By Ben Team
A quick trip around the local tackle shop will reveal a ridiculous number of hooks, in every size, shape and configuration imaginable. They all do the same thing, but they all work best when utilized in the way the engineers (and anglers with whom they consulted) envisioned.
Experienced anglers often know the ins and outs of the various hook styles, but beginning anglers are often overwhelmed by this stunning variety. But this needn’t be the case – we’ve explained some of the most common fishing hooks below. While far from comprehensive, this list will get you started and help you make better selections the next time you travel to the tackle store.
The Straight Shank Hook
Straight shank hooks are the simplest of the basic fishing hook designs. These hooks work well in a variety of applications, but two of their most common applications are for live bait or as a trailer hook on a spinnerbait.
Many hooks designed specifically for live bait feature small, sharp prongs on the hook’s shank, which help to keep slippery night crawlers and wriggling red wigglers from shimmying off the hook.
Offset hooks feature a shank that has been bent so that the hook’s point sits directly under the hook’s eye. This arrangement does two things: It allows you to apply force directly to the business end of the hook, thereby allowing better hooksets, and it makes it easier to rig bulky plastic baits.
Offset hooks are the most popular style for fishing soft plastics, but there are two basic variations available to anglers – standard and extra-wide gap. Different anglers often prefer one design or another, but in the case of fledgling fishermen and fisherwomen, either style will work just fine.
Treble hooks are three-pronged hooks that are most commonly attached to crankbaits and topwater lures. Their tri-tipped design is both a blessing and a curse – it is nearly impossible for a fish to strike a treble-hook-laden lure without hooking itself, but it is just as impossible to get a treble hook from the truck to the boat without hooking every article of clothing you are wearing.
On a more serious note, treble hooks rarely have the long shanks that characterize many other hooks. This can make it more difficult to keep fish hooked during the ensuing battle. Though it is a treble hook.
Weedless hooks come in a variety of styles, but they all have one thing in common: They feature some type of protective, yet flexible, material that covers the hook’s point. Usually this guard takes the form of a small piece of wire, but some manufacturers use plastic bristles and rubber bands instead. The guard keeps weeds, sticks and other forms of snag-tastic debris from catching in the hook, but it yields when you set the hook.
Weed guards probably cause you to miss the occasional fish, but they offer considerable value when fishing dense cover. You can purchase a weedless version of virtually any hook style you like, but offset and straight shank hooks are the most common designs to bear weed-deflecting attachments.
Circle hooks look exactly as you would expect them to. They are essentially hooks with the shank removed; the eye lies very close to the hook’s bend. Circle hooks are used for a variety of purposes by
anglers targeting an array of species, but bass anglers most commonly use them when rigging worms wacky style.
Because they lack a long shank, circle hooks are especially effective in clear-water situations, when a picture-perfect presentation is necessary.