5 Things You Never Knew About Circle Hooks

Texas’ True Trout-And It’s Not A Speck!
March 4, 2020
swordfish
Fishing for Swordfish in Broad Daylight
March 12, 2020
fish on circle hook

That hook did its job, even though this fish swallowed the bait and kept on going.

As anglers have become more and more conservation-minded, the use of circle hooks has become more and more common for those tossing bait. No doubt this is a good thing, since circle hooks can be used to snag fish right in the corner of the jaw and eliminate or dramatically reduce the incidences of gut-hookings. However, all circle hooks are not created equally and there are some surprising factors that can influence just how effective they are. Before you choose your next hook, consider:

fish on circle hook

That hook did its job, even though this fish swallowed the bait and kept on going.

  1. How effective they are or are not at jaw-hooking a fish is often dependent on getting hook size right. In many cases, for example, using a circle hook that’s too small will still result in some gut-hooked fish. Going to large can result in fewer bites than you might otherwise get, but as a general rule of thumb err on the large side and you’ll harm fewer fish.
  2. Circle hooks work best in a moving tide when fish are feeding hard. On dead tides when there’s no current and the fish are more apt to slowly slurp up a bait and just sit there, they often swallow the whole affair all the way down their gullet before tension ever gets applied, so gut-hooking becomes more frequent.
  3. Know the difference between offset and non-offset hooks. Using offset circle hooks is often not much different from using J hooks, and if you consider conservation important, a non-offset hook will always be the best choice. Usually the package will tell you which is which but when in doubt simply lay the hook on a table with the eye hanging off. A Non-offset circle hook will always sit flush against the table while a hook with an offset will curve up off the table.
  4. We’re going to assume you already know not to set a circle hook but instead to come tight and simply start reeling. But what many people don’t realize is that you’ll get more reliable hook-ups if in addition to eliminating that eye-crossing swing, you apply tension gently at first, and then slowly increase it as your rod begins to bend—the slower the better.
  5. Never try to bury a circle hook in a bait. Doing so prevents that inward-facing point from turning and gaining a purchase. If you often miss bites while fishing a circle, there’s a good chance this is why.

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8 Comments

  1. Buck says:

    Circle hooks are for saltwater . Do not work well in fresh water.

  2. Woody says:

    They work great on catfish, and other freshwater fish. What are you talking about?

  3. Jeff says:

    I’ve tested circle hooks on trot lines vs. J hooks. Much better catch ratio! So, yes they work in freshwater to the point I changed all my hooks to circle hooks.

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