How To:

How To Choose The Right Shark Hook!

Author: Landshark (Alumni)

Shark Fishing: Choosing the right hook.

(Click Here To See Other Shark Fishing Articles)

Whether you are a seasoned shark fisherman or just getting into the game, this article can benefit you. This article intends to help anglers understand how to choose the right shark hook based on 4 factors: 

1. Gap of hook

2. Wire Gauge of Hook

3. Bait Size 

4. Target Species of shark. 

Why Should You Use Circle Hooks For Shark Fishing?

We are huge proponents of circle hooks when it comes to shark fishing from land or shark fishing on a boat.

Our two main reasons for this include: 

1. Corner of mouth hook set vs gut hooking is more prevalent when fishing circles vs J hooks. Not only is this beneficial to the sharks survival, but also to you as an angler. Corner of mouth Hook set, allows for easier removal of the hook upon release and who doesn't like saving money on hooks! This, in turn, results in greater chance of survival for the shark - by reducing hook removal time, as well as preventing the chance of gut hooking (which can lead to severe damage). 

2. Throughout our many years of shark fishing, we can honestly say that we have never had a circle hook pull or rip out of a sharks mouth after they have been hooked! Since the probability of a corner of the mouth hook set is high with a circle, this results in a firm connection between you and the fish. A sharks jaw is a secure spot for a hook to sit in and the chance of it ripping is minimal. With J-hooks the hook point can get caught in almost any part of the shark, from the mouth to the stomach to the outside exterior, which may lead to foul hooked sharks and angry anglers! A foul hooked shark generally leads to a hook pulling out of the sharks exterior under high tension.

" We Are Huge Proponents Of Circle Hooks For Shark Fishing "

With the above mentioned this article will specifically be aimed at choosing Circle Hooks for Shark Fishing! Now lets dive into hook selection, starting with the Gap of the Hook.

1. Hook Gap: Let us start out by defining what we mean as the hook gap. (The distance between the hook point and the shank of the hook.)

For a circle hook to work effectively, based on its design it needs to have a wide enough gap to get caught in the corner of a sharks mouth. Sharks, in particular, have a very wide and meaty jaw that requires a hook with enough gap clearance to get an effective hookset. In theory, based on gap alone, the greater the gap of the hook, the higher incidence of a successful hookset you should observe, all other factors aside. Below are two pictures of two separate hooks, the black one an 18/0 LP and the silver a 20/0 Mustad circle, demonstrating how different hooks vary in gap sizes. 

Below is the 18/0 LP with a gap of just under 1 inch.


Below is the 20/0 Mustad with around 1.5 inch gap.


Notice the 20/0 Mustad has almost 1/2 inch more of gap clearance which could translate to higher hook up rates, especially with larger sharks with even wider mouths. 

Gap clearance comes with a price though. Notice that the Mustad and the LP both appear to have the same wire gauge thickness, but the mustad will be more prone to straightening due to the nature of the widened gap. The Gap in the mustard is already 1/2 in wider and in theory should be subject to bending/ straightnening out more than the LP, based on it's design. The LP hook point will have to travel a greater distance for the gap to become problematic and the risk of losing a shark due to straightening of the hook to occur. So keep in mind that two hooks with similar design and similar wire gauges, are not equal if there gap sizes are not of equal length. Generally speaking, the wider the gap in relation to  another hook of the same design, thickness, material, the increase in likelihood of losing a fish due to the hook bending out. 

2. Wire Gauge of Hook( Defined as the thickness of the hook):

When it comes to wire gauge, imagine a needle at the doctor's office. Most of us, if not all have been to the doctor and gotten a shot. The shots that didn't hurt, were the ones with a thin wire gauge needle as they pierced the skin easier and with less applied force. Those thick booster shot needles were a pain!! The same theory can be applied to hooks and sharks. As the thickness of the wire gauge of the hook increase, so does the force required to penetrate a sharks mouth. Even more so in the case of circle hooks which require lots of tension between the reel and the shark running in the opposite direction for an effective hookset to occur, based on the design and action of the circle hook. Although, as with the benefit of a wider gap a thinner wire gauge hook also comes with a price. If you take two needles of the same material, but of different gauges, the one with the thinner gauge will be easier to bend and will require less force to do so. The same will hold true for thinner wire gauge hook. 

