A fish hook or fishhook is a device for catching fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish. Fish hooks have been employed for centuries by anglers to catch fresh and saltwater fish. In 2005, the fish hook was chosen by Forbes as one of the top twenty tools in the history of man. Fish hooks are normally attached to some form of line or lure which connects the caught fish to the angler. There is an enormous variety of fish hooks in the world of fishing. Sizes, designs, shapes, and materials are all variable depending on the intended purpose of the fish hook. Fish hooks are manufactured for a range of purposes from general fishing to extremely limited and specialized applications. Fish hooks are designed to hold various types of artificial, processed, dead or live baits (bait fishing); to act as the foundation for artificial representations of fish prey (fly fishing); or to be attached to or integrated into other devices that represent fish prey (lure fishing).
Commonly referred to parts of a fish hook are: its point, the sharp end that penetrates the fish's mouth or flesh; the barb, the projection extending backwards from the point, that secures the fish from unhooking; the eye, the loop in the end of the hook that is connected to the fishing line or lure; the bend and shank, that portion of the hook that connects the point and the eye; and the gap, the distance between the shank and the point. In many cases, hooks are described by using these various parts of the hook, for example: wide gape, long shank, hollow point or out turned eye.
Contemporary hooks are manufactured from either high-carbon steel, steel alloyed with vanadium, or stainless steel, depending on application. Most quality fish hooks are covered with some form of corrosion-resistant surface coating. Corrosion resistance is required not only when hooks are used, especially in saltwater, but while they are stored. Additionally, coatings are applied to color and/or provide aesthetic value to the hook. At a minimum, hooks designed for freshwater use are coated with a clear lacquer, but hooks are also coated with gold, nickel, Teflon, tin and different colors.
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