What Size Hook For Surf Fishing Is Best?

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If you plan to go fishing right from the beach, which is otherwise known as surf fishing, then one of the most important things that you need to know is what size of hook is best. Of course, there are many different sizes and types of hooks, and which you choose depends not only on the fish you are going for, but also on the bait you are using. So, what size of hook for surf fishing is best?

Size 2/0 hooks are considered best for surf fishing, as they are small enough to catch smaller fishing such as pompano and whiting, but also large enough to catch redfish, fluke, flounder, bluefish, tarpon, mackerel, and more. That said, although the 2/0 hook is generally best, you do of course have to pay attention to the size of the fish. After all, a size 2/0 hook might not be enough for a big shark!

FishHook Size
Shark (under 5ft)5/0
Shark (over 5ft)12/0 - 14/0
Pompano1/0 - 2/0
Whiting1/0 - 2/0
Mackerel1/0 - 2/0
Tarpon5/0 - 6/0
Flounder4/0 - 6/0
Codfish1/0 - 3/0
Porgy2/0 - 4/0
Bluefish3/0 - 8/0
Red Snapper7/0 - 8/0
Striped Bass6/0 - 8/0
Sea Trout1/0
Surf Perch2/0 - 4/0


Best Hook Sizes To Use For Surf Fishing

What we want to do right now is to take a look at the number one best size of hook to use for all of the most popular fish that you might catch while surf fishing. 


Right off the bat, sharks are some of the largest creatures that you can go for when surf fishing, which means that you do need quite a large hook.

For sharks that are under five feet in length, go for a size 5/0 hook, particularly a circle hook.

For anything larger than five feet, you will want to go with hook sizes 12/0 and 14/0.

Remember, sharks can be big and extreme fighters, so having a strong hook that will hold its place is essential.

Pompano & Whiting

If you are going for these two types of fish, which tend to be fairly small, you also need a fairly small hook.

Now, the size 2/0 hook will work, especially if you are going for larger fish as well, but technically speaking, for both whiting and pompano, your best bet is to use a size 1/0 hook, or an even smaller #1 hook, with the circle hook generally being considered best for this purpose.


Mackerel can vary in size quite dramatically, and once again, a size 2/0 hook should do just fine, but that said, if you want to catch as many as possible, you may want to set up a multi-hook rig, using four or five hooks that are anywhere from size #4 to size #1, and also sizes 1/0 and 2/0.

More often than not, the slightly smaller hooks are best for mackerel fishing.


When fishing for Tarpon, one need to know is that they like big baits such as threadfin herring, ladyfish, pin fish, or even crabs.

This means that you need a relatively large hook that is able to hold onto the bait and able to hook into the Tarpon.

Most people recommend using either a 5/0 or 6/0 hook for this purpose, with the size 5/0 usually being considered best.


If you are going for snook, depending on the size of the bait, a hook size of 4/0 is considered best.

This is more than large enough to haul in the big ones without bending the hook, but still small enough for the smaller snook.


Flounder can get pretty big, and they like large bait too, which means that the two best hook sizes to use, depending on the exact bait in question, include sizes 4/0 and 6/0.


Cod are not the largest fish out there, and the fish the eat are not very large either.

That said, cod are fighters, so you do need to have a hook strong enough to deal with them.

Generally speaking, hook sizes 1/0, 2/0, and 3/0 are best for cod fishing.


For the most part, sizes 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0 are considered best for porgy fishing, as these are small enough to get the smaller porgy, but large enough to haul in the big ones without letting them go.


Redfish are large enough, but not overly large, and the bait to be used for them should not be huge either, which makes a size 1/0 circle hook the perfect hook size and type for redfish.


When it comes to bluefish, most would recommend using a size 3/0 circle hook, as this will help get a good hookset and keep the fish on the hook.

That said, bluefish can get quite big, and they also like big baits, which means that some people use hooks are large as size 8/0 to catch bluefish.

Red Snapper

Red snappers are pretty big and they like big bait too. The red snapper needs a big hook, something like a size 7/0 or 8/0.

Striped Bass

The cool thing about striped bass is that they are not picky eaters and will go for more or less anything.

If you are using very large baits, then a size 8/0 circle hook is best, for smaller baits like eels or spot, a size 6/0 hook will do, and for seaworm bait and other smaller baits, a size 2/0 circle hook is best.

Sea Trout

Sea trout are not overly large and the fish they eat are quite small too. For the most part, a size 1/0 hook is more than enough for a sea trout.

