Terminal tackle is a critical part of bass fishing tackle. It’s the part that helps us hook and land the fish or give our lures the proper presentation to appear more realistic or aggravating, as the case may be, to the bass.
Terminal tackle can cover many small items that include but are not limited to the following:
But to be good at fishing you need to know what different types of terminal tackle are out there and what purpose each one might serve to a bass angler. We won’t get into them all here but here is a brief explanation about the main two—hooks and sinkers.
Probably the most important piece of terminal tackle out there would be fishing hooks. This is how we’re able to snare a bass that bites and hopefully land the fish. Everything from wire strength, bend, shank shape, style and size matter with bass fishing hooks. One hook might be better than another for a certain application while another one might be better for a style of soft plastic or lure than the other.
Essentially you have three types of hooks for bass fishing. Those are worm hooks, treble hooks and live bait hooks. A treble hook is a 3-pronged hook that attaches to most hard lures like crankbaits, topwaters, jerkbaits, etc. Worm hooks are basically hooks made for rigging soft plastics in a natural looking presentation usually in conjunction with some sort of slip sinker. Live bait hooks are, as the name implies, intended for rigging live bait to lure bass into biting.
To keep it simple a hook is a strong piece of stainless steel, bronze or other metal sharpened on the point with an eye to attach the hook to a lure or to tie the line to directly when bass fishing. The lighter gauge metal used the more the hook will flex while fighting a big fish, but the easier it will penetrate on a hook set. The wider the gap, or area between the hook point and the shank or eye of the hook, the more “bite” it will have. This simply means there is more area for a bulkier plastic bait to move out of the way on a hookset. It can also mean there is more hooking area.
Hooks are measured by number and ought sizes. Number hooks are designated as No. 1, No. 2, No. 4, etc. The basic rule of thumb is that a No. 1 hook is 3 sizes larger than a No. 4 hook. And a No. 4 hook is two sizes larger than a No. 6 hook.
Conversely, after No. 1 hooks are measured as 1/0, 2/0, 3/0 etc. These “ought hooks” are the opposite of the No. hooks in that a 1/0 hook is smaller than a 3/0 hook and a 3/0 hook is smaller than a 6/0 hook. So if someone says they had on a No. 6 hook. That is a tiny hook compared to a 6/0 hook.
We’ve written a good piece on choosing hooks for soft plastics and a few pieces on using red treble hooks and long shank trebles versus short shanks as well as a simple video on how to change treble hooks.
Weights and jigheads
In bass fishing, weights, often called sinkers, are generally used with soft plastics. You have bullet weights for Texas rigging, bell sinkers and cylinder sinkers for drop shot, egg sinkers for Carolina rigging, split-shots for finesse fishing, and even clip on or add on weights for weighting hooks.
Slip sinkers, or sinkers that have a hole in them intended to thread your fishing lure through so they can slide up and down the line, are often used for Texas rigging and Carolina rigging. Bell sinkers and cylinder sinkers have an eye at the top of the weight intended to tie to the end of your line with a plastic or live bait hook usually tied some distance up the line from the weight. And split shots can be pinched on your line just above the hook or lure you intend to fish to give it a natural slow fall or to keep a livebait from swimming up to the surface the whole time.
Sometimes a weight is attached or molded to the eye of a hook in a certain shape to form a jighead. It’s merely another way to weight a soft plastic lure and keep it all in one piece more like a jig. You thread the plastic onto the jighead and it fishes more like a jig than a slip sinker or drop shot type of rig.
Sinkers can range in weight from 1/64 ounce up to 2 ounces for most bass fishing applications. The weight often has to do with the depth you want to fish or the density of the cover you need to penetrate. If you want an ultra slow fall on a little finesse plastic in clear water, you might pinch a small 1/32-ounce piece of split shot on your line. If you need to punch your lure through some matted grass in 10 feet of water, you might want to use a 1-ounce slip sinker to get the bait through the cover and down to the bass underneath.
But the general rule is use the least amount of weight you can get away with but still feel what your lure is doing. The more weight you put on a lure, the more it will want to snag. The lighter the weight, the harder it is to stay in contact with your lure and feel when something changes, i.e. a fish bites. If bottom contact is key, you may need more weight in wind, current and deeper water. The calmer it is, the lighter weights you’ll throw, essentially.
Check out our Terminal Tackle Reviews for specific products.
For a better idea of when to use which lure, check out our Bass Fishing Lure Selector Chart. For more information, see our How to Bass Fish Guide, When to Bass Fish Guide and Where to Bass Fish Guide.