The Best Hook Size for Trout: For Every Situation

Picture this: You set out for a day of catching trout, have your equipment sorted, bait at the ready, the conditions are looking good, and you’re feeling hopeful.

However, after a long day of fishing, you feel utterly defeated as you’ve had nothing to show for it other than a hefty piece of seaweed and a snagged line!


You could be doing everything else correctly, but without the right hook, you’re probably not going to have much luck.

Choosing the right hook size is important, but can seem like a confusing task due to the array of options available.

Fishing enthusiasts, look no further! This article discusses the optimal hook size to use for catching trout in every situation. I will explain:

  • Each different hook type
  • The benefits of different sizes
  • How to decide which hook can best serve your needs.

So keep reading, and get ready to get out there and catch more trout!

Why is the Hook Important?

Using the right hook is important for several reasons.

 The right hook will allow you to hook bait efficiently and can prevent you from injuring the fish when catch-and-release fishing.


It will also prevent the trout from ‘spitting’ the hook and can help you to avoid losing the catch.

Bait attachment

There are several types of bait that can be used for trout fishing, from worms and corn to salmon eggs to man-made bait types.

Regardless of the type you are using, it’s important to attach the bait to your hook properly when trout fishing.

The key is to hide your hook inside the bait as best you can, making it less noticeable to trout. Certain hooks will have snags on them to prevent the bait from slipping.

Proper hookset

There are various methods of setting the hook when fishing for trout. To properly set the hook on a trout, keep the line tight and wait for the fish to strike it.

Once you feel it, either jerk the fishing rod over your shoulder abruptly or twist at the waist to set the hook onto the trout.

Remember: timing is generally more important than force! Try to set the hook as soon as you feel the fish strike.

Hook size matters

If anyone’s ever told you, “size doesn’t matter” – they’re lying!

In trout fishing, size certainly does play an important part. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The ideal hook size is dependent on the technique and bait you are using, as well as the size of the trout you are fishing for.

Types of Hooks for Trout Fishing

Single vs Treble Hooks

Single hooks have one point. Single hooks are a great hook to use for catch-and-release fishing, as they are less likely to injure the fish.

Most of the time, they hook cleanly onto the lip in the corner of the fish’s mouth and can be easily unhooked. Therefore, the fish can be quickly and easily released.

Further, single hooks are unlikely to be caught in nets, clothing, and weeds, so they won’t snag. Single hooks are great for bait fishing, as well as fly fishing.

The Owner 5177 Mosquito Light Wire Hook is a safe bet for a high-quality, single hook.

As the name would suggest, treble hooks are essentially three hooks attached together at the shaft.

Treble hooks are great for when you want to keep the trout you are fishing for. They are easy to use, and they have a high success rate of hooking a fish that bites the bait.

Treble hooks are commonly used on lures and spinners, and when using powerbait. This Eagle Claw Lazer treble hook is ideal for trout fishing.

Please note: treble hooks can easily injure a fish, so they may not be a great option for catch-and-release fishing. In these scenarios, you may want to consider a barbless option.

Circle Hooks

Circle hooks are a type of single hook that is more circular in shape, and designed to hook firmly onto the mouth of the fish.

Circle hooks can be a great hook to use for trout fishing because trout are known to spit the hook. A circle hook ensures that you can hook the fish efficiently and firmly, without injuring the fish.

Baitholder Hooks / Egg Hooks

Baitholder hooks are small, sharp single hooks that can be hidden inside the bait. They are versatile and reliable.

Baitholder hooks are great because they have two barbs on the shank which prevent the bait from falling off. The Eagle Claw Baitholder hook is ideal for fishing with worms and other live bait.

When using eggs as bait, opt for a baitholder hook that is small enough to hold tiny, often slippery bait such as salmon eggs, and still be unnoticeable by the trout.

When fishing with small bait and eggs, it’s important to select a razor-sharp hook such as the Gamakatsu in size 12.

Barbless Hooks

Barbless hooks are ideal for catch-and-release fishing, as they are very unlikely to injure the fish.

With barbless hooks, you can release a fish from your net easily, without even taking it out of the water.

