5 Best Hooks For Float Fishing: What The Guides Use

Best Hooks For Float Fishing

Learn From A Pro

Guides like me need to use the best hooks for float fishing because they hook and hold the fish better and they work well with certain baits. I will discuss the best hooks for float fishing with tips on which hooks work best in different types of water and with different baits.

What Are The Best Hooks For Float Fishing?

The best hooks for float fishing will be the right color, the right shape, the right size and they need to be strong and super sharp. They also need to be the right hook for the situation. The best hooks for float fishing are the Raven Specimen, the Daiichi 1150, and the Gamakatsu Octopus Hook.

I use different sized hooks for different types of water, for different baits, and for different sizes of fish and I will discuss all this in this article.

My guides and I prefer to use hooks like the Raven Specimen hook for most general fishing situations but I like the Daiichi 1150 Heavy Wide-Gape Hooks when I need a more stealthy approach.

You can’t go wrong with those 2 hooks as long as you use the right sizes at the right times.

The Raven Specialist hook and the Gamakatsu Octopus hook are also good choices for steelhead and trout fishing.

Just these 4 hooks will fit just about every situation on the river but make sure you use the right size and the right shape.

There are some other great and popular float fishing hooks like the Raven Sedge hook which is similar to the Daiichi 1150 hooks, and the Daiichi Salmon Egg Hooks which are good for single eggs, or the popular Redwing Tackle Blackbird Sabretooth Premium hooks which is a very popular hook for great lakes salmon.

Hooks For West Coast Steelhead And Salmon

The best hooks for float fishing that I recommend are for inland rivers
The hooks that I recommend for float fishing are for inland rivers like this one and you will need to up-size for west coast steelhead and salmon.

I’m located around the great lakes region but I have fished with guides on big west coast steelhead rivers and I know that the best hooks for float fishing for steelhead around the great lakes are going to be different than a hook for big west coast steelhead and salmon.

Most of my hook recommendations on this page are for inland river trout and great lakes region steelhead but I’ll also quickly mention the hooks that my guide buddies use out west.

The best hooks for float fishing for west coast steelhead and salmon are the Raven Specimen hook in a size 1 to 4 or the Gamakatsu Octopus hook in size 1 to 4.

For much smaller baits I would use a size 2, 4 or even a size 6 for tiny baits in smaller rivers.

For larger baits like prawns or large worms over 4 inches I would use a size 2 or 4.

I will change the size of hook for different reason which I mention below.

Best Float Fishing Hook Shape

Best Float Hook Shape
The right shape can help you hook land more trout and steelhead. The top hook is a Specimen hook, then a Sedge hook, and then the Specialist hook. These are my 3 go-to hooks.

The shape of the hook is something that not many guys consider but it can be very important.

There are wide gap hooks like the Raven Specimen hook on the top or a narrow gap hook like the scud hook which is the fourth hook down in the picture.

There are also some shapes of hooks that work, and some don’t work so well.

The best shape for a float fishing hook is usually a wider gape hook like the Raven Specimen hook.

A smaller gape hook like a sedge hook may miss some fish on the hookset and if you do hook into the fish with this hook it may not grab as much flesh so it may be more likely to rip out of the fish’s mouth.

If you fight a lot of fish and you notice that the hook keeps pulling out without breaking then you may want to consider a wider gape hook or a bigger size.

Wider hooks like the Raven Specimen hook shown at the top in the picture hold fish well.

The advantage to the smaller gaped hook is that they are more low profile so you may end up hooking more fish because the fish don’t see it.

A wider gap hook like the Raven Specimen hook (Top Hook) is likely to hook more fish, grab more flesh, and hold onto fish better therefore you won’t lose as many fish but because they are a bigger wider hook it might be seen by the fish and that may mean less fish biting your bait.

As you can see the smaller hooks may allow more fish to bite but you may lose more and the wider gap hooks might be seen and that means less fish bite but the ones that do bite will come off less.

It’s a fine line which is why I will switch back and forth from a wide gap hook to a narrow gap hook and I will discuss when I do this below.

Best Type Of Hook Points For Float Fishing

Hook points are something you should also consider. In the picture above one hook point is straight and the others all curved inwards.

When thinking about hooks for float fishing this is something that is important.

The Raven Specialist Hook
This Raven Specialist hook curves inward for better holding ability.

Some hook points like the one in the picture are curved inwards and this is said to hold onto the fish better when compared to a straight hook point.

Most of the hooks that I like have a very slight inward curl like this one.

Do not use hooks like this one with a heavy curl on the point
Do not use hooks like this one with a heavy curl on the point

Too much of a curl on the point which you might find on some circle hooks may affect your hook set and not penetrate as well which is why I don’t recommend hooks with too big of a curl on the point.

This picture is a circle hook that is not designed to work with the kind of hard hooksets that float anglers do.

This is a self hooking hook for bottom bait type presentations and not for float fishing.

Best Hook Size For Float Fishing Hooks

Trout Hook Size
On the left is a size 2 Kamasan Specimen hook compared to a size 10 Raven Sedge hook. The Sedge hook is a much better size for a roe bag of that size and the specimen hook is way too big.

