Catch fish with Mike Ladle.

Catch Fish with
Mike Ladle

Information Page


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).

25 February 2008

Circle hook problem.

The other day I had an email from my pal Stuart Clough. Stu is a very good angler and fishery scientist so I always read his emails with great interest (to be honest the only thing I look at in 'Angler's Mail' is Stu's little column.). The recent communication throws new light on the possibilities for circle hooks:-

Hi Mike - how are things with you and yours?

Just sitting looking at the snowy scene and thought I'd drop you a line as it seems ages since we were in contact.

Life is pretty hectic these days, with precious little time for fishing. We have moved and have been busy decorating, and getting the garden how we want it - it was a bit of a jungle when we moved in. The River Dane is close by so I do manage to snatch an hour after work or at the weekend here and there.

On the fishing front I have to report a circle hook failure. You may not be surprised at the outcome. I was very hopeful at first, but have now consigned the idea to the "good theory, doesn't work in practice" category. I was missing lots of chub bites fishing with large(ish) paste baits after dark - either with the paste on a hair, or with the paste on a normal J hook. I was converting the odd one, but the missed bites were 5 or even 10 to 1. The plan was to use a circle and fish the paste on a short hair, on a running leger rig. Having read your musings I knew that striking was a no-no, so it was sit on the hands time and wait for the rod to go in! In short, I had a 4lb chub first cast, and thought I had cracked it, but 20 missed takes later and it was time for a re-think. Next trip I switched the running lead for a fixed 3 oz lead (to provide some resistance as the fish moves off with the bait), with identical results – 4 pounder first cast, and then a raft of missed bites. The lip marks in the paste suggesting the fish were not taking the bait properly after the commotion of the first fish.

Back to the J hooks then, and a complete re-think on tactics. At this point back to basics seems to be the best approach, so I tied a size 2 hook to the main line, pinched on 3 swan shot, and flicked this to the far bank letting it swing round, with the line hooped over my finger. 4 chub in 4 casts tends to suggest chub are suckers for this approach.

On another trip when the river was carrying colour I switched the flake for my usual paste, again moulded around the hook. The first cast produced a chub, but I then started to miss bites again - it seems as if they are able to pick the more solid baits up in their lips. The (partial) solution was to give free line as soon as the first pluck developed. If the line tightened a second time the strike was usually successful - 3 chub and a small barbel this time.

I have a week of holiday coming up in early Feb, and apart from visiting family, erecting a shed and boarding out the loft I hope to get some fishing trips in.

Hope life is good for you. All the best,


I replied as follows:-

Hi Stu,

Thanks for the email. Glad to hear that you are all well. Interesting about the circle hook tests. It doesn't look as though they're any good for chub - saves me a bit of wasted time. They certainly work very well for bass, perch and pike (as you know) but perhaps fish with ‘rubber’ lips are not so susceptible. In any case you don't really need them for carp etc. (in my view) because they tend to hook themselves on the J hooks if I just keep a tight line – no need for hairs or fancy rigs. The big advantage of circle hooks (to my mind) is in avoiding damage to 'swallowers' like pike and perch. I debarb mine these days and they still seem excellent.

Anyway, keep in touch and let me know if you're down this way for a spot of fishing and a natter.

All the best to you and yours.


I asked Stu if it was OK to use his stuff on the website and he said:-

Hi Mike,

Please feel free to use the comments as you wish. I have had success with pike and perch on the circles, but with heavy leads and hair rigged baits they don't appear to offer any benefits for chub. The main reason I tried them was because I have been having my best success with chub using a knotless knot, with the line (stiff flurocarbon) passing through the front of the eye - in effect making a J more like a circle - sort of.

I have loads of pictures of chub etc., but none of circle hooks. I could easily rig one up if you can wait a while? I can also take some of my normal chub rig for comparison. Let me know if you want to do this - it is no problem, and it would be interesting to see if others have similar or contrasting experiences.


It's years since I fished bait for chub etc. but I have to say that Stuart's experiences have rekindled the urge to have a go sometime. I often used to freeline or light leger bread baits for dace, roach and chub with great success and my tactic was to let the fish run with the bait before striking (chub, in particular, will carry it quite a long way unless they feel resistance.

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 -


Amazing fish and even more amazing smile from Hannah, Stu's eldest daughter..

Nice chub.

One of Stu's experimental captures.

The 'rig'.

Stu says that the mini boilie is just a carrier for the paste and sometimes comes off, on the strike..