What Size Hook To Use For Trout Fishing (Detailed Guide)

When you’re just getting into the art of fishing, you often hear that trout are the most common fish to find in lakes. While this is true, and trout are often stocked in lakes more than any other fish, they’re not always the easiest to catch. 

What Size Hook To Use For Trout Fishing (Detailed Guide)

This is because trout are particularly finicky when it comes to their bite – especially when they are residing in a heavily stocked pond that is commonly fished at. Fish are smarter than most people think and they can become hook shy when fishermen tend to hover around their habitats. 

To avoid the fish outsmarting you and stealing your bait without being hooked onto your line, you’ll need to equip yourself with the best hooks. Today we’ll be looking at the size of hooks to use when you’re trout fishing, as well as which bait is best. 

What’s The Difference Between Fishing Hook Sizes? 

Fishing hooks come in a range of sizes. Most anglers have their own opinion on which hooks are large and which are small, but we would consider anything larger than a size 6 to be a large hook.

Some people consider a size 6 to be large for a trout while others consider a size 12 to be the best for trout fishing. 

It’s important to know that sizes of fishing hooks work downwards. The larger the number of sizes, the smaller the hook. So, a size 12 hook is smaller than a size 6 hook. 

Larger hooks are wider in diameter and offer you a better penetration of the trout’s mouth, grabbing more of its flesh and securing your catch. Don’t automatically think that you need a size 1 hook though – there are plenty of advantages for smaller hooks when trout fishing.

If a hook is too large, the trout might not bite it in the first place. 

On the other side, smaller hooks grab much less flesh and offer more chance for the hook to tear out of the fish’s mouth. If your trout is willing to put up a fight, they might rip the hook out of their mouths and do away with your bait, leaving you with nothing. 

Having said that, the smaller hook is more likely to be concealed by your bait so that the fish will bite it in the first place. 

What’s best – a small hook that might tear away from the fish when they bite the bait, or a large hook that never gets bitten at all? We know which size we’re betting on!

Which Is The Best Hook To Use When Trout Fishing? 

Hooks used for trout fishing should be made out of materials such as brass, copper, stainless steel, titanium or tungsten. The best size hook is a size 12 single hook. However, hook sizes 8 through 14 will also suffice. 

If you’re wanting to use a treble hook, you should look for a size between 10 and 14. Treble hooks are larger and bulkier, but they work better for bigger fish. Trout are usually found in clear waters, so it’s best to use small hooks that are easy to conceal.

Trout also tend to have smaller mouths which is why smaller hooks are considered the best. Personally, we would opt for the size 12 single hook, but if you have another hook similar to this size, it should work just fine. 

Of course, some trout are larger than others and some baits are bigger than others. Using a size 12 single hook on an award-winning large trout might be too small for it and the fish will get away with your bait.

So, if you know that you’re fishing in an area with typically large trout, use your better judgment and opt for a larger hook. 

Hook Size Depends On Which Bait You’re Using

The type of bait you’re using will often affect the size of hook you’re going to use. If you’re using live bait, then you want to use a smaller hook. This is because the hook needs to go through the bait before it goes through the fish.

A larger hook will cause the bait to tear apart as it passes through the mouth, leaving the fish satisfied but you not so much. 

Some of the most common baits to use when trout fishing are corn, salmon eggs, worms, and plastic beads. These are all vastly different in size and shape and will require different hooks to enhance their usability. 

For example, powerbait is generally larger than other baits and require a larger hook to fit through them. On the other hand, plastic beads are very small and can easily slip through the smallest of hooks.

So, what size hook should you use considering your choice of bait? Use this table to find out:

Type Of BaitRecommended Single Hook SizeRecommended Treble Hook Size
Worms8 to 14Not applicable
Powerbait8 to 1210 to 14
Salmon eggs10 to 12Not applicable
Plastic beads10 to 12Not applicable
Corn10 to 12 Not applicable
Spawn sacs6 to 8Not applicable

As you can see, treble hooks are not suitable for most baits that you might use while trout fishing. Powerbait is the only bait large enough to use one of these hooks with.

Even worms, that are often considered one of the bigger fish baits, should not be used with a treble hook when trout fishing.

So, how do you choose the right hook for your bait? It’s simple really. You should always try to match the size of your hook to the size of your bait. The most common baits for trout fishing are powerbait, salmon eggs, and worms. Let’s take a look at these in more detail. 


Powerbait is the only bait used in trout fishing that can be used with both a single or a treble hook. For single hooks, choose a size between 8 and 12. For treble hooks, go for a hook between size 10 and 14.

While you can use treble hooks for trout fishing with powerbait, it doesn’t mean that you should. Trout have small mouths which means you’ll need a smaller treble hook than you would for a single or double hook so that the fish can actually eat your bait. 

If you use a treble hook that is too large, it’s likely that the trout will simply nibble at your bait rather than eating it completely, which they need to do if you want them to become hooked onto your line. 

Powerbait comes in nugget-like pieces that often vary in size. You might find that you need to alter the size of your hook depending on the size of the nuggets you’re currently using. The hook should not be able to be seen when equipped with the powerbait. 

Salmon Eggs

You’re going to want to use a single hook with salmon eggs, one of which is between size 10 and 12. Baitholder fishing hooks are best for salmon eggs as they’re so small and soft.

If you were to use salmon eggs on a hook alone, you might find that the eggs simply slide down the metal as you hook them. 

