The Best Hooks for Bass Fishing
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Catching bass is never so easy that you can’t up your game. For some of us, it’s an all day affair that ends empty handed. For others, it seems like they’re fish whisperers just pulling them into their bass boats by the dozens. But however it works out, there’s plenty of tips, tricks and gear that can help you make fishing easier and more fun. One of the simplest things you can do is make sure you’re using the right hook.
The Best Hooks for Bass Fishing
For many anglers, a hook is a hook. If you’re just relaxing by the water and letting whatever happens happen, no big deal. But if you’re serious, and you really want to up your game, there are some options. These are the best choices for taking bass. Not every hook and bait combo works in every body of water. But these should set you on the right path.
Straight Shank Hook
A straight shank hook is a good all around hook for bass. In heavy cover, this is a popular hook to use. There are no bends in the shank, which is how it got its name. The benefit to this is that it’s easy to set the hook. So when you get a bass to bite, you’re in a really good position. That’s thanks to the direct line pull. Other hooks can make setting the hook a little more difficult. They get into the fish’s mouth and potentially pop right back out. It’s frustrating at the best of times.
A straight shank may not be the best for soft plastic lures. The reason is they can slide down the shank. That said, there are some straight shank hooks that feature little barbs. Those will help keep a lure in place.
Offset Round Bend Hooks
Offset hooks don’t have a straight up and down shaft. Instead, just after you tie on your fishing line, the shaft bends in a very pronounced Z curve. This is to help keep your bait or some streamlined plastics in place. These are a good all around hook for bass fishing. You can run these through some heavy cover fairly reliably. At the same time, these are fine in open water as well.
The round bend portion is ideal for a solid hookset. It provides a fairly wide bite area for some larger fish. A lot of bass fishermen will default to an offset round bend hook.
Extra Wide Gap Hooks
If you have a bigger plastic bait, then try an extra wide gap hook. The round bend on these is very pronounced. These are ideal for fishing worms and similar live bait. Not all hooks do well with worms.
The big advantage of an extra wide gap hook is that it can hook bigger fish. It’s meant to set in a larger mouth. So you won’t pull this out for the little guys. But largemouth bass? Well, that just makes sense. It also makes reeling your fish in a little easier as well. How? Because there’s more room for the bait to move during the hookset.
This one’s a classic and for good reason. A treble hook is easily identifiable by the three hook portions that curve away from a central shaft. This is the hook you’ll see on the best lures for bass, like the crankbait. Deep diving crankbaits can be a powerful lure to have in your arsenal. These are designed to fly through, over, and around vegetation.
Your best bet here may be an upgraded treble hook. You can get treble hooks that have shorter shanks. This keeps things tight and neat. You can upsize the hooks with a shorter shank and get more weight. That gives you more success on your retrieve. The bait movement can be a little more realistic and enticing to largemouth bass.
Octopus hooks have three bends in them. They don’t have weed guards, so they’re not ideal for everyone. But if you hunt a bit, you can actually find a few brands that do come with weed guards. The strength of an octopus hook is how it presents to the fish. With soft plastics, you create the correct bait profile. Basically, it looks like a small suspending baitfish.
Getting tangled in the grass a lot? That’s the secret weapon of bass, sometimes. You can try to counter it with a Texas rig. Set up your hook with a bullet-shaped slip sinker. The pointed end of the sinker will help pull the hook through any cover. A good soft-plastic lure and an offset hook are good here. Maybe a 3/0 size offset hook. Offset is best for holding live bait. A baitholder hook is what you need when hunting bass.
Drop Shot Hook
A drop shot hook is ideal for drop shotting, hence the name. To set up a rig like these, you need to tie your line to a hook with a weighted trailer leader. The weight goes down while the hook and bait stay up. Technically, you can use several different hook styles with a rig like this. If you want a large gap or a wide gap you can set that up as you please. But you can use smaller hooks too. Thin wire is often best as thinner wire hook is less noticeable to the fish. It snags less and is more compact. That’s part of the fun of using a rig like this that you set up yourself. We recommend an octopus hook for this kind of rig.
Dropshotting isn’t the easiest way to fish by any means. The drop shot technique is one you need to develop. So if you’re new to fishing in general, this may be a hard one to pull off at first. You let the weight take the lure down to the bottom. Then you can twitch your rod to give it a little motion. That’s what’s attracting your bass. But you can also flip and hop your bait a little. Learning the technique is part of the fun and challenge, though.
If it’s called wacky rigging, it has to be kind of cool, right? And despite the weird name, a wacky rig can really work out well. As the name implies, it’s for wacky-rigged worms and such. A good, thick stick bait works really well with a wacky hook set up.
What makes a set up wacky? You’re piercing the worm through the middle, not the end. That allows both sides of the lure to flutter and move in the water. Traditionally, you’re just hook one end or the other. So the technique of reeling it in maybe takes some getting used to. And you need a smaller hook because of how the bait is attached. Big hooks will likely scare off smaller fish.
A wacky rig is a lot like a drop shot. The main difference is you’re using a hook with a wider gap. Just like drop shot, these can potentially be bad news in the weeds. But, again like drop shot, look for weed guards. They’re out there if you want them.
You get good hook penetration with this rig. The overall look is compact, though.
This is a controversial one, but we’re using it anyway. Some people hate circle hooks. They seem like they’re not designed for bass fishing at all. But there is a trick to it. Unfortunately, it’s a little counterintuitive. Don’t set the hook. It’s some of the weirdest fishing advice you’ll ever get, but it’s legit.
A circle hook has a point that points in towards the shaft. It works by allowing the bass to take the bait and then swim off. When it does so, the line tightens until the eye of the hook is outside of the fish’s mouth. The shank then pulls towards the back of the fish as it twists. The hook sets itself for you. But the tricky part is not trying it on your own. If you jerk your rod to set the hook, you’ll pull the hook right out. Instead, you just need to take up slack and start to reel. Let the fish do most of the work on this one.
It’s hard to get the method into your head and does take a bit of practice. It’s unlike how most of us normally fish, and that makes it hard to get used to and a little bit weird. But once you are used to it, a circle hook can be pretty successful for catching bass.
Just remember to not let the bass run too far with the hook. There’s such a thing as going too far in the wrong direction. If you let the fish go with it too far, they swallow the hook. That’s not what anyone wants. So when you feel that first bite, you be vigilant and take up the slack.
Why go through the effort? Circle hooks are actually better at keeping fish hooked. There are even studies that prove it. Once a fish is hooked, it’s far less likely to come loose on you. And also, a circle hook is less damaging to the fish overall. This makes catch and release much better. All in all, a lot of upsides to using a circle hook. Just mastering the technique is all.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are a good number of choices when it comes out bass fishing hooks. Targeting bass is different from target catfish or trout. You’ll want a few of these hooks and lures in your tackle box to maximize your chances. And not every hook works with all bass fishing applications, either. Fishing cover vs not, or at different times of year can really affect your game. Fishing hook sizes also need to be considered. That’s why we recommend so many different hooks for bass.
Our recommendation is to give everything a try. Try offset bend round hooks and also straight, Try a Texas rig and a wacky rig. Make the most of your time. As always, stay safe and have fun.