Best Hooks for Trout Fishing – Hook Size for Trout

I love nothing better than landing a well-played Trout. From the initial take right through to the landing is one of the best fishing experiences there is.

Trout are a very fussy fish when it comes to bait presentation and fishing technique.

One of the most important factors in landing that prized fish is your hook selection.

I always err on the side of caution and go for the smallest hook size possible when trout fishing. This gives me the advantage of presenting the bait in the most natural way possible.

Today lets explore trout hook sizes for trout fishing, the use case for each one on lakes and rivers to get you landing more fish and the best hooks for trout online.

best hooks for trout

A nice Rainbow Trout caught on a small hook baited with sweetcorn.

Best Trout Hook Guide

The Best Hooks for Trout

There are two main factors when selecting your trout hook size:

  • How big are the trout you are fishing for – are they small brook trout or big mature brownies? Are you fishing lakes or streams and rivers
  • What bait are you using on the day – maggots or small worms or bigger manufactured bait?

You want to fish with the best gear available to you so you can land more fish.

The is nothing especially different about trout hooks compared to other fishing hooks bar perhaps the missing points on the shaft of the hook to hold the bait in place.

Pictured here is a barbless hook and an overview of the different elements that make up the hook.

guide for trout hooks

Eye – Starting at the top of the hook is the eye. This eyelet is where you attach the fishing line. The most popular knot for doing this is the Improved Clinch Knot or Palomar Knot

Shank – This is the straight back of the hook running from the eyelet to the bend.

Bend – This is the curve of the hook – this follows a similar pattern among all trout hooks. You will see offset or widened skewed gape similar to Bass hooks.

Front-Length – This is the smaller section from the end of the bend to the tip of the hook. Most hooks will have a barb near the tip of the hook. I tent to either buy barbless hooks or file these off to protect the fish as much as possible.

Gape – The gape is the inner distance from the hook to the point to the shaft.

Bite – Finally, the bite of the hook is measured from the tip of the hook to the inside of the bend.

My Favorite Trout Hooks are the Gamakatsu Trout Worm Hook, Size 10. Hands down the best hooks on the market at the moment.

Hook Size for Trout

A question that we get all the time is what is the best hook size for trout fishing. A great question and one with many different ways to answer it…

The size hook you use comes down to the fish you are targeting, the type of bait you are using and the conditions you are fishing in.

For example if you are using live bait you will need a slightly bigger hook to hold the bait in place.

If you are fishing clear waters you will need a hook big enough to hold the bait and hook your target fish, but small enough to not spook anything.

Trout hook sizing is broken down into two different scales. The first scale is the Aught scale and the second is the normal scale. I fish freshwater so I will focus on the second scale but here is a quick overview of each one for comparison.

And just to confuse you the numbers mean very different things 🙂

Aught Scale: This mainly focusses on larger hook sizes used in saltwater and sport fishing. Each hook is measured with a /0 at the end of it. for example, you might use a 5/0 hook for tuna fishing but as the numbers go up so do the hook sizes.

Normal Scale: The opposite can be said for the normal numbering system. As the numbers go up the hook size gets smaller. You might use something like a size 12 or 16 hook size for smaller brook trout or fishing lakes with smaller fish stocks.

As this guide is for trout hooks we are going to use the second scale. I mainly use smaller hooks when fishing for trout as I tend to fly fish a lot and most freshwater patterns are tied on smaller hooks. When I float fish with bait I also stick to smaller hook sizes. This allows for a more natural bait presentation and tends not to spook the fish.

The only other hook type I will use, is when I fish something like freshwater prawns for Salmon returning to spawn, is a longer shank hook so I can hold the bait in place during longer casts.

In my experience, fishing different waters and baits will also dictate the type of trout hook you use and the size of the hook. Something like a maggot or sweetcorn will sit nicely on a smaller sized trout hook, but as you go up in target size and bait size your hook will also have to get bigger.

Trout Hook Gauges

The hook gauge is the thickness of the hook wire itself. This is a standard measurement and is calculated in multiples. A small trout hook has a much thinner shaft than say a large saltwater hook. The gauge is calculated by using X. So a larger hook can be 2,4,6X thicker that a smaller trout hook.

Thick Gauge Fishing Hooks like 2X,3X,4X are used for larger fish that need a bit more work to land them. They are especially useful when you are fishing around snags and boat docks where you have to pull the fish a lot harder than normal to get them into the net.

I always try to fish with the smallest size possible on the day as this allows for better bait presentation and accuracy during the cast.

