Hook Size for Catfish: How to Choose the Right One

As a catfish angler, I know that selecting the right hook size is crucial for success. The size of the hook can greatly affect catch rates and overall fishing experience. It’s important to understand that the lower the hook number, the larger the hook will be. For example, a number four hook is bigger than a number six hook.

Having this knowledge of the hook size for Catfish will make it easier to shop for the perfect hook, especially when shopping online.

In my experience, it’s essential to match the hook size with the bait being used. Larger hooks, such as 8/0 or 10/0, are suitable when using big live baits like bluegills, bullheads, shad, or suckers, increasing catch rates. On the other hand, when using smaller baits like nightcrawlers or creek chubs, a 4/0 to 6/0 hook size should suffice. It’s also good to remember that different hook types are better suited for specific types of catfish, so it’s essential to research before heading out on your fishing trip.

One popular hook style for catching catfish is the Kahle hook, which is a mix between a circle hook and a J-hook. It’s a versatile option that works well for landing larger catfish species, like flathead catfish. The most commonly used Kahle hooks range from 3/0 to 5/0 in size. Smaller fish hooks can also be effective when using bait like crickets or certain types of cut bait. With this knowledge in mind, it’s easier to select the right hook size for your catfish adventure.

Factors Affecting Hook Size

When choosing the appropriate hook size for catfish, it’s essential to consider several factors that can impact how successful your catch might be. In this section, I will go over three key aspects to consider: catfish species, bait selection, and fishing techniques.

Catfish Species

Different catfish species may require different hook sizes depending on their size, mouth shape, and feeding habits. For instance, smaller catfish species like the channel catfish might be better suited for smaller hooks, while larger species like the blue catfish may require larger hooks to ensure a secure catch. It’s essential to know the specific catfish species you’re targeting to choose the appropriate hook size.

Bait Selection

The size and type of bait you plan to use can also influence the hook size you choose. Larger baits like whole live fish or large chunks of cut fish will require larger hooks to securely hold the bait, while smaller baits like worms or smaller fish pieces can be used with smaller hooks. Additionally, the hook size should be matched to the bait size, so the hook is not too visible to the catfish, as they can be wary of unnatural-looking presentations.

Fishing Techniques

The fishing technique you employ can also affect the hook size you use. For instance, if you are drift-fishing or using a slip float rig, you might need a smaller, lighter hook to ensure your bait remains at the desired depth and has a natural presentation. On the other hand, if you are bottom-fishing or using a more aggressive technique like trolling, a larger, sturdier hook would likely be more suitable. It’s crucial to consider how the hook size aligns with the chosen fishing technique to increase the chances of a successful catch.

Hook Size Chart for Common Catfish Species

In this section, I will discuss the recommended hook sizes for three commonly targeted catfish species: Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, and Flathead Catfish. Each of these species requires different hook sizes to maximize catch success.

Channel Catfish

When fishing for medium-sized channel catfish, it’s important to select the appropriate hook size to ensure successful catches. I suggest using treble hooks in sizes ranging from 2 to 8, with size 2 hooks being suitable for larger fish and size 8 hooks for smaller fish.

For those targeting larger channel catfish using live bait such as nightcrawlers or creek chubs, I recommend opting for hooks in the 4/0 to 6/0 range. This will provide a better hook set and improve catch rates.

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish can grow quite large, so it’s essential to use hooks that can handle their size and strength. In my experience, a size 1 or 1/0 treble hook should be more than sufficient when fishing for blue catfish.

If you’re using big live baits such as bluegills, bullheads, shad, or suckers, I’d recommend using even larger hooks, such as 8/0 or 10/0. This will improve catch rates and ensure the hook is strong enough to handle these powerful fish.

Flathead Catfish

Anglers targeting large flathead catfish should consider using Kahle fishing hooks. In my opinion, the ideal size for these hooks is between 8/0 and 10/0, which works well for larger fish, around 20 pounds.

When selecting a hook for flathead catfish, it’s also important to take into account the type of bait being used. Large baits are often the most effective, so ensure the hook is robust enough to support these larger offerings.

