What Hook Size and Type Are Best for Trout (In All Situations)?

Find out the best hooks sizes for trout fishing and what type of hook is best for chasing these fish with lures and baits in rivers, lakes and streams.

Every year, new anglers begin their trout fishing careers. New anglers also have quite a few questions on what gear to use for trout fishing, and in this post, we will look at the right size hook needed for trout fishing and types to use in trout fishing, so if you’re new to trout fishing this post will have your hook questions covered!

As a general rule, hooks in sizes 8 through 14 are suitable for trout fishing in most scenarios, but you need to consider a few things, such as the size of bait or lure, the size of trout you are pursuing, and what type of hook is required.

We’ve explained all this and more below.

Quick summary: The best hook size to use when trout fishing is between size 8 and size 14. Small hooks are best for trout as the baits are small, and trout will see the hook if it is too big. Consider using barbless hooks for trout unless you plan to eat what you catch.

What Hook Size for Trout?

picture of hook sizes with diagonal row of hooks in ascending order
Bigger baits need big hooks, and smaller baits require smaller hooks.

Single hook sizes for trout vary, and the reason it varies is location. Some bodies of water feature very large trout, while the stream a few miles away might be home to a population of small brook trout. You wouldn’t want to use the same sized hook for a 12-14 inch brown trout or a 20-inch steelhead that you would for a tiny 6-inch brook trout from a tiny stream in most cases.

Single hook size also depends on the bait, with bigger bait needing big hooks and smaller baits requiring smaller hooks, bait retention, and presentation are crucial, and anglers need to use the right size hook.

A good rule of thumb is to get a variety of hooks from size 8 to 14; this way, you have all of the size hooks covered if you live and fish in areas with multiple bodies of water that hold trout of various sizes or use a wide range of bait sizes. If you only fish small streams, it would be safe to say you can tailor your hook selection to the lower half of this range and, for larger rivers and lakes holding large fish, the entire range. Having the whole range of hooks means you will have the right size hook for any situation.

Hook Numbering/Sizing System Explained

The hook sizing system is something that is confusing to many people, and to be honest; the system could definitely be simplified.  The number system runs from 32 to 19/0 hook sizes, and the larger the number, the smaller the hook, with 32 being the smallest.

Once you reach size 1, which is the largest size of the standard numbering system, you reach the “ought” range of 1/0 to 19/0 hook sizes. The lower range of the ought sizes is for largemouth bass and other similarly sized species, the middle range is for muskies, large pike, catfish, and various saltwater species, and the upper end of this scale are for massive sized fish like shark, grouper, etc.

Best Hook Sizes for Trout Across the Various Types of Hook

The right size hook for trout ranges from 8-14, and anything in this range is the best hook in terms of size. Once you have hooks in this range, you can custom-tailor the size as needed for the bait and conditions you are fishing in.

The only real difference in size in this regard is with treble hooks; due to having a wider cross-section due to having three bends, treble hook ranges for trout are smaller than that of single hooks.

Trout anglers using treble hooks should stick to the size range of 12, 14, and 16. If you are replacing trout hooks on a lure like a crankbait, ensure that it is the same size as the hook you are replacing to avoid fouling the lure’s action.

Standard Hooks

Owner 5177 Mosquito Lightwire Hook
Owner 5177 Mosquito Lightwire Hook
Owner 5177 Mosquito Lightwire Hook
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The Owner Mosquito single hook is a great option for trout, it features a forged shank with an offset Super needle Point for optimum hooking, and thinner hook wire that has the perfect blend of flexibility and strength and increases hooking percentages.

The light wire design features a thinner hook gauge, this means that it excels when fished with light line, and is great for those small streams and creeks and when trout fishing for smaller trout.

The hook is also self-setting and is great for high current and wind when keeping the line tight can be challenging, and helps greatly when you are trying to catch fish.


Long Shank Hooks

Mustad Classic Special Long Shank Beak Baitholder Hook
Mustad Classic Special Long Shank Beak Baitholder Hook
Mustad Classic Special Long Shank Beak Baitholder Hook
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The Mustad classic long shank baitholder is a great single hook that excels at live bait presentation when using bait like worms or nightcrawlers.

The long shank features two bait holding barbs that keep your live bait secure and prevents it from sliding down the shank to the bend. The bend at the eye of the hook gives a massive increase in hooking power and will do some serious work even with light hook sets.

The unique elbow design on the hook bend increases the chances to catch trout by working to force the fish into the elbow and help prevent any chances of the hook being thrown by the fish, this works by pinning the shank to the fish using leverage from the tension of the fishing line.

