11 Best Hooks For Trout That Trout Guides Use
River fishing guides know that some trout hooks will hook and hold fish better than others which is why guides like me are very picky when it comes to choosing the best hooks for trout fishing. I also know that I need to change the type of trout hook and the size of the hook for different baits and in different situations. I know that by not changing my hook my clients won’t catch as many trout.
But don’t worry, 1 or 2 good trout hooks that the guides use are all you really need.
You might be very surprised to learn that most of the top trout guides don’t use the hooks commonly recommended online. I know this for a fact since I work with multiple guides and I have used guides all over North America.
If you are using the wrong hook, you are missing fish, and I’ll prove it.
I will discuss the 11 best hooks for trout fishing and why I use them, and show you which popular trout hooks you should not use.
What Are The Best Hooks For Trout?
The best hooks for trout need to be strong, and have the right shape and a gap that both hooks and holds fish well.
A trout hook also needs to be the right size for the bait and the fish.
These are my 4 best hooks for trout :
- Raven Sedge hook – My best trout hook when a stealthy presentation is required.
- Raven Specimen hook – My favorite and best all-purpose trout hook for all baits.
- Daiichi egg hook – A good trout hook for spawn bags and other baits.
I sometimes guide 200 to 300 anglers a year and I’ve had the opportunity to test out a lot of different hooks.
I’ve also worked with many other guides and compared notes on the best trout hooks.
You will hear me and other guides swear that some hooks just miss fish, or the fish won’t stay hooked long.
Of course, losing fish or missing fish is bad if you’re a guide because you want to put the most fish in the net for your clients.
What Happens If You Use The Wrong Hooks?
The simple answer is that if you use the wrong hook for trout, you may get bites but you will either not hook them after they bite, or they will come off the hook much easier. The wrong hook can even prevent the trout from biting.
If you want proof, watch this 6-minute video from an average angler showing underwater footage of him trying multiple baits in a well-stocked trout waters.
Over and over again, trout grab his baits but they don’t get hooked.
You can hear him even say, “I don’t know how this fish didn’t get hooked” when you can see the trout take the entire bait in their mouths.
As a guide, I know exactly how those fish didn’t get hooked, the primary reason is simply a bad hook.
Having a bad hook in a stocked pond with this many fish is ok because you’re still likely to catch a fish or two, but using a proven hook could mean the difference between hooking and landing 70% of the trout versus using a bad hook and only catching 25% of the trout that bite.
And when you’re on a river with wild trout and you may only get a bite or two a day, so you do not want trout grabbing your bait and you missing them. This is why guides are so selective about trout hooks.
But, there is more to just using the right type of hook.
Hook Size Is Important
I use different-sized hooks for different sizes of bait and for different sizes of fish. I will also choose my hook size based on the water clarity and the water velocity.
I find that all my guide friends use the same size hooks that I do and most of the time it’s a size 10 or 12 hooks when trout fishing.
Are Larger Trout Hooks Better?
Larger hooks tend to hold fish better, so in dirtier water or in faster water I will usually upsize my hook by one or two sizes.
The downside to using a larger hook is that if you use a large hook on a small bait in gin-clear water the trout will see the hook and they will be less likely to eat your bait.
Your hook could be one of the best hooks for trout but if the trout see it then it’s useless.
Are Smaller Trout Hooks Better?
I will often downsize my hook in gin-clear water, and in slower water when the trout have plenty of time to inspect the bait. I also go with a smaller hook when I’m using a very small bait.
However, if you use a hook that is too small for the bait, the hook point might be obstructed by the bait or the gap of the hook might be filled with the bait and you won’t get a good hook penetration.
When picking the best hook for trout and the best hook size for trout, just use common sense.
If I had to choose between a hook too big or a hook too small I’d go with a hook too small.
A tiny little hook on a giant bait might not be the best option since the small hook will get lots of bites, you will just lose more trout. However, a giant hook on a tiny bait will mean few if any trout will even bite your bait and you won’t have the problem of losing them anyways.
Matching your trout hooks shape and size to your bait is critical if you want to catch more trout.
If you want more details on hook size, check out my page, Best Hook Size For Trout: A Guides Advice On Trout Hook Size
Hook Gap Matters
The gap between the hook point and the hook shank is important because a gap that is too small or too big won’t hook the fish as well.
Most good anglers and river guides that I know use similar hooks simply because these are the hooks that will hook and hold more fish for them and their clients.
I have experimented with dozens of hooks over the last 30 years and have received feedback and advice from other river guides on which hooks tend to hold the best.
I have determined that shorter shank hooks like the Raven Specimen hook or the Gamakatsu Octopus hook with a semi-wide gap work the best.
Some hooks are thicker than others and this means they are better for bigger fish but I will use both thin and thick hooks for different reasons.
Thin hooks like the Raven Sedge hook or the Daiichi 1150 hook have the benefit of weighing less and they are less likely to be seen by the fish. A hook that weighs less will allow the bait to flow through the current more naturally, which is a good thing.
