Gamakatsu Top Tuna Hooks

As a fishing professional in both the fresh water bass fishing and the long range sport fishing arena’s for the past 40-years I have been blessed to be able to use and critique much of what our industry provides to today’s fishermen.   The first thing I will tell you is that as a serious tournament fishermen I make no bones about it … I want the best hook that is available to maximize my chance to cash a check in every tournament.  I chose Gamakatsu long ago as my hook of choice because of their extreme sharpness and their propensity to keep the fish hooked.   You won’t find many professional bass fishermen that don’t use Gamakatsu hooks in their arsenal; At least those that want to cash checks at the end of the day.

Gamakatsu hooks
Stan Vanderburg

I started using the Gamakatsu live bait hooks many years back when the offshore bite got touchy.   We had small bait in the receivers and you had to use light line to get a bite.  I went to the Octopus hooks because they were light wire but extremely strong.  Another big factor is that the rings were smooth.  Fishermen may not think of that, but it makes a major difference to have eye of the hook smooth all the way around.  If you have a big glob of silver solder that your line rubs up against, it can cost you fish because your line can wear out rubbing up against it.   To be honest, I was very apprehensive about using that small light wire hook on 20 to 35-pound tuna.  I wasn’t sure that they wouldn’t bend or break.

Gamakatsu hooksAfter several fish, I quit worrying.  They became my go to bait hook for anchovies and small sardines.  They weigh nothing, and they are so sharp that they go through your bait without injuring it.

Hook weight makes a big difference when your bait presentation is critical.

You need a lively bait that can swim without the hook hindering his ability. Less weight in the hook is the first thing a fisherman should consider.  The lighter wire hook does less damage to the bait so it swims better. Little things like that can make the difference between getting a bite or just hoping for one.   You have to have a lively bait to catch fish.

Octopus circleThe little ringed or un-ringed Octopus hooks from Gamakatsu have been a proven killer when you need stealth and strength.

I started using the Gamakatsu live bait hooks when I needed the smaller hook presentation and still wanted to keep the strength of the hook for bigger fish.   Guadalupe Island, and Alejos Rocks were the testing grounds for me.  Fish could be anywhere from 30-pounds to 130.   Back then, everybody called any hook from over seas a designer hook.   Some of the other companies had problems with breaking or bending so the designer hook had kind of a bad connotation to it.  That didn’t bother me.  Every time that I used the Gamakatsu hook, they preformed perfectly.  Gamakatsu offers a little lighter wire hook that is very sharp, so that I didn’t wound the bait.   They gave me a better presentation because the sardine didn’t have to carry as much weight when it swam away from the boat.  The better they swim, the better you chance of a bite and every little bit counts in presentation.

livebait GamakatsuJust last year on my 5-day trip we were fishing for 100-pound + bluefin.  We were lucky and got a load of squid for bait, but they were very small.   So I went to the box and found some Gamakatsu # 1 Live Bait hooks.  I tied them on 50# with a slider and game on again.  I had my limit of those big guys in the first hour without any issues at all. I can pull as hard as I want and never worry.  That’s why I love these hooks.

To date, I have never had a Gamakatsu Live Bait hook that bent or broke on me yet.  I think they would break before they bent.   If you really look at what we are doing out there, you will understand how great these hooks are.  You are only pulling what the pressure of the drag on your reel is set for.   Lets say you’re fishing 50# test.  Your drag is usually set at 25% of the line strength.  That’s about 12-pounds of drag.  15-pounds would be 30% of the line strength. That will hurt most of the fishermen out there; putting a 15-pound weight on the end of a 7’ rod will beat you up.  You have to depend on that hook sinking into the bone of that fish’s jaw.

tuna hooksSharp is the key here.

The other thing you have to depend on is that your hook doesn’t bend.  If they bend a little you lose a lot.  With Gamakatsu you never have to worry about that.

Just last year on my 14-day trip down to Clarion Island for big tuna I put them to use again.  The bait was very small; lots of 4-inch sardines.  I went to the tackle box and pulled some 4/0 HD Live Bait hooks with no rings to use on those 150 to 200-pound tuna.   Game On !!   Fishing 100# and 130# test, time after time I got bit and never had one break or bend.

tuna hooksOnce in a while you would pull a hook, but that is to be expected with big fish and small hooks.  I threw in a picture of one of the tuna with a Blue Gami “ J “ live bait hook stuck right where it’s supposed to be.  I can’t say enough about how much I depend on these hooks.

Gamakatsu NautilusI have come to find over the years that the absolute best big tuna hook on the market is the Gamakatsu Nautilus for several reasons.   If you use ringed hooks, then you will appreciate the super smooth ring on the Gamakatsu hook.  When you are on one of those trophy tuna down below, the last thing I want to worry about is the line rubbing up against the weld of the ring on my hook. You can be on these fish for hours and everything counts.   So if you like ringed hooks, the Nautilus is your best choice.  The other thing I REALLY like is the offset bend and point angle to the Nautilus.  If you look it is different that all the rest.  Again the sharpness of the point is amazing.  The angle that the hook pulls into the mouth of the fish is the absolute best for big tuna in my opinion.

These hooks just like to stay in the fish.

Another important factor is the small barb.  Many of the hooks have a larger barb that produces a large hole in the mouth of the fish as the fight prolongs.  A little slack when he shakes his head and he gets rid of the hook.  You will see if you use the Gamakatsu hook, once it gets into jaw bone of that fish, you will have to use your pliers to get it out.   I have had many anglers that I fish with say over and over that they have switched to the Nautilus hook after trying them. Some prefer the ring while others like to go without the ring for stealth, but everyone loves the hook once they try it.

What’s the difference some ask? Just a little less weight than the other hooks but super sharp and super strong.

Getting bit is all about presentation…presentation…presentation!!

Gamakatsu hook
Stan Vanderburg (L) and Alex Romans (R)

My buddy Alex Romans fished the Cabo Tuna Challenge for the last three years.  His first year he had the big fish right to the gaff and the hook broke.  He wasn’t very happy…  The next year I told him to just use the Gamakatsu’s I gave you and you won’t have that problem.

heavy live baitBingo.. a 293-pound tuna on a 4/0 HD live bait hook for the win.

He went again last year.  Alex lamented, “I had the big fish under the boat this year and the hook pulled.  I was using the hook the deck hand tied on instead of one of my Gamakatsu… it won’t happen again.”

Gamakatsu hooksAll I can say is, give them shot on your next big fish adventure and give yourself a chance to prove what I have been telling people for years.  Without a doubt, these are the best tuna hooks out there!

Best Wishes for Big Fishes

Check out the Gamakatsu website to get your hands on these cutting edge hooks.

Stan Vandenburg is passionate about his fishing, whether he’s fishing the professional bass circuit or running long range trips for giant tuna. He has been a “fishing professional” for over 40 years and works hard to humbly share the knowledge he has gained in that time. As a host of the Rod...