Fishing on a lake

Fishing Facts - Terminal Tackle

Written by: Lachlan Barnes



Time to read 13 min

Fishing Facts - Terminal Tackle

Hook into the different types of fishing tackle

Hook Anatomy

The first consideration when selecting a hook is size – typically, the larger the fish you are targeting, the larger the hook required. Beyond size, factors such as the hook’s style, pattern, and strength are crucial and should be chosen based on the specific fishing conditions, target species, and type of bait being used.

While the fundamental design of fish hooks has remained consistent over the years, significant advancements have been made. These improvements include chemical sharpening techniques and the use of lighter, yet stronger, metal alloys. Historically, hooks were crafted from materials like bone, including human bone, or reindeer horn. Modern hooks benefit from these advancements, making them more efficient and durable.

The three main components of a basic fish hook are:

  • Shank : The leg of the hook extending from the bend up to the eye.
  • Point : The sharp end that penetrates the fish’s mouth.
  • Eye : The loop where the fishing line is attached.

The Shank

The shank is the leg of the hook that extends from the bend up to the eye, serving as the main body of the hook. The shape of the shank can significantly affect how the hook performs, particularly in how it presents bait and engages with fish. Here are the most common shapes of hook shanks:

  • Straight Shank: This is the standard shank design, where the shank is straight from the eye to the bend. It is versatile and widely used across various fishing styles. Straight shank hooks are particularly effective for live bait presentations and allow for a clean, direct hook set.

  • Curved Shank: Shanks that are curved serve specific purposes, often related to fly fishing. The curvature can help in mimicking the natural shape and movement of insects or other prey, making them ideal for fly hooks designed to imitate the body of particular insects. Curved shanks can enhance the lifelike presentation of the fly, increasing the likelihood of a successful catch.

  • Sliced Shank (Bait Holder): This type of shank features barbs or slices cut into it to help anchor soft baits, such as prawns, worms, or other live bait. The barbs prevent the bait from slipping off the hook, ensuring it remains secure and attractive to fish. This design is especially useful in situations where the bait needs to stay in place despite strong currents or active fish.

Each shank design has its unique advantages, tailored to specific fishing techniques and target species, making the selection of the appropriate shank type crucial for successful fishing.

The Point

The point of a fish hook is the sharp end that penetrates the fish's mouth, and its design is critical to the hook's effectiveness. Different types of points are engineered to meet various fishing needs, from catching small fish to securing big-game species. Here are some of the most common types of hook points:

  • Knife Edge Point: This type of point is exceptionally sharp and is primarily used for big-game fishing. The knife edge point is created by grinding two sides of the point, resulting in a sharp, cutting edge that can easily penetrate tough fish mouths. The inner surface of the barb is flat and wider than usual, which increases the holding power and makes it more difficult for large fish to throw the hook. This design ensures that once the hook penetrates, it stays in place, making it ideal for securing strong and aggressive fish.

  • Needle Point: Known for its superior penetration, the needle point is produced using a high-tech grinding process that shapes the point conically. This involves grinding all sides of the point to create a tapering shape, similar to a needle. When properly manufactured, needle points offer the best penetrating quality among all hook points, making them highly effective for a wide range of fishing applications. Their sharpness and shape allow them to easily pierce the fish's mouth, reducing the effort required to set the hook.

  • Barbless Hooks: Increasingly popular in "catch and release" fishing, barbless hooks are designed to minimise harm to fish, facilitating their safe release back into the water. These hooks lack the traditional barb, which can cause significant damage when removing the hook. Without a barb, the hook can be easily and quickly removed, reducing stress and injury to the fish. In some regions, regulations mandate the use of barbless hooks to protect vulnerable fish populations. Anglers can create their own barbless hooks by using pliers to pinch down the barb on a standard hook, providing an easy and cost-effective way to comply with these regulations.

Each type of hook point has its specific advantages and applications, making it essential for anglers to choose the right point based on their target species and fishing conditions.


