A fish hook or fishhook is a tool for catching fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish. Fish hooks have been employed for centuries by anglers to catch fresh and saltwater fish. In 2005, the fish hook was chosen by Forbes as one of the top twenty tools in human history.Fish hooks are normally attached to some form of line or lure which connects the caught fish to the angler. There is an enormous variety of fish hooks in the world of fishing. Sizes, designs, shapes, and materials are all variable depending on the intended purpose of the fish hook. Fish hooks are manufactured for a range of purposes from general fishing to extremely limited and specialized applications. Fish hooks are designed to hold various types of artificial, processed, dead or live baits (bait fishing); to act as the foundation for artificial representations of fish prey (fly fishing); or to be attached to or integrated into other devices that represent fish prey (lure fishing).
The fish hook or similar device has been made by humans for many thousands of years. The world's oldest fish hooks (they were made from sea snails shells) were discovered in Sakitari Cave in Okinawa Island dated between 22,380 and 22,770 years old.They are older than the fish hooks from the Jerimalai cave in East Timor dated between 23,000 and 16,000 years old, and New Ireland in Papua New Guinea dated 20,000 to 18,000 years old.
The earliest fish hooks in the Americas, dating from about 11,000 B.P., have been reported from Cedros Island on the west coast of Mexico. These fish hooks were made from sea shells.Shells provided a common material for fish hooks found in several parts of the world, with the shapes of prehistoric shell fish hook specimens occasionally being compared to determine if they provide information about the migration of people into the Americas.
An early written reference to a fish hook is found with reference to the Leviathan in the Book of Job 41:1; Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? Fish hooks have been crafted from all sorts of materials including wood, animaland human bone, horn, shells, stone, bronze, iron, and up to present day materials. In many cases, hooks were created from multiple materials to leverage the strength and positive characteristics of each material. Norwegians as late as the 1950s still used juniper wood to craft Burbot hooks. Quality steel hooks began to make their appearance in Europe in the 17th century and hook making became a task for specialists.
Commonly referred to parts of a fish hook are: its point, the sharp end that penetrates the fish's mouth or flesh; the barb, the projection extending backwards from the point, that secures the fish from unhooking; the eye, the loop in the end of the hook that is connected to the fishing line or lure; the bend and shank, that portion of the hook that connects the point and the eye; and the gap, the distance between the shank and the point. In many cases, hooks are described by using these various parts of the hook, for example: wide gape, long shank, hollow point or out turned eye.
Contemporary hooks are manufactured from either high-carbon steel, steel alloyed with vanadium, or stainless steel, depending on application. Most quality fish hooks are covered with some form of corrosion-resistant surface coating. Corrosion resistance is required not only when hooks are used, especially in saltwater, but while they are stored. Additionally, coatings are applied to color and/or provide aesthetic value to the hook. At a minimum, hooks designed for freshwater use are coated with a clear lacquer, but hooks are also coated with gold, nickel, Teflon, tin and different colors.
There are a large number of different types of fish hooks. At the macro level, there are bait hooks, fly hooks and lure hooks. Within these broad categories there are wide varieties of hook types designed for different applications. Hook types differ in shape, materials, points and barbs, and eye type, and ultimately in their intended application. When individual hook types are designed the specific characteristics of each of these hook components are optimized relative to the hook's intended purpose. For example, a delicate dry fly hook is made of thin wire with a tapered eye because weight is the overriding factor. Whereas Carlisle or Aberdeen light wire bait hooks make use of thin wire to reduce injury to live bait but the eyes are not tapered because weight is not an issue. Many factors contribute to hook design, including corrosion resistance, weight, strength, hooking efficiency, and whether the hook is being used for specific types of bait, on different types of lures or for different styles of flies. For each hook type, there are ranges of acceptable sizes. For all types of hooks, sizes range from 32 (the smallest) to 20/0 (the largest).
Hook shapes and names are as varied as fish themselves. In some cases hooks are identified by a traditional or historic name, e.g. Aberdeen, Limerick or O'Shaughnessy. In other cases, hooks are merely identified by their general purpose or have included in their name, one or more of their physical characteristics. Some manufacturers just give their hooks model numbers and describe their general purpose and characteristics. For example:
The shape of the hook shank can vary widely from merely straight to all sorts of curves, kinks, bends and offsets. These different shapes contribute in some cases to better hook penetration, fly imitations or bait holding ability. Many hooks intended to hold dead or artificial baits have sliced shanks which create barbs for better baiting holding ability. Jig hooks are designed to have lead weight molded onto the hook shank. Hook descriptions may also include shank length as standard, extra long, 2XL, short, etc. and wire size such as fine wire, extra heavy, 2X heavy, etc.
