Fishing Hook Anatomy 101

Know Your Anatomy

Fishing Hook Anatomy
A fishing hook is made up of six different parts.

Sometimes, it can be hard to choose the perfect hook. There are many hook sizes, styles, and shapes on the market for both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

At, we’re here to make the decision a little easier. Let’s start with the anatomy of a hook. Knowing the parts of a hook is key to picking the one that’s going to catch you the most fish. There are six basic parts to a fishing hook: the eye, the shank, the gap (also sometimes called a ‘gape’), the throat, the point, and the barb.


The Hook Eye

Fishing Hook Eye Types
Different types of fishing hook eyes.

The eye is situated at the very top of the hook. This is where the line is tied. Depending on the type of hook that you have, the eye will either be open or closed. A closed eye is welded directly to the shank. An open eye is simply bent into place, which allows for easier removal from the line. If your hook has a straight eye, it lines up perfectly in line with the shank. Turned up and turned down eyes are determined by the way that the eye is turned. A turned up eye is bent or “turned” upwards and away from the hook. A turned down eye is bent downwards toward the hook point.

The hook eye may also be identified as having a certain type of shape. These shapes include looped, ringed, tapered, and needle. The looped, ringed, and tapered eye shapes are all considered to be open eye varieties. Looped (or loop) eyes are oval in shape with a form that extends alongside the shank and continues depending on the direction that the bend is facing. The ringed eye is the most common. It is round in shape and can be applied to many different fishing applications. The tapered eye is thinner than the ringed eye and is perfect for dry fly fishing.

The Hook Shank

The shank is the straight portion of your hook. It extends from the eye down to the first bend where the curve of the hook starts. The length of the shank will help determine the weight of the hook and the distance from the eye to the hook point. This distance is important in determining what size bait you’re going to be using.

The Hook Gap

The gap of a hook is the horizontal distance between the shank and the eye. Hooks with narrow gaps are generally used for live bait fishing because they do less damage to the bait while hooks with wide gaps are generally good for larger baits.

The Hook Throat

Equally as important as the gap is the hook throat. This is the vertical distance measured from the point to the bottom of the curve of the hook. Knowing the size of the throat is important because it can help you to determine how deep a hook is going to go when a fish bites down.

The Hook Point

Fishing Hook Point Types
Different types of fishing hook points.

The point of a hook is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the pointy end that pierces your bait and goes into the mouth of your catch. There are many different types hook points from spear points to knife edges. Longer hook points take longer to penetrate the fish’s mouth.

Hook points are generally named so because of their appearance, design, or function. A needle point has tapered, round sides that give it the appearance of being needle-shaped. Needle points are some of the most common hook points. Spear points are shaped to have spear-like angles. The point is aligned from its tip to its barb. Rolled in hooks reduce hook set pressure. The aligned point directly faces the hook eye. This allows fish to thrash and move around without hurting the line. Hollow points have a cut from the base of the tip. They are perfect for crappies and other soft mouthed fish. A knife edge point has two flat sides that come together to form a single edge that is easy to sharpen and is quick to penetrate.

The Hook Barb

The barb of a hook is a piece of steel that is created by notching the hook. It holds bait in place and keeps the hook from sliding out of the fish’s mouth after it bites down. Bait hooks may have several barbs going up the shank. While many hooks have shanks on them, some freshwater hooks (and a few select saltwater ones as well) do not have barbs. These are generally used for catch and release fishing.

A Note on Hook Sizes

The size of a hook doesn’t exactly fall under the umbrella term of “hook anatomy,” but it is something that you should know when deciding on what to use or buy. A good rule of thumb to go by is “the bigger the number, the smaller the hook size.” A size 12 hook will be tiny and a size 1 hook is about average size. Hooks that are larger than a 1 will have a /0 next to them. This is called an “aught.” Hooks with aught sizes will follow standard sizing with 1/0 being a median hook size proceeding all the way up to 20/0, which is big enough for catching sharks.

Ready to Buy? has an extensive catalog of fishing hooks available for purchase. Check out our store page on Fishing Hooks to view and purchase products from our selection.

If you’re looking for even more information about fishing hooks, read through our next article – Fishing Hook Types.

One thought on “Fishing Hook Anatomy 101

  1. Pingback: Catch-And-Release Fish Handling – Live to Fish Blog

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