Choosing What Size Hooks for Walleye: Pro Guide and Chart

Walleye fishing is an extremely popular sport across North America, especially in the Pacific Northwest, for anglers of all experience levels. These fish are voracious eaters, rarely shy about striking …

Walleye fishing is an extremely popular sport across North America, especially in the Pacific Northwest, for anglers of all experience levels.

These fish are voracious eaters, rarely shy about striking artificial bait on a single hook or treble hook, and can be caught on circle hook sizes from 2 to 6 or treble hook or octopus hook sizes from 8 to 10, making them a possibility for almost any lure or live bait rigs, slip bobber rig or Texas rig you have in your kit for catching walleye.

Walleye fishing can be done successfully with a variety of different baits, lures, and overall techniques, but unless you have the best walleye fishing hooks, you may not end up catching much.

The Best Hook Size for Walleye

When it comes to single hooks, most freshwater fishing anglers will use hooks in sizes 2 to 6 to catch walleye. If using treble hooks or lures with trebles already attached, a size 8 to 10 is the best and most successful option to consider when you want to catch walleye fast.

These hooks are a good size for most walleye that will take notice of your bait and lures, but if you are targeting larger trophy fish over 12 pounds, it may be more successful to go for a fishing hook size or two larger hooks.

Large and strong walleye can easily stretch out your best hook if it is too small, rendering those tiny hooks completely useless. While this is rare, it can still happen with tough bites on live bait rigging if you fail to set the right drag and tire the fish out before attempting to reel it in on your smallest hook, and may mean the difference in landing walleye or watching it get off your hooks.

Walleye Fishing Hook Size Chart

Hook size graphic
Hook TypeSize RangeTechnique
Wide Gap Hooks#8 to #6Trolling, soft baits
Circle Hooks#6 to #4Live bait
Octopus Hooks#6 to #4Spinners, bait
Treble Hooks#6 to #2Crankbaits, spinners, and other lures
Baitholder Hooks#2 to 1/0Live bait

The Best Types of Hooks for Walleye

Octopus Hook
Octopus hooks are commonly used on spinner and other live bait rigs.

Octopus Hooks

For walleye rigs and different live bait presentations, octopus hooks are extremely common among most experienced walleye anglers for landing walleye. These octopus hooks can be found on most spinner rigs, are on a wide number of live bait rigging as well, and are proven to be great at catching walleye

Octopus hooks are compact in their design and have a slightly tilted eye which makes them a perfect match for landing walleye with live bait presentations. Their shape is suitable for a variety of live baits, including leeches, minnows, nightcrawlers, and more.

When searching for octopus hooks for your next walleye fishing excursion, most anglers will notice there is a wide range of sizes available. If you are specifically targeting walleye, size 2 octopus hooks are normally the best option to catch walleye of most sizes and can be used for large minnows as bait as well. 

Circle Hook
The circle hook can be used to rig live bait with artificial lures or worms.

Circle Hooks

Circle hooks are the best hook design that almost all walleye anglers start with in their early days. It’s one of the most common fish hook options on the market for walleye fishing enthusiasts and can be perfectly suitable for catching walleye with both artificial and live bait, as well as most other fish species such as sea trout, lake trout, or bass. 

Circle hooks can be found in both inline and offset versions, with the difference being the “twist” in the walleye hooks when they are laid flat on a table. The inline hooks will lay flat along their entire length, while an offset fish hook design will have a twist at the barbed end, making it lay at an angle on the table.

The inline hooks are what I personally use, as they will almost always catch in the corner of the mouth. The offset hooks can sometimes catch a fish in other parts of the lips or jaw and may even catch the eye, which is definitely not what you want.

When using circle hooks for walleye fishing, the size that most fishing enthusiasts will reach for will be a 4, a 5, or a 6, depending on the bait they are using. For leeches, a size 4 works best, but for larger nightcrawlers, you will most likely be using a size 6.

Treble hook
Treble hooks provide greater coverage for baits and ready to stick fish no matter what angle the fish attacks.

Treble Hooks

Treble hooks are the ones that are included on any crankbait you purchase from the store, as well as walleye spinners. These hooks are normally listed as a “premium hook” and do an exceptionally good job of helping you land walleye.

Good treble hooks will be extremely sharp and ready to use, but extra sharpening should not be something you shy away from. The sharper a hook’s tip is, the better your chance of getting an instant and solid hookset on your catch.

Some of the treble hook designs that walleye anglers prefer looking for and using are the Kahle style hooks and the wide-bend style. Both of these options are found on a variety of different crankbaits, so it shouldn’t be hard to find the one you need.

When using treble hooks on a crankbait for walleye fishing, most walleye fishermen will use sizes 2, 4, and 6. This variety of treble hook sizes is great for most walleye, from smaller panfish to larger trophies giving you an easy selection of hooks on your next walleye fishing trip.

Wide Gap Hook
A wide gap hook’s slightly reversed hook point helps keep bait and fish secure after hookset. It is hollowed or rounded out between the tip of the barb and the tip of the point to allow for fast penetration.

Wide Gap Hooks

For any fishing enthusiast that does a lot of trolling for walleye, the wide hooks are arguably the best choice and can be used with or without a slip bobber. The entire design of this hook is to prevent the needle point tip from twisting or rolling to the sides when being trolled at different speeds. The fish hook will instead stay in the perfect orientation to get a solid hook set and produce a natural presentation in the walleye strike zone.

Wide hooks come in a huge variety of sizes, but the most commonly used fishing hook for walleye fishing or trolling are 6 and 8. You can definitely go with a larger or smaller hook depending on your specific walleye fishing area, but if you aren’t sure which size fishing hook to get, grab a 6 or 8 and give those hooks a try. You can always adjust your fishing hook size later once you get a better idea of what size fish are biting.

Wide hooks are found in most name brands, including Eagle Claw, Rapala, VMC, Gamakatsu, and many more. These well-known hook brands will offer wide hooks that are forged metal for durability and strength, lessening the chance of the fish hook bending or straightening out under pressure.

The wide gap hooks from well-known fish hook manufacturers will also be extremely sharp, which is necessary for a surefire hookset. You can and should regularly sharpen your hooks. However, keep in mind the more often you sharpen a hook, the duller overall it may become. I personally would say 5 or 6 sharpens would be the limit before I would replace a particular hook.

Baitholder Hook
A baitholder hook is great for natural bait since it has 2 barbs on the shank that keep the bait from falling off the hook. 

Baitholder Hooks

For any fishing enthusiast that focuses on using a hook with live bait for their walleye fishing, the baitholder hooks are almost vital and are a much better option than a standard hook. These hooks include tiny barbs on the shaft to secure wiggly earthworms, redworms, nightcrawlers, leeches, and smaller fish when fishing.

Baitholder hooks for walleye fishing are extremely common, and if you will be fishing with smaller worms or grubs around 1 inch in length, a #4 baitholder hook would be your best option. For larger nightcrawlers or live minnows, a #2 or 1/0 hook would be a better choice to lure in more walleye and other bigger fish.

When water temperatures are warmer, your live bait may be much more active, which makes using a baitholder hook important when fishing. Water temperature that is on the cooler side will limit the movement of your fishing bait in most cases, especially when it comes to larger minnows and leeches, but most anglers will still recommend the extra security of a baitholder when talking about the best walleye fishing hooks to use.

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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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