Hooks are designed as either single hooks—a single eye, shank and point; double hooks—a single eye merged with two shanks and points; or triple—a single eye merged with three shanks and three evenly spaced points. Double hooks are formed from a single piece of wire and may or may not have their shanks brazed together for strength. Treble hooks are formed by adding a single eyeless hook to a double hook and brazing all three shanks together. Double hooks are used on some artificial lures and are a traditional fly hook for Atlantic Salmon flies, but are otherwise fairly uncommon. Treble hooks are used on all sorts of artificial lures as well as for a wide variety of bait applications.
Bait hook shapes and names include the Salmon Egg, Beak, O'Shaughnessy, Baitholder, Shark Hook, Aberdeen, Carlisle, Carp Hook, Tuna Circle, Offset Worm, Circle Hook, suicide hook, Long Shank, Short Shank, J Hook, Octopus Hook and Big Game Jobu hooks.
Fly hook shapes include Sproat, Sneck, Limerick, Kendal, Viking, Captain Hamilton, Barleet, Swimming Nymph, Bend Back, Model Perfect, Keel, and Kink-shank.
The hook point is probably the most important part of the hook. It is the point that must penetrate fish flesh and secure the fish. The profile of the hook point and its length influence how well the point penetrates. The barb influences how far the point penetrates, how much pressure is required to penetrate and ultimately the holding power of the hook. Hook points are mechanically (ground) or chemically sharpened. Some hooks are barbless. Historically, many ancient fish hooks were barbless, but today a barbless hook is used to make hook removal and fish release less stressful on the fish. Hook points are also described relative to their offset from the hook shank. A kerbed hook point is offset to the left, a straight point has no offset and a reversed point is offset to the right.
Hook points are commonly referred to by these names: needle point, rolled-in, hollow, spear, beak, mini-barb, semi-dropped and knife edge. Some other hook point names are used for branding by manufacturers.
The eye of a hook, although some hooks are technically eyeless, is the point where the hook is connected to the line. Hook eye design is usually optimized for either strength, weight and/or presentation. There are different types of eyes to the hooks. Typical eye types include the ring or ball eye, a brazed eye-the eye is fully closed, a tapered eye to reduce weight, a looped eye—traditional on Atlantic Salmon flies, needle eyes, and spade end—no eye at all, but a flattened area to allow secure snelling of the leader to the hook. Hook eyes can also be positioned one of three ways on the shank—up turned, down turned or straight.
There are no internationally recognized standards for hooks and thus size is somewhat inconsistent between manufacturers. However, within a manufacturer's range of hooks, hook sizes are consistent.
Hook sizes generally are referred to by a numbering system that places the size 1 hook in the middle of the size range. Smaller hooks are referenced by larger whole numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3...). Larger hooks are referenced by increasing whole numbers followed by a slash and a zero (e.g. 1/0 (one aught), 2/0, 3/0...) as their size increases. The numbers represent relative sizes, normally associated with the gap (the distance from the point tip to the shank). The smallest size available is 32 and largest 20/0.
Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines, baited with lures or bait fish, are drawn through the water. This may be behind a moving boat, or by slowly winding the line in when fishing from a static position, or even sweeping the line from side-to-side, e.g. when fishing from a jetty. Trolling is used to catch pelagic fish such as salmon, mackerel and kingfish.
A fishing rod is a long, flexible rod used by fishermen to catch fish. At its simplest, a fishing rod is a simple stick or pole attached to a line ending in a hook. The length of the rod can vary between 2 and 50 feet. To entice fish, bait or lures are impaled on one or more hooks attached to the line. The line is generally stored on a reel which reduces tangles and assists in landing a fish.
A fishing reel is a cylindrical device attached to a fishing rod used in winding and stowing line.
A fishing line is a cord used or made for angling. Fishing lines generally resemble a long, thin string, and vary in material. Important attributes of a fishing line include length, material, weight, and thickness. Other factors relevant to certain fishing environments include breaking strength, knot strength, UV resistance, castability, limpness, stretch, abrasion resistance, and visibility. Most modern lines are made from nylon, braided polymers, or silk.
