A look at Circle Hooks

Discussion in 'Terminal Tackle Review' started by bnorth, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. bnorth

    bnorth New Member

    Messages:
    539
    State:
    Indiana
    A LOOK AT CIRCLE HOOKS
    When talking about fishing, the conversation often turns to tackle. From tackle it turns to hooks, and from hooks to a heated debate on the use of and advantages of circle hooks. Circle hooks are nothing new. Saltwater fisherman have been using circles for years for long-lines and other passive fishing methods, but in recent years circle hooks have come into the spotlight as a hotly debated change in fishing. Why all the fuss?

    There are many advantages to using circles but there a few main reasons that stick out from others. Proponents for circle hooks claim they greatly reduce the mortality rate of hooked fish, increase the number of hook ups, and improve the ferocity with which the fish fights during landing.

    The design of circle hooks is quite unique wherein the hook point is pointed in toward the shank. Often the curve of the hook itself is more rounded giving the hook a more “fat bottomed” look. The unique design allows the swallowed hook to slide free of the stomach, throat and gills without catching, greatly reducing the number of “gut hooked” fish. This design allows the fish to consistently be hooked at the corner of the mouth resulting in a much lower mortality rate. Hooking the corner of the mouth is also said to improve the fight; as fish hooked there fight with more ferocity than those hooked in the stomach or throat. It is because of the potential to improve the conservation of our fisheries by lowering mortality rates that many saltwater tournament series organizers are making circle hooks mandatory when fishing for big game species like billfish, roosterfish, and sharks.

    So why would anyone dislike such a hook? For one, there are special techniques that are necessary when using circle hooks. The main difference is that circles eliminate the need to set the hook. Because of their design, circles work most efficiently when they are steadily pulled from the fish’s mouth, resulting in the hook point catching the lip when it passes the hook gap. Many fishermen lack the control to not set the hook when they feel that first tug, resulting in the hook being pulled from the fish’s mouth and a missed hookset. The best technique for circle hooks is to allow the fish to hook itself as it swims away with the bait. When allowed to do so the chance of a good hookset increases dramatically. Then the angler only needs to pick up the rod and start reeling rather than trying to “cross their eyes”.

    RIGGING
    One of the most important things to remember when rigging circle hooks is that for them to work properly the hook gap and hook point cannot be obstructed by the bait. For this same reason special care should be taken to make sure the hook point does not turn back into the bait. It should also be noted that circle hooks work best in live or cut bait applications, rather than in conjunction with lures like those used in bass fishing. This is mostly because when fishing with live bait the targeted fish takes the bait wholly and often refuses to let it go easily, thus making circle hooks popular for species such as catfish, stripers, and saltwater fish.

    Hook size is also another characteristic to consider. Because the hook is designed to catch the lip at the corner of the mouth, sizes with hook gaps larger than the lip of the targeted fish are recommended. For instance, when fishing for trophy catfish I choose a 8/0 hook size allowing plenty of room for a good hookset.

    Many anglers ask what their options are for rigging their baits. There are several and each has its own variations, but all are based on the same principle. In addition to the live bait methods shown below, circle hooks can be used with whole dead bait by hooking through the eyes, nose, or lips, or with cut bait by hooking into a tough skinned corner leaving the hook point exposed.

    Hooking the bait in the belly works best when fishing a slip rig on the bottom. It allows the bait swim upright, giving a natural presentation, and keeps the hook point from turning back into the bait. The bait should be hooked halfway between the middle of the fish and its tail.

    Hooking the bait through the back is your best bet when fishing under a float. The hook should be placed somewhere between the dorsal fin and the tail, being careful to leave plenty of hook point exposed.

    This method for rigging is most commonly used in saltwater applications when trolling behind a boat but could easily be adapted for freshwater species. Notice that this method leaves the hook fully exposed and allows for a very natural presentation of the bait. One method to bridle bait involves tying a rubber band to the bend of the hook, then using a needle, threading the other end through either the nasal holes or eye sockets and reattaching to the hook.

    CONCLUSION
    Circle hooks may not be useful in every situation, but they can be a definite advantage when used correctly. The biggest secret is a willingness to learn a new technique and patience to allow for a good hookset. Armed with that information, anglers can add one more weapon to their arsenal in the pursuit of that fish of a lifetime.
     
  2. PaJay-p

    PaJay-p Guest

    Amen
    I've been stressing circle hooks for a few years now. The only complaint I have gotten is getting the hook out. What do you advise someone who is new at circle hooks about hook removal?:wink:
     

  3. Ghosth

    Ghosth New Member

    Messages:
    241
    State:
    North Dakota
    If you already have circle hooks for your jugs, trotlines, etc then I can see learning to use them. If your consistently catching cats over 30lbs and up, it probably would be wise to use them.

    If your not one of the 2 cases stated above, then I really don't see the advantage to switching. Just my opinion, and worth just as much or as little as yours.

    Of all the fish I've caught and seen caught by my partners this year, only one was hooked deep. It was headed for the stringer and the frying pan either way. J hooks and Kahles for me work just as well. And I don't have to relearn how I fish, or wait till the fish swims off to hook itself.

    One more possibly minor point. The same hooks I use to catch catfish, work just as well on carp, and every other fish in the river. Including fish I commonly catch and use for bait.

    Can you say the same for the circle hooks?

    I have never seen a picture of anyone rigging a circle hook on a hair rig for carp. I often catch carp and cats on the same hook, same rig, even same bait. So why should I limit myself?
     
  4. katsandsuds

    katsandsuds New Member

    Messages:
    157
    State:
    North Caro
    Fantastic analysis. I am a firm believer in circle hooks myself, after the first couple of trips of missed fish before I broke the habit of trying to set the hook. Once you break that habit, they are great tools.

