Hooks - Part one

by Andrew Hart

When you think about it, a hook is one of the cheapest and most important parts of fishing. If you don't have a hook, then chances are you won't catch too many fish!

Therefore, after we have spent much time preparing our rods, reels, line and bait, the last thing we want is that we miss or lose the fish because of hook failure. Before we start on what things we can do to maximize our hook up rate, we will look at the hook in general. In the stone age, the "caveman" used pencil-shaped bone gorges as hooks, and caught fish. Well, the old bone hooks are a bit out of fashion these days, and gold plated, chemically sharpened, open-eyed, bait-holding, extra-strong, fine-wired hooks have replaced the piece of animal skeleton. Today, hooks are usually made out of mild, to high carbon steels, or some, out of stainless steel. They are made strong and thing, and are coated with metals such as zinc, bronze, Nichol and even gold. Foremost among the original hook makers was Charles Kirby, who in 1651, was producing hooks using the same basic methods that are followed today. Kirby improved the methods for tempering and hardening the metal of the hook and developed the Kirby pattern, which he invented, and which is still in common use all over the world.

The great fire of London in 1666, caused the disruption of this trade, and surviving members of the industry moved elsewhere to restart business.

By 1730, however, the industry was again was becoming centralised this time on a much larger and much more permanent basis in the small Worcestershire town of Redditch.

The local needle-makers had developed quite advanced machinery which was worked by waterpower. They were quick to see the production similarities between the two items and added the making of hooks to their interests.

By 1810 all of the worlds hooks trade was centred around the town of Redditch. The Redditch makers were later to lose complete pre-eminence, and while many hooks are still made there, industries now exist in other countries, notably Norway, France, Japan and the United States.

The firm of  O. Mustad and Son established in 1832 at Oslo become a world leader in the manufacture of fish hooks. Today, Mustad markets more than 60, 000 items in fish hooks and recently bought the Redditch hook manufactures firm Partridge.

There are many different brands of hooks out on the market these days, and as a result, competition for the best hook is fierce, which means that the fishing public will see changes, for the better, in the innovations of fish hooks.

There are so many styles of hooks these days, that is often hard to decide which is best to use? To answer this, one must look at the types of fishing, and the species of fish they will be catching ( or at least trying to catch!). Styles range from the ever popular suicide which is a good all round salt water hook to the tiny dry fly hooks, which are so small that you wonder how a fish could ever see them. The more popular styles and brands will be looked at in detail next issue.


What ever your fishing circumstances, the size of the hook you choose is more significant than the style. If the fish that is biting at your line, can't fit the hook in his mouth, then I'd say you have problems. The first thing to do is match the size of the hook to the fish you want to catch. If the fish you want to catch has a small mouth then use a small hook, and vice versa.

Remember you can catch a big fish on a little hook, but not the other way around. At the same time, placing number 10 fly hook in a twelve inch marlin lure is a bit crazy! Therefore, the second point to keep in mind about hook sizes, is the bait you will be using. You want plenty of exposed hook so that it will penetrate the fishes mouth. So, try to match the hook size as well as you can to the bait.

The last thing to bear in mind about your hook size is to think about what the breaking strain of your line is.

If you are using a two kilogram line, for example, then you will not be able to pull all that hard, and as a result it is much harder for a larger hook to pierce a fishes mouth. As a rule, do not use big hooks on light line, but at the same time do not use too small a hook on heavy line, because you can snap or straighten a hook.

Chemical sharpness

If your hook is not sharp then do not bother wasting your time trying to catch a fish.

In this author's opinion, the hooks for the nineties are the chemically sharpened brands, which come in a range of styles and sizes that will suit anything from fly fishing to game fishing.

A chemically sharpened hook, is as the name suggests, sharpened using chemicals. The way that the manufactures are creating this sharpened effect, is by firstly sharpening the hooks by machine, which is normal , then placing the point of the hook in a caustic acid bath to remove any rough spots. This process doze make the razor sharp, and no matter what brand you choose, they will improve your hook rate!

If you do not use chemically sharpened hooks, they will need to put the sharpening stone, or file to regular use.


Another new innovation in the world of hooks is colour. It has basically come about due to the rise in popularity of chemically sharpened hooks, and now it is possible to buy red, black, gold, blue and green hooks. The idea being that you match the colour of the hook to the bait or lure. What chance do fish have these days? Therefore,, getting right to the "point". If you do some careful considering about hook size and colour, you should un-doubly improve your catch rate. Next issue: We will look at brands and styles that will suit your fishing application.

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