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KeithTN

Giant baits and circle hooks

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I recently found this site and discovered a wealth of helpful information. Thanks!



 



First a little backround.  I spend ~ 125 days/year fishing and guiding for stripers in east Tennessee.  The fish here are plentiful and often very large.  I rarely remove fish from the water when unhooking them and release all fish to fight another day.  I use circle hooks exclusively when fishing small baits (< 10").



 



However, my preferred bait for 25+ pound fish is live 15-22" long skipjack herring hooked just in front of the dorsal fin.  I have been using 10/0 J hooks for these large baits as I think a solid hookset allows me drive the point of the hook through the bait in the event the hook gets turned back into the bait.  Until recently, I have not worried about hookin fish in the throat.  I simply reach into their mouth, rotate the eye toward the point 180 degrees and the hook comes out very easily.  However, I have noticed some fish bleeding profusely from the throat.  The bleeding stops as soon as I remove the hook but im afraid the hook may have punctured the heart or major arteries that are located just behind the fish's throat.



 



As such, I want to switch to circle hooks.  SInce you saltwater guys have been using them for years, I'd like a little bit of your wisdom for using circles for giant baits.  What model and size circle hook and rigging techniques do you suggest?



 



Keith


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When livelining large baitfish I like to put the circle halfway between the dorsal and the tail, grabbing just enough flesh to keep it there - this way when the bass swallows the bait head first the hook has a clear path to the lip and doesn't need to be pulled around or through the bait on its way out. As far as size goes, go big, bigger than you'd think. If you're already using 10/0 J hooks you'll probably have to size up to at least 12/0 or 13/0 circles to get a comparable gap width.

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Keith, I agree that large J or Octopus hooks leave very deep, very large puncture wounds and the hook points could absolutely do serious internal damage during the fight. Even cutting the line and leaving the hook can't undo the internal damage. I've not really uses circles with live baits for bass, but EB Harvey knows his stuff :)

 

TimS

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EB Harvey is right all the way. Go bigger on the circles. I have been using them for a long time with live and cut baits and 99.99% of the time the hook is in the corner of the jaw. Also, remember that you don't really have to do the hero hookset. Just lock it up and let the fish and hook do the rest.

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I've used 8/0 Gamakatzu IN-line Circle hooks with a lot of success while chunk fishing bunker chunks for sharks. I'm sure that they'd work just as well livelining bait also.

You just let the fish take the bait and when you feel the weight of the fish just give it a little tug and you set the hook in the corner of the mouth. Maybe a couple of times I set the hook too hard and too soon and hooked the fish too deep. In my case (fishing for sharks) I didn't want to chance going after the hook and getting bitten so I just cut the line as short as I could.

The hooks enabled me to land sharks that were up around 100 lb. so I think they'd handle any Striper swimming. :)

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You name the circle, I have tried it... some of my experiences with both drum (big - over 40") and larger stripers...

 

Favorite all around circle hook, gami bigeye 9/0.

second, mustad 10/0 39951NP-BN

 

both of these are inline circles...big eye on the left (silver) mustad on the right (black)

 

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Bridle rig is the way to go , keeps the hook from hanging up in the bait for easy hook up. Just google bridle rig and see many ways to do it .

 

377

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good info there connman...

 

Keith, keep in mind, most, but not all of us suing circles hooks, usually cast them, and I usually have to over long distances, and with relatively small cut bait, compared to live-lining.

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Take note of the loop attachment of the circle with the bridle rig, this is a very effective way of attaching these hooks and i have used the loop on non circles with excellent success also, the uni knot is excellent for this as it allows the hook freedom of movement, but will cinch down tight when pressure is applied, it's better than a fixed Rapala loop or the Homer rhodes for this application.

 

I only use this type of rigging with certain species. Another thing just to keep in mind is, don't just automatically choose the biggest circle you can find, it is critical to match it to what your pursuing and the bait size being used.

 

Presentation is key, an overly large hook that weighs down a bait to make it appear to swim in an unnatural manner will do you no good. If it comes down to it you can open the gap on a circle with a pair of pliers which will make it more effective without negatively effecting your presentation by adding unneccessary weight.

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I used to do a lot of live lining with blueback herring in Delaware river and although you could lip hook with a circle the hook up ratio was terrible because of the hook fouling on the head of the herring , so I went to bridling and almost never missed a hit .

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I used to do a lot of live lining with blueback herring in Delaware river and although you could lip hook with a circle the hook up ratio was terrible because of the hook fouling on the head of the herring , so I went to bridling and almost never missed a hit .

 

Those threadfin herring schools are pretty common down here and i cast net them while throwing for mullet, they are however very difficult to keep alive for long periods, as is their relative the Menhaden. They don't slap and pop on the surface like the Menhaden but they are tough to miss with the shimmering nervous water they give off near the surface.

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I would suggest bridling the bait thru the eye socket. That's the way I do it. Some of my (larger) live baits have survived over 24 hours in the water - not in the best shape, but still alive.

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Just for what it is worth, here in FL when using cut bait / live bait fishing for REEF fish Grouper/ Red Snapper/ AJ in FL waters (9 mile of shore) you must use an IN line circle Hook, in Federal waters , the way rules/read written you can use either off set / in line For Grouper I use 6/ 0 7/0

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