Thus with this said, it is in your favor to fish the thinnest wire gauge hook possible to maximize hookups, but without sacrificing the integrity of a hook that won't bend. 

3. Bait Size:

(Check Out This Article On The 5 Best Shark Baits For Landbased Shark Fishing)

We often see that people do not match the size of their hook to the size of their bait. You might overlook this factor, and it might be causing you to miss hooksets. First of all matching your hook to the size of your bait, just looks like you know what you are doing and people will refrain from calling you a 'googan'. Lets face it, no one wants to be a 'googan'. Your hook should be big enough, with a wire gauge sufficient enough to support the weight of the bait. As seen in the video, if you try to hook a thin wire gauge small hook into a big bait such as a whole bonito, you will have to bury the hook into the bait to prevent it from ripping out. This is due to the fact that thinner wire gauge hook will rip out of a bait easier, just like the thin wire at the doctors office. To overcome it ripping out you will need to bury it in the bait and thus you are fishing ineffectively as the hook point should be exposed as much as possible outside your bait, for a circle hook to work properly. You want to hook your bait superficially (shallow enough) to where it will rip out when putting your real in gear, but not to shallow where your hook will just rip out on its own, from a sharks headshake or just sitting in the current. A thicker wire gauge hook will support the weight of the bait and can be hooked shallow enough to have maximum hook point exposure, without running the risk of your hook ripping out before a shark has a chance to eat it. Below are pictures demonstrating this.

The first pic a hook that is too small to support the weight of a big bait. To overcome this it would have to be buried deep under the skin and thus be ineffective as the hook point wouldn't be exposed.

too small of a hook for the bait

An appropriately sized hook for a larger bait, that can support the weight of the bait. 

just right size hook

On the other hand too small of a bait and too big of a hook can also be problematic. If your hook to bait ratio is too similar, then this can veer away sharks and look unappealing. Sharks may be voracious, but they are certainly not stupid and can get picky at times. Thus, having more bait in proportion to your hook will lead to success. A thinner wire gauge hook with a smaller bait, will support the weight of the bait and work in your favor as the thin wire will cut the through the bait easily and allow for the circle hook to do its thing. Keep in mind that you want your hook to rip out of your bait, but at the right moment. If you have a thick wire gauge large hook in a small bait, it will have difficulty ripping out as the proportions are off and there must be greater tension applied for it to rip out. Below are pictures demonstrating this.

hook demonstration

4. Targeted Shark and Hook size.

Last but not least, your hook size should be predominately dictated by the size of the shark you are after. If your hook is too small with not a wide enough gap, you may miss hook-sets, as your gap clearance may not be sufficient enough to penetrate a sharks jaw. On the flip side too large of a hook, may not fit in sharks mouth or may be too thick, for a smaller shark to produce enough tension to penetrate its mouth. Before I move one, let me add that i have caught large sharks on some rather small hooks and small sharks on rather large hooks. You cannot ever predict what will eat your bait and there is no one size hook fits all. 

Here is a guideline that I go by and that has worked for me.

For 6ft sharks and under. 6/0-10/0 sized hook. Perfect for sharks on the flats or surf casting off the beach. When fishing this size range i still like 2x-3x strong style hooks, no light wire nonsense. 

For 8ft sharks and over: 16/0-20/0 sized hook. This is the size range you will generally fish when you are targeting large hammerheads, bulls and tigers. I do not see the need for a hook larger than a 20/0. The majority of the largest land based sharks we have seen over the last decade have been on hooks 20/0 and smaller. 

Remember, the thickness of the wire gauge is crucial here as large sharks can generate an ungodly amount of force and tension which can leave your circle hook looking more like an arrow. 

Our 2 go to Big shark  hooks, which have helped  land 500b class bull sharks, countless blacktips and 3 hammerheads over the 12ft range are the 20/0 Mustad and the 18/0 LP.

Hooks from left to right. 6/0 Mustad Demon Circle, 18/0 LP and 20/0 Mustad below.

18/0 LP found here:

20/0 Mustad found here:

Our favorite hook for blacktips and other 6ft smaller sharks is the Mustad Demon Perfect Circle, link provided below. 6/0-10/0 range

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