp points. Once they’re home though, these hooks are tough as nails. The tinned finish has great corrosion resistance.
I really like the ST66TN as a treble hook for “reef bashing” because the thick wire and spear point can handle the constant contact with hard surfaces. The point is pretty easy to touch up when it eventually dulls, too.
I have a small tackle box full of nothing other than VMC 9626 treble hooks in every available size. I pack that box whenever I venture into places that are real tough on hooks. It’s not a pretty treble hook, just a solid, reliable workhorse. The points are a kind of knife style and can take a fair bit of punishment among rock bars and pylons. Straight out of the boxI find they’re not as sharp as some other styles so I tend to give them a touch up before casting. That minor inconvenience aside, they have excellent corrosion resistance and the 4X wire makes them damn hard to straighten.
Mustad’s distinctive triple grip treble hook has a unique bend shape with incredibly sharp inward facing needle points. Being 2X short, 1X strong, these hooks sit close to the lure body and resist snagging, yet they seem to find their mark in fish pretty well. This is a treble hook designed with one objective: staying attached to fish.
They’re available in red and black nickel and although they were originally designed for freshwater use, they have reasonable corrosion resistance, particularly in black nickel. These hooks work so well that I recommend giving the barbs a squeeze with some pliers if you plan to release your catch unharmed. Otherwise they can be difficult to remove without damaging the fish.
These are a strange looking treble hook, with two normal points and the third one being much more elongated. They’re designed for use only on the tail of the lure and the third point is aligned with the eye to run vertically. Depending on how you rig this hook the long point can face upwards or downwards (I prefer point up).
The idea of the sure set design is twofold: first to connect with finicky fish that are biting short. And second, the longer hook helps the lure track straighter. Personally, I’d have to confess to not being a 100% convinced of the benefits. But the 5536TR sure set hook is loved by so many great fishermen that it can’t be easily dismissed.
Available in black nickel and red……. give ’em a try, I guess!
Trokar are famous for their version of the knife point – the three sided, surgically sharpened points. Trokar claims that this point penetrates a fish twice as fast as a “standard” hook point. I’m not sure how this is measured, but I can vouch for the sharpness. Ouch!
This is a hook for gnarly fish in gnarly cover. They’re a stout, heavy duty treble hook with straight points and a standard gape. The attractive black nickel finish gives them excellent corrosion resistance, so they’re perfect for both fresh and saltwater fishing
Best Double Hooks For Lure Fishing
Being made from a single piece of wire, double hooks are exceptionally strong – and Owner’s wires is stronger than most. These hooks can be attached to the lure without the need for split rings, making them perfect for reducing weight and noise and for enhancing lure action. The DH41 double hook has a super sharp needle point and a tinned finish, which I’ve found to be very corrosion resistant. It’s made from 3X wire, so strength should never be a problem…..
This hook is one of Mustad’s original offerings – and it’s as good now as the day it was first released. The O’Shaughnessy bend and needle points do a pretty good job of both pinning fish and staying pinned.
I use this hook to increase the hook set rate of freshwater crankbaits by replacing the front treble hook. The double hook sits flatter against the lure body, with two downward facing points. And like all double hooks, it can also be rigged points up for fishing heavy weed or cover.
Being a bronzed finish, Mustad’s Classic Double Hook is a little more prone to corrosion than nickel plated or vacuum tinned double hooks. In my experience, this is a double hook best saved for freshwater applications.
Gamakatsu’s extra wide gape double hooks are designed for fishing soft plastic frog lures….. but they work great on hard body lures as well. The extra wide gape results in inwards facing points that make it more snag resistant and at the same time harder for fish to dislodge.
The needle points are super sharp and the barb is quite small. This to some extent offsets the slightly reduced hookset rates of EWG hooks. Finished in black nickel, these are a great double hook with excellent corrosion resistance.
Best Single Hooks For Lure Fishing
I nearly always end up replacing treble hooks with single hooks when I find myself fishing for tough species like tuna, amberjack, GT and the like. Inline single hooks are much harder for fish to shake or straighten than treble hooks. Plus single hooks do less damage to the fish.
Owner make a couple of different replacement singles, but this one is my favorite for heavy-duty fishing.
Another great option for replacing treble hooks with single hooks when I’m fishing for tough species like tuna, amberjack, GT and the like.
The curved shank and inward facing point of the VMC inline single hook make it exceptionally difficult for fish to dislodge. I use it’s a little like a circle hook, and I fish it the same way. In other words, I don’t try to set the hooks, but simply keep retrieving and wait for the rod to load up.
Perfect For: Minimizing damage to fish that will be released, fishing where regulations ban treble hooks. Also any time fish are aggressive, spitting hooks and you want a single hook without using split rings.
Like all hooks from the Gamakatsu stable, these open eye siwash hooks are a quality product. Designed for spinnerbaits and inline wire baits, their open eye lends itself to attaching directly to hard body lure styles without the need for split rings.
I love these hooks on poppers, crankbaits and lipless cranks when fish are feeding aggressively. Sure, you’ll miss a few strikes – but you’ll drop less fish in the long run. The round bend, incredibly sharp needle point and standard wire gauge of Gamakatsu open eye siwash hooks helps improve the hook-up rate. As always, the black nickel finish gives great corrosion resistance.
