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New member here but long time cat fisherman. I've been having trouble the past few years with getting hook ups on flat heads. I use circle hooks and hook the shad right in front of the eyes in the hard clear area. The other night I had almost a dozen takes and not one fish. I've tried setting the hook with circle hooks (I know your not technically supposed to but I haven't noticed it making a huge difference in blues and channels) and not setting the hook with the same results. Also the shad tend to foul hook them selves in the head resulting in the hook point being buried and missed fish. I fish from the bank and have to make long casts to the areas I fish so hooking the shad behind the dorsal fin usually results in lost baits. Any advice is appreciated.
 

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Sounds to me like you don't have enough hook exposed or the hooks are too small for the size bait you are using. Flats aren't hook shy, so leave as much hook exposed as possible. For circle hooks, go with 8/0 or even 10/0. Maybe try some Kahle hooks in 7/0 or 8/0. Hookups on Flats shouldn't be a problem.
 

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How big r ur shad? Circle hood work great BUT I stopped using them 2 years ago and wend to 10/0 Kahle hooks. Made A huge differance. Hook up almost every run I get now. I'd use a size that works with the size of ur bait. I only use bait over 6" up to 16" and suckers ill use them over 20". Also I'd let the fish run a good 30 seconds before trying to get a hook in him.
 

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buudy i would not use circle hooks for flatheads! the way they bite does not work as well with them. i have lost so many flats on them its insain...try gamma octo j hooks or king kael ! and i would use gills not shad. your rigged up for blues not flatheads from the sound of it. :smile1:
 

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How big r ur shad? Circle hood work great BUT I stopped using them 2 years ago and wend to 10/0 Kahle hooks. Made A huge differance. Hook up almost every run I get now. I'd use a size that works with the size of ur bait. I only use bait over 6" up to 16" and suckers ill use them over 20". Also I'd let the fish run a good 30 seconds before trying to get a hook in him.
I use shad in the 6 to 12 inch range with 5/0 to 7/0 circle hooks. I heard tons of great things about circle hooks and started using them exclusively for all my catfishing but obviously there is a problem so I need to try something else. I've also thought about running a stinger hook to see if that makes a difference.

Thanks for the info everyone.
 

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Circles work GREAT on Flatheads.I use live bait 95% of the time,and rarely miss a fish.Most of my bait I hook up through the lips and out a nostril,and if the bait is real big I'll use a stinger hook.In real slack water I may,at times,hook a bait right above the Butt hole,on occasions my hook may turn back into the bait like that,but its only happened,maybe 2 times while lip hooked.I use 8/0,9/0,and 10/0 hooks.If it don't kill the bait,it won't bother the Flathead.Big,Wide gap Circles,the only way to go...
 

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i agree with the above post. i use circles 100% of the time and rarely lose a fish from a boat or the bank. 8/0 is the smallest i would ever use 9/0, 10/0 or bigger is better.
 

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ive noticed no difference in my hook up rate with circle or kahle hooks but definitely go bigger on hooks. I take nothing smaller then 8/0 when out big cat fishing. If I am fishing small ponds or lakes maybe a 5/0. I have actually caught a 1 lb bullhead on a 8/0 so dont be shy with hook size. My preference on hooking live bait when long casting is right thru the eyes. They live long enough to stir up the water and spread a little blood. And bait,,,if its big they will eat it. Shad or bluegill work great. I go with whichever I get my hands on quickest.
 

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When the hook is turning back in the bait, change something. You can't catch anything that way.
 

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They will work but i have found that flatheads will sit and chomp a bait for an hour and not move! In this case circle hooks will not work unless you get those team double action but they cost way to much! I prefer king kaels for flatheads and gamma circs for channels blues
 

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They will work but i have found that flatheads will sit and chomp a bait for an hour and not move! In this case circle hooks will not work unless you get those team double action but they cost way to much! I prefer king kaels for flatheads and gamma circs for channels blues
I saw the same thing in a nice little current break. The flat just cruised up and ate the bait and sat there and my pole never moved. I didn't realize there was a fish there until I went to change bait. In slower flowing water, I haven't had the same problem.

With circles, I have better luck when I picture which way the fish is facing. If the fish is facing towards you, you will not hook it. With current in their face, they can give a decent tug without turning around and if you start pulling, you will miss fish.
 

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I got bit last week, couple times. Thing is they take the bait and maybe move off, but then maybe stop, then set there awhile. I had 2 bite marks on the bait, but I was hooked in front of the dorsal fin. I might have got it if I waited a bit again till I put the reel in gear. Its a bummer, but its part of the learning curve. Just gotta be patient.
 

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At night in lakes circs will work fine but in rivers they fail me alot. I prefer running a clicker in freespool and let them run a for 123 then set the hook. Blues i just wait for them to self hook on gamma 8/0 circs
 

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not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but are you sure it is a big flat biting? Only comming from experience but i have caught server channel cats on shad 7-10 inches long that were only above a pound. There eyes and sense of smell overload their mouth size. Try using gills though as others have stated. Have not had any little ones grab a 4-6 in gill. Just a thought.
 