Fly fishing is an angling method that uses a light-weight lure—called an artificial fly—to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. The light weight requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting. The flies may resemble natural invertebrates, baitfish, or other food organisms.
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle". The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Modern fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. Tenkara fishing and cane pole fishing are two techniques that do not use a reel. The hook itself can be dressed with bait, but sometimes a lure, with hooks attached to it, is used in place of a hook and bait. A bite indicator such as a float, and a weight or sinker are sometimes used.
Catch and release is a practice within recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation. After capture, the fish are unhooked and returned to the water. Often, a fast measurement and weighing of the fish, followed by photography of the catch is worthwhile. Using barbless hooks, it is often possible to release the fish without removing it from the water.
Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing, is fishing for pleasure or competition. It can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is fishing for profit, or subsistence fishing, which is fishing for survival.
Jigging is the practice of fishing with a jig, a type of fishing lure. A jig consists of a lead sinker with a hook molded into it and usually covered by a soft body to attract fish. Jigs are intended to create a jerky, vertical motion, as opposed to spinnerbaits which move through the water horizontally. The jig is very versatile and can be used in both salt and fresh water. Many species are attracted to the lure which has made it popular among anglers for years.
A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract a fish's attention. The lure uses movement, vibration, flash and color to bait fish. Many lures are equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish when they strike the lure. Some lures are placed to attract fish so a spear can be impaled into the fish or so the fish can be captured by hand. Most lures are attached to the end of a fishing line and have various styles of hooks attached to the body and are designed to elicit a strike resulting in a hookset. Many lures are commercially made but some are hand made such as fishing flies. Hand tying fly lures to match the hatch is considered a challenge by many amateur entomologists.
The Hare's Ear or Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear is a traditional artificial fly imitating an aquatic insect larva (nymph) used in fly fishing.
Fly tying is the process of producing an artificial fly used by fly fishing anglers to catch fish. Fly tying is a manual process done by a single individual using hand tools and a variety of natural and manmade materials that are attached to a hook. Although the recent history of fly tying dates from the middle 1800s, fly tyers were engaged in tying flys since at least 200 AD.
The Texas rig is a technique used for fishing with soft plastic lures. It involves a bullet-shaped weight being threaded onto the fishing line first, followed by a glass or plastic bead, and then the line is secured to a hook, usually an offset worm hook.
A spinnerbait is any of a family of fishing lures that get their name from one or more metal blades shaped so as to spin like a propeller when the lure is in motion, creating varying degrees of flash and vibration that mimic small fish or other prey. The two most popular types of spinnerbaits are the "in-line spinner" and "safety pin" spinnerbaits, though others such as the "tail-spinner" also exist. Spinnerbaits are used principally for catching predatory fish such as perch, pike and bass.
Fishing tackle is the equipment used by anglers when fishing. Almost any equipment or gear used for fishing can be called fishing tackle. Some examples are hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, rods, reels, baits, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, waders and tackle boxes.
Soft plastic bait, commonly known as just plastic bait, is any of a range of plastic-based fishing baits, termed so because of their soft, flexible rubber texture. Designed to imitate fish or other natural aquatic food sources, their realistic texture and versatility, combined with simple and economical production has led them to become a standard article of modern fishing tackle. Soft plastics are available in a large range of colours, sizes and particularly shapes.
A sabiki or flasher rig is typically fished off boats, piers, jetties, or any structure over the water. Sabikis consist of any number of small hooks, each one on individual dropper lines which are a few inches long. The individual dropper lines are then tied to a longer leader in series, about 6 inches (15 cm) apart; a weight is tied to the end of the leader. The individual hooks are decorated as lures or tied like flies similar to those used in fly fishing. Often they have a simple piece of lumo-infused material or iridescent film attached to them. Traditionally, on any individual rig, all of the lures will be either identical or in an alternating sequence of colors. The type or size sabiki used depends on water conditions, species of fish sought or simply the angler's preference.
Fishing techniques are methods for catching fish. The term may also be applied to methods for catching other aquatic animals such as molluscs and edible marine invertebrates.
Fly fishing tackle comprises the fishing tackle or equipment typically used by fly anglers. Fly fishing tackle includes: