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Discussion Starter #1
I was hoping someone could help me with some problems I had the other day getting hookups.

So I live in a fairly suburban area so if I'm only going out for a few hours I'm pretty limited to park lakes. As such I'm having trouble finding any good fish of size. The other day I went out and put a bluegill head on the bottom with a 4/0 circle hook, hooked at an angle so it couldn't foul hook. I would get some pretty strong bites and actually almost lost my rod one time slipping in the mud running over to it :x, but whenver I pulled the rod out and started reeling there wasn't anything on the line.

Am I missing something or is it possible my hook is too big/catfish too small? I know there are catfish because I've caught little baby fish when fishing worms off the boat ramp. There are also a lot of turtles in the lake but could a turtle bend the rod that much? Any insight would be much appreciated because I'd like to get the hang of circle hooks before I spend the gas to get out to the rivers.
 

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Well, the size of the bream head would be a good start. For a big bream head, a bigger hook would probably be better. Hooked in a way that the gap of the hook is completely exposed. Another thing, you mentioned the fish almost pulled the rod in. I think if you dont have a completely solid rod holder, you would probably do better using the clicker.
I always use circle hooks with the reel engaged and a solid holder, but some have success using a clicker with them if they don't have a completely solid rod holder in place, especially if you can't be holding the rod. If you are holding the rod, you can let the fish pull the rod down almost horizontal with the water (with no resistance from you) and then just slowly raise the rod. This works pretty well most of the time.
 

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Ryan, it could be several things but here are my thoughts. First off, a 4/0 hook in the bait seems rather small when the bait is a head. Of course, heads come in different sizes so i guess it depends. When I put a circle hook through a bait, I want it to look like it is just barely hanging on. 90% of the hook should be visible. Most that haven't used a circle hook tend to have so much of the actual hook in the bait that it can not do what it was made for.

I would also suggest to try cut bait other than the head. That way you can experiment with bait size.

I don't know the water you are fishing nor the typical size or species of fish to expect. I use 5/0 circles for channels and 8/0 to 10/0 for everything else.

I read an article that said the most common mistake in hook size when using circle hooks was folks using too small a hook. So I would say if you weren't sure, error on the bigger size rather than the smaller size.

If the hook point will not catch on your thumb nail as it is sliding down to the edge, it is not sharp. Just coming to a point isn't good enough.

Your putting the hook through at an angle is good for keeping it from rolling in and blocking the hook.

I use a rod holder that will hold the rod well so if the fish pulls hard all that happens is the tip of the rod will touch the water. I am not sure if you are just using a fork stick but look at that also.

If you getting plenty of bites, your in the right place. Just fine tune the size of bait/hook combo. Also turtles and gar can pull hard but are tough to hook with a circle hook so it may be a possibility. Park lakes often have big turtles.

tight lines
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ok an update to some comments, I do shallowly hook my bait and make sure the hookpoint is clean. The blue gill I used was pretty small, so I don't think it was too big. I used the other parts of him too and got more or less the same thing.

Today I used some huge minnows crushed and cut into pieces depending on the size. I was starting to get some decent bites right when the park was closing (of course!) but while I got some nibbles nothing really hammered the bait and I didn't get any hooksets.

How do I know when it's a bite and not a nibble? Circle hooks mostly set themselves, so do I have to get the rod out of the holder in time before he spits the hook or is it more or less gonna be on there good for a few seconds?

How do I know what bait is a good size for the hook, as long as it doesn't sit in the gap? Also I'm having trouble getting

I'm not trying to catch monster cats (yet lol) but it'd be nice to be catching any cats!
 

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Well it sounds like you doing the hook correctly. I fish for Channels and Blues mostly and both don't tend to nibble much unless they are so small they can't get the bait in their mouth. Both species tend to grab the bait and run with it. That is why some folks lose rod they don't tie down or put in a good rod holder. On occasion, I have seen channels just take the bait and slowly swim off with it but then drop it. I assume they are too small to take the bait.

When a Blue or channel hit a circle hook the right way, you will not need to set the hook. The tod tip will bend over and as the fish fights to take the bait the hook will slip to the corner of it mouth and penetrate. If you do set the hook when you first see a twitch or the tip. you will yank the hook out of his mouth before it is turned right. At the most, you should crank the handle as fast as you can. That will pull and turn the hook at the right speed for it to do what it is supposed to. Some others will not actually set the hook but rather just do a half speed steady sweep of the rod. That does about the same as cranking the handle fast.

