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Mastering Live Bait: Essential Tips for Choosing the Best Fishing Hooks

How to Choose the Best Live Bait Fishing Hook

As open water season approaches, many anglers will soon be trying their luck with live bait.  Whether using minnows, leeches or nightcrawlers, choosing the right hook is the key to making the most of any live bait presentation.  Here are my top 5 live bait hook choices for this spring. 

  1. Octopus hook.  The octopus hook is one of the most versatile all-around live bait hooks on the market.  It has a nice wide gap to keep the hook point exposed when buried into a bait, a medium length shank, and slightly offset eye for snelling (but one that can still be tied on straight as well). It’s also typically made of light enough wire to hook most delicate live baits but heavy enough to land larger fish as well. 

  2. Circle hook.  The circle hook has been widely used in saltwater for decades but has only recently gained popularity in freshwater.  Circle hooks are excellent at hooking fish on the outside of the mouth rather than deep-hooking them so they are the best choice for catch and release live bait fishing.  Don’t forget that setting the hook with a circle hook must be accomplished by simply tightening the line up on the fish, if you yank, it will pull the hook right out of the fish’s mouth! 

  3. Treble hook.  Treble hooks have been around a long time and are a great choice for hooking larger minnows.  They have the distinct advantage of always having at least one hook point fully exposed, even on larger baits.  The downside is that they can be very hard on fish, especially when swallowed, so they are not recommended if you want to release the fish you are catching.  

  4. Baitholder hook.  The baitholder hook is specifically designed for holding soft baits that are threaded on the hook like nightcrawlers and worms. They have small spines on the hook shank that hold the bait in place and are an excellent choice for split shot rigging and slip bobber fishing with nightcrawlers.  

  5. TechSet hook.  The VMC TechSet hook is one of my favorite live bait hooks to hit the market recently.  It has many characteristics of the octopus hook, but with a flatter bend in the hook that lays perfectly when hooking a minnow through the back (my favorite way to hook a minnow under a slip float).  It also utilizes heavier wire than most octopus hooks, so if you happen to hook a larger fish it’s not going to be a problem.

These are my top 5 favorite live bait hooks, but there are many other designs as well.  The best thing you can do is experiment with several different hook designs and find out which ones work best for you! 



Caleb Wistad - Hookedupwi

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