When it comes to fishing as a hobby or profession, two things matter most; your fishing rod, and your hook choice. Without those two things, you won’t have much of a chance of landing that next trophy bass.
Selecting the right hook size and type for bass fishing is important. Hooks that are too big will prevent smaller fish from grabbing it, and instead can just end up in you losing your bait. Hooks that are too small can end up being swallowed by the fish causing a gut hook which, unfortunately, is usually fatal for that fish. Similarly, the wrong hook styles will lower your chance to catch largemouth bass too.
As a general rule, hooks in the 1/0 through the 3/0 size are suitable for largemouth bass fishing. But there is a bit more to choosing the right hook size for the type of bass fishing you do and you need to consider the type of hook, the size of bass you are chasing and the type of bass lure or bait you are using.
Ensuring you are using the right size, thickness and style of fish hook for your fishing situation is important no matter your angling experience level. But there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to hooks and hook style and how they are selected and used in bass fishing.
See also: fishing hook types explained
Fishing hook sizes can be rather confusing. There is no standard for sizing that is universal across all hook manufacturers, so for example, the Eagle Claw brand size 4 fish hook can be larger or smaller than the Mustad brand size 4 hook of the same type.
Normally, an angler would try to stick with one brand of hook maker. Most manufacturing brands will adhere to a sizing standard within their own company, which can make it easier for you to select the right size of your next hook.
Fishing hooks are sorted by their size with one or two numbers. The numbers usually start out at 32, which would be the smallest hook that company makes. As the numbers get larger, so do the hooks. A size 1 hook would be their largest.
In addition to having their sized shown from 32 to 1, fishing hook sizes can also have an “aught designation”. In this case, a hook would be displayed as 19/0 would be larger than a hook that is shown as 5/0. When hooks are displayed with an aught designation, the larger the number, the larger the hook.
If that wasn’t confusing enough, hooks can also have a thickness rating. This is normally much easier to discern on the packaging as it will be written as 2X, 3X or 4X for example. This can be grouped with the measurement as well, so a size 19/0 4X hook would be extremely large and made from thicker than average wire, while the opposite would be a light wire hook.
For a full explanation of hook size, check out our post on this topic.
Hook Styles for Largemouth Bass
Keeping in mind that there is no universal standard for fishing hook sizes across manufacturers, most bass do best with hook sizes from 4-1 in size, or 1/0 to 6/0 in aught designation. For thickness, this is personal preference and will also depend somewhat on the type of bait you will be using.
Smaller fish hook sizes are fine for basic live bait such as worms or grubs, and larger hooks are more suitable for full nightcrawlers, small lizards, and soft plastic bass baits.
For style or type of hook, most bass are robust eaters and will normally respond to most types of lure so your particular fishing hook is not much concern. You definitely don’t need to invest in a specific hook for bass fishing by any means.
For basic fishing, standard straight long shank hooks, baitholder hooks or any thinner wire hook works well. The biggest concern is that it can fit inside the fish’s mouth and have a sharp point suitable for getting a solid hook set.
How To Choose the Right Fishing Hook Sizes
Anglers that want to use large hooks should ensure the hook is large enough to handle the bait as well as be able to land the fish. Hooks that are too small will struggle to hold the bait as well as have enough barbs and points showing to land a fish. Chances are high you might end up just losing your bait and not catching anything.
Style of the hook can also come into play when deciding which size is best. Some hooks are specifically made to hold large live or artificial baits and still have plenty of room for a fish to bite, while other hooks will depend on precisely shaped bait to be effective.
Thick vs Thin
In general, freshwater bass of all varieties can be landed successfully with standard thickness hooks. You can go with the light wire and smaller fishing hook size and do just fine.
However, if you plan on landing larger bass, saltwater bass, or other trophy fish you may do well to select a larger gauge wire. Gauge is the designation of wire thickness. The higher the number, the thicker the wire.
Hooks normally go up to 4X gauge or 4.0 gauge which means they are very thick and sturdy metal. You can definitely find larger hooks at specialty shops, but in general 4 is the largest you will see. The thicker the hook, the larger the shank and eyelet, so be sure you upgrade your line to handle this hook as well.
Offset fishing hooks
Offset hooks are a standard hook, only the tip with the point and barb are tilted slightly to one side or the other. When you look at the hook straight on, you will notice the tip does not line up with the eyelet.
