Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

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For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).

28 March 2007

More tips on circle hooks.

I've had one or two more emails about the use of circle hooks recently and the picture is beginning to fill out. Here's the gist of it, edited a bit for clarity and propriety -

The first one was from Jeff with a question.

I was interested to hear of your experiences using circle hooks for pike and was wondering if you could give me some more details as I'd like to give them a try myself. Unfortunately,livebaiting is banned on the stretches of river that I fish,so I tend to use sardines about 6" long - a successful bait. Could you advise me on a size/type of circle hook to try,and your preferred method of hooking the bait. I also understand that,with circle hooks,you do not strike but tighten up to the fish. Is this correct?

On a different tack,I spoke to you a couple of years ago and I believe you were going to try your luck on my local estuary for bass or mullet. I think you mentioned you had a relative living near me. I was wondering how you got on?

The River is my local venue for summer mullet,and winter pike and although I usually do well each year with the former,the recent wet winters have made the pike fishing a little difficult at times. Last season was particularly bad as the River is quickly and lastingly affected by rainfall, which we had in abundance. Never mind - spring and the return of the mullet are just around the corner.



I replied as follows.

"Hi Jeff",

"Good to hear from you. You're spot on about the circle hooks. They'd be fine with your sardine baits I think. I started off with the 4/0s that I used for bass (big squid baits and mackerel livebaits) and they seem fine but having used size 4's and 6's for perch and caught lots of pike I'm not sure that the size is too important. You certainly MUST not strike and I tend to tighten the line as soon as I think the bait's in the fish's mouth (I miss a few small ones). I still occasionally hook a fish in the throat or gill arches but it is pretty rare. Also, you'll need to get used to rotating the hook more as you remove it. Let me know how it goes."

"You're right about me wanting to fish your stretch of river but (typically) I haven't got round to it yet. I'd still like to do it. I was up your way yesterday but with six grand children to entertain it's hard to find time for fishing. My rivers have been flooded and dirty for much of this winter too - a real downer."

"All the best,"


The next two emails were from pals who are using circles in the sea and both are interesting -

"Dear Mike",

"A minor update on the circle hooks situation."

"As planned, I had a day out yesterday after thornbacks using one rod set up with J's and one with circles. Interestingly, I caught six fish on each rod but alas, results were not as hoped; I had to cut off 2 circles as too deeply swallowed to retrieve but only one J Not a statistically significant test but possibly indicative. The reason I suspect is the manner of skate angling i.e angler sees small "knock" (thornback smothering bait) then nothing (thornback munching bait but static); angler sees rod tip pulled down (thornback moving off having eaten bait). Angler winds in skate - too late - squid already in thornback's belly! I will try again but I am not too optimistic."

"On a lighter note, I caught a thirteenth (10 lb ) thornback on a little 4 piece spinning rod and small (ABU 5500) reel set up to catch dabs - the rod had your name emblazoned on it and it coped remarkably well with the ray."

"Regards John"

and -

"Hello Mike,"

"In your last email you mentioned dogfish and circle hooks, well today Richard and I had a few hours fishing for spring codling,using lugworm and size 2/0 circle hooks we did manage to catch a few codling but also we had 8 doggies between us all hooked cleanly in the lip. Not too bad at all. We also caught a few coalfish - not so good with those - 4 fish 3 deep hooked. I think bigger hooks may have helped but they are a very greedy fish anyway. In any case I'm sure we returned more fish than we would have done with j hooks. Regards"


So there you are - possibly good for doggies, possibly poor for rays and coalfish. In the fullness of time we may have the answers.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to -