What Size Hook Is Best for Surf Fishing?

Hook size is the primary determinant for surf fishing.

If you’re just starting or have already tried surf fishing and wondered why you keep wasting your bait, you need to check the hook size.

Depending on the fish species you want to catch, you should match it with the right hook size, which means that having huge hooks or small-sized ones may be why your surf fishing experience is frustrating.

Let’s get started so you can get it right the next time you go fishing.


Is there an Optimal Hook Size for Surf Fishing?

Well, for surf fishing, the optimal hook size lies between #2 and 3/0.

Fish in this region have small mouths and small hooks work best.

Circle hooks are best for choice of hook style as they make it easier for fish to hook themselves as they try to eat your bait.

Fisherman standing at the seashore hooks a fish: Rock fishing with stick bait.

How Do You Measure Hook Sizes?

It may not sound evident for starters regarding the numbers used to hook size, but this article will make all the difference.

Hook sizes are measured using two separate scales or spectrums.

The first scale, termed the size hook scale, is for small hooks that you can use for salt water and fresh water fishing.

The uniqueness of the hook scale is that higher numbers have smaller hooks.

For instance, a size eight hook (#8) is smaller than a size two hook (#2).

You should note that they are measured with even numbers for hook scale except for size one hook (#1).

After #1 size, you get to the following scale termed an aught measurement system where the number is followed by “/0”.

With this, the larger the number, the bigger the hook, which means that a five aught (5/0 hook) is more significant than a three aught (3/0 hook).

The even number rule in the size hook scale doesn’t apply with the aught system.

The largest aught system hook is 12/0 and #24 for the smallest, so you can find all the hook sizes as per your need.

But, the most popular and widely used hooks for saltwater fishing range from #6 to 12/0.

Also, it’s possible to find different sizes of a hook from different manufacturers so you can check to ensure you get the right size.

close-up shot of a fish hook underwater

An Important Rule to Remember

Bait presentation is crucial and will make your fishing successful whether you are working with large or small hooks for different types of fish. Good planning involves appropriate bait size and presentation.

You can ensure this by doing the below:

  • The bait is securely attached to the hook and should not fall off or disintegrate quickly once you cast.
  • It’s appealing to the fish and appears naturally nourishing for them.
  • The fish have a hard time feeding on the bait without being captured.

How Do You Choose the Ideal Hook Size?

Choosing your bait with care means matching it to the probable catch.

So you should determine the hook size for the optimum bait presentation.

To do this, you need to find out the types of fish in your area before surf fishing.

Below are other things to consider as you choose the hook size.

  • Size of fish
  • The mouth and head shape of the fish
  • The feeding behavior
  • The fighting style

Small Hook Vs. Large Hook

If you follow the rule of bait presentation, then you should have no problem with a small and large hook.

But you will experience some pros and downsides of both small and large hooks. So let’s take a look.

Pros of Large Hooks

  • There’s a lot of space to hold bigger bait. As a result, you can keep undesired species away and target bigger fish.
  • A larger hook provides extra options for bait presentation. It is possible to experiment with different setups to determine which yields the best results.
  • Secures your line/leader, especially if there are sharp-toothed fish nearby.
  • There’s a possibility of catch and release without damaging a fish’s mouth. However, it’s also hard to swallow larger hooks which can injure their gut.

Cons of Large Hooks

  • Large hooks tangle and overlap easily, especially with multiple-hook setups.
  • With larger hooks, you use bigger bait that may be counterproductive with surf fishing as the species are small and medium-sized that will manage to steal the food.

Pros of Small Hooks

  • Smaller hooks are more effective for large and small fish as they give a better hookup ratio.
  • They are less intimidating for fishing and offer a greater bait presentation as fish can quickly grasp your offering.
  • It’s hard for fish to escape with smaller hooks.

Cons of Small Hooks

  • It’s complicated to get small hooks out of fish jaws without injuring them.
  • Small hooks are challenging for beginners until they can know various knot-tying procedures.

What are the Best Surf Fishing Hooks?

To answer this, you first need to know the common types of fish: surfperch, porgy, flounder, pompano, bream, and whiting.

These species have different traits, behaviors, and dietary patterns.

But they all have a common trait.

They are small and medium-sized.

For this reason, small baits are the perfect hook size for these species compared to larger baits.

In addition, most surf anglers fish for fun and all they look forward to is just a catch.

They have no specific target on the type of fish. So the best hook size for surf fishing should be small, like 2 inches or less.

It’s also possible to catch larger fish using small hooks.

However, if your interest is in large fish such as sharks or redfish, you should consider going for large hooks.

Types of Fishing Hooks

You will find numerous hooks in the market. But the most common ones include the following.

Treble Hook

This type has three hooks that give it good bite coverage when fishing with artificial lures: crankbaits, topwater, spinners, and attaching baits.

However, the three hooks make it hard for the fish to free its jaw and make your fishing experience a success.

But it’s best to double-check your fishing rules when fishing with trebles on different water sources.

Circle Hook

This circular shape and a sharp tip guarantee the hook to point and only hooks upon an exposed area at the corner of the fish’s mouth.

You don’t need to stress on the hook set and it’s rare for fish to swallow the hook. This boosts the death rate.

Octopus Hook

These contain a short shank with a lower part and a more significant gap than your typical bait hook.

The hook eye is angled away from the bait point, making it ideal for creating egg loop knots, which help secure yarn and bait.

The hook is suitable for surf fishing and effective with different small fish species.

Worm Hook

When it comes to worm hooks, you are spoilt for choice.

You can go for the wide gap, weighted, varied eyes, or even extremely wide gap.

They have a more significant gap that allows space between the hook point and eye, allowing for a large catch.

Siwash Hook

These wide shank hooks are an ideal substitute for treble hooks for various fishing lures.

The good thing with the Siwash hook is the absence of snags in heavy vegetation water because you’re just dealing with one hook instead of three.

You also put the fish at less risk and harm because you only remove one hook. As a result, the mortality rate is less, and you’re more likely to entangle yourself when pulling the fish.

Jig Hook

Weighted jighead hooks are made with jig hooks, and jig molds add weight components to jig hooks that come in various weights.

The weights are indicated in ounces, e.g., 1/2 oz. Also, the many lure options that you see on today’s market root back from jig hooks.

Bait Hook

You will find bait hooks in different bait sizes and lengths.

They have extra barbs on the shank and the bending region that helps to secure the bait on the hook.


Choosing the right hook size is crucial if you want your surf fishing experience to be productive.

Smaller hooks are best for surf fishing and may range between a scale of #2 – 3/0 hook size.

In addition, a good hook shape improves your hook ratio and bait presentation when you go fishing.

It is also essential to carry various hooks of different shapes and sizes so you can adjust what produces the most strikes and kills.