With fishing today being more technical and tactic-specific than ever before, picking out the right hook for the correct presentation, can be a daunting task. To help sort things out, an interview was needed with a guy who’s seen it all and been around them for decades. John Burgi has been in the industry since 1972, is the current sales manager for Gamakatsu, and is a database for all things that stick fish. Below are his recommendations to get an angler set up with the right hook for just about anything that is fishable.
(Walleye, Bass, Catfish)
The hook is one of the most versatile made and is sized 14 to 10/0 in various colors. It can be used with bait, buried in plastics and in the Pacific Northwest is fished alone in a red finish with no attractant or flash for salmon and trout. The shank is forged for strength and the offset point penetrates quickly and delivers a sure hook set.
Walleye wide gap
A forged shank and inline needle-point provides solid penetration and tracks great when trolled. The last thing an angler needs is for a hook to “tumble” and twist line and this one doesn’t do it. Available in sizes 8 to 2/0.
Treble Magic Eye 2X strong
(Pike, Muskie, Big Bass)
The Magic Eye hook won best of show at the 2005 ICAST show. The unique eye makes changing out trebles a snap. No more broken fingernails and no split ring pliers required to change treble hooks on a bait. 2X strong available in NS Black or red and sizes 1/0 to 5/0.
Wide Gap Worm Hook
The wide gap, needle sharp point and keeper make this the go-to hook for Senkos, Brush hogs and just about any other plastic bait on the market. Depending on the company, it’s available in black, bronze, or red in sizes 4 to 5/0. Gamakatsu even makes a version for Superlines for fishing heavy cover where extra strength is needed to drag fish out of the brush and weeds.
(Bass, Walleye, Pike)
Circle hooks can be used in nearly any presentation but are perfect for soaking suckers and chubs for gamefish. The nature of the hook allows it to “slide” through a fish’s stomach/throat most times until it catches on the side of the mouth. It’s extremely useful for catch and release. Just remember, don’t set the hook; simply start reeling and let the rod load up. Works well for other slack line presentations like dead-sticking for bass.
This is a great hook for nose hooking a finesse worm or tube. You need quick penetration without a ton of torque as light lines are often employed. It’s a must hood when fishing in clear or pressured waters for bass. A few walleyes anglers employ it too with live bait. Common sizes include 3 to 3/0.
Superline Spring Lock hook
(Pike, Muskie, Big Bass)
With the popularity of casting swim baits for pike and musky a hook was needed that was strong and able to accommodate them. The Spring Lock has a screw lock keeper on the eye of the hook for holding the swim bait firmly in place. The hook is designed with a 28-degree eye for easy alignment and is available in NS Black finish sizes 3/0 to 7/0. It is also available in a weighted version. Forged for strength.
This fine wire hook will accommodate baits from live minnows to nightcrawlers and is perfect for all panfish. The light wire will not harm live baits as readily as a heavier hook. The long shank makes for easy removal if a fish takes your bait deep and is really helpful when fishing with kids. Available in a traditional bronze finish with sizes 10 to 1.
Round bend treble hook (all species when crankbaits are used)
There are many lures manufactured with inexpensive treble hooks to keep the cost down but a good round bend design penetrates quickly and keeps the fish hooked. Replace hooks on all your crankbaits if they look suspect.
To sharpen or not to sharpen?
A sharp hook is absolutely paramount but even premium hooks can dull. Bounce one off a few docks, or slam one into some timber, and they can lose their effectiveness. Even before Burgi worked from a hook company, he said he rarely re-sharpened a hook once it was dulled. “The only time for me personally I sharpen a hook is if it’s a treble hook on a lure,” he said. “I usually toss them if they don’t feel sharp of they are damaged. I did this even before I worked at Gamakatsu.” Most of the time hooks can be “freshened up” by a few quick sweeps on a basic hook file or stone. If they are really dull, don’t bother trying to make them “like new.” “If you bend a hook, never rebend it,” Burgi said. “As it will have been bent twice and it will just bend again or even break.” A good piece of advice it to attach a small hook file onto a shoelace with some toenail clippers and you have a handy combo-tool for cutting line and spot-sharpening your hooks at the ready.