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Circle Hooks
Survivability & More Hook-Ups, a Win-Win Combo
by Chris "Gil" Gillin
EDITORS NOTE: Circle hooks have become very popular but their usage is still widely misunderstood. Circle hooks are designed to catch the fish’s lip. It is permissible to allow slack in your line. Do not immediately set the hook when a pickup is detected. Allow fish a short run before applying full pressure. In order for a circle hook to work properly the fish must pick up the bait and make a turn away. For this reason they work best with High Low rigs and FishFinder rigs from the surf and most any rig used from a boat. Do not bury the hook barb in your bait, it must be exposed!

Click to View Size Chart The first thing that fishermen and women "balk" at, when first seeing a circle hook is the fact that the gap of the hook (distance between the point and the shank) is relatively small. The point of the hook comes directly in towards the shank the distance of the radius (1/2 the diameter) of the circle. Pointing the "business end" of the hook away from the fish goes against everything we were taught as young fishermen. For those of us who hunt the Rockfish (Striped Bass) and "Bull" Red Drum of Assateague Island, it is a re-education.

cent.jpg (22826 bytes)Some interesting facts are that this design was primarily used in long-line fishing, and before that, by our ancestors. They were used for a good reason. Simply stated, the fish hook themselves and 95% of the time, in the lip. This meant that they were usually still alive when the lines were checked.

Circle hook effectiveness is based on Math and Physics, specifically, Newton's second law of motion and centripetal (center-seeking force). Just as when you drive around a curve in your car and lean towards the door. As velocity accelerates on the circle, the centripetal force (the car door) is towards the center.

It is important to note, that using these hooks is not a complete "no brainer." It's been my experience using these on Assateague for the last few years, that there are some tips one should follow:

  • All Circle Hooks are NOT created equal. Size and sharpness vary greatly from brand to brand.
  • Do NOT use stainless steel hooks; if the fish breaks off the hook will never deteriorate and probably kill the fish.
  • Do NOT bury the hook in your bait, use a knife to pierce the bait and expose the hook point.
  • Hammer your sand spike into the sand with a mallet. (OK I warned you)
  • Loosen your drag to "pull tension." (Warning #2)
  • Most fish are hooked solidly by the time you see or hear the run don't panic!
  • Do NOT jerk back and set the hook when a fish picks up you may yank it right out of the fish without catching the jaw. (Last Warning)
  • Easy does it let them run a little. Pick-up & tighten your drag keep the rod tip up, walk backwards and reel (did I say don't panic?) & have fun!
  • Do NOT use really light tackle on the beach for Striped Bass and Drum. Too long of a fight builds up acid in the fish and will probably kill it, even if it's released.
  • If you plan to release a fish RELEASE IT! Excessive handling will often degrade the protective mucous and will often result in death by parasites.

Gil Circle hooks are perfect for fishing.

They result in the fish almost always being hooked by their own momentum and being landed in good condition.

We should all keep in mind that the large Drum and Striped Bass that visit Assateague are older mature breeding stock. Releasing most of them in good shape is the right thing to do.

Some surfcasters and jetty fishermen look down their nose at bait soaking sand spike fishermen to begin with. Using a hook that eliminates more of the "fisherman factor", will, I'm sure only add to the prejudice but so be it!

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