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May 10, 2012

Fishing Hook Construction

Explore the ABCs of how saltwater fishing hooks are made

Peek inside the tackle box of a serious angler, and you’ll find a wide variety of hooks in all shapes and sizes. Circle hooks, J hooks, treble hooks, live bait hooks, O’Shaughnessy hooks, assist hooks, hooks for soft plastics — the list goes on and on. But have you ever wondered what goes into making these little pieces of metal? Have you ever ­considered a hook’s composition and construction?

Over the years, manufacturers have honed the art of hook making into a real science. And that’s a good thing, because the hook is arguably fishing’s most important piece of terminal tackle.

Stainless — Rust Resistant
All manufacturers develop and protect their own special “recipes” when it comes to hook construction, but there are really only two types of metal wire used these days: stainless steel and high‑carbon steel.

Stainless-steel hooks have been around forever. While not as strong as carbon steel, stainless holds a key advantage for saltwater anglers — it’s much more corrosion resistant.

Nickel is the key ingredient that wards off rust. The more nickel in a stainless blend, the less corrosion. Of course, higher nickel content also leads to brittleness, which is not a good thing in hooks.

Four varieties of stainless steel are commonly used in manufacturing, says Jeff Pierce, sales manager at O. Mustad & Son Inc., and each possesses its own unique set of qualities. Mustad uses Martensitic stainless steel. It contains an ideal nickel composition; Martensitic is not the most corrosion-resistant variety of stainless, but it is harder and stronger than many others.

Stainless-steel hooks have other advantages too, according to Matt Gray, marketing manager at Wright & McGill, which owns the Eagle Claw hook brand. “They generally have a sharper point right out of the package,” he says.

Still, a stainless-steel hook has an inherent problem as it relates to recreational fishing: Because it doesn’t rust quickly, it’s not always good for the fish.
“If you break one off and the hook is deep, it won’t rust out and the fish could die,” explains Tony Shitanishi, national sales manager at Owner American Corp.