Types of Trout Hooks

I am a creature of habit when it comes to fishing and tend to stick to the same fishing hooks most of the time. I do however switch occasionally when either the conditions call for different tactics and bait or I spot a monster trout lurking within casting distance and I feel its worth a shot at hooking it. This is where experience comes into play. Having an array or baits and hook sizes available on the day can really change what you catch and how quickly you catch them.

Waters may start Gin clear but after a shower of rain things can change quickly – being able to change tackle in an instant can land you some monsters.

With larger trout, you only really get one chance to hook the fist so by carrying a selection of hook sizes and setups you are giving yourself the best chance on the day.

One rule I will always try and stick to is catch and release, especially for trout fishing. There are loads of options available nowadays when it comes to barbless hooks, but even if you can’t get any, just press in the barb with pliers and you are good to go.

For normal fishing, I always use a single barbless hook but let’s look at some of the different options available to you:

Single Hooks

Bait fishing and fly fishing always calls for a single hook. As mentioned single hook barbless is my preferred choice especially for trout fishing. I use standard pattern hooks for fly and small bait presentation such as maggots and sweetcorn. Longer shank hooks come out of the bag in some rivers for larger trout if I use worms or some of the manufactured baits on the market.

When in season and I get the chance to get to the river I use longer shank hooks on the end of a float line for Salmon. I use scented prawns on these rare occasions and a longer single hook shaft allows me to present the prawn beautifully to the fish, resulting in some awesome catches and fishing.

All my fly fishing is done with single hooks and while I may have up to 4 flies on the line they will all be on single small hooks. I practice catch and release as much as possible and all fish go back unless they have swallowed the hook or gotten damaged during the fight. Single hooks are the least damaging to trout especially if you either use barbless hooks or file off the barbs before you fish.

Bread flake molded around a single hook is deadly for trout in farmed or public waters where people feed ducks or similar as the trout are used to this type of food in the water.

Live bait hanging off the end of a single hook where you have pierced the lip of a small baitfish is also a great technique for luring in some great fish. Hook size plays an important role here as well because you never know what is lurking in the depths that may attack your bait.

You will sometimes see spoon spinners using larger single hooks but this is not as common nowadays.

Treble Hooks

Treble hooks or gang hooks are most commonly found on lures and spinners. Any of the Mepps range of spinners will all have a small treble hook at the end and any of the floating and diving trout lures will have a pair of trebles attached to hook that prized trout.

A treble hook is simply three hooks joined at the shaft and molded into a single eye for attaching the line. A treble hook will do a fair bit of damage to the fish – especially if they swallow the hook so take as much care as you can when removing them from your catch.

Barbless Trout Hooks

These are my go-to hook for trout and all types of freshwater fishing especially trout fishing and catch and release. A couple of the rivers I fish during the season are barbless only which is a great rule and put in place to protect the fish stocks as much as possible. I will often never take the fish out of the water when I catch it and by using barbless hooks I can easily release the fish from the net with minimum damage to the mouth area.

You can buy barbless hooks right off the shelf but If you are stuck you can easily file down the barbs or press the back into the shaft with a strong pliers

Here is a great video from Red’s Fly Shop showing you how to properly debarb a trout hook. We highly recommend doing this before you head out fishing. There is little difference in the number of fish you loose with barbless hooks but it is so much better for the health of the fish when you release it.

Best Trout Hook Sizes for Different Baits

Nightcrawlers / Worms

I like to fish nightcrawlers or worms most of the time because they are readily available at every swim. I normally fish them under a bobber float on a size #12 hook and are dealy for catching trout and almost any other fish in the swim. You can go up to about fishing hooks size #8 but a lot depends on the conditions and the size of the fish stock. These are my favorite size hook for this style of fishing – the Eagle Claw Baitholder

Corn – hook size #12

I have had great success fishing with corn over the years and use these hooks all the time – Gamakatsu in size #12. Razor sharp and a great quality hook for all small bait types such as Corn or Salmon Eggs. (Read our Trout Fishing with Salmon eggs review here) Perfect for hungry trout 🙂

PowerBait for Trout Fishing

If you are going to fish with some of the manufactured baits like Powerbait then you should use these single hooks – Gamakatsu Trout Hooks

All the single hooks listed above will cover you for the majority of freshwater fishing on most trips. These are my go-to trout hooks and have served me very well over the years. If you have a preferred hook for trout fishing or hook size then drop a comment below and we will take a look.

If you are into fishing lures then check out our guide for the best trout lures and fill your landing net over and over again.

Tight lines…