I was in a tackle shop the other and overheard two fisherman talking about Circle Hooks. The more I listened, the more I realized that they really had no idea about this innovation, other than people telling them to try it. Basically, the quick answer is that the Circle hook for the most part sets itself in the corner of a fish’s jaw when you tighten up the line. This results in less gut hooked fish and a great increase in the survival rate for catch and release. For newbies this takes a lot of the “when should I set the hook” questions out of the equation because, well… you don’t! In this short article let’s just go over some of the important facts and features of Circle Hooks.
How is a Circle Hook Different?
The difference between a Circle Hook and the classic J hook is quite evident once you see them side by side. A circle hook has its point turned back towards the shank forming the shape of a somewhat open circle. This circle shape makes it more difficult for the hook to get lodged in a fish’s gut when the bait is swallowed. Instead, when the line is made taught through either the angler reeling in slack line or the fish running, the shape of the Circle Hook will cause it to slide up and lodge in the corner of the fish’s mouth or jaw against the angle of the fishing line. Think of it like in the movies when someone throws a grappling hook over a wall and pulls the line tight until it grabs on the corner of a wall.
How do I use a Circle Hook?
Circle hooks can pretty much replace the standard J hooks as long as you remember how it works and that, especially when using live bait not to dig the point into the bait so far that it completely defeats the reason a circle hook works the way it does. You will not be setting the hook as you have been taught in the past. The fish and the hook will do the work, let them! Jerking the rod up to set the hook will pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth.
In addition to increasing the survival rate of catch and release fish, I have found that one of the key benefits for me in using Circle hooks is that I can use lighter leaders and wire for those species that I normally would be concerned with a hooks being bitten off or leaders rubbing on a particularly rough jaw. Because the hook sets in the jaw or corner of the mouth the chances of a line being cut by teeth is greatly decreased. It should be said here that whenever possible to use hooks that will eventually deteriorate, also to increase the survival rate of the fish.
Final Circle Hook Tips
Have I mentioned that you do not “Set the Hook” when using Circle Hooks?! When I first started using these hooks my instincts from a lifetime of using J-hooks made it difficult for me to NOT set the hook, but after enough lost fish I got used to just reeling in the slack and letting the fish set the hook by his it’s run. This lead to most fish being hooked in the jaw for easy release.
Since most of those new to fishing or are a bit inexperienced of what to do when a fish picks up the bait and begins to run, they can often just hold on and let the fish do the work of setting the hook. Higher survival rates from less gut hooked fish and not having to determine the perfect time to set the hook, these are two great reasons to give Circle Hooks a try!