Best Hooks for Bass Fishing
By: Shaye Baker
There is a seemingly endless assortment of bass fishing hooks on the market today, but you can break them down into 5 main categories: worm hooks, extra wide gap (EWG) hooks, straight shank hooks, jig heads and treble hooks. Sure, this list doesn’t cover everything, but it will give you a good grasp on a wide range of popular hooks used for bass fishing.
What I consider to be the gold standard, the worm hook is likely the oldest style and most commonly used bass fishing hook to this day. It’s great for rigging weightless Flukes and trick worms as well as fishing with Texas and Carolina rigs. A very versatile hook with a great hookup ratio, the worm hook lends itself to dozens of techniques.
You can readily identify a traditional worm hook through a couple of key characteristics. There’s a round bend to the hook as it makes its way down the shaft and back up towards the barb and hook point. And up near the eye of the hook, you’ll always see a couple of sharp angles used to create a resting place for the soft plastic. This step in the shaft helps keep the nose of the bait from sliding down the hook.
Extra Wide Gap (EWG)
Similar to a worm hook, an Extra Wide Gap or EWG hook has a sharp step near the eye intended to help keep a soft plastic bait from slipping down the hook. There’s also a fairly round bend to this hook as you make your way around to the point. But where the two hooks differ is in the size of the ‘gap’ of the hook. The gap refers to the distance between the hook point and the hook shaft. And an EWG hook obviously derives its name from its extra wide gap.
This hook works well with a lot of the same baits you’d fish a traditional worm hook with. Flukes, trick worms and a whole host of other lures will work on both of these hooks. But the EWG sets itself apart from a normal worm hook when you start looking at baits made with more material.
There’s not a lot of plastic for a hook to tear through when using a trick worm. And you don’t have to worry about a thin bait like that balling up in the gap of a hook preventing a good hookset. But for meatier, soft swimbaits, tubes and other baits with more plastic to fill the gap, an EWG does a great job of collecting that material while still getting the point across to the fish (so to speak).
Straight shank hooks typically have a round bend, a straight shank and some sort of bait keeper incorporated just below the eye. A straight shank can be used for several of the same presentations you would use an EWG or worm hook for. Though the main technique it’s associated with is flipping.
Whether punching mats or flipping sparser cover, most anglers opt for a straight shank hook. Of those flippers and punchers, the vast majority tie a straight shank hook on with a snell knot. Using a snell knot with a straight shank hook creates a pivot point at the eye of the hook that drives the point up and into the roof or jaw of a fish’s mouth. Smaller straight shank hooks, however, are often used for finesse techniques like dropshots and whacky rigs without incorporating a snell knot.
Jig heads encompass all single hooks with lead, tungsten or some other type of weight molded onto the shaft. This category includes all shaky heads, Ned heads, swimbait heads and even weighted wacky rig hooks like the Flick Shake. Jig heads give anglers an option when they want to fish with a soft plastic bait down below the surface or even all the way to the bottom.
When selecting a jig head for bass fishing, you’ll find you have a lot of options. There are shaky heads that incorporate all the aforementioned hook styles: EWG, worm hook and straight shank. Using a jig head, you can rig a bait weedless or with an exposed hook. You can even use the same hook to do both without retying. For instance, with a shaky head, you can fish a trick worm along the bottom rigged weedless for a while, pull the trick worm off and then run a small swimbait up the hook shaft to fish for suspended fish with the hook exposed.
Treble hooks consist of three hooks welded together at the shaft so that all three hooks bend out in different directions. These hooks are most commonly used on hard baits such as crankbaits, lipless cranks and a whole host of topwaters. However, there are several ways to incorporate treble hooks into soft plastic presentations as well.
The real added advantage to using treble hooks is that you up your odds of connecting with fish, especially when they’re slapping at baits instead of really eating them. Treble hooks convert a lot of bites into hookups that we would just miss out on if we were trying to use single hooks in place of them.
Knowing the strengths and limitations of worm hooks, EWGs and straight shank hooks make us far more effective on the water. Opting for a jig head in the right situation opens up the whole water column for us to fish. And when we incorporate treble hooks when the bait or bite requires it, we find pretty quickly by putting all of this into practice that the big wide world of hook selection isn’t nearly as intimidating or confusing as we once thought.