Catfishing hooks are a subject of great debate among catfishermen. Everyone seems to have their personal favorite. There are many “catfish” hooks that are great for catfishing but, there is also a vast number of not so cleverly named hooks that work just as well. Read on to find out what other catmen use to catch catfish big and small.
Anatomy of a hook
The above illustration shows all of the parts of a fishing hook. This will help with the explanations of each hook type below.
J hooks. are the old tried and true hook for catfishing and has been used to catch about every species of fish on the planet. Just about every catfisherman started out using this design before they switched to hooks with more of a specific purpose. J hooks are the most basic of all the catfishing hooks and, like the name implies, they are shaped like a “J”. They are available in sizes ranging from tiny to ridiculously huge, with or without an off set eye, and wide or narrow gapped. J hooks are still very popular for large live baits and cut baits. When hooking into a catfish with a j hook it is necessary to “set the hook” to be sure the the fish cannot throw the hook.
Kahle hooks are easy to recognize due to their peculiar bend. They are one of the most used styles of hooks for catfishing. There are a few slight differences depending on brand and model but most are very similar. Kahles have a medium length shank, long sweeping bend, with the point directed at the eye of the hook and are available with or without offset eyes. This large gap is favored by catmen using large cut baits because it allows room to hook large baits without obstructing the point(which can result in missed fish). Kahles are often used with chicken, beef, or turkey livers also. For large live baits the kahle has one major downfall. When live baits are hit by feeding fish the hook can turn and bury itself into the side of the bait making a hook set impossible. The possibility of this happening can be lessened by making sure not hooking the bait to deeply. Be sure to look for our upcoming article on how to properly hook live baits. This hook, like the J hook, can be “set” or the fish can be allowed to run until the rod has “loaded” and the hook will often set itself. Kahles are considered to be the best of both worlds in regard to circles and j hooks.
Circle hooks have been used for many years by trophy saltwater fishermen and are becoming more and more popular with the catfishing crowd. The circle hook’s unique shape allows it to only hook onto an exposed surface, typically the corner of the fish’s mouth. The fish takes the bait and as the hook is reeled in, it is safely pulled out of the fish until it reaches the mouth resulting in fewer gut-hooked fish. Circle hooks work great for cut and live baits, as well as worms, livers and nearly all other baits. As with kahles, if a bait is hooked too deep with a circle hook, there is a chance that the point can become buried in the bait resulting in missed fish. Due to the shape of the hook you never want to “set” the hook with circles. Most of the time if you attempt to set the hook you will pull it from the fish’s mouth. Simply let them run a bit and slowly reel in gently, this will pull the hook to the corner of the fish’s mouth and it will set itself.
Treble hooks are also commonly used for catfishing and are often found on stink-bait holders. They have a single shank and, like the name implies, three hook points. They work well for softer baits such as liver because they offer three times the hooking surface. These hooks can be set but, they will often hook themselves. Many catfishermen, myself included, do not use trebles because catfish have a tendency to swallow them deeply injuring or possibly killing the fish. They are definitely not recommended for catch and release fishing.
All of these hooks will work great for catfishing but, be sure to look for an upcoming article covering all of our favorite catfishing hooks and their uses. Please subscribe to our newsletter to recieve updates and special offers!