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Fishing hooks are a critical component in any fishing setup, yet they’re all too often overlooked. No matter how expensive your rod and reel setups are, without proper hooks fish are going to get away. Selecting the right hook can dramatically improve your success in that split-second when the opportunity presents itself. Any hook worthy of using should come razor sharp, hold a hooked fish well, and be durable enough to withstand trophy sized fish.

With this in mind, anglers can choose the right hook regardless of species and know their choice is ready for whatever they come across. While this can help weed through the endless options, I’ve taken the time to find the best fishing hooks for a variety of scenarios, taking out some of the guesswork. 

How We Picked the Best Fishing Hooks

Growing up on the East Coast I had the luxury of chasing a wide range of saltwater and freshwater species. I’ve fished with conventional gear and fly gear, using a wide variety of techniques. Along the way I ran through plenty of hooks, and even more lost fish, until I narrowed down my hook preferences. All my go to hooks come razor sharp, have consistent quality, and, above all, keep fish hooked. Hopefully my recommendations help you avoid the heartbreak I’ve been through losing the true giants. Here are the criteria I evaluated my choices on:

  • Durability: How strong is the hook wire and will it snap?
  • Sharpness: What technology goes into sharpening the hooks?
  • Consistency: Are the hooks consistently the same?
  • Corrosion Resistance: Do the hooks prevent rust from accumulating?
  • Size Range: What sizes are offered in the lineup?
  • Finishes: What finishes do the hooks come in?

Best Fishing Hooks: Reviews and Recommendations

Best for Saltwater: Gamakatsu Saltwater Live Bait Hooks

Best for Saltwater


  • Sizes: 4-4/0
  • Finish: Black
  • Hook Type: Live Bait 


  • Durable design
  • Stout design helps keep fish hooked
  • Great hook for heavy baits like mullet


  • Hook wire is heavy for light baits

Along with the best saltwater rods and fishing line, saltwater anglers use live baits as an effective technique for catching wary and over-pressured fish. Pairing a good live bait with the right hook is key to your success. The Saltwater Live Bait Hooks from Gamakatsu are a great choice for saltwater anglers chasing big fish with big baits. You get a heavy wire hook with a short shank, great for keeping fish pinned. I prefer this style hook for fishing larger baits like live mullet, especially when tarpon fishing.

When a fish grabs a bait quickly, you can set the hook before it spits the bait. Since switching to these from circle hooks during the mullet run, I have dramatically increased my hookups. My only complaint is the heavy wire can be a bit much for lighter baits causing them to swim unnaturally. For that I recommend the light wire version of the live bait hook.

Best for Bass: VMC Spinshot Drop-Shot Hooks

Best for Bass


  • Sizes: 4-4/0
  • Finish: Black Nickel 
  • Hook Type: Dropshot hook 


  • Built in swivel for improved presentations
  • Flat spot on the hook to rest the bait
  • Spark point hook sharpening technology


  • Can be hard to find in certain stores

Drop-shot fishing has exploded in the bass fishing industry, especially in northern fisheries. It’s responsible for countless tournament wins on water bodies with wary fish. Traditional drop-shot rigs run a long tag line through a hook to a weight below. VMCs approach eliminates the need for any complicated knots and line twist with the traditional rig. The hook itself is similar to an octopus style hook with the addition of a swivel through the eye of the hook. The barrel swivel allows you to connect your dropper with your knot of choice to the weight below.

When casting a bass lure, the swivel removes any line twist that would otherwise occur, giving you a natural presentation every time. For Great Lakes smallmouth fishing this is my preferred hook, and the wide range of hook sizes allows me to fish anything from finesse worms to larger fluke or goby style baits. Fished slow and around structure, this is a deadly tactic when you need to put fish in your bass boat

Best for Trout: Owner Hooks SSW with Cutting Point

Best for Trout


  • Sizes: 8-6/0
  • Finish: Black Chrome or Red
  • Hook Type: Octopus 


  • Consistent quality
  • Super sharp and sticky
  • Great for all trout fishing techniques


  • Not all shops will carry Owner hooks

Trout fishing is an easily accessible and fun way to catch fish using a variety of techniques. When a hook can cross over between multiple techniques, it instantly catches my attention, and the Owner SSW octopus hook is one of these. The octopus hook design is a great all-around hook for live bait fishing, drifting beads or bait, and even swinging flies. A lot of anglers like to fish various dough baits or egg sacks for trout come opening day, and this hook works for it all. An octopus hook has a compact design that hides well and sets even better when a fish takes your bait.

