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A little about hooks

  • Published: Thursday, 05 April 2018 01:57
  • Written by Matthew G. Hauge
  • Hits: 575

Stone age fish hooksFish hooks are a facination to many anglers. They have been in use since the stone age, and the veriatiy of hooks on the market is near endless. I get a lot of questions about hooks, and a lot of comments from people that think they know a lot about hooks too. I won't say that I am an expert on hooks, but I do know a little, and I hope I can clear up some missunderstandings, and myths about fish hooks. Maybe my information can help a little in your choice of hooks for your fishing as well. The standards for fish hooks where most likely set by the brittish hook manufacturers during the 18'th century. Most of the world are now folowing these standards, though specially asian hook manufacturers will often use the measurment standards, while their hooks actually deviate from the norms. One typical example is that Spade eyed hooks often are called flat eyed, or hook sizes may not actually follow the standard (example, a size 10 hook will actually match the size of a hook 11 or 9).

The CountryfisherThe first two standards for hook bends where most likely the Aberdeen hook, and the limmeric hook. Aberdeen hooks are probably the most common today, and are often called round bend hooks. Aberdeen hooks are usually made using a thin wire, and given a very round bend to the hook. The advantage with aberdeen hooks are that they hook the fish easily as the wire of the hook is thin, and the round bend gives a good penetration of the hook. The dissadvantage is strength. The round bend is the weakest bend construction. The CountryfisherThe limmerick hooks are an improvement of this, where the sharp bend right before the barb makes a stiffer construction that does not bend that easily. Dissadvantage with the limmerich hook is that it doesn't hook the fish as easily.  Most other hooks have been developed from these two basic models, and today we have such a huge selection of various types of hooks that it is difficult to sort them all out. I will however mention a few.  Note that various manufacturers will deviate a little from the standard.

 

  • O'Shaugnessy: Very similar to the limmerick hook, but is usually hammered flat, and given an extra thick wire for extra strength. These hooks are often used for ocean fishing. 
  • Circle hooks: A very round bend, almost turning into a circle. Circle hooks are made using a thick wire, and even the barb is usually turned inward for extra grip on the fish. Advantage with circle hooks is that they almost always hook into the lip of the fish, making them suitable for bait fishing where the fish swallow the hook entirely, and you want the option to be able to release the fish. Circle hooks almost always always have a short shank.
  • Scud Hooks: Meant as a fly hook for tying scud immitations, but also often used for other purposes, this hook is "a half circle hook", giving it similar properties to the circle hook. Most of the time, the hook sticks to the corner of the mouth of the fish, or upper lip, allowing for fast and easy removal.
  • Maggot Hooks: This is a special bait hook for using maggots as bait. It is a sort of circle hook with an oval bend for presenting the bait better, and also hooking in the front of the mouth of the fish. Used almost exclusively during ice fishing.
  • Bartleet: A speacial oval bent hook, designed for salmon fishing. makes a beautiful classic salmon fly.

 

The hooks have a wide veriaty of ways to attach them to the fishing line. Everything from a simple tapered shank to various types of rings. We've borrowed a little information from Mustad's information page to manage to explain most of these. 

    • No Eye, tapered shank: Not often used today. Here the hook has no eye at all, but the shank of the hook is tapered up to where the eye normally should be. This solution is most commonly used on salmon hooks where an eye is made using various othe materials or the fly is tied directly to a leader. 
    • Ringed Eye: The wire in the eye is constant and forms a circle. The eye can be open or closed. Open eyes are usually used on cheap hooks. Closed eye hooks are stronger. 
    • Brazed Eye: The gap of the eye is brazed to the hook shank, making a strong eye which will not cut the leader, or let thin lines slip out of the eye. Brazing ensures a stronger eye.
    • Tapered Eye: The wire of the hook is tapered towards the end of the ring to reduce weight. This is most often used on dry fly hooks. 
    • Looped Eye: The wire in the eye runs back along the shank. The end of the wire is usually tapered. Looped eye hooks are used traditionally for Salmon flies, but also a few other models of hooks use this type of eye.
    • Needle Eye:  This type of eye is called Needle eye since it is similar to the eye found on a needle. The advantage with a needle eye is that it can easily be strung through bait without tearing the bait appart. It is also a strong eye. 
    • Spade end: Eyeless methos where the end of the wire is hammered flat in stead of being looped to an eye. This created a good stopper so a shank knot doesn't slip off the hook. Hooks with spade ends are usually used for bait fishing, and commercial fishing. match anglers often use this kind of hook. 

    • The position of the eye may also vary. This is to enhance the penetration of the hook. The most common of these are when the hook is bent 45 degres up, or down from the shank, though variations of this can occur.
    • Turned up eye hooks are often used on dry fly hooks, and salmon hooks, but can also be found on all sorts of other kinds of hooks. 
    • Turned down eye hooks are often used on wetfly hooks, but can also be found on all sorts of other kinds of hooks.
    • Straight shank eye hooks are probably the most common type. The eye of the hook runs straight from the shank, giving a direct penetration of the hook. 


