Why smaller hooks catch bigger fish

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Even when fishing for larger, trophy fish, sometimes it is much better to use a smaller hook, in the #24 or higher range (hooks get smaller the larger the number), as many fish will be caught on the tip of the hook, and the larger hooks would just tear the larger fish’s mouth, leaving the fish loose and hurt, and your line loose, and your feelings hurt.  Many sport fish have very good eyesight, and can easily see the thicker fishing lines and bigger hooks, and avoid them as unknown, and therefore, not a part of their diet.

Sport fishing is a multi-Billion dollar industry, and, each year, fishing supply companies come up with newer and better designed lures for sport fishermen to catch fish with. If you were to look closely at the majority of lures on the store shelves and Internet sites, you may notice that most of them have smaller hooks, with only a few, bigger lures having the larger hooks. There are more than one reason for this, and the most basic is that fish eat smaller fish, the ones that easily fit in their mouths.  The bigger fish can also more easily take the entire small hook into it’s mouth, where the bigger hook may not even fit into it’s mouth, and the fisherman loses a good strike.

Bigger fish have slowed down over their long and rather lucky lives, and, as they have slowed, they have realized that going after bigger food, like larger fish, is useless for them. The bigger fish then start to swim below larger schools of smaller bait fish, and pick off the smaller, slower, and weaker of the bait fish. Following this trend, the fishermen troll or slowly retrieve smaller bait minnows and worms on small hooks, at slower speeds, about 15 to 25 feet down in a 60-100 foot deep lake. This is below where the smaller bait fish congregate in the majority of lakes of that depth. In shallower lakes, try fishing about 10 to 20 feet below the surface, and increase the depth by 10 feet every half hour or so, until you start getting consistent strikes.

For conservationist reasons, smaller hooks are better used so that they do not injure the bigger fish when the lure/bait is ripped from it’s mouth by an over-zealous fisherman trying to set the hook. Smaller hooks will disintegrate faster, allowing larger fish to not be ill-effected by swallowing a few of them, as they disintegrate fairly quickly.  And, if the fish swallowed the hook, the act of pulling too hard on the rod to set the hook could kill the fish if using large hooks. Using smaller hooks, the fish face much less of a chance of being injured by taking a bite out of the offered bait.

Smaller hooks can be used in tandem as well, using 2 or 3 in a row, set closely together, so that they hold a worm or minnow, to look like it is swimming and injured. The larger hooks, again, will tear the worms and minnows, and cause them to become ineffective as bait for the smarter trout or salmon.

There are a few accepted, and a few mythical reasons why smaller hooks catch bigger fish. Most of the accepted reasons center around the bigger fish not seeing the hook, nor seeing the line since the smaller hooks are used with thinner line. Also, the bigger fish are more likely to swallow the smaller hooks, where they would spit out the larger ones as soon as they tasted the steel.

Mythical reasons include the bigger fish being more lazy as they grow older, and they only go after smaller, injured bait fish. The bigger fish also have gone through being almost caught a few times, and possibly caught and released, and have instilled a fear of the metal and the thicker line associated with larger hooks.

Fish on!


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