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What Size Hook To Use For Trout Fishing (Ultimate Guide)

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What Size Hook To Use For Trout Fishing

If you’re in the business of catching fish, the bait you use doesn’t do too much good without a hook. And not just any hook…but the right hook.  And it’s the same the other way around…a fishing hook doesn’t serve you much purpose without actually having bait to put on that hook.

Selecting a proper hook for whatever your fishing situation is can be just as important as selecting the right bait. By choosing the wrong hook can result in deterring fish, poor hook-ups or even preventing hook-ups all together.

The Best Types of Fishing Hooks For Trout

I’ve seen many beginning trout anglers absolutely destroy any chances at all of catching fish simply because of the gargantuan sized catfish hook they’ve decided to use while trying to catch small stocked trout.

Understanding the different kinds of hooks, how hook sizing works as well as what kind of hook to use for what kind of bait is quick knowledge to gain. And that’s exactly what I’ve done here in this post.  I’ve taken all that information about fishing hooks and have tried to simplify it all for you here in this article.

If you’re really interested in trout fishing and want to gain a better understanding of selecting the right kind of fishing hooks for trout fishing, I’ve got you covered.

So let’s get started and set yourself up for success with learning all about what the best trout hooks are and how to use them.

Understanding Hook Sizes for Trout

First, I want to talk a bit about hook sizes and how the hook sizing system works. This is critical to get a grasp on before selecting your trout hooks.

While the hook sizing system seems counter intuitive and can be a deterrent, especially  for beginners, it’s actually pretty quick and easy knowledge to understand and remember once it’s explained to  you. So let’s take a quick look at how fishing hooks are sized.

It’s All About The Gauge 

To start, hook sizing derives itself from the material that they were originally made out of, which was metal wire.  Metal wires were used to make modern hooks by bending them into shape and sharpening the ends.

And metal wires are sized by what’s called their “gauge”. In this gauge measuring system, a higher number “gauge” wire is very thin and light. Conversely, a lower “gauge” number is thick and is a very heavy wire. And this is how hooks began.

Fishing Hook Sizes Explained

The hook size system is a scale of whole numbers. Like wire, a smaller number is going to mean a larger hook. For most freshwater fishing, hook sizes from 1 to about 16 are the most common. Smaller hooks (size 18-18) are generally reserved for tiny trout flies.

Smaller numbers = larger hooks

Larger numbers = smaller hooks

There are even larger sizes of hook sizes as well, numbers lower than 1.

And for these large fishing hook sizes, Instead of using a negative sign, the numbers are listed (in increasing size) such as: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, etc. With hooks such as 9/0 being reserved for large saltwater game fish like blue fin tuna.

When pronouncing these larger hook sizes verbally, read the size 2/0 out loud as “2-aught”.

Best Hook Size For Trout

The best size fishing hooks to use for trout fishing are between size 8 (larger) and size 12 (smaller). Any fishing hooks within this range of sized are going to be best.

The thing to remember is that trout don’t have very large mouths, especially compared to say something like a bass. So you definitely want to make sure the trout can easily fit the hook into its mouth.

The recommended hook sizes are around a centimeter long or so, give or take, and are easy enough for even smaller sized trout to take.

What Type Of Hook Is Best For Trout Fishing

While there can be a surprisingly endless variety of shapes and styles of fishing hooks, trout fishing keeps it pretty simple.

There are two types of hooks nearly everyone is going to use for trout fishing; standard straight shank single hooks, and treble hooks.

  • straight shank single hook
  • treble hook

Straight Shank Single Hooks

Think as simple of a hook as you can imagine, and that’s a good trout fishing single hook. A barbed straight shank hook in the appropriate size is a great choice for most trout fishing.

With a single hook, you can fish with a lot of different types of bait such as worms and powerbait. Single hooks are cost effective and an easy choice. Single hooks, even when barbed, also present a much better opportunity for releasing a fish unharmed compared to other types of trout fishing hooks.

How To Bait A Hook With A Worm For Trout

When fishing with a worm, I like to hook it multiple times onto the hook. This not only helps to hold the trout bait better, but it also conceals the hook and concentrates the bait so the trout takes the  entire hook along with the bait.

For powerbait and other mouldable types of trout bait , I like to mold a ball around the hook bend and barely concealing the sharp tip. This seems to work well since it doesn’t require a lot of effort to set the hook.

A single hook in size 8 to 12  on an appropriate rig would be my choice for trout fishing with bait. You can fine tune your hook size depending on your bait or target fish size.

Treble Hook

A treble hook is an excellent choice for trout fishing if you intend to keep your fish.  These hooks are meant to grab on and not let go!

A treble hook, essentially composed of three hooks welded together, are great at providing reliable hookups. They do an excellent job of hooking into and holding onto fish.