    As for getting the hook out, one guy I fish with files the barb off with a dremel tool. The hooks slide out easily, and he seems to have little problem loosing fish. I have yet to get the dremel out and give it a shot, but I don't have major issues with hook removal. I get the needle nose as close to the barb as I can and with a twisting motion at the same angle the hook went in, rotate the hook back out. The key is where on the hook you grab with the pliers. It takes a little practice, but after a couple of trys I have gotten very good, and have little issue with hook removal. My biggest problems come when I hook a fish in the tough skin by the tentacle, and not in the lip.

    Great post, thanks.
     
  5. Trahviiz

    Trahviiz Member

    Messages:
    453
    State:
    Indianapolis
  6. Ghosth

    Ghosth New Member

    Messages:
    241
    State:
    North Dakota
    Ok, and yet you end that thread saying they not a good idea for carp.

    So? ? ?
     
  7. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

    Messages:
    4,451
    State:
    South Caro
    I don't know, or care about carp, but for catfishin', (targeting large catfish) Gamakatsu 8.0 Octopus circles have my hookup ratio up to about 95% on all legitimate hits There is NO question about the efficiency of these hooks. Quite frankly, if you are not using circles, your approach is WRONG. (unless of course you are targeting pan size cats) :wink: I hear people all the time say they can't get used to NOT setting the hook. I simply don't understand that. When your rod loads up with a hit, just pick it up and start reeling. Can't get much simpler than that folks! GREAT thread about the advantage of circles!
    Bill in SC
     
  8. Trahviiz

    Trahviiz Member

    Messages:
    453
    State:
    Indianapolis
    It's funny though, lately I haven't had a problem with that at all. I think it was just because the way I had my rod set up. Now I just crank my clicker down tight enough to set the hook and still run and I haven't had one torn lip.
     
  9. bnorth

    bnorth New Member

    Messages:
    539
    State:
    Indiana
    In addition:

    Circles are only another OPTION. There will be some cases where circles are not your best bet, I do have hooks other than circle hooks in my tackle bag. But there are situations when I feel that circles are above and beyond a better option, namely when fishing for cats over 15-20 lbs. Smaller fish, non-catfish, that may not "commit" to a bait may require a hook that can be set in order to catch them, that in itself is plenty of reason to have other hook styles available.

    But it is hard to deny that the use of circle hooks can most definitely be an advantage when they are used correctly and in the right situation.

    As for hook removal, I try to grab the hook at the bend and turn it outward toward the lip. They usually pop free without too much effort.
     
  10. AwShucks

    AwShucks New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    Guthrie, Oklaho
    I still am having an issue with the sizes of circle hooks. There is no standard set for them and for one manufacturer an 9/0 hook may be the size of a 5/0 hook by a different namufactuer. So, I've just got to a point where I say a big hook, or a little hook. LOL
     
  11. catfishjohn

    catfishjohn New Member

    Messages:
    10,217
    State:
    Greenup Co. KY
    Great write up. I'm yet to try them. I've had good luck with J's and Khales for years with very few gut hooks. I mainly bank fish and don't have a rod holder sturdy enough that I trust to not use the clicker. One of these days If I'm boat fishing and have good rod holders I may give them a try.
    Thanks for the post!:cool2:
     
  12. catman4926

    catman4926 New Member

    Messages:
    1,602
    State:
    Texas
     
  13. Scott Daw

    Scott Daw New Member

    Messages:
    2,002
    State:
    Allentown, Pennsylvania
    only time I dont use circles are when Im fishing liver. Then its a treble hook.
     
  14. kyredneck

    kyredneck New Member

    Messages:
    1,021
    State:
    Kentucky
    I'm like you, I used circles this year for targeting the larger cats on trot & limbline and was very pleased,,,,,,and I never had a problem removing the hooks; do just as you say using a good set of needle nose pliers; lift the fish totally with the pliers and give a couple of up & down tugs and the weight of the fish will remove the hook. Simple.
     
  15. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

    Messages:
    4,451
    State:
    South Caro
    < Bill,

    there is no rite are wrong about using circle are j-hooks . We do not want the hook deal to turn into like alt-fishing were most people get upset>

    You are right. Let me clarify. For large, hard hitting blues and flatties, when tight lining, circles or kahles are THE way to fish for better hookup/landing efficiency. I did state that for frying size fish, other hooks would be acceptable. I'll be glad to do an honest test with anyone pertaining to the hookup ratio on legitimate hits, with circles compared to Js. I've fished with Js all my life, and I can honestly say that when I switched to the circles, I RARELY have a hit without a solid hookup. A 95% or so hookup ratio is nothing to scoff at. Doesn't mean that the next world record won't come from someone using a J. It just means that day to day and hit for hit, there is NO comparison about the efficiency difference between the two hooks. Sometimes there IS a right or wrong, or spoken differently, a "better" approach. Why are some folks much more successful at all things in life? Because they have a better approach. Just my humble opinion, based on trial and error.
    Bill in SC
     
  16. kyredneck

    kyredneck New Member

    Messages:
    1,021
    State:
    Kentucky
    .....amen brother.........
     
  17. lendog

    lendog New Member

    Messages:
    2,141
    State:
    berks, PA
    for flatheads all i use are circle hooks, the only thing that i don't like is when i hook my sunnies i'm always concerned that i'm gonna hook my finger cause of the strange curve and how sharp they are:crazy:
     
  18. jdward

    jdward New Member

    Messages:
    130
    State:
    Memphis, TN
    Great write up on circle hooks! When I switched to circle hooks from j's and khales my hookup rate easily doubled. I found that the key to using circles is to leave the tip as exposed as possible (as mentioned in bnorth's article). Now I still miss a few fish from time to time when drift fishing but when anchoring I have yet to miss a fish. Patience seems to be the key to circles.