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The Pros and Cons of Circle Hooks

by Jim Porter

Probably the best innovation to come along in preserving fish and insuring they live when released is the circle hook. The picture I attached shows you a sample. I was skeptical as heck of this concept UNTIL I TRIED IT. It will blow your mind.

Here's how the circle hook works.

A fish will take the bait into its mouth and start to swim off. If your try to set the hook, you will most likely yank it right out of the fish╣s mouth because of the hook's design. Let the fish run and allow your line to tighten. When the line becomes taut, the eye of the hook will actually clear the mouth, but when the fish continues to swim away the hook will encounter a 'hump' in its path -- the fish's lip structure. The point of the hook, being 'tucked in', so to speak, will slide across any smooth surface, even your hand, and the point is never aligned to catch on anything.

BUT, the rounded lip of the fish, especially in the CORNER of the mouth, will slip into the curve of the hook and the hook point will stick right in. The fish will actually hook itself in the corner of the jaw, IF you let it swim until the line comes tight. Even if the fish swallows the lure or live bait, the hook will USUALLY slide right back up the gullet without hooking the fish. I have been experimenting with circle hooks on shiners, since we usually let the bass swim to a tight line anyway with that bait.

It has actually IMPROVED our hook-up percentage and NOT ONE bass has been injured by a circle hook. Not a one has had the hook anywhere except in the lip, with most all being the corner of the jaw. Shiner fishing normally appears to have a HIGH mortality rate because so many take the shiner and hook deep and get throat hooked. Yeah, we cut those hooks off. But, we also had just pulled like heck on a bass with a hook lodged in its soft, vulnerable throat.

The circle hook also works with plastic, but you have to condition yourself NOT to set the hook. When the fish swims away, the hook WILL get the lip. It is almost like a trap you set for the fish. And, it doesn't harm them. There is one type of circle hook to avoid, as it seems to miss hooking up a bit. That one is a circle hook that has the offset in the shank. It is sort of like the Tru-Turn hook offset that is supposed to make the hook rotate. Avoid that style circle hook and go with one that has a straight shank.

Give this some thought and try it. Don't be like me and wait 2 years before you figure out that it really will work.


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