Barbless hooks tend to hook the corner of the mouth, so you can easily unhook and release without injuring the catch. If you don’t have barbless hooks, you can simply use a pair of pliers to push down the barb and turn any hook into a barbless one!

So, which hook should you use?

Most trout fishing techniques use either single or treble hooks. Single hooks appear to be the most popular, and for good reason – they work well!

However, you may wish to use more specialized hook types such as treble hooks for certain baits and techniques. Double hooks are not commonly used for trout fishing, so it’s not necessary to keep these in your tackle box.

You can use a standard single hook for trout fishing and have considerable success.

In many cases, single hooks are much more versatile when it comes to using live bait while fishing for trout. Most often, treble hooks are used with artificial lures.

Treble hooks are better at keeping powerbait from falling off the hook, and they’re better at keeping fish on the hook.

However, they are bigger and bulkier, so you’ll have to use smaller hooks to ensure they are unnoticeable in clear trout waters as well as to ensure the baited hook can get inside the mouth of the fish you are catching. Treble hooks are best used for trout fishing lures.

Remember, use a barbless hook for catch-and-release fishing, and only use barbs if you are planning to catch and eat your fish!

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Size Hook

Fish Species

Consider the species of trout you are fishing for, and its size in particular. For larger brown trout, slightly larger hooks will be best.

For smaller species, such as rainbow trout, smaller hooks are more optimal so that they can fit inside their smaller mouths.

Bait Size

The optimal hook size for catching trout is dependent on the type of bait you are using.

Smaller bait will require a smaller hook, and larger bait will require a larger hook. Very small bait such as eggs or corn will require razor-sharp hooks to be hooked properly.

Further, bait that is more slippery, or alive, may require hooks with barbs to prevent the bait from falling off.

What Size Hook For Trout Should You Use?

The best size hook for trout fishing is a size 8 to 14 single hook, or a size 10-14 treble hook.

These hook size ranges are on the smaller side. That’s because smaller hooks can be better concealed inside your bait, making them less noticeable in clear water.

This is important for trout fishing, as trout live in fresh waters with high visibility and have good vision. Therefore, you must ensure the hook is hidden from their view!

Further, trout have small mouths compared to other species, so using a smaller-sized hook makes it easier to hook onto their mouths without injuring the fish.

Hook sizing can be difficult to get your head around, as there are two different sizing systems at play: the aught sizing system and the number sizing system.

The aught system consists of a number with /0 after it and is mostly used for sizing large hooks used in saltwater fishing.

For trout fishing, we only use the number sizing system since this applies to the relatively smaller hooks used in freshwater fishing.

In this system, the largest hook size is number 1. As the number increases, hook sizes get smaller. Therefore, a size 12 hook is smaller than a size 8 hook.

As previously mentioned, a hook that is anywhere between size 8 to size 14 is optimal for trout fishing in most scenarios. These are quite small hooks to ensure they are not noticed by trout and can hook onto small mouths efficiently.

This chart provides a handy guide for which hook size is best for the technique and bait you are using to catch trout.


This article has discussed that a smaller hook size is optimal for trout fishing, but there are many factors to consider such as the type of bait you will be using and the fishing technique.

The best size hook for trout fishing is a size 8 to 14 single hook, or a size 10-14 treble hook.

While the size of the hook you choose could be the difference between a bad, good, or great day on the water, remember there are many other factors to keep in mind!

Lure type, line cast distance and type, location and conditions, and boat techniques such as trolling are other important considerations.


Are Larger Trout Hooks Better?

Larger trout hooks are not necessarily better! Don’t be fooled – you can definitely catch big fish on small hooks.

As discussed, small hooks have an advantage in trout fishing as they can be well-hidden inside the bait. Further, smaller hooks can hook onto the small mouths of trouts more efficiently.

What size hook should I use for rainbow trout?

The best hook size for catching rainbow trout is a size 12 single hook or a size 14 smaller hook.
Rainbow trout are best caught with small live bait or salmon eggs. Therefore, the hook should be small in order to efficiently hook and hide this bait!

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