Hooks for Catfishing

• Hooks are hooks in most people’s mind. They figure they either need a big one or a small one, depending on the fish they are targeting. Lots of anglers go through life completely missing the importance of using not only the right size hook, but probably most importantly the right type of hook style for the species they are pursuing.

Have you ever fished with a buddy and he’s landing three fish to your one? Your hooking them but they keep coming unbuttoned before you have a chance to land them.

Hook choice depends on several factors. Obviously, the smaller the fish, the smaller the hook required. What most anglers miss is, that line size, fish species, type of bait, and fishing structure play a major role in hook selection.

Luck will play a role in your catfishing experience but it’s not just pure fishing luck that makes the difference. Most of the time it’s the hook choice you make that will determine your outcome.
Hook size is probably the first thing an angler thinks of when buying hooks. Most are knowloagable enough to know which hook is the right size for the fish they are after.

Hook Styles
Fish hooks also come in several types. Knowing a few of the more popular ones and their uses can help you be successful. Here are the most popular hooks used in Catfishing.

O’Shaughnessy/ J-hook
This hook is named for the specific design of the hook. It’s a standard hook, forged with a very strong bend. This hook is relatively thick, very strong, and not likely to bend out of shape. Generally designed for saltwater, it is good for general bottom fishing use. Sizes range from #3 to as large as 19/0.

Perhaps the best innovation in hooks to come along, circle hooks promote healthy catch and release. The design of the hook itself, when used properly, prevents fish from being hooked in the gut. Many anglers have a problem using these hooks because they require no hook set. If you do try to set the hook, it will generally come out of the mouth of the fish. These hooks are designed to move to the corner of the fish’s mouth and set themselves as the fish swims away from you. Anglers feel a bite and simply begin reeling, slowly at first, then faster as the hook gets set.

These hooks generally have a shorter shank than other hooks. Whether that is to allow the live bait to swim more freely or to be less apparent to the fish is debatable. My vote is to allow the bait to swim more freely. These hooks come in regular and circle designs. Regular live bait hooks will be swallowed and result in gut hooks most of the time. Circle live bait hooks provide a greater chance for a good release.

The curve on these hooks makes them ideal for live bait. Made from the same wire as the Aberdeen hooks, they will bend if hung on the bottom of some structure. However, once a fish is hooked, the design of the hook prevents it from being straightened.


  1. john103 says:

    Thanks for the info on the hooks. Very well put..

  2. Chris says:

    I like using Kahle hooks for flatheads and circle hooks for blues. Whats your feelings on using circles on anchor in a river?

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  1. Catfishing 101 | Discover Catfishing
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