The COuntryfisherOffset hooks.

        Some hooks have an offset twist to the hook, allowing for a more sideways penetration. This gives a better penetration, and higher chance of hooking the fish. Many people call offset hooks "kirby" or "Kirbed". This is an english name for the offset of a hook. There is actually a reversed offset as well, called simply reversed. The offset goes the opposite direction as on the kirbed hooks. 



The shank

      of the hooks may also be bent for various purposes. Scud hooks are an example of a curved shanked hook accomodating the bend of the hook for purpose and penetration. Draper flat bodied nymph hooks are an example of a hook with a double shank for special purpose fly tying. 

 

      Length of the shank: The measurement of the length of the shank  is made from the size of the bend of the hook. 1X shank means a shank that is just as long (1X) the bend of the hook. 2X Shank is double that, 3X is triple that and so on. 

 

The Countryfisher

      Hook Sizes: Hook sizes go from a measurement of 1 and sizes smaller thatn 1 have increasing numbers, while sizes larger than one start at 1/0 and increase from that. I will not go in to the exact terms, and dimensions as these often vary a lot, and a size 10 hook from Mustad, or Partridge may not be the same size as an Owner 10, or Gamakatsu 10. This is because of manufacturers not following or understanding the original standards. Specially when you get to the smallest sizes of hooks, there can be some big differences percentage wise. 



Sliced shank hooks:

      Sliced shank hooks have had their shanks sliced to create extra barbs. these barbs hold on to the bait so it doesn't slip off the hook. 



The point and the barb:

The Countryfisher

      The point of the hook can have several different shapes, and together with the barb, and the bend, they form the part of the hook that penetrates the fish, and holds on to it. Hooks kan have big barbs, short barbs, double barbs, and the barb it self can be curved, straight or even edged like a knife.  There are many kids of points on hooks. Some of the most known are Spear Point, Needle Point, Hollow Point, Rolled Point, Knife edge, Triangle point, and accupoint. The Three last are more tyes of tapering the point than the actual bend of the point. There are of course the more modern barbless hooks as well, for those that want to do a lot of C&R fishing. 



The Countryfisher

      Hooks kan also be made of various materials. The most common is some sort of steel, with various methods of tempering. The harder the steel, the more brittle the hooks gets. Carbon steel hooks have the benefit of not bending, but they get brittle, and can brake. Often more easily in cold weather conditions such as during ice fishing. Softer steel means less brittle, but in stead of bvreaking, the hook might bend. Same goes for the thickness of the thread. Thin thread means better penetration, and better grip on bait, but also a weaker hook. Shick thread means that the bait is easily ripped, and the hook needs more force to penetrate. So it is important to pick the right hook for your kind of fishing. Mustad even developed a hook of a material that dissolves in water after a few days. This hook was made specially for C&R fishing of big game where the rules are that when you have grabbed the leader, you can cut the line and let the fish go without taking it in to the boat. The hook dissolves and falls out after a few days, and leaves the fish unharmed. 



      And last, a couple of myths about hooks: 

 

      Gold plated hooks are weak : Totally false. Gold plated hooks are the exact same hooks as the same model and size from the same manufacturer that are not gold plated. The only difference is that they have been gold plated. The plating does not weaken the hook. If anything the hook is a fraction stronger as there is material added to the hook. This unfortunately means that the hook might be slightly duller, but not enough to make any difference. This myth got started when cheap quality gold plated hooks where introduced to the european market. Cheap and weak hooks that where gold plated, started the rumor, and marked all gold plated hooks to be weaker, even though they wheren't. 



      Colored hooks are weaker:  Same false statement as for gold plated hooks. Many manufacturers thought it would be cool with colored hooks, so they started to color their hooks, red, blue, yellow, or green. Unfortunately they choose their low quality hooks for this stunt first, labelling all hooks from other manufacturers and productions that where colored. A colored hook is the exact same quality as it's black, or non colored counterpart. 



        One brand of hooks is better than another: Well, there are differences. Some brands make cheaper quality hooks, while others focus on better quality hooks, and then there are a few brands such as Mustad and Eagle claw that make both. Both mentioned brands make some of the best hooks in the world, while they also make affordable lesser quality hooks.  It is also a myth that the manufacturers that focus mainly on high quality hooks are the ones making the very best hooks available. As with most other things, the largest manufacturers make the entire scale of qualeties. While they may maks some cheaper products, their cheapest products are usually not the worst, but their best products are usually the best in the world. this is because they are big enough and ealthy enough to have the best scientists and best manufacturing processes in the world as well. 




      (All information in this blog entry is gathered from four decades of personal experience as well as studies, and gathering of material from all around the world. We can not guarrantee that everything is 100% accurat. Images are borrowed from various sources, and will be swapped with our own as we manage to take our own using our own camera equipment, and hooks from our collection of hooks. )