River guides use specific hooks for different reasons and they are often very picky when it comes to the best hooks for float fishing. Some float fishing hooks will hook and hold the fish better and they work well with certain baits better.
I will discuss the hooks that river guides consider the best hooks for float fishing and will include sizes and 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. Great float fishing hooks 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.
You can’t go wrong with those 2 hooks as long as you use the right sizes at the right times.
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.
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Hooks 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 hooks 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 size 2 to 4 or the Gamakatsu Octopus hook in size 1 to 4.
For much smaller baits, I would use a size 4 or 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 0 to size 2.
I will change the size of the hook for the different reasons which I mention below.
Best Float Fishing Hook Shape
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 fewer 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.
Also, you should be sure that the hook point and gap is wide enough for the best hook penetration.
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 a good float fishing hook this is something that is important.
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.
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
The size of your float hook is very important when considering goof float fishing hooks.
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.
I also recommend using the right size hook for the size of the fish which means you can get away with smaller hooks for trout, but those same hooks may not work for big salmon or steelhead.
Below I will discuss hooks for each species because you can go too small and you can go too big.
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, 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
The best hooks are bronze hooks or 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 float fishing hooks 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?
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?
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?
When fishing for steelhead we often use larger baits like egg sacks or even big dew worms, or shrimp, so it makes sense to use a larger hook.
In my opinion, I always suggest you use the size of hook that fits the bait! A hook that is too big for your bait looks unnatural and may prevent fish from biting and a hook that is too small won’t hook or hold the fish well.
You may also need to use a hook suitable for the size of the fish.
Great Lakes Steelhead Hook SIze: The best hook size for great lakes steelhead and my go-to size for steelhead hooks is size 8 or size 10 which works well 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 wide hook that is thick enough not to bend on big steelhead.
The Daiichi 1150 or Raven Sedge hook is good for subtle presentations and small baits as seen in the image.
West Coast Steelhead Hook Size: For bigger steelhead, bigger baits, and bigger, faster, or deeper water a size 4 or size 6 heavy gauge hook will help get the bait down and will not bend on big fish. Again, use the hook that fits the bait! So even for West Coast Steelhead, a very small bait in very clear water might require a small size 8 or 10 hook.
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?
Similar to steelhead I still recommend using a hook size that matches the bait size, but, with salmon, you will need to use a stronger hook to be sure you don’t bend or break the hook.
Best Hooks For Great Lakes Salmon
The best salmon hooks for great lakes 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 around the great lakes region.
Salmon are big and strong and make long runs and that requires stronger leaders as well. A stronger leader and a hard-pulling salmon could mean that you might bend or break some of the thinner wire hooks. Cheap hooks suck, so don’t use them!
Best Hooks For West Coast Salmon
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.
This hook is one of the strongest Salmon hooks that I have used, and it won’t break or bend.
You can use this hook with any bait including beads and single eggs.
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 12 -14 Raven Sedge hooks or the Daiichi 1150 hooks because they are small and thin.
These are great lakes hooks and you still need to loosen your drag with these or you may bend the hook.
When fishing for bigger steelhead where I need a small but strong hook I like the size 12 Raven Specimen hooks or the Daiichi X510 XPoint Salmon Steelhead Hooks for my single egg fishing or with tiny baits.
Both of these hooks are extra strong and are good for bigger salmon and steelhead.
Best Storage Container For Hooks
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 Pocket Box for my hooks, split shots, float caps, and swivels. It comes in a square or oval shape and folds up nicely.
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 is 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.