For the past several issues of the River Hills Traveler I have written about bait shops, their owners and the types of bait and equipment that they carry for their customers.
I have described the most common bait minnows and what fish species that they will attract.
Another important piece of equipment for the fisherman who uses live bait is the fish hook. This little piece of metal is the centerpiece for a successful fishing experience.
If tied to the fishing line properly it will hold and present your bait in a way that will entice a fish to bite and when they do bite, it will hook (pin) the fish.
There are literally hundreds of different types of fish hooks but for this article I will discuss some of the very basic hooks to use for live bait when fishing in the local lakes, rivers and streams.
There are four basic items to think about when selecting fish hooks — the size, shank length, eye type and hook style. Size is determined by a number that reflects the size of the hook’s gap, which is the distance between the point and the inside of the shank.
Shank length is designated as extra-short, short, standard, long and extra-long. The length you need depends mainly on the size and shape of your bait. A long-shank would work well for grasshoppers, crickets or a glob of worms.
Eye types include a straight-eye hook, turned-up eye hook and a turned-down eye hook. Most fishermen prefer the straight-eye hook. There are many styles of hooks, including the round bend, Aberdeen, baitholders, circle hooks, Kahle hooks and the Carlisle hook.
To help in selecting the proper hook and other appropriate equipment, consult the bait shop owner. He or she will have the experience and knowledge to guide you in the selections of bait and the tackle that goes with it. He or she wants you to have a fun and successful experience when you go fishing.
I have listed five popular hook types that work well with live baits. Again work with your bait shop owner for the proper hook style that will correspond to the bait you are using and the fish that you are after.
Aberdeen hooks are among the most widely used panfish hooks. Their light-wire construction makes them a fine choice for presenting live minnows and leeches.
A slim Aberdeen is adept at piercing the bony jaws of perch or bluegills, without tearing up the soft mouth tissues of crappies, plus the long shank makes for easy hook removal.
This hook has a slightly squared round bend. The extra width between the point and shank of the Aberdeen makes them the perfect for baiting with minnows. Its light wire avoids excessive puncturing, which helps to keep bait alive and swimming longer.
Aberdeens are specifically tempered to bend before breaking, making them ideal for fishing in brushy water for panfish and crappie.
Baitholder hooks are a timeless panfish option. They’re characterized by a sliced shank that helps prevent baits from slipping down the shank and off the hook.
They’re ideal for use with worms, bits of a nightcrawler, and small pieces of cut bait. Baitholder hooks are typically too stout for threading on delicate baits such as minnows.