Types of Hooks

In this section, I’ll discuss the types of hooks commonly used for catfishing. Understanding the various types of hooks and their advantages is essential for a successful catfishing experience. The three primary hook types we will focus on our Circle Hooks, J Hooks, and Treble Hooks.

Circle Hooks

Circle hooks are a popular choice for catfishing and for good reason. Their unique design features a curved shank and point, allowing the hook to set itself in the fish’s mouth when it bites while minimizing the risk of gut hooking.

These hooks come in a range of sizes, typically from 4/0 to 10/0 for catfishing. The right size will depend on the size of the fish you’re targeting:

  • 4/0 – 6/0: Channel catfish and smaller blue catfish
  • 8/0 – 10/0: Larger blue and flathead catfish

J Hooks

J Hooks are another popular choice for catfishing. They have a straight shank and a sharp J-shaped point that hooks the fish’s mouth as you set the hook. These hooks are versatile and can be used with a variety of bait types, including live baits and cut baits.

When choosing J Hooks for catfishing, you might consider the following sizes:

  • #1 – 3/0: Smaller catfish, such as channels or small blues
  • 4/0 – 6/0: Medium-sized and large catfish, such as larger channels, blues, or flatheads

Treble Hooks

Treble hooks are comprised of three hooks branching from a single shank, forming a single hook point. They’re often used with prepared baits, such as dough baits, and are more relied upon when targeting smaller catfish species. However, they can be less effective with larger fish and have a higher risk of gut hooking.

For catfishing, I recommend the following treble hook sizes:

  • Size 6 – 4: Small catfish or those that tend to swallow smaller hooks
  • Size 2: Medium-sized catfish or to prevent gut hooking

Now you have a better understanding of the types of hooks commonly used for catfishing and the appropriate sizes for each hook type. Armed with this knowledge, you’re well on your way to improving your catfishing success.

Setting the Hook


When targeting catfish, I find that the timing of setting the hook plays a crucial role in successfully hooking the fish. It’s essential to wait for the catfish to take the bait and start moving away before setting the hook. This ensures that the hook has penetrated the mouth and secured a solid hold. Remember, patience is key when dealing with catfish, as they can be quite stealthy while taking the bait.


The technique I use when setting the hook for catfish depends on the size of the fish and the type of hook I’m using. For circle hooks, which are designed to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, I prefer a slow and steady reel-in rather than an aggressive hook set. On the other hand, when using J-hooks, a more forceful hook set is needed to ensure the hook penetrates the catfish’s mouth. Make sure to keep the line tight and maintain constant pressure on the fish during the entire process.

Rod and Reel Considerations

While setting the hook, both my rod and reel play a significant role in ensuring a successful catch. I typically use a medium-heavy to heavy-action rod with enough backbone to handle the force of a solid hook set. Additionally, I prefer a baitcasting reel with a high gear ratio and a strong drag system to handle the power of larger catfish.

Here’s a quick recap of my preferred rod and reel setup:

  • Rod: Medium-heavy to heavy action
  • Reel: Baitcasting reel with high gear ratio
  • Drag System: Strong and reliable

Keeping these factors in mind while setting the hook will greatly increase my chances of landing that trophy catfish.

Wrapping Up

In my experience, selecting the right hook size for catfish is crucial to successful fishing. Catfishing hook sizes should be chosen based on the size of the catfish and the type of bait being used. For instance, when targeting medium-sized catfish, I found that any 5/0 or higher size hook works well.

For larger catfish, such as flathead catfish, I prefer to use Kahle hooks in sizes 3/0 to 5/0 since these hooks provide a good balance between a circle hook and a J-hook. When using smaller bait like crickets or cut bait, smaller hooks may be more appropriate.

In situations where I am using big live bait such as bluegills, bullheads, shad, or suckers, I found that using 8/0 or 10/0 hooks can increase my catch rates. However, when using smaller bait like nightcrawlers or creek chubs, often a 4/0 to 6/0 size is all that is needed.

If I’m targeting channel catfish, I tend to use treble hooks like the Mustad Classic 4x Strong Kingfish hook, as they provide multiple points of contact and improved bait-holding abilities.

In summary, understanding the desired catfish type and size of the bait is essential in choosing the right hook size to increase your chances of a successful catch.

For more posts on Catfish, check out the pages below:

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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