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Jug Fishing Hooks

Jug Fishing Hooks

Hooks for jug fishing are a topic that I get questioned on frequently. People are always asking me “what are the best hooks for jug fishing for catfish”.

This like just about everything that has to do with catfishing is a topic that has many variables to it and choosing the best hooks for catfish jug fishing really depends a lot on the target species of catfish and the size of that particular species the angler chooses to be his primary target.

There are many different options to consider before making a purchase. I have used just about everything out there over the years and have learned a lot through successes and failures. If you are looking to get started making catfish juglines then this is a good general guide to get you started with the right tackle.


Hooks For Channel and Blue Catfish Jug Fishing – Targeting 1-10 Lb Fish

Juglining for channel catfish most often entails targeting numbers of fish in the 1-10 lb range. Like targeting any other species of catfish there is always opportunity to catch larger fish but when the primary target is in the 1-10 lb range my choice is the Eagle Claw L197F Circle Hook in size 5/0. These are good and sharp straight from the box and they are relatively inexpensive when you need to buy in larger quantities for outfitting lots of catfish jugs. If you are rigging juglines with 2-3 drops per jug and making 25 or 30 catfish jugs then the cost of tackles can really get expensive quickly, but not with this hook as a box of 50 runs less than $10.

For years I used size 1 stainless steel j-hooks (like the Mustad Model 95160). Please note that is size 1, not 1/0. A size 1 j-hook is significantly smaller than a 1/0.  I had tremendous success with these small stainless steel j-hooks but they are very expensive and compared to the Eagle Claw L197F Circle Hook my experience is that the hookset ratio for smaller fish is significantly higher than with the J-Hooks. You also have a significantly higher number of deep hooked fish and reduced mortality rate using such a small hook.

The Eagle Claw L197F Circle Hook is an excellent choice for both free floating (drifting) and anchored juglines as well.

Product Link: Eagle Claw L197F


Options For Blue and Flathead Catfish Jug Fishing – Targeting Fish 10 Lbs and Up

The 5/0 Eagle Claw L197F Circle Hook mentioned above will perform catching catfish over ten pounds. I have caught catfish on juglines up to 60 lbs on these hooks and had great success with them. The problem becomes keeping the catfish on the hooks for extended periods of time and also landing the fish. My experience has been using these hooks is that you have tendency to lose a lot of bigger catfish prior to getting back to the catfish jugs or while trying to get them in the boat. Because the hooks have a small gap in them and don’t clear the lips of larger catfish very well the fish have tendency to throw the hooks often.

For this reason if you are primarily targeting blues or channels over ten pounds you should increase the hook size to the Eagle Claw L197F size 7/0 or change your hook all together. The Eagle Claw L197F 7/0 is certainly the least expensive option I will be covering in the article.

The second hook is the Mustad Ultra Demon 39951BLN Circle Hook Size 10/0. This is one of my all around favorite hooks for big catfish ever and I have had tremendous success with this hook for both rod and reel fishing, jug fishing and trotline fishing over the years. These hooks are super sharp right out of the box and have a good wide gap in them that is capable of getting a good hookset on the biggest of catfish and will not only hook them well but hold well also. The Mustad Ultra Demon Circle Hook 39951BLN is priced slightly higher than the Eagle Claw L197F at $7.99 per 25 pack.

Last but not least is the Daiichi Circle Chunk Light Size 7/0 which is comparable in size to the Mustad Ultra Demon Circle Hook 39951BLN Size 10/0. The Daiichi Circle Chunk Light is available in a red finish and a nickel finish as well. These hooks again have a large gap, are super sharp straight from the box and also have a large ringed eye on them required for rigging catfish jugs. The Daiichi Circle Chunk Light is priced slightly higher than the other hooks listed above at $3.99 per 3 Pack but they perform very well when jugging for big cats.


Product Links:

Daiichi Circle Chunk Light Size 7/0

Mustad Ultra Demon 39951BLN Circle Hook Size 10/0


Stainless Steel Options

The stainless steel hook has been popularized in setline fishing because they can be left in the water for extended periods of time and will not rust or dull because of being left in the water. They will have moss and debris grow on them when left in the water for extended periods of time but it can typically be easily rubbed off when baiting your hooks.

Stainless steel hooks have been used by trotline fishermen for generations and much of this tradition carried over to anglers who are learning how to fish with juglines.

Stainless steel costs much more than the circle hook options I have outlined above and because most anglers will not leave their catfish juglines set in the water for long periods of time they are really not a necessity for jug fishing and in my opinion not a good option for jug fishing. These should be reserved for trotlines that will be left in the water for extended periods of time.


I have had tremendous success with all of the above hooks through the years. If you are looking for hooks for jug fishing then first determine what your goals, target species and sizes are and then you can determine the best jug fishing tackle based on the information provided above. Like anything else, there often times is not one good all around solution for tackle, but if I had to choose one hook it would be the Eagle Claw L197F Circle Hook in size 5/0 or even 6/0.

To get a full in depth training on how to make the best catfish juglines, rigging them and even details on the best baits to use and exactly how to find locations to set your fishing jugs check out our Jug Fishing 101 training course.

Some other articles that might interest you regarding jug fishing are:

How To Make The Best Jugs For Jugline Fishing

Rigging Juglines

Free Floating Juglines (Drifting Jugs)

Jugline Fishing Basics


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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Chad,


    Thanks, for the good advice on hooks… I am learning about different

    kinds of tackle from your articles… I’ve always been a pole, string,

    hook & sinker fisherman.. little ones for bream&perch; larger ones for

    crappie; bigger ones for all catfish… Thanx, for the eddikashun!!!!

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