The bend of the hook is a crucial part of its design, playing a significant role in the hook's strength and effectiveness in holding the fish. The shape and compression of the bend can impact the hook's performance in various fishing conditions.

The bend is often slightly compressed sideways, a design feature that increases its strength by approximately 25%. This compression process enhances the hook's ability to withstand the forces exerted by struggling fish, reducing the likelihood of the hook bending or breaking under pressure. This added strength is particularly beneficial when targeting larger, more powerful fish that can put significant stress on the hook.

There are several common types of bends, each suited to different fishing techniques and target species:

  • Round Bend: This is the most traditional and widely used bend shape. It provides a good balance of strength and hooking efficiency, making it suitable for a variety of fishing situations. The round bend offers a wide gap, which helps ensure a solid hookset.

  • Kirbed Bend: In this design, the point of the hook is offset to one side. This offset can increase the chances of a hookset by allowing the hook to rotate and penetrate the fish's mouth more easily. Kirbed bends are often used in hooks designed for bait fishing.

  • Sproat Bend: This bend features a slightly flattened design, which enhances the hook's strength without compromising its hooking ability. Sproat bends are commonly found in hooks used for fly fishing and other applications where a strong, reliable hook is needed.

  • Aberdeen Bend: Known for its long shank and light wire, the Aberdeen bend is often used in hooks designed for freshwater fishing with live bait. The bend's shape allows for easy baiting and removal, making it a popular choice for targeting species like crappie and panfish.

  • Wide Gap Bend: This bend provides a larger gap between the point and the shank, which can improve hooksets, especially when using bulkier baits. Wide gap hooks are commonly used in bass fishing, where large soft plastics or other substantial baits are used.

The specific bend of a hook can influence its performance in various fishing scenarios. Understanding the different types of bends and their applications can help anglers choose the most suitable hook for their needs, ultimately increasing their chances of a successful catch.

Hook Sizes & Styles

In order to increase the strength of the bend (by approx. 25%), the wire of the bend is slightly compressed sidewise.

a. Size 8 (Kirby Style)
b. Size 1 (O’Shaughnessy style)
c. Size 2 (Aberdeen style)
d. Size 2 (Carlisle style)
e. Size 10/0 (O’Shaughnessy style)

Hooks come in different sizes and styles. For the beginner angler, looking at all those numbers on the packages of hooks can get confusing. However, once we become aware of how the numbering system works, it is easier to picture what size hook corresponds to what number.

The smallest hook available is about a size 22, and hooks increase in size as they decrease in number to 1. 
Following this size, they are numbered 1/0, 2/0, 3/0 and so on. The largest size is generally 20/0. 
Smaller 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0, 10/0, 11/0, 12/0 Larger 

Choosing a Hook

Fishing hook gallery
Fishing hook gallery

The type of hook needed depends largely on the mouth of the fish you want to catch, its size, shape, structure, feeding habits, preferred bait, and fighting style. The right hook can make the difference between catching a fish and losing it. Some hooks come with packaging that suggests the species they are designed for, using text or images. A fishing team member can assist you in selecting a hook.

