Panfish Hook Size (& Type): Crappie, Bluegill & More

Panfish are a popular target for many anglers due to their large population numbers around the country, their delicious flavor and flaky meat, and their willingness to take lures and …

Panfish are a popular target for many anglers due to their large population numbers around the country, their delicious flavor and flaky meat, and their willingness to take lures and bait of all types. But being successful in catching panfish on your next fishing trip will depend on the hook size as well as its style or type.  

Different panfish species, such as crappie, bluegill, sunfish, and perch, have different mouth sizes and feeding habits when it comes to how they take the bait or lure. These various factors can affect the right hook size and type that will be needed to successfully land these fish.  

This article will take a closer look at the different and most popular fishing hook sizes and styles that work best for various panfish species and will also cover the hook sizing scale, so selecting your next hook will be much easier and less intimidating.

Fishing Hook Sizes: Numbering Explained

Single hooks close up
Choosing the right size fishing hook is essential for successful fishing.

Let me tell you about fish hook sizes. When buying fishing hooks, you need to remember that hook sizes are numbered in a system that can be confusing to those who are new to the hobby. The numbering system for hook sizes is based on a scale that ranges from the smallest size, typically size #32, to the largest size, which is usually size #1. The larger the fishing hook number, the smaller the hook.  

After size #1, hooks are classified into the “aught scale,” which is written as 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, and so on, with the number increasing as the hook gets larger. Understanding the size of a fishing hook is important so you can select the right hook for the fish you are targeting, ensuring a successful freshwater fishing as well as saltwater fishing experience. While large hooks can catch fish in the eye, small hooks are likely to be swallowed. If you don’t use the right hook, you can lose countless catches. 

One thing to also keep in mind is that the hook size numbering system is not consistent across different manufacturers, and hooks labeled with the same size number may not be the same size from one manufacturer to another. Also, the hook types may be paired with finesse worms, soft plastic worms, dough baits, and other artificial baits. This can make choosing the right hook size or brand extremely confusing for beginners, as well as some advanced anglers too. 

The Best Panfish Hook Types

Crappie fishing gear soft baits
Selecting the best hook for panfish will depend on personal preferences and the type of fish being targeted.

While the rod, reel, and bait choices are what anglers usually pay attention to, choosing the right hook type is extremely important for a successful fishing trip, regardless of what fish you are targeting, whether small baits or large fishes. Panfish like bluegill, crappie, and other sunfish have small mouths, so it’s important to choose a hook type that fits their mouth size. 

When asked, most anglers agree that the best hook types for panfish are small and lightweight, with a thin wire and sharp barbed tip that is easy to set. Aberdeen hooks are a popular hook choice by many anglers of all experience levels as they have a long shank that allows you to easily remove the hook from the fish’s mouth with pliers or your fingers. 

Baitholder hooks are also a good option for panfish as they have barbs along the shaft and curve of the hook that keep the bait in place while also increasing the chances of a good hook set. These hooks can also be very good with populations of fish that are known to spit the hooks out after tasting the bait or with those that are very prone to nibbling or stealing the bait right off the hook.

For anglers looking for a catch and release option, a circle hook can be a great choice as they are designed to hook fish in the corner of their mouth, reducing the chances of the higher mortality of gut-hooking. Ensuring the hook stays on the lips helps greatly increase the likelihood of the fish being released in a humane manner so it can recover quickly and be caught another day.

Deciding on the best hook type for panfish will depend on your personal preferences as well as the species of fish you are targeting, but choosing a small and lightweight hook with a thin wire is typically the way to go for these more delicate fish.

Panfish Hook Chart

This hook chart is a valuable tool that can provide a quick visual reference when selecting the right hook size and type for the panfish species you are targeting. This chart can take the guesswork out of hook selection, making it easier for you to grab and go. Take a look at the table of contents. 

Panfish SpeciesHook Size RangeBest Hook Types
Crappie#2 – #4Aberdeen and Circle 
Bluegill#6 – #10Aberdeen, Baitholder, Circle
Sunfish#6 – #10Aberdeen, Circle, Eggholder
Perch#4 – #8Aberdeen, Baitholder, Treble
Rock Bass1/0 – 2/0Aberdeen, Octopus, Treble

Treble Hook Sizes for Panfish

Bluegill at night 2
Treble hooks are commonly used for panfish fishing to increase the chances of hooking the fish from various angles and depths.

Treble hooks are a popular choice for panfish fishing as they provide a higher chance of hooking the fish no matter which angles it strikes from. Treble hooks consist of three hooks that are joined together in the center, creating a triangular shape that can snag a fish from a variety of rigs with all types of bait and in various deeper water or shallow water conditions. 

Treble hooks come in different sizes, with the most common sizes being #18 on the small end to #1 on the larger end. Always keep in mind the average adult size of the specific panfish you are targeting since smaller species will require smaller treble hooks in order to be successful. Using too large of a hook can make it difficult for the fish to take the bait, resulting in a missed opportunity or a fish that gets hooked in the wrong area, such as the nose, eye, or gills. 

As a general rule, smaller treble hooks work best for bluegill, sunfish, and crappie, while larger trebles are more suited for perch or rock bass. When selecting your next size hook, you should also consider the weight of the hook itself. Your goal would be to choose a lightweight hook that allows the fish to take the bait without resistance while also being strong enough to withstand their fight and struggles.

Treble hooks are normally not used when catching strictly for catch and release. These hooks can end up hooking the fish in multiple areas, adding to its injuries. Additionally, smaller treble hooks, or hard plastic lures using treble hooks, can be swallowed whole, which means a 100% chance of gut hooking the fish. Always inspect the hook points after catching a fish, as even small damage can affect future hooksets.  

For catch and release fishing, consider using an Aberdeen, circle, or baitholder hook instead. For harvest fishing, treble hooks can ensure even a feisty and aggressive panfish won’t be able to spit the hook or tear away from it.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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