I prefer to fish artificials such as trout beads where the hook is suspended under the bead for consistent hookups in the corner of the mouth. This technique is super effective for trout and with the range of hook sizes transfers over to larger fish like steelhead and salmon. Of all the octopus hooks I’ve tried, the Cutting Point on the Owner SSW is by far the sharpest. Rarely do I drop fish on this hook and I have even incorporated it into my spey flies as my go to hook when swinging flies on a two-handed rod. 

Best for Surf: Eagle Claw TroKar Saltwater Circle Inline Hooks

Best for Surf


  • Sizes: 3/0-9/0
  • Finish: Platinum Black
  • Hook Type: Circle Hook


  • Surgically sharpened
  • Inline design is legal anywhere
  • Chrome plating prevents rust


  • Premium price 

If you’re not throwing plugs off the beach, chances are you are fishing some sort of bait. This style of fishing is a waiting game, hoping for a fish to cross paths with your offering. The Trokar Saltwater Circle Inline Hooks were designed specifically for this purpose, ensuring the fish gets hooked in the corner of the mouth every time. The surgically sharpened design improves hookups over traditional circle hooks, especially on large predatory fish with hard mouths.

Fishing a dead bait off the beach is effective, but tides and currents can be tricky to detect bites. With a circle hook there is no need to set the hook, when a fish does grab the bait, it will set itself when it starts to run. In stained water, or when I’m not actively on the rod, the Trokar Saltwater Circle Hook is my preference; it’ll prevent fish from spitting the hook when it’s hard to detect a bite.

Best Treble Hook: Mustad UltraPoint KVD Elite Triple Grip 1X

Best Treble Hook


  • Sizes: 2, 4, 6 
  • Finish: Black Nickel
  • Hook Type: Treble


  • Consistent quality
  • Long shank
  • Ultrapoint Technology


  • Narrow range in sizes

Lure design has reaped the benefits of technology, with new and innovative lures coming out each year, every lure has the perfect flash, pop, or rattle, or they swim exactly like a live baitfish. One thing a lot of these lures lack: a great hook. Whether its quality control or overall sharpness, the hook department is sorely lacking, and hooks rarely match the quality of the lure they come on. Mustad partnered with Kevin Van Dam to design the KVD Elite Triple Grip Treble Hook, and it’s a one stop solution for any bait. The 1X version has a slightly larger shank design than most factory hooks, which improves hookups on big bodied lures like deep diving or square bill crankbaits.

Many baits also run better with these hooks, so you’ll get a more realistic action in the water. These hooks benefit from Mustad’s Ultrapoint sharpening technology which creates a super sticky hook, crucial for crankbaits and jerkbaits that can be prone to dropping fish. If you prefer shorter shank treble hooks Mustad also offers the same hook in a short shank version for low profile jerkbaits. Short shank hooks are a great option if the hooks consistently tangle on your lure.

Best Barbless: Gamakatsu Octopus Barbless

Best Barbless


  • Sizes: 4 – 8/0
  • Finish: Nickel, Black, Red
  • Hook Type: Octopus


  • Extremely sharp
  • Affordable
  • Durable


  • Finish comes off easily

With trout and salmon populations struggling in many rivers nationwide, state wildlife agencies have begun mandating barbless hooks more frequently. This style of hook does considerably less damage to a fish’s mouth and removes easily for faster catches and releases of undersized fish. Buying premade barbless hooks saves anglers a ton of time they’d otherwise spend mashing down the barbs of their normal hooks with a pair of pliers.

And because these hooks come in three different finishes, anglers can add a little bit of extra color and flash to their setup with one of the red finish options. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed for finicky fish. The one downside to these hooks is that the finish will eventually wear off if you work them across the bottom repeatedly. However, considering the decent price for a bulk pack, that’s something we can work around.

Best Baitholder: Mustad Classic Beak Baitholder

Best Baitholder


  • Sizes: 1 – 8/0
  • Finish: Black, Nickel, Bronze, Gold
  • Hook Type: Long shank baitholder


  • Plethora of sizes
  • Cheap
  • Excellent for live baits


  • Hard to unhook

Anglers planning a good old-fashioned fishing trip with live bait need a quality baitholder hook that will keep it on the hook for repeated casts. Accordingly, these long shank hooks are built to do just that thanks to some additional barbs on the shank. They are perfect for holding worms, cut bait, or crabs for extended periods. When the fish does take your bait, the needle points penetrate well, and the added barbs can also add a little extra staying power for aggressive fish.

