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 very fussy when it comes to presentation and 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 to use for trout fishing. This gives me the advantage of presenting the bait in the most natural way possible – and a bit of luck as well.
Today let’s explore trout hook sizes for trout fishing, the use case for each one on lakes and rivers to get you landing more, and the best hooks for trout online.
Best Trout Hook Guide
The Best Hooks for Trout
There are four main factors when selecting your trout fishing hooks size:
- How big are the trout you are targeting – 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?
- What kind of hook? A circle hook, barbless, what brands, what other items do you need?
Pictured is barbless hook information and an overview of each part that makes up the hook.
Eye – Starting at the top of the hook is the eye. This eyelet is where you attach the line. The best kind of 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 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 tend to either buy barbless hooks or file these off to protect the catch 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.
HOOK SIZE FOR TROUT
What is the best hook size for trout fishing and what products would we recommend?
A great question and one with many different ways to answer it…
The size hook you use comes down to the species you are targeting, the type of bait you are using, the conditions you are in, and the size trout you are targeting
For example, if you are using live bait you will need a slightly bigger hook to hold it in place.
What size hook do I need? Choice, Brands & Options
Trout hook sizing is broken down into two different scales. The first scale is the Aught scale and the second is the Normal scale.
And just to confuse you the numbers mean very different things
Aught Scale: This mainly focuses on a larger size hook 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 circle hook for tuna but as the numbers go up so do the hook sizes.
Normal Scale: The opposite can be said for the normal size hook numbering system. As the numbers go up the hook size gets smaller. You might use something like a size 10 (great for salmon eggs), size 12, or 16 hook size for smaller brook trout or lakes with smaller stocks.
As this guide is about fishing for trout we are going to use the second scale. I mainly use smaller hooks when going for trout as I tend to fly fish a lot and most freshwater patterns are tied on smaller hooks. When float fishing with bait I also stick to smaller hook sizes. This allows for a more natural bait presentation and tends not to spook the swim.
The only other hook type I will use for trout fishing is when I fish something like freshwater prawns for Salmon returning to spawn, which is a longer size hook so I can hold the bait in place during longer casts.
In my experience, different waters and baits will also dictate the type of hooks you use and the size of the hook. Something like a maggot or sweetcorn will sit nicely on smaller-sized hooks, like size 10, 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. Hooks for trout fishing have a much thinner shaft than say large saltwater hooks. The gauge is calculated by using X. So a larger hook can be 2,4,6X thicker than smaller trout hooks.
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 around snags and boat docks where you have to pull the fish a lot harder than normal to get them into the net.
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 it’s worth a shot at hooking it. This is where experience comes into play. Having an array of baits and hooks for trout fishing 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.
For normal fishing, I always use a single barbless hook but let’s look at some of the different options available to you:
Bait fishing with something like a salmon egg and fly fishing always calls for a single fishing hook. As mentioned single hook barbless is my preferred choice especially for trout fishing. I use standard pattern hooks for fly and small presentations such as maggots and sweetcorn. Longer shank hooks come out of the bag in some rivers for larger brown 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 floating fishing 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.
What size hooks for trout flies?
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. Sizes vary but anything from size 8 up for the fly is perfect.
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 jigs or hook.
You will sometimes see spoon spinners using larger single hooks or double hook but this is not as common nowadays.
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. Treble hooks will do a fair bit of damage to the fish – especially if they swallow the treble hook so take as much care as you can when removing them from your catch so try to get barbless trebles.
These are the go-to hooks I use fishing for trout and all types of freshwater fishing especially trout fishing and catch and release. 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 – still in the water – 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 strong fishing pliers.
Here is a great video from Red’s Fly Shop showing you how to properly debarb a trout hook.
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.
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. This is my go-to hook size for trout and has 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 article for the best trout lures.
My Favorite Trout Hooks are the Gamakatsu Trout Worm Hook, Size 10. Hands down the best hooks on the market at the moment.