Originally designed for use with metal jigs, these hooks can be deadly on crankbaits, lipless crankbaits and topwater lures too. Gamakatsu 510 assist hooks have a wide gape, super sharp needle style point with a small outward facing barb and an inward curving point.
This all comes together to make a hook that is near impossible for a fish to dislodge. The inward facing point and free swinging nature of assist hooks also makes them resistant to blunting by structure. Designed for saltwater use, these hook have excellent corrosion resistance.
Chapter 6: Lure Fishing Hook Guide – How To Solve Challenges With Smart Hook Selection.
Problem: Failing To Convert Strikes
Possible Solutions: The first step if you’re missing lots of strikes is to take a look at the points of your fishing hooks. If they’re not needle sharp, then sharpen them. Or replace them with new hooks. Whatever you do, don’t keep fishing with blunt hooks!
Next, look at the style of hook. The best options for increasing hook set rates are treble hooks with a round bend, wide gape, thin wire, needle point and small barb (or none at all). But understand that you might have to compromise on strength, snag resistance or holding power in order to get the hooks sets in the first place. If the fish are biting short, try longer shanked or stinger hooks on the tail. Increasing hook size can also be beneficial, if your lure can support a larger hook.
Problem: Losing Hooked Fish
Possible Solutions: Use extra wide gape hooks with inward facing points, larger barbs or an O’Shaughnessy style bend. These are much harder for a fish to dislodge than round bend, straight point hooks. The compromise of course is that you might get a slight reduction in hook sets.
Single hooks or assist hooks are the most difficult for fish to dislodge and may be worth considering if you’re losing a high proportion of hooked fish.
Problem: Hooks Fouling
Possible Solutions: If the problem is interlocking of the front and rear treble hooks during casting then short shank hook styles are your answer. But if the problem is fouling of the line during casting then it could be more of a weighting problem. Short shank treble hooks or single hooks may help but are unlikely to fully fix the problem as it’s a lure design thing. Alternativley, you could also try removing the belly hooks and leaving just the tail treble – or replacing the belly hook with a short shanked double.
Problem: Hooks Straightening or Snapping
Possible Solutions: First and foremost, make sure you’re using quality hooks. Many commercial lures are fitted with stock treble hooks that should be replaced before use. If you’re using decent quality hooks then consider switching to a heavier gauge of wire or to forged models that give greater strength. Single hooks are much harder for fish to straighten than trebles.
Problem: Hooks Getting Snagged On Structure
Possible Solutions: Often times your lures need to be right in among heavy cover to even get a strike. So in part, we have to accept that getting hung up on submerged structure means we’re putting our lures where they’ll do the most good. Carry a tackle retriever and hopefully you’ll recover most snagged lures. Many treble hooks are surprisingly snag resistant, especially those with inward facing points. Single and double hook configurations reduce the number of points that can bite into structure (and fish). But they can also be rigged with the points upwards, making a lure even more snag resistant.
Problem: Hooks being blunted by structure
Possible Solutions: Needle point, ultra sharp, thin gauge hooks give the best hook set ratios. But there’s a price to pay: they’re also the most susceptible to blunting by contact with structure. Spear point and knife point hooks are less easily damaged by rocks and reefs. They can still be deadly sharp, too – especially the knife points styles. Whatever style of hook point you choose, be prepared to touch them up with a sharpening stone if they are damaged by contact and to replace them as required.
Problem: Hooks picking up weed and debris
Possible Solutions: Treble hooks are very efficient at collecting any kind of floating junk. Using extra wide gape, inward facing point styles can reduce the amount of flotsam your trebles hooks pick up. But a great way to minimize the problem is replacing treble hooks with single or double hooks. Upward facing doubles or single hooks have the ability to slide over a lot of the rubbish and make it possible to fish otherwise unfishable waters.
Conclusion – Please Leave A Comment Below……
Believe it or not, there is plenty more that could be said about hooks for hard bodied lures. There will always be heated debate over what hooks are best – though much depends on circumstances and personal preferences.
And I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to comparing the different brands and models of hooks…….
Not everyone wants to experiment with tons different fishing hook styles. But if you’re looking for a little extra from your lure fishing then your hooks are definitely some thought. As I said at the start, they’re still the vital link that connects you with the fish.
If you get nothing else from my ramblings, I hope you at least get these take home points:
First, you get what you pay for – and there are good reasons why quality brands are a little more expensive. They’re worth it. Quality hooks are sharper, stronger, lighter and more corrosion resistant. And they stay that way. Forget the initial price, in the long run you’ll find that quality hooks are actually cheaper. And it doesn’t make a lot of sense to shell out a ton of cash on rods, reels, boats, travel, guides and accommodation – and then spoil your chances by saving a few cents on the one item that connects you to the fish!
Second, above all else, hooks must be sharp. So disregard advice that you should sharpen brand new, unused hooks before using them. If you’re using a top brand there is nothing you can do while you’re fishing than a hook manufacturer doesn’t do better in a high tech factory full of specialized equipment. Quality hooks don’t need sharpening until they’ve had an altercation with a fish, rock or other hard object.
So that’s it! I hope you found this article useful – if so please share and comment below!