The downside to thin hooks when using heavy leaders on big fish is that the hook can bend before the line breaks. However, my clients and I have landed plenty of 10-pound steelhead on thin hooks like the Raven Sedge hook and the Daiichi 1150 hook.
Thicker hooks like the Gamakatsu Octopus hook or the Raven Specimen hook are better hooks when fishing for bigger fish in faster water with heavy leaders. These hooks are less likely to bend and lose a fish.
The downside to thicker hooks is that they weigh your bait down which could drag it across the bottom too much and a bait that is dragging on the bottom is less likely to be seen by the fish and are more likely to snag up.
The other downside is that thicker hooks are more likely to be seen by the fish.
I personally like thinner hooks for the benefit of not being seen and allowing your boat to move more freely. I believe this allows you to get more bites and I simply play the fish a little longer so I don`t bend the hook.
I also tend to use lighter leaders than other anglers which also allows me to get more bites and I never bend hooks with light leaders because the leader will break before the hook bends.
Not sure what leader to use, check out my page What Pound Test Leader For Trout
Hook shape does matter and there are all kinds of hook shapes available.
The best-shaped hooks that tend to get a better hook set and that tend to hold onto the fish better are the short shank wide gap hooks like the Gamakatsu Octopus hook, Raven Specimen hook, or the Raven Specialist hook.
One of the most popular trout hooks used by beginner and average anglers is the traditional bait holder hook like the one seen in the picture.
I do not recommend bait holder hooks like the Gamakatsu hook in the picture for trout. In fact, I don’t know any guides that use these and there is a reason for this.
They might hold the bait well, but the reason guide DO NOT use these hooks is that they simply do not work as well as other hooks.
On both large and small trout I have found that the hook shape and gap do not hook as well as other hooks. I also find due to the length of the shank that trout seem to come off easier.
I would not even use this hook if I was given a lifetime supply for free. They SUCK! The sad reality is this hook is still being recommended by many other websites.
Save this style of hook for the kids off the dock while fishing with a bobber and a worm, and use a more effective trout hook.
There are different hook points and sharpness and this is something you should consider.
Some of the cheaper hook brands won’t be as sharp or as strong as the more reputable brands. A weak hook point can bend or break off easier if it hits rocks but I find high-quality hooks won’t bend or break as easily.
The hook point curve is something else to consider. A slight curve at the point has the potential to hold onto fish a little bit better than a perfectly straight point.
A hook point with too much of a bend could affect your hook set and may not penetrate as well, and therefore a hook point bend like those found on circle hooks are not good for trout hooks unless you are using a still fishing method and you want to hook to set itself.
I believe in letting the bait attract the fish and not the hook so I don’t like red hooks, or gold hooks, or silver hooks for trout. The best trout hooks are either bronze or black.
Bronze or black hooks look more like debris that might be found drifting in the river and they are less likely to be seen as a threat to wary trout.
Most expert anglers and guides that I know use bronze or black hooks.
The Best Hook For Trout – The Best One
There are a bunch of good hooks to consider and I will discuss them all below but if you want just one hook that has good hook penetration, good holding ability, and is strong then you should consider the Raven Specimen hook in size 8 to 14.
The Top 11 Best Trout Hooks
If I had to pick only two hooks to use for trout I would use the Daiichi 1150 hook as my low-profile thin hook in clear water with nervous trout or with smaller baits and it would work great for steelhead too.
The other hook I would use when I need a bigger more durable hook and one for bigger baits and bigger fish would be the Raven Specimen hook.
There are plenty of other popular and great hooks that other guys would use which I discuss below.
1. Raven Wide Gape Specimen Hooks
The Raven Specimen hook is a hook that is growing in popularity and it`s one that many guides are using now including myself.
The raven Specimen Hook is strong, it penetrates well, and it holds well.
I would consider this to be a strong and medium-thick hook so it would be a good all-purpose hook.
The straight hook eye on this tends to help it stay in place on spawn bags and to also sit more straight up and down in the water. Because of the straight eye, this is not a good hook for guys that like to use a snell knot.
It’s a great hook for trout, steelhead, and salmon and can be used with any bait. I use sizes 10 and 12 the most when trout fishing.
If you are not sure about which trout bait is best, check out my page Best Trout Bait – The Only 5 Baits You Will Ever Need
2. Daiichi 1150 Heavy Wide-Gape Hook
The Daiichi 1150 hook is a very popular hook and when I owned my tackle store this was the best selling hook for the hardcore steelhead guys. It`s a lighter hook but it hooks the fish well and holds the fish well.
This is one of my favorite hooks when I need a lighter weight low profile hook and I highly recommend it.
I like this hook for most baits but if I’m using a large bait that requires a larger gap I will switch to the Raven Specimen or the Gamakatsu Octopus hook.
3. Raven Sedge Hook
The Raven Sedge hook is very similar to the Daiichi 1150 hook and this is a hook that I use a lot simply because it works well when I need a very low profile hook.