The size of your float hook is very important when considering hooks for float fishing.

A float fishing hook that is too big will stand out like a sore thumb and prevent some fish from grabbing the bait and an oversized hook will also weigh your bait down too much meaning that it may not flow naturally in the current or it will keep getting snagged on the bottom.

Using the right sized hook for the speed, depth, and size of your bait will mean more fish in the net.

If the water is fast the fish hit fast without thinking and that can mean you can go to a larger hook. If the water is fast and deep and the larger hook will be heavier and will also help the bait get down into the strike zone.

In slower and clear water a larger hook may be seen by the fish and they may not take the bait. This is where a smaller thinner wire hook is best. The thin hook also allows the bait to move more freely in the current and may look more natural.

Remember, the bait you use is just as important as the hook you use it with. Check out my page on the Best Baits for Steelhead and Trout.

Float Fishing Hook Strength

Quality brands and the cheaper float fishing hooks come in different strengths. Cheap hooks are known to bend or break when fighting big fish or when stuck on a rock, so stick with the quality brands I recommend in this article.

Thin Float Fishing Hooks

Hooks like the Raven Sedge Hook, or the Kamasan B420, and the popular steelhead hook the Daiichi 1150 are all good quality hooks but they are thinner wire hooks.

These are some of the best float fishing hooks for small baits and for allowing the bait to move more naturally in the current which is why I like them for most steelhead and trout.

Many of the anglers near me like the Daiichi 1150 in the small gin-clear steelhead rivers.

These thin wire hooks are low profile and don’t get seen by the fish like the thicker heavier hooks and that may mean more hook-ups.

Unfortunately, the downside is that these thinner wire hooks might bend when fishing for huge steelhead on heavy leaders or when fishing for 20 or 30-pound salmon in fast flows with heavy leaders.

Medium Float Fishing Hooks

Medium wire hooks like the Raven Specialist hooks or the Sabretooth hooks, or Gamakatsu Octopus hooks are slightly stronger hooks and won’t bend as easily and could be used for trout steelhead and salmon.

Heavy Float Fishing Hooks

For very large steelhead and salmon in big fast rivers, it’s best to consider a heavy wire float fishing hook like the Raven Wide Gape Specimen Hooks. These are the best float fishing hooks when using heavy leaders and for turning large salmon without breaking or bending the hook.

Make sure you use the right size of a leader when float fishing so you aren’t breaking off or the fish aren’t seeing the lines. Check out my page on Leaders and Leader Setups that I use.

Float Fishing Hook Color

Float Fishing Hook Color
The bronze Raven Sedge hook on the left and the black Raven Specialist hook on the right.

The best hooks for float fishing are the bronze hooks or the black nickel colored hooks.

Blacks and brown colors are naturally found in rivers and these hook colors are the most natural in the water and they don’t tend to spook fish and they don’t stand out like a beacon, like shinny or colored hooks do.

I try to avoid gold, silver, red, or colored hooks and I recommend that you do too.

Best Quality Hooks For Float Fishing And Sharpness

The best hooks for float fishing will be high quality hooks that are sharp.

Cheap hooks break, bend, or are just not sharp. This means you are more likely to lose your big fish or not hook the fish at all.

If you don’t want to lose that fish of a lifetime spend a little extra on a quality hook brand and not some cheap crappy hook that you found in a discount bin.

The brands I recommend in this article are all ones that I have used and ones that other guides and good anglers use. They are quality hooks, they are proven to work well, and they are worth the extra money.

What Are The Best Hooks For Float Fishing For Trout?

The right hook for trout means more fish
Using the right hook for trout will mean more in the net.

The best all-around float fishing hook for trout is the Daiichi 1150 or the Raven Specimen hook, or the Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks.

These are the best hook for float fishing for trout and are all you need for trout fishing.

I also like the Daiichi 1150 hook because it is thin and lightweight for those smaller trout baits and it allows the bait to move more naturally but is still strong enough to manage big trout.

I also like the Gamakatsu Octopus hooks or the Raven Specialist hook because of their wider gape which has the ability to hold onto the fish better. I use them in smaller sizes or when using bigger baits.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these float fishing hooks.

What Is The Best Hook Size For Trout?

Small hooks work for trout

Trout often eat small things so the best hook size for trout will depend on the bait that you want to use.

A good all-around hook size for trout would be a size 10 or 12.

You may need to change your hook depending on the size of your bait.

The best for float fishing if you are using a big dew worm or a large egg sack would be a size 8 hook so that there is still plenty of hook gap to hook the fish.

If you are using a smaller single egg or a maggot or an insect like a Stonefly nymph from the river or even a skinny garden worm you may want to downsize to a size 12 or even a size 14 hook so the fish don’t see the hook.

For more information on how and why to use certain hooks for trout fishing see my page Best Hook Size For Trout: A Guides Advice On trout Hook Size

What Is The Best Hook Size For Steelhead?

Float Hooks For Steelhead
Float hooks for steelhead need to be strong but also need to fit the size of the bait.

