By: Dan Carns

There are a host of specific things you can do to become better angler but there is one thing that many people overlook and it’s the quality of the hooks we use. Modern fishing gear can be really expensive; fancy rods and reels, super high-tech braided lines and a host of other products to increase our chance of putting fish in the boat but the irony is that the only connection you have between you and the fish is the hook! Hooks can be pricy and I think we all balk a little at the price but over time better hooks catch more fish. When you’re standing in front of the terminal tackle section of your favorite bait shop the choices are now endless but certain styles of fishing and specific species of fish require particular hooks. Over time and usually with a little advice you begin to find the right hook for the job.

As a kayak fishing instructor and guide, I’ve spent countless hours watching people catch fish and all too often the hook can be the one deciding factor in a successful trip. Many anglers are using hooks that are way too big. If you’re just starting out fishing in saltwater here in S.W. Florida you may correctly assume that the fish are going to be bigger than your use to but using a larger hook is going to limit the number of species and size of fish. When your bait fishing try using a smaller sized quality hook and I think you’ll find that it holds up under pressure. I’m a circle hook fanatic. Circle hooks are designed to be completely swallowed giving the fish plenty of time to get all the bait, as you feel your line move you basically start to pull back which triggers the fish to turn away and the hook slides out of the stomach and throat and catches the edge of the fish’s mouth. It will take time to learn this technique as most of us have been trained to jerk back as hard as we can instantly yanking this style hook right out of the fish’s mouth. Of course, there are fish species that require a different hook like the classic J hook and the bait holder hook.

By now you probably think this applies only to bait hooks but the truth is even artificial rubber baits that are the rage now require really good hooks especially because we’re try to convince the fish that the rubber is real and specific hooks help with the design. There is an even greater variety of hooks for artificial baits so ask your local bait and tackle shop which is best.

Two companies top my list, Owner brand is my go to for rubber baits especially the weighted twist lock style. For bait fishing nothing tops a Gamakatsu hook and yes, they are expensive but in the words of my buddy Jimmy, “these hooks catch fish all by themselves”!