Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Hooks for live bait fishing


I get asked quite often what type hooks are best to use for fishing with live bait. There is not just one good answer. Each guide and fisherperson has his or her own favorite. The size and type of hook may depend on the size bait you’re using and the size fish you’re catching.

Probably the most favored type of single-barbed hook for striped bass and catfish is a “Kahle”-type hook in a 2/0 to 5/0 size. These Kahle-type hooks can be used for many species and different bait types. Another favorite is a straight shank standard J-hook that has been used essentially forever. I prefer an offset shank hook that seems to do the trick for me (Eagle Claw L042) and I have used this type hook for decades.

Hooking live bait is typically done by running the hook through the bait’s nose or lips. You can also run the hook through the back or tail. The generally-preferred method that I use is to hook a shad through the nose/lips. The bait seems to stay alive longer and a striped bass will typically take the bait head-first. The hook through the nose is tough and the baitfish can swim fairly naturally.

One other hook that is a favorite of many and is used widely everywhere is the circle hook. I came across a study done by the Wildlife Commission Fisheries Division in North Carolina. The study evaluated the use of circle hooks for catching striped bass. The results of the study indicate there were fewer incidents of deep-hooking striped bass than the traditional J-hooks. These may be the desired hook type for catch and release.

If you have never used a circle hook, you are not supposed to set the hook as that will jerk the hook out of the fish’s mouth. This is difficult for most people who are used to setting the hook. The idea is to let the fish run and the hook will set itself typically in the corner of the fish’s mouth. All you need to do is reel the fish in without setting the hook. “Crank, but don’t yank”.

Another live bait hook that is used by a variety of anglers for catfish and some striper anglers is a treble hook. I do use these on occasion when the bite is finicky. A #2 to a 1/0 treble may get you the fish when other hooks won’t. You can hook one of the hooks through the fish’s nose and the other two hooks are exposed. I also use a treble at times as a stinger hook when fishing large live bait. This is similar to a live bait rig for Kingfish.

There are many hooks on the market. Try some of the above types and make your own choice.


We wished for the rain and we finally got it. The lake is full. Some areas are stained and as they release water that stain may move down the lake. Watch out for floating debris. Right now, most of the lake is clear from Indian Harbor down to the dam but that may change. Water temperatures have fallen into the 60s with this early cold snap. Striped bass continue to be good on live bait and trolled Alabama rigs on the lower ends of the lake. Catfish are also good in stained water midlake and upstream on cut shad. Crappies are good on submerged structure on small jigs and minnows. Best largemouth action is near main lake points. Some good topwater action has been reported. Sandbass are schooling on the surface with smaller striped bass near Decordova and Blue Water shores.

Comanche Creek (Squaw Creek) continues to produce limits of channel catfish. Largemouth action reports of numerous catches to 6 pounds on this power plant lake on crankbaits and soft plastics. Comanche Creek is open Thursday through Sunday during the day. Call ahead for reservations.

On other reservoirs, Possum Kingdom continues to boast of limits of striped bass from Hogs Bend to the dam. Cooler weather will have these fish moving. | 254-396-4855