  • Baitholder Hooks: These have small barbs on the shank to help hold baits on the hook. They are ideal for soft natural baits in both freshwater and saltwater, such as yabbies, prawns, cut pilchards, flesh baits, mullet, chicken gut, pippies, and mussels. This hook is versatile for catching carp, bream, snapper, trevally, trout, flathead, bass, and other species.
  • Longshank Hooks: These are popular for presenting baits like worms, prawns, and yabbies naturally. They are often used for whiting and other fish with small mouths that suck the bait into their mouth. Larger sizes are used for flathead and fish with teeth because the longer shank prevents the fish from biting through the line.
  • Beak Hooks: These are popular among anglers fishing for bream in estuaries. They are also widely used among anglers fishing reefs. The eye of the hook is bent outwards, allowing these hooks to be snelled together for placing more than one hook in larger baits.
  • Kahle Hook: Also known as Bigmouth, this hook design has the eye directly aligned with the point, meaning that the slightest pressure on the point by a fish moving away with the bait pulls directly on the line, causing the point to penetrate. This hook is popular for subtle feeders like silver perch and yellowbelly in freshwater and grunter bream in saltwater. Its shape makes it effective for live baiting with large prawns or poddy mullet.
  • Circle Hooks: These are popular among marlin and game anglers because they reduce the chance of gut hooking a fish that is to be released. The shape allows the fish to eat the bait and begin to swim off, and as the line pressure pulls the hook out of the fish’s mouth, the hook rolls, causing the barb to penetrate into the fish, commonly locking on the jaw hinge. The fish virtually hooks itself, making it less likely to work the hook free.
  • Gang Hooks: These consist of 3 or 4 hooks joined together in series. They allow for presenting larger baits more naturally, providing better coverage and an increased chance of a hook-up. A common gang rig for fishing pilchards may consist of 3 or 4 Mustad 4202D hooks in size 4/0 to 6/0.
  • Treble Hooks: These are generally used on lures. Having three barbs pointing in different directions increases the chance of a hook-up, as a fish may attack a lure from various angles.

Sharpening Hooks

The point and barb of a hook penetrate the fish’s mouth and hold it. Regardless of the shank, gap, and throat style, a sharp point, cutting edges, and a de-burred barb are essential.

  • Use a good file to maintain the cutting edges and angles on a hook. Follow the blade cutting edges and point angles already on the hook to restore them with a file. Remember, a file only cuts on the forward stroke.
  • A single-sided flat file is effective and inexpensive and should be in every angler’s tackle box.
  • Files designed specifically for hooks are the most effective.
  • The Model S Eze-Lap Diamond Sharpener is a conveniently sized diamond steel suitable for sharpening fishing and sporting knives and hooks. It is recognized as a leader in diamond sharpeners, designed to remove metal to create a truly sharp point. The D-shaped steel shaft has a flat surface ideal for knives, while the rounded side contains a groove for hooks and can sharpen scalloped edges of sporting knives. Its pen-type shape and size make it easy to carry in a pocket, tackle box, or backpack.

Other Terminal Tackle

Swivels & Snaps


Designed to stop line twist caused by spinning baits or lures. They can also keep the sinker away from the bait, allowing the bait to move more naturally in the water. Swivels come in various sizes, with a size 10 suitable for light rigs for bream and whiting, moving to larger sizes as the line class gets heavier. It is essential not to use a swivel too large for the line class being used as it will be ineffective in stopping line twist..

Fishing Swivels

3 Way Swivels

Commonly used on paternoster (dropper, bottom) rigs to stop line twist caused by spinning baits. They also provide an attachment point for a dropper, allowing the angler to fish two baits, for example, squid and pilchard/mulie.

Fishing 3 Way Swivels

Snap Swivels

These are swivels with a snap clip attached, stopping line twist and allowing quick and easy attachment of pre-made rigs or lures. Different styles of snap clips are available, rated in terms of breaking strain.

Fishing Snap Swivels

Snap Clips

These are snap swivels without the swivel, allowing easy attachment of pre-made rigs or lures. They come in various styles and are weight-rated to suit the line class and target species.

Fishing Snap Clips

Solid Rings

Used as a connector between line and leader. They do not offer anti-twist properties but provide a light, strong, and smooth connection point.

Fishing Solid Ring

Split Rings

Primarily used for attaching treble hooks to lures.

