Best Hook for Surf Fishing

Choosing a hook is an often overlooked decision, but it plays a big part in catching fish. We’ll talk about the main differences between hooks and help you choose the best hook for your surf fishing (also known as beach fishing) adventure.

Best hook size for surf fishing

Fishing hooks are measured numerically which is dictated by the distance of the gap between the shaft of the hook and the shank, which is generally known as the gape.

Fishing hooks sizes can be a bit confusing, so just remember this:

  • For hooks sizes (shown with a ‘#’), the hook get smaller as the size gets bigger.
  • For hooks using the ‘aught’ system (for example ‘5/0’), the hooks get bigger as the number gets bigger

The right hook for surf fishing depends on what bait you’re using and what species you’re targeting, but a size 5/0 hook is usually best for surf fishing.

Surf hook basics

There are numerous different hook designs and sizes available but before deciding on a size and pattern, the angler must take into consideration the bait and the species of fish that is going to be targeted.

For example, if the angler is looking to catch a striped bass with a small 4” live herring, lip hooking this bait on a size 2/0 hook would be a good choice. If the angler has decided to use fresh clams or cut bait, a larger hook somewhere in the 5/0 size would be a better choice as the baits are larger and a good amount of point protruding from the bait to ensure a good hook up is needed.

If the angler plans on targeting bone fish from the beach with either artificial lures or baits, although these fish can be caught to over 10lb in weight, hooks must be kept on the small size, around size 6, as this species has a small mouth.  Some hooks are designed to hold live baits such as small fish, others to carry baits such as worms or mussel and others that are designed to avoid deep hooking fish.

Parts of a hook

There are six main characteristics that make up a fishing hook which is the eye, shank, bend, barb, point and gape.


The eye is the point where the angler secures the hook to the mainline by using one of several types of knot. The eye can be straight, down turned or up turned.

Check out our Beginner's Guide to Surf Fishing


The shank of the hook is the part that runs from the eye down to where the hook starts to bend. Hook shanks are available in various lengths but, as a guide, the angler will often use a short shank hook when live baiting or using chunky dead baits and a long-shanked hook when using worm baits as these can be threaded up the shank for better presentation.


The bend is the curved part of the hook which starts at the bottom of the shank and curves round to form the shape of the hook.


After the bend of the hook comes the barb. This is a small triangular piece that is positioned on the hook just before the point. The idea of the barb is that once it has penetrated the mouth it is extremely difficult for the fish to shake the hook off. In recent times anglers have been using barbless hooks as these cause less damage to the fish when practicing catch and release.


After the barb comes the point. This is the most important part of the hook as this is what penetrates the mouth of the fish. It is vital that the point is kept extremely sharp because if the point gets blunt the chance of penetrating the mouth will be greatly reduced.


The final part of the hook that has a bearing on what type of bait or lure the angler plans on using is the gape, which is the gap between the point and the shank. Hooks with larger gapes are generally used by anglers using bulky baits as it is important to ensure the hook point is visible and not obscured by the bait.

Circle hooks

In recent times a lot of anglers have started to practice catch and release, either because they are considerate of conservation or they are targeting protected species. With this in mind, a common style of hook that has become popular is the circle hook.

This is manufactured so that the hook point is turned inwards towards the shank which greatly reduces the possibility of deep hooking a fish. This increases fish survival rates considerably.

When using a circle hook, the bait should only be hooked lightly so that the hook point is exposed which will maximise the hook up rate and when it comes to setting the hook there is no need to strike. Steady pressure should be applied and the hook will set inside the mouth.

Best Brands

Although there are numerous hook brands on the market, it is always advisable to purchase hooks from leading brands such as Gamakatsu, VMC, Mustad, Eagle Claw or Owner as these premier manufacturers only use quality materials and have a thorough quality control.


Q. What is a baitholder hook?

A. This style of hook has tiny barbs on the shank which is designed to hold baits in place that have been threaded up the hook such as worms.

Q. My hook point has gone blunt. Should the hook be thrown away?

A. Never use a hook that has lost its sharpness. Tools are available to sharpen hooks but failing that, disregard the hook safely and tie a new one on.

Q. I want to start using barbless hooks, so do I need to get rid of my barbed hooks and buy the barbless kind?

A. No. Simply use a pair of pliers and squash the barbs down.

Q.What line should I use with these hooks?

A. A braided line in the 35lb range works best for most surf fishing scenarios. For more on that, see our guide to choosing the best line for surf fishing.