These hooks are normally not suggested for bass fishing as they can increase the chance of gut hooking and eye hooking. Fish hooked in either of these ways may not be suitable for catch and release, or if they are, they will have an increased mortality rate.
Straight shank hooks
The gold standard and most commonly found style of fishing hook. Straight shanks are your normal J shaped hooks and are perfect for bait of all kinds. They work perfectly fine for experienced and beginner anglers, and can land a variety of fish species including largemouth bass.
When using thick or large baits on a straight shank hook, you want to be sure the distance between the shank and the barb is suitable for holding your bait as well as giving the fish something to latch onto. This is called the gap space and it can differ on many hooks.
Octopus or circle hook
Octopus and circle hooks are normally found in the color red as the added color helps attract fish to your bait. If you plan on using live bait such as leeches, minnows or grubs, you will find the wide gap of an octopus hook is great for securing the bait and landing those large trophy bass.
Octopus and circle hooks are similar to standard J hooks, but have a more pronounced bend and larger gap size. The octopus or circle hook is specifically made to work well with using minnows as bait as they are light enough to allow natural movement of your bait while strong enough to help you land your catch.
Wide Gape and Extra Wide Gap Hooks
Wide gape or wide gap hooks are a common hook to find from the Mustad company and are popular with bass fishermen. The hooks can be found in a variety of sizes, and overall shapes. Generally, they are similar to a J hook but have a much more flourished bottom and larger width from the tip of the hook and the shank.
These hook styles are a great choice for fishing with live baits as they can secure the bait with plenty of room left over to hook your catch. The shape of the hook itself helps prevent bait from wiggling off or being stolen from the hook when tackled by an aggressive fish.
Standard treble hooks are the type that resemble ship anchors. They have three separate hooks all secured to a center shaft. The biggest downside of treble hooks is they are highly prone to getting caught in vegetation so are best kept for use in clear open water and ocean settings.
The purpose of a treble hook is mostly for use with spoons and jigs, swimbaits and crankbaits and they are the right hook to pair with these lures. They’re commonly used in both freshwater and saltwater, though are normally seen more for landing large trout and catfish over bass.
Hook sizes and types for Different Bass Rigs and Lures
There are dozens of different types of bass rigs and lures you can use to catch your next trophy fish. The size of hook you need will depend almost entirely on the type of bait you will be using for that particular rig. Generally, you want to use the smallest hook you can as long as it can secure your bait and still be large enough to hold onto your target fish.
Carolina and Texas rigs are the most commonly talked about and used when it comes to bass fishing. The average angler will be using a variety of artificial baits, and in this case a 2/0 sized fish hook will be perfect for most general baits.
Lizard lures are commonly used as bait with Carolina rigging. In this case, you want a fish hook that allows natural movement of the artificial lizard as you move it through the water. When using a lizard lure on your rig, you will normally go with a 3/0 or 4/0 sized hook.
For more advanced anglers targeting that monster smallmouth bass or world-record largemouth bass, 6/0 sized fish hooks will secure crayfish, 10 inch worms, and other very large baits to Texas rigging. This size hook will also still be large enough to be grabbed by and hooked into the mouth of the bass when it strikes.
Wacky rigs make use of the senko style 5-inch long worm lures. The point of this rig is to allow the worm to do a fluttering motion as it sinks to the bottom. As it moves and sinks, it will attract the attention of fish in the area.
Your fish hook for this rig, normally a 1/0 to 3/0 size, will be secured in the middle of the worm to ensure the bass gets a solid mouthful. One thing to note, however, is that you should always attach an O-ring to the worm to secure your fish hook to. This will help prevent bait loss and end up saving you money over time.
Final Thoughts on the Best Size and Type of Hooks for Bass
Fishing hooks can come in a wide range of sizes and styles, and their sizing designation can be confusing for beginners and experienced fishermen alike. Don’t be afraid to stick with a single hook company until you are confident in their hook sizing.
Additionally, you will be faced with a wide number of hook names which may lead to even more confusion. Treble hook, Circle hooks, Octopus hooks, Aberdeen hooks, standard worm hooks, baitholder hooks, Siwash hook, Kahle hook, and weedless hooks are just some of the styles you may encounter when searching for tackle to purchase.
Regardless of what company you choose, taking the time to select the right fish hook for your fishing spot, bait type, and target fish will help make a day out on the water much more enjoyable for you.