How to Rig Soft Baits on Worm Hooks

New saltwater fishing-hook breeds allow for innovative soft-bait riggings.

Saltwater fishing worm hooks

Not Your Ordinary Worm Hook

A pile of distinctly designed worm hooks present anglers with plenty of rigging choices for soft baits.Jon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

It’s high time to reconsider the worm hook. Plenty more options exist than the round-bend, long-shanked hook with a stair-step below the eye. Hooks today are manufactured for specific bait molds and fishing techniques, not the other way around. Plus they’re built with high-strength material like high-carbon steel, points out VMC’s Dan Quinn.

Worm hooks should really be called soft-bait hooks, and the newest trends from manufacturers reflect the transformation. “Anglers want wide-gap styles,” says Eagle Claw Trokar’s category manager Matt Gray, “as angling techniques steer toward larger and more-robust soft plastics. Unique keepers affixed to the hook also help prolong a bait’s life.”

A hook point’s sharpness is vital. “Watch out for hooks with points that ‘roll’ very easily,” explains Mustad’s Steve Tagami. “That means there’s not enough metal at the hook point to hold up under pressure. Your effectiveness goes way down if the point is ruined.”

Hook designs are as varied as the fish species they can target. Here, Sport Fishing highlights innovative ­saltwater hooks from numerous manufacturers. You might find a couple of new favorites to replace the old standbys.

Daiichi Shrimp Shaker

HIGHLIGHT: Double-eye hook allows drop-shot tactics in salt water.

Daiichi Shrimp Shaker
SIZES: 1 to 2/0 • PRICE: $4, four per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: Daiichi's Shrimp Shaker is a high-carbon fine-wire hook built with Forged Needle Point Technology to prevent point rollover. Inspired by success from fresh water, anglers can drop-shot artificial shrimp into potholes with this hook. The Shrimp Shaker's doubleeye is easy to rig — tie a knot such as the palomar to the top eye, and run the tag end through the second eye, securing the tag with a small weight. Available in black nickel and red Bleeding Bait finishes.

Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp HP Tour ment Hook

HIGHLIGHT: The kahle hook features a unique keeper for tube baits.

Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp HP Tour ment Hook
SIZES: 2/0 to 4/0 • PRICE: $5.50, six per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: Popularized for rigging tubes, Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp's HP is a forged-steel kahle hook with a unique SS clip to hold soft baits at the eye of the hook. The keeper is attached directly to the hook eye. Because of its kahle-hook shape, rigging a soft bait requires an entry point at an angle to the head instead of a straight-on puncture. Experiment with any smaller soft plastic that doesn't need weight, or can be rigged with the weight farther up the leader.

HIGHLIGHT: Use this light-wire circle hook to nose-hook soft baits.

Gamakatsu Nautilus Light fishing worm hook
SIZES: 2 to 8/0 • PRICE: $4, six per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: Gamakatsu's Nautilus Light isn't a typical worm hook, but anglers have figured out that nose-hooking soft baits with 2/0 and 3/0 hooks offers better action in the water. This is not the bait to throw in cover; use it if you want a high hookup ratio in open water. Plus fish tend not to swallow the hook. The Gamakatsu light-wire hook was developed for fishing fragile baits and built from forged high-carbon steel, an ideal combo for soft baits such as paddle tails.

HIGHLIGHT: The sickleshape hook bend with weight forward handles 14-inch baits.

Hogy Barbarian Swimbait Hook 3X Weighted
WEIGHT: 1/2 and 1 ounces • SIZES: 10/0 to 12/0 • PRICE: $4, one per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: Hogy's Barbarian Swimbait is a 3x-strong VMC sickle-shape hook meant to handle 12- to 18-inch Hogy baits. The hook bend's V shape locks fish close to the shank and prevents hook straightening. A forward weight and screwstyle keeper at the hook eye allow for a secure connection to make longer casts. This hook is geared for tough fish such as stripers and tuna.

HIGHLIGHT: The Grip-Pin and weight on hook shank are encased in polymer coating.

Mustad Weighted KVD Grip-Pin
WEIGHT: 1/16, 1/8 and ⅜ ounces • SIZES: 3/0 to 6/0 • PRICE: $6, three per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: The Weighted Grip-Pin is an expansion of Mustad's popular Grip-Pin series. All Grip-Pin hooks feature Mustad's 4.3 Micro Sharp Point Technology and keeper barb near the hook eye, but this hook also incorporates a belly weight system. The entire hook shank is encased in a slim, polymer coating for a streamlined shell. The weighted Grip-Pin is an ideal hook to pop-and-pause jerkbaits on the retrieve.

HIGHLIGHT: A bean-shape weighted head and split ring attach to the hook eye.

Owner Ultrahead Pivot Head
WEIGHT: 1/8, 1/4 and ⅜ ounces • SIZES: 3/0 to 5/0 • PRICE: $7, two per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: Owner's Pivot Head design creates an erratic swim behavior in plastic baits. The hook is versatile on its own, under a popping cork or with an umbrella rig. The weighted head and split ring act like a jig head, cutting out any need for additional weight. Heads come in a blackmatte finish, and hooks are black chrome. Utilize the Pivot Head by Texas-rigging swimbaits with the hook point riding up.

HIGHLIGHT: Designed with bait keeper, wide gap and center weight for big swimbaits.

Trokar Magnum Weighted Swimbait
WEIGHT: 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 and ½ ounces • SIZES: 3/0 to 9/0 • PRICE: $10, three per packJon Whittle / Sport Fishing Magazine

RUNDOWN: Trokar's Magnum Weighted Swimbait is a forged heavy-gauge hook with a screw- style bait keeper to handle large swimbaits for cobia, calico bass and even small tuna. The belly weight allows this bait to run deep or offset a buoyant soft bait. Trokar's surgically sharpened hook creates a triple-sided point for easy penetration through plastic into a fish jaw.

VMC X-Long Wide Gap

HIGHLIGHT: An extended Z-bend leg tapers into a widegap hook for fat soft baits.

SIZES: 3/0 to 5/0 • PRICE: $4, five per packJon Whittle

RUNDOWN: VMC's X-Long Wide Gap hook doesn't incorporate weight; instead it's specifically designed for hollow-body soft plastics. Hooks are forged from vanadium steel with a black-nickel finish. The X-Long holds the soft bait to the hook with an elongated locking-bend design and microbarb near the resin-closed eye. The hook shank leads to a widegap gape that terminates at a 3-degree offset hook point. The wide gap allows space for bigger and wider soft baits than traditional worm hooks.