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buudy i would not use circle hooks for flatheads! the way they bite does not work as well with them. i have lost so many flats on them its insain...try gamma octo j hooks or king kael ! and i would use gills not shad. your rigged up for blues not flatheads from the sound of it. :smile1:
a flattie aint got no problem eating a big shad either!!! ive caught em on shad when I couldent get em on gills and vise versa!
 

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I use the double action circle hook for flatheads and have a very high hookup rate. I hook them through the bottom lip and out the hard tissue by the nostrils. Most of the big ones I have caught just smoke it, and you just grab the rod and hang on in that case. But if the rod tip us just going up and down and up and down in little pulls, wait 'til he really pulls the rod down hard and loads it up, or if you have about two minutes solid of them little see-saws, leave the rod in the holder and start reeling and see if you can load him up. I probably miss less than 5%, and they are usually the ones that pick it up and swim upstream beside the boat, it's harder to get them from that angle.
 

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A couple of things Ive noticed that have helped my hook up ... try hooking them above the anal fin or between the anal fin and the tail. I get a few more hits this way , when I back hook them I end up snagged a lot and I get the same problem with my hook turning into the bait when I eye hook them. Most anything is going to try and run away from anything thats hurting it so, when I hook my bait through the back the seem to want to run down- into cover, I hook them low and the swim up creating more activity. or Ive tried a small float a few inches above my bait when back hooking so when it stops struggling it gets drawn back up and it swims down again - more activity. I use circle hooks w/an offset and at least an 8/0 for live bait on a running sinker rig - carolina ?- and free spool. I wont touch my pole until Ive got a solid run but every now and then after some activity (rod tip bouncing ) Ill draw 6 or 10 inches of line by pulling it back from the last eye on the rod to the reel and then just let it go, the live bait will take the slack out again in a few moments and if somethings got my bait it ususally tries to leave or move on with its meal resulting in a run. A gentle lift and sweep after engaging the reel is all Ive ever needed to set the hook with circles... Just my 2 cents.
 

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New member here but long time cat fisherman. I've been having trouble the past few years with getting hook ups on flat heads. I use circle hooks and hook the shad right in front of the eyes in the hard clear area. The other night I had almost a dozen takes and not one fish. I've tried setting the hook with circle hooks (I know your not technically supposed to but I haven't noticed it making a huge difference in blues and channels) and not setting the hook with the same results. Also the shad tend to foul hook them selves in the head resulting in the hook point being buried and missed fish. I fish from the bank and have to make long casts to the areas I fish so hooking the shad behind the dorsal fin usually results in lost baits. Any advice is appreciated.
Remember that Flathead are NOT bottom feeders so sometimes it helps to get the bait up off the bottom a bit so they can 'square' it up and take a run at it. If you are fishing in current try a 3-way set up with 8-10" drops for the hook and weight. On a lake you can try a 15-18" drop on the weight and an 8" drop on the hook. I like pyramids sinkers with a breakaway (Only 10-12 lb test on the weights, 30 lb on the hook) because I can 'lick it and stick it" making the bait stay where I put it even in a cross current and with the breakaway setup all I usually lose is a weight, not the entire rig or worse the fish if I get snagged (Which is often fishing a lot of rock like I do). Personally I prefer a double action hook, Team Catfish sells them here locally but Renegade Tackle sells something similar (Notice the slick way I inserted that Plug?) They self set like a Circle but you can also set them like a Kahle and I've stuck with them because the hookup ratio is noticeably better. (I still use Circles for channels though) But to me the real key is getting that bait up where a Flathead's forward facing mouth can easily get it. If it has to take it off the bottom, which it's mouth isn't designed to do, it's only natural you are going to have a lot of misses. What you see as a Flathead's mouth is really just a catch basket, the real mouth that grabs and holds the bait is in the throat so that's where you need to get your bait and hook. A Flathead can't close it's mouth all the way and has essentially no bite down power so if your bait and hook doesn't go well back in it's mouth cavity then it tends to just slip right out.

It helps to understand how your prey 'operates', it's strengths and weaknesses, physical limitations and it's habits and habitats which will have some 'rules' that are universal for all Flathead and some that are specific to habitat and location. For instance the way I fish for Flatheads on the Mississippi River is vastly different than how I fish a smaller less developed, no commercial traffic river like the Iowa or the Cedar. Again how I fish a river is different than from a lake or reservoir. You may or may not have noticed but these Forums reflect that idea in the way they have individual forums for each state and then break down the state into rivers and lakes/reservoirs That's where you'll likely find your area/habitat specific information. Then you have the general forums like this one and that's where you'll find your Universal information






 
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