Surf Perch

Surf perch are quite small, thus making #2 and #4 hooks the hook sizes of choice for these fairly small ocean fish.

Types of Hooks You Can Use for Surf Fishing

OK, so now that we know what sizes of hooks are best to use for what types of fish. It is also important to talk about the types of hooks that are best for surf fishing.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options right now.

Circle Hooks

When it comes down to it, the number one type of hook to use for surf fishing is most likely the circle hook.

For one, circle hooks reduce the occurrence of deep hooking, which means that fish you let go have an increased chance of survival.

There’s also the fact that circle hooks due to their circular shapes have excellent hooks at center able to keep fish on the hook with ease.

What is also beneficial with circle hooks is that the strike time is not all that essential because you really don’t need to jerk the line very much to hook the fish.

Circle hooks also tend to be very good for holding on to bait.


If you are not too worried about getting a hard hookset but you do want the type of hook that is excellent for holding on to all sorts of types of baits, then the classic J hook is a fantastic way to go.

Just be aware that getting a good hookset can be difficult with this type of hook.

Large Treble Hooks

The next type of hook that you may use for surf fishing is the treble hook. Or in other words, a hook that has three separate points.

If you are worried about getting a good Hooksett and you are not overly concerned about getting live bait onto the hook, then this is a fantastic way to go.

Simply put, three hooks have a much better chance of getting into the mouth of a fish than a single hook.

While treble hooks are always not the go to choice, they can certainly be ideal for various situations.

Live Bait Hooks

If what you are doing is fishing with live bait and you need a type of hook that can hold onto that live bait very well without giving away the presentation, then there is nothing better than the live bait hook.

Wide Gape Hooks

Another super popular type of hook to use for surf fishing is the wide gape hook, mainly because they have excellent hooking capabilities and awesome strength.

Due to the fact that they have a very wide gape, they are able to hook a fish with minimal pressure applied on your behalf and they can hold onto a big fish really well.

Octopus Hooks

If the most important thing to you is presentation and you also want to hook a piece of bait, then using an octopus hook is the best way to go.

Just be aware that octopus hooks usually are not the best choice to go with for very big fish.

Small Hooks vs Larger Hooks for Surf Fishing

What you need to be aware of here is that ocean fish are generally quite large, and this means that they also like to go for large bait.

So, if you are surf fishing or fishing from the beach, this means that you do want to have a fairly large hook. In case you don’t know much about fish hook sizes, a size 2/0 (the top recommendation across the board), is actually a fairly large hook.

The most important thing to remember here is that your hook needs to be small enough to catch the smaller specimen of that species, but also big enough to handle the larger specimen.

On that same note, it is also crucial to remember that the size of hook you use not only depends on the size of the fish you are going for, but also on the size of the bait, something that we will discuss directly below.

All of that being said, a hook that is slightly on the larger side is generally better than one that is slightly on the smaller side.

Surf Fishing Hook Sizes for Types of Baits

OK, so as we have now mentioned several times the size of hook you choose not only depends on the size of the fish, but also on the size of the bait.

Let’s go through a quick rundown of exactly what hook sizes to use for which types of bait.

  • Wax worms: #4, #3, #2, #1
  • Nightcrawlers: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0
  • Lugworms: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0
  • Squid: 2/0, 3/0, 4/0
  • Minnows: #2, #1, 1/0, 2/0
  • Crabs: #1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0
  • Shrimp: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0
  • Other Shellfish: #1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0
  • Mackerel: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0
  • Pilchard: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0
  • Herring: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0



What Size Hook for Outer Banks Surf?

Once again, the size of hook you go for depends mostly on the fish you are angling for and the bait that you are using. Generally speaking, for smaller bait, anything between #2 and 1/0 hooks will do best, and for larger bait, anything between a 2/0 and a 6/0 is best.

Are Circle Hooks Good for Surf Fishing?

Yes, circle hooks are great for surf fishing, and in fact, are considered to be some of the very best. The reason for this is because for one, the unique shape of the circle hook allows for a really easy hookset, all without having to apply much pressure at all. Moreover, circle hooks are also ideal for hooking live bait without completely ruining the presentation. Furthermore, circle hooks also help prevent gut hooking from occurring and make it much easier to release a fish as well.


As you can see, knowing what size of hook and what type of hope to use for specific types of fish and the ideal baits for those fish is very important to your overall success.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.