But the fish pulling the rod tip down should inked the hook for you so you have a little time. Just pick up the rod and start cranking him in. If he pulls out drag stop cranking until he stops pulling line out. I do at that point, give the rod one good jerk to make sure the hook had penetrated deep.

The bites you are describing make me think you are getting small fish bites.

If you have not already, look up Steve Douglas videos on youtube and watch what he is doing. He has a bunch of good videos and the technique for big blues and smaller channels should be about the same.

Hope this is helpful.
 

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Morning Ryan, adding to the good advice of Tom and Robert I started snell tying my circle hooks so it has a trigger effect when the fish runs with it. My hookups increased alot when snelled .
Absolutely this. Circles work with the snell, just like he said with a trigger effect.

Same with what Tom said. Let the fish load up the rod, then start cranking. If you try to set the hook like a normal treble/J hook, you'll lose a lot of fish. My guess is this is the reason a lot of people don't like circle hooks. They don't know how to use them right, so they don't work and they think they're no good.
 

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8/0 team-catfish double action hooks are the best IMO . That being said you also gotta have the rod firmly in a holder where its bank or boat..... 4/0 is way too small.... watch some team catfish videos they will help....steve douglas also has some good videos out.... i would start there
 

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Last post was big fingers on a small screen.
Rick is exactly right. There is a right way and a wrong way.

I like Gama hooks but that is a preference kind of thing. Just make sure there sharp. When I am on a big screen I will explain how to test and sharpen.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I do snell! One of the things I like about fishing is the knotcraft, so I always makes sure I learo the "proper" knot for a job. =D

On hook size, I'm really not trying for huge cats right now. Looking at videos of people catching catfish around the size I want to start at it doesn't seem like 4/0 are too small, but I'm also using 6/0 to the same (in)effect. Are 4/0 hooks to small for eating size cats? With my gear I'm really looking for 10-20 lb cats at the most. Are 8/0's too big for smaller cats?

As far as rod holders I'm on an extremely tight budget but r'm opeo to suggestions. Right now I just use a cheapo spiral groundspike model.

Thank you all for the good and plentiful advice, when I first signed up I was afraid there weren't a lot of people on here.
 

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Forgot to mention though, eating size fish for me is 1/2 up to 5 or six pounds mostly. An 8/0 hook is not really too big for 10-20 pound fish. I don't know how the channels are in your area, but we don't catch them that size around here much at all.
 

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I do snell! One of the things I like about fishing is the knotcraft, so I always makes sure I learo the "proper" knot for a job. =D

On hook size, I'm really not trying for huge cats right now. Looking at videos of people catching catfish around the size I want to start at it doesn't seem like 4/0 are too small, but I'm also using 6/0 to the same (in)effect. Are 4/0 hooks to small for eating size cats? With my gear I'm really looking for 10-20 lb cats at the most. Are 8/0's too big for smaller cats?

As far as rod holders I'm on an extremely tight budget but r'm opeo to suggestions. Right now I just use a cheapo spiral groundspike model.

Thank you all for the good and plentiful advice, when I first signed up I was afraid there weren't a lot of people on here.
As far as inexpensive bank rod holders, you might look up Hill's Rod Holder website. Go to bank rod holder section and he has several to offer at a very reasonable price. Keep in mind that even these nice rod holders have trouble sticking into rock.

http://www.hillsrodholders.com/en/9-bank-rod-holders

I have three like the 20" single post heavy duty, although he has changed his design some since then.
 

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Now more on hook testing and sharpening.

You can test the sharpness of a hook by seeing if it will slide off the edge of your thumb nail or stick and not slide. Hold your thumb nail up like you were pressing your thumb down on a table. Put the hook point on the thumb nail a little in from the side edge where it is naturally curving down. Use just slight pressure. A dull hook will slide to the side and off the name. A sharp hook will stick enough to hold it in place.

IMG_0057.jpg



If it slides. it needs sharpening. I like the sharpener shown in the picture. It has a groove cut into one side that the hook point sets into. Start the sharpener where it is shown and pull the sharpener into the hook point 3 or 4 times with light pressure. Then test the hook and re-do. When it sticks, it is ready to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I catch 1 to 2 pounders ones on 8/0 looking for monsters.
I do understand that big hooks can catch small fish, but I'm the big fish they'll also hook will be much too much for my gear. I'm using a medium pole, a medium light pole, and two light poles and I can't afford to upgrade right now. Also they're all either fairly cheap or fairly old so I want to get some little kitties before I start upgrading.
 
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