If you are looking for a lightweight hook for small baits this is a good option.
I will use this hook for trout in gin clear water but I have probably landed a couple thousand great Lake’s steelhead on this hook over the last 10 years.
The Raven Sedge Hook on the left and the raven Specialist hook on the right are popular hooks around the great lakes for trout and steelhead.
4. Raven Specialist Hooks
If you want to see one of the most popular hooks with steelhead anglers around the great lake and a hook that is one of the best hooks for trout, check out the Raven Specialist hook.
I have caught lots of steelhead and trout on this hook and will continue to use it.
The Raven Specialist hook only comes in black nickel but it’s sharp and holds well. Its wide gap is good for bigger baits and bigger fish.
5. Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks
The Gamakatsu Octopus hook is one of the best trout hooks and just because it is number 5 on the list doesn’t mean this isn’t the best hook for some guys.
The Gamakatsu Octopus hook is another sharp wide gap hook that would be great for trout and steelhead.
One of the benefits of this hook is that it’s the best hook for guys that like to use a snell knot or a loop snell for using yarn.
This is a popular hook and is a good choice for trout and for use with any bait.
I have even used this hook to tie Glo bug flies, also known as egg flies and I highly recommend this hook.
6. Daiichi D19Z Wide Gap Octopus Hooks
The Daiichi D19Z Octopus hook is similar to the Gamakatsu Octopus hooks and a great choice for a trout hook. I know guides that use this hook for trout and steelhead because it works well.
7. Redwing Tackle Blackbird Sabretooth Premium Hook
The Blackbird Sabertooth Premium Hook is a popular hook around the great lakes region with steelhead anglers but it’s also a good hook for trout fishing.
It’s strong and holds well and is a good all-around type of hook.
You can not go wrong with this hook in sizes 10 to 12.
8. Daiichi X510 XPoint Salmon Steelhead Hooks
The Daiichi X510 hook is a great hook if you want a super-strong hook for very big trout, steelhead, or salmon on fast flowing rivers this is as good as it gets.
I only use this hook when I need an extra-strong hook for west coast steelhead and salmon.
I have also used this on great lakes salmon with good success.
9. Owner SSW Cutting Point Hooks
A few of my guide buddies and friends like this hook so I added it to the list. I have seen this hook in action as I stood beside those guys and saw how well this hook held up and kept the fish on.
This would be a good hook for trout and steelhead anglers.
10. Daiichi Egg Hook
The Daiichi Egg Hook is a great all-around hook and it would be a great hook for guys that just want 1 hook and for guys that like to use the snell knot.
Although it says it’s an egg hook this hook is great for all other trout baits and it can be used with any bait.
11. Gamakatsu Single Egg Hooks
Gamakatsu has always been known as a super sharp quality hook and the Gamakatsu Single Egg hook is another good hook for any bait.
I like and only use the bronze color and don`t use the red or gold colors at all.
An added benefit to this hook is the barb on the outside of the hook shank which is good for holding onto single eggs and spawn bags as well as other baits.
The downside to this hook is that it only comes in red or gold which are two colors I Prefer not to use.
This article is part of a series starting with our very popular article Trout Fishing: A Complete Guide.
Got A Question About Hooks For Trout
If you have a question, comment or a tip about hooks for trout let us know in the comments below.
i wonder why some hooks have upturned eye with 45degree(gamakatsu octopus) and why the ravens have a 20 degree upturned eye, i feel like the 20 degree hooks eye get in the way of the snelled line, where as the 45 degree on the octopus hooks allow the snelled line to flow straight from the shank up through the eye. why do hook companies make 20 degree hooks? is it so its a half way measure so guys can snell it or tie direct to eye? i cant think of any other reason and this is why i prefer the 45 degree hooks over the 20 degree, since i like tying an egg loop knot for yarn and what not
Good observation Dean and I appreciate the input, the 45-degree hook eye is definitely better for a snell knot. The hook that most guys choose is often just personal preference and some anglers will swear one works better than others, sometimes they are right, and sometimes they are wrong. Some anglers even prefer a straight eye. I had a discussion in the store one day with a guy that swore up and down that one hook was better than another hook from another brand that was slightly cheaper but the same shape. He was so convinced that even when I told him that both hooks were identical and made in the same factory by the same company he still thought the one hook was better. Again, some guys simply prefer one hook over another with no actual hooking or holding difference and if that is the case I say fish the one you have the most confidence in. Good luck,
Why is it that you don’t recommend bait hooks? Is it the length of the shank?
Many anglers and guides that I have talked to feel the extra length is an issue.
The fish can see it easier if the bait slides down.
Also, some guides and anglers I know, myself included, feel that the shape of the hook is not great for hooking the fish, and it might also cause a leverage effect when the fish twist that helps the trout pry the hook out.
In my opinion, generally, a short shank wide gape hook will hook and hold fish better.
I don’t know any guides and top anglers that use baitholder hooks, so that says something about that hook!