CHOOSING A HOOK FOR SALTWATER FISHING
When It comes to choosing your hook for saltwater applications you need to know a few things about the size and shape of hooks and the species you are aiming to haul in. Choosing the right hook is a learning process and you will learn from past experiences and errors. Even the best saltwater fishos I know still have off days when they have to completely reassess the hook they are using.
The first thing to look at is the size of the hook you need to use. This will largely depend on the species you are looking to land. A common beginner mistake is to use too large a hook. When I first started saltwater fishing, I would lose catches because they slipped off a hook which was too large for the species I was fishing. A number 5 size hook should be enough for anything from 1/4lb up to 25lbs.
PICK A STRONG HOOK
Use a tried and proven brand of hook. Mustad is always a solid choice, as is Tsunami. Their hooks are sturdy and are up to the conditions of saltwater fishing. Ask around and see what other fishos are using and what has been working for them. Don’t always rely on a retailer’s recommendation, they can be pushing overstocked items which they need to sell, not what you want to buy.
The shorter length shanks are stronger than the longer hooks. They don’t straighten and offer a little more durability if you’re on something with a bit of a kick. The shorter length is good with heavier lines. With a strong short shank and heavy line, you can let the larger fish get tired out on a taught line.
The longer length shanks are good for easy removal from the mouth. If you aren’t going to find yourself in a dogfight with a strong fish, the longer shank should be fine. If you are looking for pan-sized fish you might find yourself throwing a lot back for being too small. The longer shank hooks also won’t ever be swallowed by the fish, unlike the smaller hooks.
When fishing with a longer shank, be careful the leader doesn’t become too weak. If it does you can cut it more or less an inch above the eye and then reattach it.
TYPE OF SALTWATER HOOK
Upturned eyes are turned away from the hook point. These are ideal for snelling hooks. Downturned eyes are bent towards the hook point, so when knots are tied directly to the eye they rotate the point towards the fish’s mouth. Straight eyes are in line with the point, these are standard for a wide variety of fishing applications.
If you are still bait fishing, you can also use a circular hook. These hooks don’t need setting so you can leave them. The hook will only set once the fish tries to swim away. You will need something to tell you when you are on a fish, like an alarm or a bell.
If you are using live bait, or plastics to mimic live bait, an AH hook is a great option. It has more space between the point and the eye so you can fit a larger bait on it.
If you are fishing in open ocean away from any reefs or foliage you might consider using a treble hook. I only use these on plugs, when I’m as far away as possible from anything likely to snag the hooks. If the larger species destroy your treble hooks, replace them with short shank single hooks for something stronger.
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