Hooks are one of (if not the) the most important parts of the end tackle used in sea fishing. They need to be small enough to be engulfed by the fish being sought but strong enough to land what could potentially be a huge fish.
We mainly use two type of hooks in all the rigs we make – Aberdeen or wide-gape big mouth. Most of the hooks we buy online from veals.co.uk or Sakuma who have all the patterns available for almost every UK need.
The most common hook used on the beach is called an Aberdeen pattern and has a long shank compared to a relatively small bend (or gape). These are ideal when any kind of worm is used for bait as it can be easily threaded up the hook and still leave a substantial amount of point showing to catch the fish.
We mainly use these for the smaller species such a Dabs or Flounder as although they are strong, the ‘match’ variant can be ‘sprung’ out of the fish when it inevitably swallows the whole bait which causes less harm to the fish than trying to dig the hook out with some pliers.
The hook we use most is called a wide-gape Big Mouth (made by ‘Varivas’ in the Veals catalogue) hook which has a much larger bend and is ideal for bulkier baits such as squid or crab as the point doesn’t get masked by the bait. We use these in sizes 1 – 2/0 for most of our fishing but step them up to a 3/0 or even a 4/0 for Bass or Rays during the summer.
We’ve recently been trying out a newer pattern called the semi-circle which has the barb pointing back towards the eye of the hook and a much shorter shank. These has been very successful during the summer in the smaller 2 or 1/0 sizes catching wrasse of the rocks where the shape of the hook seems to stop the fish swallowing it but also makes sure it gets caught in the lip.
A type of hook which we generally don’t use is the O’Shaughnessy which is usually forged and bronzed. These are used in sizes up to 10/0 for the largest of our native species such as Conger or Tope but care needs to be taken as they will almost always need sharpening prior to use where as the Aberdeens and Big Mouth hooks are chemically sharpened and are hence ready to go straight out of the box.
Hook sizes is another mystery as there doesn’t seem to be any standard by which these things are judged with different manufacturers products not necessarily being the same size even though they will have the same number.
Sea Fishing hooks usually range in size from 8 (about 1/2 cm across the bend on an aberdeen style hook) through to 1 (about 1 cm) then going from 1/0 to 10/0 (more like a meat hook – huge) but a similar size number in an Aberdeen hook is a lot smaller than a wide-gape hook so it can be a bit confusing.
The best advice I can give about hooks is talk to other anglers or even your local tackle dealer and ask what type in what size is catching what and always try to match the hook size to the bait. Remember though – always go for a reputable brand or one that has been recommended to you – a cheap hook will corrode and become blunt quickly. Imagine having that fish of a lifetime almost in your hands only to watch in dismay as the hook straightens and your prize swims away…
One of the largest hook manufacturers is Mustad whose website has almost everything you’ll ever need to know about this subject, have a look at their product catalogue – a hook for everything, amazing.
New Brand – Sakuma Hooks: We’ve recently been using a lot of hooks from Sakuma in the same patterns as the Veals ones. Not through any specific reason except our local tackle shop sells them – they are excellent sea fishing hooks and keep their exceptionally sharp points very well as well as coming in all sorts of patterns for different applications.
The main ones we’re using are;
- Sakuma Manta, an all round hook, good for Bass in the bigger sizes and Cod during the winter, mainly used for bulkier worms or Crab baits.
- Sakuma Stinger, a great fine wire ‘Aberdeen‘ type hook for flat fish such as Flounder and ideal for worm baits.