When fishing for steelhead we often use larger baits like egg sacks or even big dew worms so it makes sense to use a larger hook.

Use the size of hook that fits the bait because a hook that is too big for your bait looks unnatural and may prevent fish from biting.

The best hook size for steelhead and my go-to size for steelhead hooks is size 8 or size 10 in most water clarity.

In super clear water or when using single eggs or very small baits, I will drop down to a size 12 and a size 14 wide gap hook that is thick enough to not bend on big steelhead. The Daiichi 1150 is good for this.

If I am fishing bigger, faster, or deeper water with bigger baits a size 6 heavy gauge hook will help get the bait down and will not bend on big fish.

Remember, the hook is only one part of catching lots of trout, steelhead, and salmon below a float. For tips on how to catch more fish under a float go to my Float Fishing For Beginners page.

Something else you should consider is checking out my page How To Catch More Trout And Steelhead Guaranteed because it explains some possible reasons why some guys still don’t catch fish even with the right hook.

What Is The Best Hook For Salmon?

Hooks For Salmon
The best hooks for salmon will be extra strong and should match the bait, current, and depth of the river.

The best hooks for float fishing for salmon are ones with a wide gap and a heavy gauge wire like size 6 or size 8 Raven Specimen hooks.

I use the specimen hooks for almost all salmon fishing conditions.

Salmon are big and strong and make long runs and that requires stronger leaders. A stronger leader and a hard-pulling salmon could mean that you may bend or break some thinner wire hooks.

If you want an even stronger float fishing hook because you are fishing some big fast rivers like those out on the west coast, then you should consider the Daiichi X510 XPoint Salmon Steelhead Hooks.

If you are going to be fishing for steelhead and salmon you need a good float mainline. Check on my page on the Best Float Fishing Lines.

The Best Hooks For Single Eggs And Tiny Baits

There are times when a single egg on a hook will catch the most trout or steelhead. Even a maggot, a stonefly nymph, or a small grub can work well.

The problem is that single eggs are tiny and they crack, break or fall off the bigger hooks. The same thing can happen with other tiny baits.

The wrong hook on a single egg or a tiny bait will also stand out like a sore thumb and the fish might ignore it. So which hook is best for salmon eggs and other tiny baits?

The best hooks for float fishing with small single eggs or tiny baits are the size 14 Raven Sedge hooks because they are small and thin.

When fishing for bigger steelhead where I need a small but strong hook I like the size 14 Raven Specimen hooks for my single egg fishing or with tiny baits.

4 Best Hooks For Float Fishing

Other than the Daiichi 1150 hooks which is a great all-purpose hook when float fishing, these are my 4 recommended float fishing hooks that I use in all my guiding.

Raven Sedge Hook

The is my favorite hook when I need an extra light stealthy hook. Size 8 and 10 are my go-to sizes for steelhead.

Gamakatsu Octopus Hook

Another favorite wide gape hook for trout and steelhead. Size 8 and 10 are good sizes.

Raven Specialist Hook

This is a great trout and steelhead hook with a wide gape and a curved point to hold more fish. Size 8 and 10 are my best sizes.

Raven Specimen Hook

This is my go-to hook for big salmon and steelhead but I also use it for trout.

Best Storage Container For Hooks

Storage Box For Steelhead Hooks
The best storage box for Steelhead hooks, weights, float caps, and more.

If you are going to have a few different hooks to use under different situations it’s a good idea to have somewhere compact and organized to put them.

I use this Sheffield Turtle box for my hooks, split shots, float caps, and swivels. It comes in a square or oval and folds up nice.

I like this box because if you go to grab a hook and accidentally drop it the compartments are all closed except for one so you won’t lose everything

It also great because when folded up it fits in the palm of your hand and goes in almost any pocket.

Got a Question About The Best Hooks for Float Fishing

These are the best hooks for float fishing that I have been using and have tested over 20 years of guiding and they work great for me, my clients, and my friends. I know other guides that use these hooks too simply because they work.

If you have a great hook that has worked for you, or you have a question, let me know in the comments section below.

You might also like Steelhead Leaders: Best Float Leader And 2 Proven Setups

Tight Lines!



  1. Nice write up, out here on the west coast the flows are more powerful, we need to stop or turn a fish in a hurry sometimes, for that we need bigger stronger hooks.
    The largest steelhead I have caught was roughly 22lbs, I was using a #4 that day, I was lucky to get it in , usually I need at least 15-18lb mainline, 10-12lb leader with a #1 hook to land fish half that size.
    The water you fish dictates alot….

    Tight Lines !!!

    1. Thanks for the comment. I fully agree with you. The best hook should be a combination of the right size and shape for the bait you are using and be the right size for the leader you are using and for the amount of pressure you will need to apply to get that fish in. The type of water you fish and the type of fish in that water will dictate your leader size.

      For you, fishing in that big water with strong ocean-run steelhead, you will need a heavier leader and larger hooks.

      I have fished BC steelhead with 10lb leaders and some of the stronger size 4 and size 6 hooks with no problem.

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