A curved piece of wire with a point on one end and an eye on the other, fish hooks seem simple. But there’s more to this sharp metal shank than bends and barbs. From prehistoric man to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, hooks have been making history for more than 40,000 years. Read on to get hooked on hooks.

10 Unusual Facts About Hooks

  • Fishing hooks range in size from a miniscule number 32 to a monster 20/0, pronounced 20-aught. Hook size is measured from the point of the hook to the shaft, but there is no standard for hook size across manufacturers. A 1/0 O’Shaughnessy from one company may be slightly different from the same size hook from another company.
  • We’ve all lost a hook or two to an underwater snag. Now imagine losing a magic hook borrowed from the god of fishing. That’s what happened to Hoori, the god of hunting in Japanese mythology, when he borrowed his brother’s fishing tackle. His brother, Hoderi, was so angry he banned Hoori from their home until Hoori found the magic hook.
statue of Kareem Abdul Jabar shooting a skyhook
Kareem Abdul Jabbar is famous for his patented skyhook. | Photo: Malcolm Garret/Pexels

Hooks Across History

  • The earliest fish hooks, called gorges, were carved from an inch-long piece of wood, bone or stone with a point at each end. Dating back to the Neolithic age, gorges were among the earliest tools of prehistoric humans. In 2005, Forbes magazine listed the fish hook as one of the top 20 tools in human history.
  • The modern fish hook dates back to the invention of the modern blast furnace in 1892, which made steel harder. The only catch was hiring a blacksmith to make your fishing hooks. The first tackle shops would not open for another 100 years.
  • Velcro, the brand name of the original hook-and-loop fastener, was invented when engineer George de Mestral wondered why burdock seeds stuck to his socks, coat and dog’s fur. Investigating the connection under a microscope, he saw tiny hooks on the seeds gripping the fibers in his socks.
  • In basketball, six-time MVP Kareem Abdul Jabbar is famous for his skyhook, a hook shot starting far from the net that ends high in the air making it difficult to block. The move helped Jabbar become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Hooks in Popular Media

  • In 1969, B.J. Thomas recorded the hit song, Hooked on a Feeling, which climbed to number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The 1974 cover by Swedish band Blue Suede hit number one.
A hand-replacement hook like that worn by Captain Hook
As a certain storybook pirate knew, hooks can catch more than fish. | Photo: Adobe Stock
  • Three on a Meathook is a 1972 horror film loosely based on the life of serial killer Ed Gein. The story starts when four girls on a weekend getaway have car trouble. You can guess how it ends.
  • Perhaps the most famous hook on the water is the pirate Captain James Hook from the children’s story, Peter Pan. The 1991 film Hook, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams, earned $300 million worldwide making it the sixth highest grossing pirate film after the five Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
  • Trailing Hook: Dr. Hook was an American rock band you’d most remember for the song The Cover of “Rolling Stone.” I mean, who doesn’t need a freaky ole lady name a Cocaine Katy who embroiders on your jeans?

Cover of Kayak Angler Magazine Issue 49, Fall 2022This article was first published in the Fall 2022 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Hang tight for some unusual facts about fishing hooks. | Feature photo: Suzi Wilson/Pixabay



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here