Fishing Split Ring


  • Ball and Bean Sinkers: Popular in standard running rigs. Ball sinkers roll across the bottom, covering a large area, while bean sinkers are flatter and stay in a desired area.
  • Surf Sinkers: Round like ball sinkers but flattened to settle into the sand, holding the bait in place.
  • Split Shot: Small sinkers used to add small amounts of weight to the line. They are squeezed onto the line and often used to "cock" a float, providing minimal resistance when a fish pulls the float underwater.
  • Snapper and Bomb Sinkers: Used on paternoster rigs, ranging in size from small to over half a kilogram. They can be easily changed by passing a loop knot through the hole at the top and over the bottom of the sinker.
  • Grapnel (Breakaway), Pyramid, and Star Sinkers: Used to lock the bait into the bottom in surf conditions. The grapnel sinker has metal spikes to anchor it, while pyramid and star sinkers are shaped to lock into the bottom.
Fishing Bomb sinkers


Floats are an essential piece of terminal tackle for anglers, providing a versatile tool for targeting various fish species and adapting to different fishing conditions. They are especially useful for targeting fish that feed higher in the water column or have been attracted to an area through the use of burley. Additionally, floats help prevent snags when fishing over rough or snaggy bottoms.

Fishing Float

There is a wide range of floats available, each designed for specific applications. These include pencil floats, blackfish floats, and bobber floats, each with unique features to suit different fishing needs. Some floats come with easy clip attachments, pre-weighted designs, or even burley holders to attract fish to the bait.

Types of Floats

  • Pencil, Stem, and Quill Floats: These finer, lighter floats are designed for light gear, calmer water, and small baits. They are ideal for fish with small mouths and finicky feeders, such as gar and mullet. By 'cocking' the float, which involves weighting it with split shot or sinkers on the line, these floats offer minimal resistance, making it easier for fish to take the bait without being spooked.

  • Blackfish Floats: As the name suggests, these floats were originally designed for chasing blackfish (luderick). They are more buoyant than the finesse pencil and quill floats, making them suitable for faster currents, larger fish, and ocean wash around the rocks. Blackfish floats come in various sizes to match different ocean conditions, bait sizes, and fish species.

  • Round Bobber Floats: These have been one of the most popular general-purpose floats for many years. They are available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate different fishing applications, baits, and fish species. Weighted models simplify rigging and casting.

  • Cone Floats: Sometimes referred to as live bait floats in their larger sizes, cone floats are more buoyant and visible than other floats. In smaller sizes, they are popular for freshwater fishing for species like yellowbelly and light to medium saltwater work. In larger sizes, they are ideal for fishing in strong currents, rough water, around rocks, and for larger live and dead baits. The added buoyancy and visibility make them effective in extreme conditions.

  • Burley Floats: These floats feature a wire corkscrew designed to hold and release burley into the water around your bait, attracting bait fish and predatory species. Burley adds weight to the rig, allowing for longer casts.

  • Running Berley Cages: Threaded onto the line, these cages can be set at any depth under the float. This setup disperses burley closer to the bait, although if the float and cage are too far apart, casting can become more difficult and decrease casting distance.

  • Burley Blobs: Extremely popular in Western Australia, these high-density plastic floats are heavier than foam floats, increasing casting distance. They have swivels at each end for easy rigging and a hole through the center that can be filled with burley. This design increases casting weight without compromising the float's aerodynamic shape.

Rigging and Using Floats

Many floats come fitted with swivels, spring clips, and stoppers to make rigging easy. For those floats not equipped with these attachments, float stoppers are available. Float stoppers come in two main forms: plastic pins that push into the hole in the float to lock the line against the float and small rubber stoppers that slide firmly onto the line, preventing the float from moving. Both types allow easy adjustment of the depth at which the bait sits below the float, enhancing versatility and effectiveness in various fishing conditions.


Choosing the right terminal tackle, including hooks, swivels, and floats, is essential for successful fishing. Understanding the various components and their specific applications can significantly improve your fishing experience, whether you're a beginner or an experienced angler. By selecting the appropriate hook type, size, and style, and by using the right floats and swivels, you can increase your chances of catching your target species while minimizing harm to the fish. Investing in quality tackle and learning the nuances of each piece will make your fishing trips more productive and enjoyable.  Shop all fishing gear at Camping Australia.