The downside to this is that they can be extremely damaging to the trout and may not be a good choice if you want the option to release fish.

How To Use Treble Hook Trout Fishing

Treble hooks are most often used on fishing lures, where quick strikes would be difficult for a single hook to take hold. However, treble hooks are an excellent bait style hook as well.

Like with a single hook, utilizing a worm and hooking it multiple times is a great option for trout.

And with powerbait, once again, molding a form around the hook is your ticket. Make sure not to make too big a bait ball though. Remember trout don’t have huge mouths.

For trout fishing with powerbait, using a treble hook is significantly recommended over using a single hook.  Not only do the three points of the treble hook grab onto fish much better, but the shape of the treble hook holds onto the bait so much more than a single hook does.

What Size Treble Hook To Use Trout Fishing

Since treble hooks are essentially three hooks in one, a treble hook is going to be larger than a single hook when all said and done.

The size of a treble hook refers to the size of just one of the hooks that make it up.

When selecting a treble hook for trout fishing with bait, you are going to want to end up on the smaller end of the recommended size scale.

For treble hooks and trout fishing, I typically like to use a size 10, and sometimes even a size as far down as a 14.

Choosing the Best Bait Hook for Trout

When choosing a hook for trout fishing with bait, there are really only a few small considerations you need to make.

1. Keeping The Bait On The Hook 

Obviously, you need the bait to be able to stay on the hook. Some types of trout baits tend to slip down the hook shank and pile up into one spot or be lost altogether.

A bait style hook has additional barbs along the hook shank to help hold onto bait. This is particularly helpful in a single style hook versus a treble.

Additionally, a shorter egg style trout hook has a shorter shank, which can be easier to conceal with Powerbait or salmon eggs.

For treble hooks, any standard hook in the recommended size will do the job. Worms and powerbait tend to stay on these hooks very well.

2. Will The Hook Fit In The Trout’s Mouth

Really, the only other thing to consider is the size of the trout hook.  Ask yourself, will this hook fit inside a trout’s mouth?

If you’re unsure, then remember that the best size hooks for trout fishing are going to be between size 8 and 12.

Barbless Hooks For Trout Fishing

fly fishing in stream with brown trout in net

If you plan on releasing the trout you catch or are forced to by regulations, barbless hooks are generally what you’ll want to use.

Most fishing hooks are going to have a small reversed barb near the sharp tip end. This does wonders in really holding onto that fish for you. Even if you lose slack in the line briefly, that barb should stay in the fish’s lip. Barbless hooks lack this feature.

What you end up with is a hook that’s smooth and which can easily be removed from the fish’s mouth.

While single barbed hooks can still be used for catch and release, a barbless trout hook is the recommend, and often required method.

Having no barb on the hook makes for a much less impact on the trout. It also makes sure that hook removal is quick and easy, which prevents further stress and damage. However, with this comes the increased likelihood of losing your fish mid-battle.

trout fishing in colorado

When trout fishing with a barbless hook, maintaining line tension throughout the battle is paramount. If tension is lost, even briefly, the hook is often easily able to slip from the fish’s mouth.

In many special regulation catch and release trout fishing waters all over, single barbless hook regulations are the norm. This prevents damage to fish and ensures somebody else may have the opportunity to catch that same fish.

However, these regulations are often times coupled with no bait fishing regulations. Generally, fishing regulations that state artificial fly or lures with single barbless hooks go hand in hand.

How To De-barb Your Own Fishing Hooks

While you can purchase barbless hooks, making your own barbless hooks is really easy. All you need is a pair of pliers.

The barb on a hook is easily compressed, which completely removes its functionality. By taking a pair of fishing pliers and clamping down hard on the barb, you can flatten it, easily turning your standard barbed fishing hook into a catch and release barbless hook.

What If The Trout Swallows The Hook?

While barbless hooks can be advantageous for releasing fish, you’ll find that trout often times swallow the entire hook. When they do this, the hook can become embedded into the trouts  gills, throat, or stomach.

When this happens, survival of that trout is very unlikely and it’s probably just best to keep that trout to eat as long as local fishing regulations allow as much.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s the size of the hook or figuring out what kind of hook to use, having a solid understanding of hooks for trout fishing is pretty straightforward.

Understanding the hook sizing system and the recommended sizes is the first step. For trout, be looking to use sizes between 8 and 14.

Remember that straight bait style hooks and treble hooks are really the only two hooks you need for trout.

Don’t forget that trout have fairly small mouths. With single hooks, you can size slightly larger. With treble hooks, I would recommend sizing slightly smaller.

Whether you plan on getting out to catch some trout for the dinner table or just to get out and have some fun catching and releasing, knowledge of and selecting the right trout hook is very important. Take a look at some of the other articles on the site for incorporating the right hook for trout into the right fishing rig for trout.

Have fun out there on the water and good luck!

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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