Catfish come in a very wide variety of sizes and are so widespread that they’re distinctly recognizable to most cultures across the world.
That size difference and the sheer size that some of them can grow poses a good question, what hooks are the best for catching them.
That’s why we made this article, so that we can find five of the best hooks for piercing the thick lips of catfish and keeping them there.
We’re happy to say that we succeeded, and even went as far to include the pros and cons of each hook so that you know what to expect.
There’s also a buyers’ guide and an FAQ where the questions of other catfishing consumers have been answered.
Whether you’re new to angling or a professional who needs brushing up, learning for yourself what makes a good catfishing hook is a handy way to reel in the best deals.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Why it’s Our Top Pick
Whether you’re in a hurry or just want to save this light reading for the fishing trip itself, we have the number one hook in this list here.
We chose the Gamakatsu Octopus Hook-Pack, Japanese-brand hooks designed for catching octopus and other slippery sea creatures, so we figured they’d be perfect for that elusive flathead.
See why we chose these hooks below:
This is a barbed octopus hook from a Japanese brand that’s focused on snagging a target and not letting go. The fact its point is offset enables it to catch large catfish, too.
Forged with durable steel and available in different order sizes, different sizes of the hooks themselves, and different fluorescent colors.
Environmentally friendly manufacturing processes means that environmentally conscious anglers can rest assured that using these helps give back to nature.
Best Hooks For Catfish - Comparison Table
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Best Hooks For Catfish - Reviews
Octopus hooks? Yes, these hooks from Gamakatsu, a leading fish hook manufacturer in Japan, are branded as hooks that can take on octopi, but many an angler will tell you that octopus hooks are a suitable option for catfish.
After all, if an eight-limbed, tentacled octopus can’t escape this hook then a catfish sure won’t. It’s versatile in both a practical and relatively superficial way, giving you the choice of hook size but also the choice of color to accessorize with the rest of your gear.
They’re available in packs of 25 or a 100, we’d recommend the 25 if you’re trying these out for the first time.
The hooks are forged from durable, no-fuss steel and are also coated in a protective anodized layer that makes them fare better against the wet conditions they’ll be subjected to.
The point of the hook itself is not only barbed for maximum grip but it’s also offset so that this hook can better snag larger catches. If this high-rated hook is for you, you can take comfort in the fact that it’s made in an entirely environmentally friendly way.
If you do go with these, be aware that manufacturer sizing isn’t standardized between hooks, and so some have expressed disappointment at receiving smaller hooks than expected.
The second hook on our list is the mean-looking and mean-named Mustad UltraPoint Demon Fishing Hook, an in-line circle hook that’s made with all sorts of brand-specific technology to ensure a successful catch.
The first of these is the UltraPoint technology that is designed to make these points as sharp and as long-lasting as possible, so that you won’t have to maintain them as often. Mustad’s wire tech and nor-tempering processes are also used so that these hooks can not only be stronger, but lighter too.
The point itself is durable because of the above tech, and it’s also tempered. This ensures that the inward-facing offset points can wrestle with bigger game without snapping and can hook into any fish easier thanks to their curved-in construction.
The in-line patterning on these hooks have been awarded by the Billfish Foundation for their catch and release standards, so if you had catch and release in mind these hooks have credentials.
While they may do little damage when bringing in billfish and catfish, the thick hook can kill live bait quickly.
Another Mustad hook coming in at the third position, the Mustad 3551 Treble Fishing Hooks are Amazon’s Choice for treble hook searches.
A treble hook means three times the action, and Mustad’s treble hook designs are a classic in that area.
Like our previous product, these Mustad treble hooks also benefit from wire and nor-tempering technologies in order to make these hooks stronger and lighter, the weight being an important factor to reduce when you’re dealing with three hooks.
The points are MTL-V1 versions that have an enhanced quality thanks to the fact that they’re made with a new sharpening process.
On the aesthetic side of things, these hooks are also available in a range of attractive metallic colors such as bronze, nickel, and gold.
These hooks have a wide price range, so if you’re not looking to break the bank you should be careful as it’s easy to spend a lot on these hooks.
These JSHANMEI Steel Octopus Hooks are Amazon’s Choice for saltwater fishing hooks, and come highly rated, to boot.
They’re made with black high-carbon steel that’s corrosion resistant and stylish and are fashioned in such a way that they have a pronounced circular bend with an inward pointing, well, point.
This makes it easier to perform a hooking action with these hooks, though the diameter of the point is smaller than expected. This is because there seemed to be another sizing issue, these being Chinese manufactured, and so we’d recommend getting the largest size.
The hooks are barbed and offset as any good catfishing hook should be, these are able to grab fish larger than the hook and bring them in, but they do have their limits that you must be aware of.
That is, these hooks won’t be pulling off any miracles, and a large, heavy-enough fish can and will snap that smaller-diameter point mentioned above.
We’d say that these are best for small to mid-sized catfish, like channel cats, so if you’re after those these are a decent, affordable option.
Our last hooks on this list are the JL Sport Shaddock Fishing Hooks, a large pack of hooks fashioned out of high carbon steel. That steel is anti-corrosive, meaning that it’ll perform well in both fresh and saltwater and should, all else being equal, last you a good while.