Note that the extra barbs can make the hooks extremely difficult to remove. These are better to use for fish you are planning to keep because they can do extensive damage to the mouths of softer fish species.

What to Consider When Choosing Fishing Hooks

Fishing hooks can be a contentious topic, everyone has their own preferences and their own anecdotal evidence to support it. While personal preferences certainty is important, I find choosing reputable brands is a good starting point for new anglers. As you spend more time on the water you will find what hooks work best for your technique. Once you find your preferred hook style, experiment with different brands until you find the best options available. To narrow down the decision process, here are a few things to be on the lookout for: 


The most important factor when choosing a hook is thinking about what species you will be targeting. Fish vary widely in how they feed and the shape of their mouth. To get the best out of a hook, choose one hook specific to the type of fish you are chasing after, and your hookups will drastically improve. Another important aspect to consider is if you plan on keeping or releasing the fish you are going after. Certain hooks, namely circle hooks, are designed to hook fish in the corner of the mouth, which makes it much easier to release them.


Pretty much any hook will come out of the package decently sharp. But, what sets the best hooks apart from the others is their ability to maintain that level of sharpness. Most good hooks will stay sharp for months, and they’ll sharpen easily when they do dull. I like to look for hooks from reputable brands, where you can ensure you’re getting the best materials and best construction. 


Hooks come in all shapes and sizes so understanding their applications is key in selecting the proper hook. Bass anglers tend to use EWG hooks for artificial soft plastics. This hook design allows the hook to rest inside the plastic to avoid snagging on weeds and other structure. Anglers fishing dead or live baits may prefer a circle hook designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth for easy releases. Then there’s plenty of specialty hooks to consider, in case you are looking for something to fit a specific technique.


Q: What are octopus hooks used for?

Octopus hooks are one of the most versatile hooks on the market. For live bait fishing they work great with a nose hooked bait like a shiner or mullet in saltwater scenarios. Additionally, they stay in the bait and set well when a fish takes the bait. They can also be used for drifting smaller dough baits or egg sacs for trout. Western steelhead fishermen prefer octopus hooks for bead fishing when the fish run the rivers. Some fly guys will even use them to tie egg patterns or as the trailer hook on spey flies.

Q: How do you bait a hook?

Baiting a hook depends on the type of bait you use. For simple baits like worms, thread the worm over the hook point a few times depending on the size of the worm. For anglers fishing live fish as bait, hooking them through the nose is an easy way to consistently catch fish. This technique is straightforward and works on practically any live fish. Trout anglers fishing dough baits prefer to mold the bait over the hook, hiding some of the hook and improving hookups when a fish bites.

Q: Do fishing hooks dissolve in saltwater?

Yeah, fishing hooks will dissolve in saltwater, but it takes longer than you may think. A fish may take several weeks if not months to drop a hook that it escaped with. This is especially true for hooks with coating designed to ward off rust. While they eventually will rust away, the coating certainly slows the process. Anglers fishing for sharks or other toothy creatures that can be hard to retrieve hooks from should be aware of this. Choose hooks that are uncoated so they will rust out quicker if you cut the line. Another good option is to bring a bolt cutter to cut the hook in half. The long handles will keep your hands away from a mouth full of teeth and allow the fish to swim off without any unwanted jewelry. 

Q: What’s the difference between octopus and circle hooks?

Octopus and circle hooks may look similar, but how they work is actually quite different. Octopus hooks are designed to be able to set the hook. When a fish bites, you can set the hook instantly. It’s a versatile hook with many uses. On the other hand, circle hooks are designed to not set the hook. Rather, when a fish takes the bait and runs, the pressure from the drag pulls the hook into the corner of the fish’s mouth for a perfect hook set. This is a great technique for fishing dead baits or baits when you’re not actively managing the rod.

Best Fishing Hooks: Final Thoughts

Choosing the right hook for the job is arguably the most important part of catching fish. And properly pairing a hook to the style of fishing you do most is another key to being successful. Bait fisherman should look for a good octopus or circle hook depending on the conditions. Bass anglers should look for technique specific hooks to get the most out of their baits. No matter what you choose, make sure the hooks come sharp, are good quality, and keep fish hooked. Once you find your preferred style of hook, test as many brands as you can to find the best fishing hooks for you.

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For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.