Overall, this offering by Mustad should be in every angler's hook arsenal for catching trout.


Treble Hooks

Eagle Claw Lazer Treble Hooks
Eagle Claw Lazer Treble Hooks
Eagle Claw Lazer Treble Hooks
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This is a classic treble hook for trout fishing, and they come from Eagle Claw, a company that is a household name in fishing and is well-known for producing high-quality hooks.

This treble hook has a great bend design that features a 90 degree double round bend and works to keep fish hooked and prevent fish from shaking the hook.

From my own personal experience with these hooks, even the incredibly small ones have some serious power, even if they are undersized for the fish, and stick to a fish the same way burrs stick to your jeans when walking through a field.


Hooks Continued

Gamakatsu Octopus Hook
Gamakatsu Octopus Hook
Gamakatsu Octopus Hook
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Octopus single hooks are great trout hooks and work great when trout fishing with spawn sacks and small live bait, they are specifically designed to hook the fish directly in the corner of the mouth when the hook is set, and have a great track record in doing so, and have an overall high hooking percentage.

Gamakatsu makes some of the finest hooks in the world and is one of the top brands whose hooks are used by anglers of a wide array of species.

The Octopus hook is made from premium grade high carbon steel and each hook undergoes one of the most advanced heat tempering systems on the planet, with each hook being heated at a precise temperature that is best for that hook design, and then oil-cooled.

This creation process makes the hook very strong but not brittle, with just the right amount of flex and give. The conical points on the hook are also precision sharpened to give an incredibly fine and narrow tip.



Northland Tackle Slurp Jig
Northland Tackle Slurp Jig
Northland Tackle Slurp Jig
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The slurp jig will work great for soft plastics and live bait like minnows, and it has a very realistic head design that is combined with some awesome colors in both natural patterns and attention-grabbing bright patterns.

The slurp has a wire fused to the color to keep soft plastic lures in place cast after cast and work awesome with curly tail grub baits and other minnow-type presentations like paddle tails and fluke style lures.


Hook Types for Trout Fishing

Fisherman holds big brown trout in New Zealand stream Rick Wallace
Fisherman holds big brown trout in New Zealand stream.

There are several hook types on the market, and there are also several types of hooks that are effective and popular with trout anglers; let’s break down these hook types and how they apply in trout fishing.

In most cases, single hooks have more versatility than treble hooks when it comes to live bait fishing for trout, and most treble hooks are used with artificial lures.

Standard Single Hooks

The bread and butter of all hooks used in the fishing world. They are the most popular because they work well. Standard single hooks have slight differences in design and can vary, with many having design features such as barbs on the shank to securely hold live bait, gap sizes, and different bend designs.

Long Shank Hooks

Long shank hooks are some of the best hooks for trout fishing, and they have an advantage when compared to standard hooks. Also known as J hooks, long shank hooks are great for soft plastics, as you can thread the hook farther into the soft plastic lure. When threading through the soft plastic, the hook point is farther back, which means you hook up more often on short striking fish that eat just the rear section of the lure.

Long shank hooks are also great for live bait, allowing you to thread longer portions of nightcrawlers and worms onto the hook or even other live bait like crickets or wigglers while leaving the long shank exposed, giving the live bait a more natural appearance.

Barbless Hooks

Barbless hooks are the same as any other hook but do not have a barb, hence the name. Barbless hooks are only allowed when fishing for trout on certain waters by regulation, and some anglers who fish solely for catch and release will use them to cause less harm to trout. These are common trout hooks in some areas, so be sure of the specific regulations on hooks when trout fishing a certain body of water.

Treble Hook

Treble hooks are the best hooks for trout fishing lures like spinners, spoons, and crankbaits. This is the prominent role for treble hooks in trout fishing, but if you are ice fishing for trout, like the Great Lakes region, these are the hook of choice for many anglers who fish with spawn sacs or spawn imitations either by rod or when using a quick set rod setup.


Jig heads come in a variety of shapes, designs, and sizes; they are great for soft plastic presentations and live bait presentations. While not overly popular among trout anglers, some diehard trout anglers love Jigs.

Bucktail jigs can be absolutely deadly for trout, and in the right situation, a jig head rigged with a small minnow or nightcrawler can be some of the best hooks in certain conditions and will produce trout when nothing else seems to work.

Final Thoughts on the Best Hook Size and Type for Trout

brown trout held out of water excellent
Brown trout held out of water.

Using trout hooks of the proper size is critical when trout fishing and this is true of any species. Ensure that you are using the right size hook for both live bait fishing and when replacing hooks on artificial lures. Using the right size hook will see you catching trout and losing less of them.

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Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
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