Hook Sizes for Deep Drop Fishing

Posted by Alex H on

The most often asked question when it comes to deep drop fishing is, "what size hooks do I need?"

While the answer varies wildly depending on what you are targeting, this article will help point you in the right direction. Regardless of hook sizes, we will only be using circle hooks when we deep drop fish.  The circle hook is a much more effective hook when we are bottom fishing in such deep water.  Additionally, there seems to be less pulled hooks when bringing these fish up from the deep when using circle hooks.  Before we begin, it is important to know that hook sizes change from one model to another even if they are the same brand!

For example: The Mustad 39960 circle hook in 8/0 is actually much smaller than other Mustad circle hook sizes, and is actually comparable to a 3/0!

We stock a full line of Mustad 39960 circle hooks from 8/0-20/0 as well as 3x strong black nickel circle hooks.  We have found these hooks to be the most reliable option for deep drop fishing, and the Mustad 39960 hook has been the standard for commercial fisherman for decades. So which hook do you need?

1-3lb Snapper:
For the various different species including Vermillion Snapper, Lane Snapper, Silk snapper, Blackfin Snapper , these smaller snappers can be caught using a Mustad 39960 10/0 hook, of the 6/0 black nickel circle hook. Both relatively the same size, and equally effective.

3-5lb Snapper:
11/0-13/0 Mustad 39960 hooks will be most effective for these snapper as they tend to have a larger mouth with lets us move up to a larger hook. The 8/0 black nickel hook is also an excellent choice.

Blackbelly Rosefish:
These fish have a unusually large mouth for their size and are very aggressive. Even small blackbelly rosefish will not have an issue getting hooked with a 12/0 or 13/0 circle.

Queen Snapper: Queens can vary in size, but a 13/0 hook will work for any queen out there, even the smaller ones.

Golden Tilefish:
If you are specifically targeting goldens, 14/0 should be the minimum size. Even the smallest goldens have a large mouth so its best to stay with a bigger hook should larger goldens be in the area. If you know there are big fish (40-50lb) in the area, do not be afraid to move up to a 15/0 or even a 16/0

Blueline Tilefish:
Our go to blueline tilefish hook is the 8/0 black nickel hook, which is close to the 12/0 Mustad 39960 hook. This hook size will work fine for the smaller 5-10lb tilefish as well as larger ones if they are in the area.

Any grouper will not have an issue inhaling a 15/0 hook. You will want to move up to a 16/0 hook if you are putting on big slabs of bait.

Black Seabass:
11/0-12/0 39960 hook or the 8/0 black nickel hook will both work well for black seabass.

In summary:
There is no one size fits all when it comes to hooks.  While you don't need a rig for every size hook, it would be wise to cover your bases when it comes to deep drop fishing. Circle hooks are designed to work a certain way and hook fish in the corner of the mouth, so you want to be sure you have the appropriate size for the target species.  If the hook is too small it will not be able to set itself correctly in the corner of the mouth.


As always, if you have any specific questions feel free to contact me and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.


  • Need help with hook selection, we fish off the coast of Mexico we typically catch 16 to 20 lb big red’s… hook size selection, we paid everything with squid and or shrimp ?


    Mike JACOBUS on

  • I am a novice to deep dropping.
    Do the glow squid produce better than plain baited hooks for grouper and tiles?
    Do you normally put bait with the glow squid?
    ps . we fish off of Louisiana

    Patrick Savoy on

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