On the other hand, if you chose to use a spawn sac as bait rather than single eggs, you should opt for a hook sized between 6 and 8 for a single hook. 

Corn and beads are less common forms of bait for trout fishing, and these can be used on a similar sized hook for salmon eggs as they are around the same size as one another.

All of these alternative baits should be used with a single hook rather than a treble to avoid the bait breaking or not attracting the trout. 

As we mentioned earlier, the bait should be large enough to conceal the end of the hook. If you were to use a treble hook with salmon eggs, beads, or spawn sacs, the bait would not conceal the hook sufficiently and it’s likely that the trout will see the hook and avoid it altogether. 


When fishing with worms as bait, you’ll want to use a single hook size between 8 and 14. Nightcrawlers are a common type of worm to use when baiting fishing hooks. For a small trout hook, you can cut off one or two inches of worm and sufficiently bait the hook. 

The key here is to ensure that the worm has been fed before you attach it to the hook. This ensures that the worm is full and ready to attract the trout. If you don’t feed your worms prior to attaching them to the hook, you could risk having them break apart during casting. 

If you’re going to use worms as trout bait, the best type of hook to use is a baitholder hook. This features additional barbs on the hook which prevents the worm from sliding off of the metal in the water.

A baitholder hook is best to use with live bait so that it can still move and attract the fish while not being able to move off of the hook completely. 

Different Types Of Hooks For Trout Fishing

While we have mainly focused on single and treble hooks within this article, there are a number of other hooks that you can use when trying to catch as many trout as possible. 

What Size Hook To Use For Trout Fishing (Detailed Guide) (1)

We have touched on double hooks, although these are much less common on the fishing scene – most anglers don’t even keep them in their tackle box. This is because they can be easily replaced with either a single or a treble hook without a second thought. 

Other hooks that you might consider include octopus hooks and circle hooks. Different types of hooks can be used by more experienced anglers who want to use the benefits that come with these specialist hooks.

While single hooks will do the job, they don’t always offer the same techniques that the special hooks can. 

Octopus hooks are designed to help you catch larger fish. These hooks feature multiple barbs along the length of the hook, allowing you to cast the hook out into the water without the bait risking falling off.

You can also use more live bait on an octopus hook to increase your chance of catching a trout. 

The downside to using an octopus hook is that you need to be careful about how far you cast the hook. It may be difficult to retrieve the hook if it gets snagged on something underwater. 

Circle hooks are designed to help fishermen catch smaller fish. They are typically used with minnows and trout, as well as other small fish found in lakes.

The reason why they are called “circle” hooks is because they resemble the shape of a circle. When you set the hook, you position the bait at the center of the circle and then pull back slightly to set the hook. 

You should only use a circle hook if you know what size fish you’re targeting. Smaller fish like minnows and small trout tend to get caught on the circle hook, but larger fish such as salmon and large trout rarely fall prey to this method.

This is why it is imperative that you know the average size of trout in the lake that you’re fishing in. If you’re unsure of the average fish size of that lake, or know that the trout within are on the larger side, we would suggest opting for a hook other than the circle hook. 

Both octopus and circle shanks have quite short shanks, which makes them great for concealing the hooks within the bait. This makes them good for using in lakes where the trout have caught onto anglers frequent visits. 

The fish might be smart in that lake, but they might not be smart enough to avoid bait that has completely concealed the hook. This is why it is so important to conceal your hook with your bait before casting your line. 

Which Size Octopus Hook To Use For Trout Fishing

When using an octopus hook, the best size is between 8 and 12. The shorter shank allows a larger size to be used while it is still concealed nicely by the bait. Make sure that you get an octopus hook with multiple different shanks so that the bait stays firmly on it. 

The best bait to use with octopus hooks for trout fishing is salmon eggs or worms. 

Which Size Circle Hook To Use For Trout Fishing

The same reason applies to circle rings as to why you can use larger sizes when trout fishing with this type of hook. We like to use between 10 and 12 hook sizes for circle rings.

These are great hooks to use with trout fishing as they set themselves directly into the trout’s mouth and capture them tightly. 

Just remember that circle hooks are best for smaller trout, so don’t opt for this hook if you know that you’re going to be fishing in water with large fish.

What About A Carolina Rig? 

A Carolina rig is a good option for trout fishing as it allows the bait to sit near the bottom of the water, which is where the trout tend to swim. A Carolina rig is often preferred over a Texas rig because it provides greater control over the depth of the bait. 

If you’re new to fishing, a Carolina rig is probably the best way to start out. It’s easy to learn and requires no special equipment.

With this being said, if the trout are above the water column in your chosen lake, the Carolina rig might not be the best choice as the bait will mostly go unnoticed by the fish. Trout also like to pick up food that is floating in the water rather than completely on the water floor. 

carolina rig

The good news is that you have complete control over how suspended your bait is with a Carolina rig, so you can keep it above the water floor where the trout would be most likely to notice it. 

To make the most of your Carolina rig when trout fishing, you’ll need to use it so that the bait is suspended between one and two feet off of the lake floor. 

The biggest advantage of a Carolina rig is that you can fish with it both passively and actively. The former can be done by waiting for the trout to come and bite your bait, while the latter can be done by using a floating lure near the bottom and retrieving your rig yourself. 


So there we have it! You now know what size hook to use for trout. Our favorite hook to use when trout fishing is a size 12 single hook. However, there are many choices depending on your choice of bait and fishing method.

We hope that our guide helps you find the right hook for your trout expedition. Happy fishing!

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