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Looking to fish for bass but don’t know what hooks to take?
Well, today, we want to cover the proper hook sizes for bass fishing. Size is arguably the most important thing in fishing hooks, and picking the right size increases your chances of a catch dramatically.
What Size of Hook for Bass?
Since bass is quite a large fish, anglers prefer to use larger 3/0 to 5/0 hooks.However, as it is with any fish, bass hook sizes aren’t following any hard rules – you can choose fishing hooks sizes based on your preferences and fishing technique.
While the choice of a fishing hook size is somewhat a matter of preference, there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind regardless of your fishing technique. Those things are the size & species of bass and the size of the bait/lure you are using.
Bass size & species
Bigger fish require bigger hooks, and vice versa. With bass, you may need to size your hook up or down depending on which species you are angling for.
When it comes to species, you will have to somewhat alter your hook choice with smallmouth and largemouth bass. These bass species have smaller and larger mouths than other bass species respectively. When fishing for smallmouth or largemouth bass, you may need to go a size or two smaller or bigger than usual.
While the hook sizes may slightly vary from bass species to species, the same general rules apply to all of them. Namely, you don’t want to choose a too small or too big fishing hook.
A small hook may simply be unable to grab the lip of the fish, while a large hook may be unable to even fit in the fish’s mouth. With that said, with bass, it’s more difficult to go too big than too small since bass is a pretty big fish.
After the size of the bass comes the size of your bait or lure. Needless to say, the larger the lure, the larger your hook needs to be. The hook needs to be sized just right so that the hook tip is exposed just enough to be able to do its job. This is important for hook concealment and bait presentation.
If using live baits, you may want to avoid too large hooks since they may kill the bait too quickly. However, since live baits are relatively rarely used with bass, this isn’t that big of an issue. Artificial lures work just as well as live baits.
Fishing Hook Sizes
It’s also important to understand fish hook sizes. If you already know how to read hook sizes, then skip this section and move on to the hook styles commonly used with bass.
We’ve covered hook sizes enough times in our fishing hook size guides for other fish. If you haven’t read those, then we’ll give you size guidelines below so that you don’t have to go to another page.
Fishing hooks are sized by two scales – the normal scale and the aught scale. These are pretty different scales, and you should understand both to choose the right hook size.
On the normal scale, hook sizes go from 1 to usually 32. The thing that often confuses newbie anglers is that on the normal scale, the larger the size number, the smaller the hook is. What this means is that the size 1 hook is the largest hook on the normal scale, while size 32 is the smallest.
With bass, you won’t really have to deal with hooks sized by the normal scale. Normal scale fishing hooks are on the smaller side, and they aren’t sufficiently big for bass in most cases.
Aught scale hooks go larger than normal scale hooks. However, the sizing is very differentin the aught scale.
On the aught scale, fishing hook sizes are denoted with a number followed by /0. For example, 3/0 is a size on the aught scale. This size is pronounced “three-aught.”
Unlike the normal scale, the larger the number before /, the larger the hook is. Due to this, the aught scale is more intuitive, though it does make things a little confusing by using a different size notation.
On the aught scale, the smallest hook is 1/0, while the largest usually is 20/0. A size 1/0 hook is going to be slightly larger than a size 1 hook on the normal scale. This means that the aught scale is the continuation of the normal scale, but it counts the sizes the other way around.
Fishing Hook Gauges
Since bass is a pretty large fish, you may want to get a stronger hook, though this isn’t really necessary.
The strength of a fishing hook is determined by its gauge, which is the thickness of the hook. Hook gauges are denoted with a number followed by X, e.g. 1X, 2X, etc.
The hook gauge shows the relative thickness of the hook – for example, a 2X hook is 2 times thicker than a 1X hook.
As mentioned above, you don’t really need a high-gauge fishing hook for bass fishing. The large hooks typically used for bass fishing are usually strong enough. However, if you do find that your fishing hooks are too weak for your fishing needs, then know that you can go for a higher-gauge hook.
Fishing Hook Styles
It’s also important to consider the fishing hook styles used with bass. Because fishing hooks can differ quite significantly, you may need to size your hooks slightly up or down.
Let’s overview the hook styles commonly used with bass along with their sizes.
Baitholder hooks are used with live baits. The key feature of this hook style is the barbs on the shank that help with keeping live bait still.
Anglers usually use baitholder hooks sized around 2/0, depending on the size of the bass and the bait. For some reference, you can use 2/0 baitholder hooks for shiners and 1/0 for minnows.
Aberdeen hooks have a long straight shank and a wide gap between the shank and the point. These hooks are again particularly useful for live bait, especially minnows.
Since aberdeen hooks do not have barbs on the shank, they don’t do as good of a job at keeping live bait still. On the other hand, aberdeen hooks are light-gauge, which helps them do less damage to the live bait. But what the lighter gauge also means is that aberdeen hooks may be too weak for large bass.
Anglers usually use aberdeen hooks sized from 2 to 4/0 for bass fishing.
In contrast with regular J-hooks, circle hooks have a curved shape with the point looking perpendicularly at the shank.
Due to their more dramatic curve, circle hooks do a better job than J-hooks at catching fish, which is the main reason for their growing popularity. Not only that, but circle hooks catch the fish by the lips in the corner of the mouth. Besides, when used properly, circle hooks aren’t swallowed by fish, unlike J-hooks.
This decreases mortality rates among released fish compared to J-hooks. And due to the decreased mortality rate, circle hooks are very popular with catch-and-release techniques.
With circle hooks, it’s important to pick a size that’s big enough to grab onto the bass’s lip. It’s easier to undershoot than overshoot the size of circle hooks, so you can more or less confidently go for a larger size if in doubt.
As a point of reference, anglers use circle hooks sized from 1/0 to 8/0 for catching bass. We suggest that you look for larger sizes due to the reasons outlined above.
Octopus hooks are similar to circle hooks, but they have a less dramatic curve and a shorter shank. Aside from that, octopus hooks don’t have the decreased mortality rate of circle hooks.
Octopus hooks are used when a natural presentation of the lure or bait is important. Due to this, octopus hooks tend to be smaller and thinner than other hook types.
For bass, you may use hook sizes around 1/0 – this size is particularly great for minnows.
Treble hooks feature three hooks that share a single shank. Thanks to the three points, treble hooks can be very effective at catching fish, but they tend to be very damaging and should not be used for catch-and-release fishing.
A thing to keep in mind with treble hooks is that their sizes are usually indicated for each of the hooks separately, not the entire hook. Thus, a size 5/0 treble hook is going to be much larger than a size 5/0 J-hook, for example.
Proper treble hook sizes for bass are around 2-4, maybe even smaller.
Picking the optimal hook size for the bass you are fishing for and the lure you are using will probably require some trial and error. Thus, use this guide as just a reference in picking a hook size for bass.
Your experience will show which hook sizes are going to be the best for your needs. So grab a couple of hooks and go out to see which ones work the best for you!