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Tying Fish Hooks - Snelling Fish Hooks

Paul's Fishing Kites have conducted extensive research on fish hook types, hook sizes, and the effects of tying fishing hooks versus snelling fishing hooks in the New Zealand snapper fishery.

It was found that the type of fishing hook knots used has a significant effect on catch rates.

Circle hooks with a snell knot were found to have the highest catch rate by a considerable margin and caught more than twice as many fish as either O'Shaugnessy and Octopus patterned hooks of the same size.

Circle hooks have to be snelled as shown to get the better catch rate.

The method of tying fishing hooks was also investigated and a difference in catch rate between tying a circle hook versus snelling a circle hook was determined to be around 20% in favor of the snell knot. See the diagrams below on how to tie a fishing knot to attach the hook to the trace.

Snelled fishing hooks

Besides improved catch rates, the snell knot takes only seconds per hook to tie. The resulting attachment is one of the strongest fishing knots around, whereas tying to the eye of the hook weakens the trace by as much as 40% (depending on the knot used and the skill of the fisherman tying the knot).

The best snelled fishing hooks found in the extensive sea trials (over 10,000 hooks were set) are available from Paul's Fishing Kites. The snell is the easiest fish hook tying knot around.

There are two types available

  • Nickel Teflon : 4/0 & 5/0
    For conventional fishing with rods and reels from boat or shore.
  • Seaguard Coated : 4/0 & 5/0
    These have a smaller eye for tighter snelling and are best for longlines, kite fishing and kon tiki rigs.

Paul's Fishing Kites full range of hook products can be found here


Knot Tying Illustration-How to Snell a Fishing Hook

tying fishing hooks

Fishing Hook Knot Tying

Snelling is a very simple method of fishing hook knot tying and the snell knot is the strongest of all saltwater fishing hook knots.

Tying fishing hooks

  • First pass the trace through the eye of the hook from the front of the hook. Only pass it through about half an inch.
  • Hold the shank of the hook and the half inch tab end and wrap the trace around both the shank of the hook and the tab end 7 or 8 turns.
  • Pass the trace back down through the eye of the hook from the back of the hook.
  • Pull the trace tight while holding the hook to set the snell.
  • There should be very little or no tag end protruding when the knot is set.


If the hook curls up towards the trace you have snelled the hook correctly. We believe that snelling a hook like this makes the trace act as a spring and improves the hook up rate and also prevents the fish from throwing the hook.


Knot Tying Illustration-Two Hook Rig

snelled hooks

How to Tie a Two Hook Pilchard Rig

Once you have perfected snelling a hook, it is very simple to make up a two hook trace.

Simply snell the first hook on, then pass the end of the trace through the back of the second hook and you're ready to snell the second hook on.

Set the distance between the hooks at about two thirds of the length of the bait fish you intend to use before snelling the second hook.

The finished two hook pilchard rig

When tying a two hook pilchard rig, we have found that keeping the hooks in line further improves both your catch rate and the ability of the rig to hold soft baits or live baits.

NOTE : If using whole fish baits, put one hook through the head and the other hook through the body behind the gut cavity and make sure the second hook goes around the spine of the bait fish.

snell knot

The head of the bait should be on the bottom hook.

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