They come in both a neutral steel and a dark red color, and you get 160 of them for a very affordable price.
That affordable price isn’t without its shortfalls, however, as these hooks aren’t that big and won’t be able to wrestle with larger species of catfish.
These hooks only perform for smaller catfish, and so are better used away from flatheads or blue cats otherwise they could break and cost you the catch.
Best Hooks For Catfish - Buyers Guide
How to choose the best catfish hook
This buyers’ guide exists to help you learn what makes a good hook for catching catfish, whether that’s to become better educated at the craft of fishing or to simply have the knowledge required to make your next purchase a better informed one.
We’ll go through the following qualities of catfish hooks below: Type, size, sharpness, and durability.
Before we talk about any specific quality of any hooks, we must discuss the different types of hook you’ll find on the market. Most you’ll see are circle hooks, and these are also the most commonly used for catfishing since they’re better shaped to hook into fish’s mouths no matter how they struggle.
The fact they don’t cause any long-lasting harm also makes circle hooks suitable for catch and release fishing.
Another type of hook suitable for catch and release catfishing, and so also suitable for catfishing in general, is the Kahle hook. This is because they have a wider gap in them which means larger baits, and larger baits means larger fish.
If you know anything about catfish, you’ll know just how large they can get, especially here Stateside, so maybe you’ll need these bigger hooks to get those particular jobs done.
If catch and release isn’t your thing, then the above two hooks can still perform for you. If you really want some hooks that’ll do some damage, you’ll want treble hooks since they get swallowed easily by the fish, guaranteeing you that they’ll get reeled ashore.
Those three would be our recommendations, depending on the size of the catfish you’re angling for and your intention with the fish after you’ve caught it.
With that said, in the interest of explanation we have the hooks we considered but found to be unsuitable for catfishing. These were J hooks and O’Shaughnessy hooks, but some species of catfish can throw these hooks easier and so we’d consider them unreliable.
As mentioned above, the size of the catfish can vary, and so it logically follows that you’ll need to consider the size of your hooks.
Hooks that are too big won’t grab the fish quick enough, and instead you should aim to have as small a hook as possible while still being in the correct size ballpark so that you have the best chance at presenting bait and making that catch.
The whole point of a fishhook is that it’s sharp enough to pierce through a fish’s mouth, ensuring it cannot escape and has no option but to be pulled towards you. We probably don’t need to tell you why the sharpness of said hook is important, then, as a dull hook means a higher probability of failure.
This often means hook maintenance is required as hooks get dull with use and can be sharpened using many of the same instruments that you’d use to sharpen knives.
This needs to be done less frequently with high quality hooks that hold their sharpness for longer, mainly due to the durability of the hook which is what we’re talking about next.
A humble fishhook isn’t the same as a trusty knife, and probably won’t be with you for a fraction of the time, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spare a little thought into the durability of the hooks you buy so that you’re not constantly maintaining or replacing them.
Not only will higher-quality hooks require less maintenance, but they’ll also be less likely to snap completely if stuck on hard material like stone.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best catfish bait?
The best bait will depend on the type of catfish, but if you’re angling for a large adult flathead you should know that they almost exclusively eat live fish and are dispersed in rivers where shad often live.
That’s why we’d recommend pieces of or a whole, live shad as the best bait for those flathead monsters of the deep.
For smaller channel cats, liver will work very well due to its strong smell. They can be difficult to keep on the hook and will lose their appeal within tens of minutes once cast into the water, but they’re inexpensive enough to still make them an attractive and convenient bait to use.
As for some other options, night crawlers will work and, because catfish hunt mostly by taste and smell they’re not too fussy about how the worms are put on the hook like other species may be.
Crawfish are also an option that goes overlooked, and they can catch catfish of varying sizes in all kinds of waterways.
What is the best time to fish for catfish?
Catfish populations are spread far and wide across most of the planet and can be caught at any time of the day, during any season with maybe the exception of winter when the catfish hug closer to the bottom surfaces beneath the water.
That said, any angler in the know will tell you that summer is a favorite time to fish for catfish, and preferably during nighttime, an hour before sunset till an hour after sunrise, since many species come closer to the surface to hunt other fish during this time.
Early fall is another great season if shad are present at your fishing spot, since they school up and present an irresistible target for catfish that’s in your rod’s reach. As with summer, if you’re fishing early fall, you’ll get the most bites after sunset.
Are catfish affected by moon phases?
This is something of a heated debate in communities of those interested, but the presence of Solunar Tables in many fishing magazines reminds everyone that the phase of the moon does have an effect on tides.
The real debate is whether it affects inland lakes. Some anglers think it does, some don’t, and others cautiously lie somewhere in between, but there’s no real consensus because there’s simply no reliable way to experiment and prove this.
We’d say to err on the side of caution, but catfish are so prevalent that you definitely don’t need the moon’s help in bagging one.
If you do want to follow what the lunar advocates say, the best catfishing time is two to three days before and after a full moon.
This is when the gravitational effect on the water is less than would be at a new moon phase, which seems somewhat contradictory and is used by skeptics as proof of it being an inherited superstition from days when a full moon was evidence of more aggressive animal activities.