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Best Surf Fishing Hooks: Everything You Need to Know

Surf fishing requires specialized tackle like long, tough rods that load well with heavy sinkers and can take the stress of snap casting. You’ll also need an excellent reel that holds plenty of line, sports a smooth drag, and offers fight-winning torque.

But what about hooks? Which styles and sizes are the best options for surf fishing?

If those questions leave you scratching your head, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll review our favorite picks for surf fishing and explain why these are your best bets:

Also Read: Best Fishing Hooks Based On Technique

Best Surf Fishing Hooks Reviewed

Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks - Best Surf Fishing Hook for Snelling

Gamakatsu Octopus Hooks

Available at: Bass Pro

Sizes: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0, and 10/0

Gamakatsu’s octopus hooks are legendary in the surf for a reason.

They’re terribly sharp, very strong, and sized from a tiny 10 to a massive 10/0. Whatever live bait you choose, whichever species you’re chasing, the right hook is there for you.

These Gamakatsu’s feature an offset eye that’s designed for snelling. If you tie directly to the eye, performance can suffer.

Instead, tie a Uni Snell or Easy Snell, and you’ll experience reliable hooksets, almost no gut hooks, and lots and lots of fish on the sand.

And the careful design of an octopus hook - its wide gap and pronounced bend - place the point in position for self-hooking while your rod is safely held by a sand spike.


  • Extremely sharp
  • Very strong
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Perfect for snelling
  • Self-hooking


  • Must be snelled to work properly

Owner Mutu Light Circle Hooks - Best Light-Wire Circle Hook

Owner Mutu Light Circle Hooks

Available at: Bass Pro

Sizes: 2, 6, 10, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0

While not available in as many sizes as the Gamakatsu octopus, Owner’s Mutu Light Circle Hooks are ideal for truly live bait.

Offered in sizes that cover the sweet spot for surf fishing, these hooks are constructed from thinner wire that helps to minimize injury to minnows and other live bait that needs to stay alive and kicking.

And nothing beats a swimming fish to attract attention in the surf!

By design, these Owners are made for standard terminal knots like the Palomar rather than snelling, and the aggressive bend and “hangnail” point are perfect for self-hooking while your rod is in a holder.

Sharp, reliable, and sized right, the Owner Mutu Light Circle Hook is what you’re looking for with live bait.


  • Extremely sharp
  • Strong
  • Perfect range of sizes
  • Designed for typical terminal knots
  • Self-hooking


  • Not as strong as a standard hook

Gamakatsu Nautilus Circle Hooks - Best In-Line Circle Hook

Gamakatsu Nautilus Circle Hooks

Available at: Bass Pro

Sizes: 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, and 6/0

Not to be outdone, Gamakatsu offers a beefy circle hook with an in-line eye for anglers who prefer not to snell.

These Nautilus hooks are offered on the larger end, ranging from a 1 to a 6/0. That covers the range of sizes most commonly thrown from the beach, and it gives you just the right size for live bait like cut mullet, shrimp, squid, and crabs.

And whether you're working the surf for blues, hoping to hit a bull red, or hunting stripers, you’ll know that these hooks are sharp and strong.

Like all circle hooks, the Gamakatsu Nautilus is designed to punch home on its own while your rod is secure in a sand spike.


  • Extremely sharp
  • Very strong
  • Perfect range of sizes
  • Designed for typical terminal knots
  • Self-hooking


  • ???

What You Should Look for in the Perfect Surf-Fishing Hook

Obviously, we’re recommending a pretty narrow range of hooks for surf fishing. 

As you’ll see, we have good reasons for this choice.

Why octopus and circle styles?

Octopus and circle hooks feature a unique shape that offers two awesome advantages.

First, they’re self-hooking and limit gut hooks.

Octopus and circle hooks offer a wide, curving gap that brings the point back in line with the eye. That design feature, more pronounced in circle than in octopus hooks, is perfect for situations where your rod will be in a holder when a fish strikes.

Rather than ripping your roid overhead to drive the hook home, these designs automatically slide into place when the fish takes your bait; all you need to do is start picking up line.

J-hooks result in far more gut hooks than octopus or circle hooks do.

J-hooks, the typical design most people think of when they imagine a fishing hook, won’t do that. Instead, you need to set the hook vigorously, and that needs to happen before the fish has a chance to swallow it and end up hooking itself in the guts.

The second advantage of these designs is a wide gap that creates lots of space for your chosen live bait. And whether you’re hooking a live menhaden or a halved crab, the right size hook will pair perfectly with your choice.

Which size is right for you?

Common surf fishing species include flounder, speckled trout, bluefish, reds, and snook. That’s far from a complete list, but let’s take this as a good starting point.

A good middle-ground for surf fishing is a 2/0 to 3/0 hook.

The most common hook choice for these species are circle or octopus hooks in sizes 2/0-3/0, 1/0-2/0, 3/0-5/0, 1/0-3/0, 3/0-4/0, respectively.

What does that tell you?

The range runs from 1/0 to 5/0 with a solid middle ground of 2/0-3/0.

If you’re only going to run a single hook size, 2/0 or 3/0 is a good bet.

I’d recommend bringing more sizes than that, maybe a few #2s for croaker and spot, and maybe a few 4/0s or 5/0s in case big blues or snook are the order of the day when you get to the beach.

To snell or not to snell?

Whether or not you should snell your hooks is something there’s no strong agreement about. 

Snelled hooks reduce tangles when you’re running multiple leaders.

Some anglers won’t use anything but a snell knot, while others can’t stand them.

The advantages of snelling are clear: a properly tied snell knot creates a very strong connection to your hook, and in rigs with multiple hooks, snelling keeps them oriented as they should be and reduces tangling.

The downside of snelling is that it can be tough to accomplish with heavy leader material, as well as generally being slower than knots like the Palomar.

I snell my hooks for rigs like the High/Low, and that keeps tangling to a minimum.

And of course, I snell any offset eye hooks, and you should, too.

Final Thoughts

You don’t need a truly wide range of hooks for surf fishing, and if you’re not already using circle or octopus hooks, you really should give them a try.

Each of the hooks we’ve reviewed today is a real winner, with clear choices if you prefer to snell or like live fish as bait.

As always, we hope you’ve learned something from this article, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.