Mountain fisher

When are circle hooks the GO TO?

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For the last 60 years most of my fishing has been freshwater fly fishing. I have spent some time on Bulls Bay SC catching reds to 34" on a fly but have done no surf or inshore fishing with bait. Which small species that I'm likely to encounter-whiting, spot, trout, pompano, flounder, bluefish--would be best fished for with a circle hook as opposed to a kahle or Mustad J? Advantages and disadvantages? 

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Circle hooks do less damage to the fish.  If fished properly the hook slides to the corner of their mouth.  As far as I know that’s the only advantage.  You can catch and release with more assurance that the fish will survive 

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When you're using bait.

 

The only time they don't work is when a) the bait is small and the fish is large, which would require an obtrusively oversized hook, and to a lesser extent b) when fishing a big chunk in current, or a larger liver bait, as the hook can wheel around and bury in the bait, making a hookset impossible.. There are usually ways around b).

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with all the different styles I’ve found  owner’s offset octopus circle hooks to be my favorite hook overall no matter what I fish for. jhooks are kill hooks in my opinion and most can definitely agree on that. I have not fished with all the types of hooks but. 90%  of all the fish I have caught with the octo’s  i can say that hook was in the right or left corner of the fish’s mouth I have fished for flounder bluefish trout and spot. Out of the 6 fish listed. I like offset octopus circle hooks for the simple fact that I can keep my bail/spool in freespool/open bail and most times know it will be a easy release but with j hooks/ Aberdeen style.I’m planning to bring fish home for sure. Kahle hooks Suck for fluke idc what anyone says. Those hooks are garbage.

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There is a learning curve associated with fishing circles. Various things will effect your nibbles to landed fish percentages. Each angler adjusts what they normally do to obtain a higher percentage of catches. A few generalities for you to consider.

 

Usually, you can use a smaller sized hook and do well. Not hugely smaller, but smaller none the less. When choosing the size, match it mostly to the bait and not the fish’s mouth opening. So select a bait size for the fish to bite, THEN match the hook size to that bait.

 

To make this match of hook to bait, realize that the baited hook must first enter the mouth, then when the fish moves away, the leader will begin to extract the bait back out, as it slides back out the tip must find some structure for the stick. This stick is the initial contact of the tip. Once this has been achieved, the idea is for the tip to then penetrate through all the way down to the bend. If the bait is goobered up to the point that this follow through cannot occur, the fish can eject the hook rather easily. When baiting up, leave the hook barren from tip to bottom of the bend. Do not block the hook with bait preventing it from fully penetrating. Hanging a bait under the hook works very well with circles. It is a favorite technique of mine. The fish takes the bait dangling down and the hook comes along just fine. All of the fish listed can slurp a bait and the hook will come along right on in no problem. The more open and exposed the hook tip, the more likely of obtaining that initial stick. You want that tip down to the bend wide open and proudly sticking away from the bait. If you choke the hook by baiting it like a J hook, the bait and hook can simply pop right back out

 

Next consider the connection of line to hook. Two really good choices are the snell and the loop knots. Each has a best application with baits. For live baits like live fingerling mullet, loop knot all the way. I use the Non Slip Loop and find it fairly easy to tie repeatable well. The looped on circle will tend to stick the fish dead center lower jaw, providing a very strong hook set. I also use the loop for strip baits that waft in the current. It provides some extra freedom of movement. The hook can pivot about, but most importantly, it assists with the hook obtaining that in total stick. Once inside, it is very tricky for a fish to spit it back out because of the range of motion it has.

 

The snell is a very good choice for chunk baits and such. Usually, you catch the fish along the sides of the lower jaw. Don’t get excited about the circles that offer an offset eye, as that is not an advantage. The offset eye allows the hook to hang straight down after being snelled, which is why it is popular. Looks better. Might be better in a stout current like in a river or something, but at the beach you would do better to allow the hook to be cocked. So straight shank circles, snelled on leaving the hook cocked towards the leader material. This is positioning the tip in a very aggressive manner and promoting that initial stick. Very tricky when it comes to sliding back out as the tip will almost always find that stick.

 

******* Either of these knots will give you a better hook up rate than tying the hook using a knot such as Uni or Palomar. Opinions will differ I’m sure, but I have tested these things and you can too. Fashion up two leaders, one Uni, one snelled or loop. Drop the circle hooks down into a cup with thin edges, and then pull the leaders bringing the circle hooks up and out, as if exiting a fish’s mouth. Be fair with each and see what conclusion you might draw.*****

 

A super sharp circle is better than an average sharp circle. Again, gaining that initial stick is key. Look for chemically sharpened hooks. The sharpest hook I have ever used is the Owner Mosquito circle. Just messing around fingering them while tying them on leaves me bleeding. However, these are very thin wire and only go to size 2/0. Any fish over five pounds, probably not a good choice. Anything else, especially when using live shrimp, very reliable hook ups. Another sharp hook that has good form and was engineered to be a circle is the Mustad Ultra Point Demon Perfect Circle. Both of these do well with loop knot connections. These come in a wide variety of sizes and are widely available.

 

A very popular circle in Florida is the Owner Mutu Light Circle. I consider it a hybrid of sorts. Not exactly a circle, not exactly a Khale, more like a bit of both. Really nice choice for live sand fleas. This hook does really well when snelled. Lots of sizes and easily available. Some will only use it as they get really good results. 

 

Your rig’s action and design, sinker weight and design, and a few other things like how you spike your rod and how much drag you set your reel at, type of bait, size of baits, species etc, will also affect your overall performance with circles. So the approach is to watch your rods, and notice every bite, and try to keep track of how many of those bites you end up landing a fish. Ideally, you want to get to about 90% of all indications lead to a fish on the sand. At first you might be batting about 50%.  Don’t change a bunch of things all at once. Make specific changes and see how things go. Adjust your drag for example. Change rig design. Change hook size. You need to see what actually does increase catches. Then change something else and again see what happens. Keep adjusting until you get your setup dialed in. Like I said, there is a learning curve that you have to go through. Once there though, you will never go back to J hooks for bait n wait operations.

 

I have about a thousand hooks in my garage, but only about twenty J hooks. Good luck.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

15 hours ago, Badtothebugs said:

When you aren't holding the rod to set the hook a circle hook should set itself from either the tension of the sinker or main line. And less chamce of gut hooking a fish

Yup, this

 

When I fish bait I usually fish 2 rods, the one in hand has a J hook, the one in the holder has a circle on a dropper with an 8 oz sinker - even in calm flat water. The weight of the sinker sets the hook on incoming hits, hits that would be missed with a light sinker.

 

That and everything FishinMortician just said :th:

Edited by Sudsy

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