Lakertaker

Circle Hooks and Live Eels

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Around the first of June I start surfcasting with live eels so I am closing in on a month of using circle hooks. My standard method was octopus hook and just bow the rod after take and when line was tight set. 90 percent were lipped hooked. Now onto circles, I have tried to bow the rod and when it comes tight just start reeling, I have tried setting like normal, and opening the bail and letting the fish run with the eel and set like normal or just reel. All I do is miss fish. I have tried different size hooks and to no avail. Anybody have any suggestions to make the live eel and circle work. 

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If you’re setting the hook like normal, that might be the problem. With circles, you don’t want to “set” it but rather just start reeling and the hook should find its way to the corner of the mouth on its own.  
it takes a while to get used to not “crossing its eyes” but when you do you should have just about the same hook up rates as j hooks.     .... just about ;)

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Check that the eel doesn't fill up the gap in the hook. If there isn't enough point exposed, the hook will just pull out of the mouth. Try a size or two larger.

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I have tried bowing the rod as normal and when line comes tight I start reeling. I have tried slow reeling, medium, and fast. Hook up ratio is around 10 percent with this method 

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21 mins ago, SkunkLuvver said:

Not sure... maybe try larger size or offset circles?

sounds like you’re doing it right.

I've had poor results with offsets and eels. Seems like they're designed to catch flesh as soon as the hook moves, so unless you set immediately you end up with guthook city. Personally, I think Js are much better for fish than offsets.

 

As for why you're missing 90% of strikes with circles? I'll second @SkunkLuvver 

AFAIK, everything sounds right to me.

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3 hours ago, Lakertaker said:

Around the first of June I start surfcasting with live eels so I am closing in on a month of using circle hooks. My standard method was octopus hook and just bow the rod after take and when line was tight set. 90 percent were lipped hooked. Now onto circles, I have tried to bow the rod and when it comes tight just start reeling, I have tried setting like normal, and opening the bail and letting the fish run with the eel and set like normal or just reel. All I do is miss fish. I have tried different size hooks and to no avail. Anybody have any suggestions to make the live eel and circle work. 

What size are you using or tried.

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You need a much bigger circle hook than J hook.  I usually fish 7/0 or 8/0 with eels.  

 

When you open the bail, do you bow the rod first to get slack?  If not they may be feeling the pressure and dropping.  Ideally I fish a manual pickup where I can just drop the tip and bump the line off the roller, but, I don't always feel like carrying the 706 so I do it less than I would like to.

 

sam

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10 hours ago, SkunkLuvver said:

Not sure... maybe try larger size or offset circles?

sounds like you’re doing it right.

They have to be in-line circles with bait.

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Agreed that offsets lead to gut hooking with eels.

 

6/0 or 7/0 in-line circles: I found that using a more flexible rod led to a higher hookup ratio with eels. I think they are less likely to spit the eel because they don't feel as much of a shock when the line becomes tight.

 

The image I have in my head is they swallow the eel, close their mouth, swim away. As the line becomes tight the hook pulls out of their throat and gets caught in the corner of their mouth. You don't want the hook to catch on their throat on the way out and you don't want them to notice and open their mouth to spit the eel/hook.

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I am old school when it comes to eels ,mono and a moderate rod .as far as circles go larger by a size or two  and you should use snell knot on  them so the turn properly .

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7 mins ago, ged said:

You can still use J hooks in MA for eels if you cast and retrieve them. 

Exempt from this requirement are recreational anglers fishing aboard a for-hire vessel during a for-hire trip and recreational anglers fishing with a natural bait affixed to an artificial lure that is to be cast and retrieved, trolled, or vertically jigged (e.g., tube and worm).I think you would need some type of jig head

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