Finding the perfect catfishing gear and the optimal set up for new catfish anglers can be somewhat intimidating. You have tons of choices, and the best options can vary significantly based on what you’re targeting and what size catfish you’re looking for.
Which is the best hooks for catfishing? Which hook will hold the bait nicely and which hook will result in a friendly, smooth and clean hook set?
Most experienced catfish anglers have a pretty good idea at the best rig setups that they prefer to use, but for the newer fishermen, you may not even know where to begin.
Outside of rods and reels, hooks are at the top of the list and considered to be essential and critical toward your overall success catching catfish.
Make sure to also check out my list of the best catfish bait
What is The Best Hook to Use For Catfish?
The best hook to use for catfish is a hook that aligns with your bait selection and the size of catfish you are targeting. Overall, a circle hook or treble hook are going to be the two best options for hooks for catfishing.
This only works if you the follow the first sentence of advice and align your goals with what you’re trying to catch with your hook size selection. What do I mean by this? Simply put, your overall goals and tackle need to align.
If your targeting larger catfish, you need to walk into the gunfight prepared and not holding a knife. If you’re using a larger bait such as live bait, shad or cut bait, you need to use a larger hook. It’s easy in theory to figure out, but many anglers still wonder where that hook sweet spot is.
The Two Considerations For Catfish Hooks
We have two primary items to check off the list when we are trying to determine which hook to use for catfishing.
First is the overall size we want to use. Most of the time a smaller hook can work great for targeting smaller catfish and using smaller baits. You should always have enough hook exposed and a gap between the hook.
This is going to allow for clean penetration and a good hook set. A lot of catfish anglers make the mistake of using hooks such as circle hooks, placing the live bait on the hook and leaving no gap in the middle area where the hook curls.
This makes the hook set challenging to accomplish. The gap is what allows a nice trigger effect and a nice snap into the catfish’s tough skin and mouth. Let’s look at the most common hook sizes we see when it comes to catfishing based on style.
Treble Hooks For Catfish And Bait
With treble hooks (affiliate link), the larger the number, the smaller the hook. Meaning, the #2 with the treble hook is going to be your largest option.
More sizes are available, but these are the most commonly used hook sizes for catfishing.
Treble hooks are going to work great with specific bait selections. I prefer to use treble hooks anytime I’m using cut baits (sometimes I use circle hooks), chicken livers, stink baits (with dip worms) and baits such as minnows. The idea here is to have multiple points of entry to hold the bait. The larger the bait and the more difficult it may have staying on a hook, the more the treble hook will play into aiding the bait to remain on the hook.
Circle Hooks For Catfish – my Choice
Circle hooks (affiliate link) is arguably the most popular and perhaps the best hook to use when catfishing. It’s apparent where it gets its name. The hook is shaped in the form of a circle. It’s the most common and best hook to use for live bait. It’s designed specifically for the hook set to strike right into the catfish’s mouth.
As far as clean hook sets, the circle hook is about as good as it gets. The biggest key with the circle hook is to make sure you have a large enough gap in the “circle area” of the hook (meaning use a large enough hook) and to use the Snell hook method to create a forward trigger motion when you do go to set the hook).
You also want to apply steady pressure with circle hooks to accomplish a clean hook set. A size 3/0 circle hook is my preferred hook of choice. This will catch the larger catfish and won’t necessarily be too large to catch some of smaller channel catfish.
Match The Hook to The Size of The Catfish
This plays back into the original tip when determining what the best hook for catfish is. Make sure if you plan on only targeting a large number of smaller catfish to adjust your hook size. A size 6/0 circle hook will work great for catching the smaller catfish if that’s your goal. No need to target the smaller catfish with a monster hook and vice versa.
Blue And Flathead Catfish Hooks
If you are targeting either of these catfish, you’re no longer messing around with the smaller catfish.
Big catfish requires big gear.
Circle hooks will again be the option of choice with targeting flathead and blue catfish. The size 6/0 is going to be best to ensure you have a large enough hook.
This will capable of holding larger live baits and should never have a problem effectively hooking and holding up against these mammoths when you do finally locate them.
What Brands to Use For Catfish Hooks?
Overall, if you’re not buying catfish hooks in bulk from and using Chinese and overseas imported hooks, you will be just fine.
You don’t have to break the bank on fishing hooks, but you also don’t want to use the cheapest quality possible. This will ultimately just leave you frustrated at the end of the fishing trip. Stick to name brands and avoid the bulk quantity, cheap quality catfish hooks.
What Hook Will You Be Using Your Next Catfish Outing?
Overall, it’s going to depend heavily on your targeted size and species of catfish. That’s what will determine the best hook for catfishing. It’s not overly challenging to learn and after using several different hooks, you should start to get a feel for what works best for you.
Once you have determined if you’re a circle hook kind of angler or a treble hook angler, you can work on perfecting the overall size and style of the hook.
A circle hook or treble hook is never going to steer you wrong. Match the hook with your bait selection as well for optimal chances. Have I left anything out? What do you believe the best hook to use for catfish is?
Be sure to leave a comment below if you have anything to add. As always, I appreciate you and thanks for stopping by.
Remember to read my article on what smell attracts catfish