Halibut Hooks

Halibut Hooks

Halibut Hooks

Native Alaskans have subsisted on halibut for generations. Fishing from dugout cedar canoes, they used special hooks carved out of yellow cedar and yew wood and fastened together with strands of split spruce root with carved bone as a barb. The wood was easy to carve and fairly water resistant. Eventually, steel, introduced by European explorers, replaced the bone barbs. Fishing line was made of dried kelp and buoys were made of the stomach of the seal. A stronger line would be made of spruce root, twisted together. These tools were time-consuming and difficult to replace so great care was taken with the hooks and line. 

Fishing from small canoes, northwest coast Native people were careful not to hook a halibut too large because an oversized fish would easily capsize their boat. For this reason, hooks were designed with just enough space between the base and the barb to catch a halibut no bigger than what the boat could handle. Most halibut hooks had carvings of a spirit helper and the power from that spirit would ensure a successful fisherman.

Today, northwest coast carvers recreate those traditional halibut hooks using their own original northwest coast crest designs, sometimes painted, for ornamentation. Arctic Spirit Gallery features a unique selection of halibut hooks.

Eagle Halibut Hook
Eagle Halibut Hook by John M. Tatum Jr.
$375.00
Raven Halibut Hook
Raven Halibut Hook by Jerry and Diane Kennedy
Contact for price
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