Choosing the best hooks for trout fishing is one of the most important tackle decisions to make. Choosing the wrong hook can definitely work against you as you try to land a picky trout.
When choosing the best hooks for trout fishing you need to be aware that trout especially wild brown trout can be notoriously finicky when it comes to bait presentation. The best rule to follow when selecting a trout hook is to choose the smallest suitable size possible.
Two main factors determine what size hook for trout fishing:
- What bait you are using and how big it is.
- How big are the trout in the local rivers or lakes.
A trout fishing hook is fundamentally the same as most other freshwater fishing hooks and is constructed and described in the same manner.
There are a number of common terms used to describe each part of the hook.
- Eye - the eye is where the fishing line is tied to the hook.
- Shank - the shank is the length of the hook running from the eye to the start of the bend.
- Bend - the bend is the curve that is bent into the hook to make the point face forward.
- Point - the point is the sharpened end of the hook that allows the hook to be set in the fishes mouth.
- Gape - the gape is the distance between the point and the shank.
- Bite/Throat - the bite or throat is the distance between the point and the start of the bend on the shank.
- Barb - the barb is a sharp spike that is bent up from the back of the point and helps stop the hook from falling out of the trout's mouth.
Trout Hook Sizes
Unfortunately there are two systems that are currently used to describe the size of a hook. Each system describes the size of the hook relative to the maximum nominal hook size. The larger sized hooks are described by the aught system and are generally used for sea fishing.
Hook sizes with a zero(aught):
When you see a fishing hook size such as 3/0(three aught) it means that the bigger the first number the bigger the hook size will increase. So for example a 3/0 is bigger than a 2/0.
Hook sizes without a zero:
The second hook size system does not include a zero. This means that generally the bigger the number the smaller the hook so a size 1 is much bigger than a size 12.
For the rest of this guide I will be using the second system that does not include zeros. The majority of trout fishermen and fly tiers will always use the system without zeros as they are the smaller hooks more suitable for trout fishing.
The thickness of the hook wire is commonly referred to as the gauge of the hook. Thicker stronger hooks are mostly used when fishing with live bait. They are also used on single hook lures. The gauges are commonly described using and X descriptor. For example a 2X hook is twice as strong as a normal gauge hook.
Types of Hooks
A lot of trout fishermen will swear by the same size, shape and brand of hook for all of their fishing lives. However having a small variety in your tackle box is definitely the best approach.
The majority of hooks for trout will be single hooks. However there are scenario's when a double or treble hook may be favorable.
Single hooks are most popular when fishing with bait for trout. However there are some trout fishing lures available with single hooks. There is a huge range of shapes and sizes available some with long/short shanks some with straight points and some with an offset point. The offset point can improve strike rate but it is also easier for the trout once hooked to shake it free.
A single hook will generally cause less damage to a trout, especially if the trout misses the lure or bait as it strikes. Doubles and trebles in this scenario can cause a lot of damage to a trout particularly the eyes.
A double hook is simply two hooks joined together at an angle. The sizing for these is described as for a single hook. Double hooks are mostly used for trout for tying certain types of heavy flies or to a lesser extent used with PowerBait.
Following on from double hooks a treble hook is three hooks joined at an angle along the shank. For trout fishing treble hooks will mostly be used on all types of spinning and trolling lures and in the smaller sizes are used for fishing with Berkeley's Powerbait range of artificial baits.
Barb-less hooks are used to when you want to create less damage to the trouts mouth. Many rivers and fisheries will operate on a catch and release system. If you are fishing on these types of waters it is bet to use a barb-less hook. In fact some waters will only allow barb-less hooks to be used. If you do not intend to kill and eat any trout you catch you should always try to use a barb-less hook.
A regular hook can be de-barbed by flattening out the barb with a strong fishing pliers. To do this simply squeeze down the barb of the hook so that it is flat against the hook wire. This method may not be perfect but if can provide considerably less damage to a trout that regular barbed hooks.
Best Trout Hooks for Bait
The best hooks for trout fishing as mentioned earlier should be as small as possible depending on the target fish size. In clear waters trout can be very wary of anything that looks unnatural. However if you are fishing in a stocked pond and want to avoid the smaller younger fish you can use a slightly bigger bait and hook, the bigger hook will deter the smaller fish.
Single hooks - Size #12 or up to # 8 Gamakatsu trout hooks if you are fishing for larger fish.
Treble hooks - Size #12 or #14 eagles claw sometimes down to a size #16.
Single hook - Size #8 to #12 Eagles Claw Baitholder hooks depending on how big the nightcrawlers are.