Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


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Semicircle hooks - the business!

If you've been reading my site you will know that I am now a devotee of circle hooks. They are very effective and save the lives of quite a few fish because they lip hook virtually everything. A recent innovation is a the semicircle hook - obviously a 'halfway house' developed to try and wean the unbelievers away from their J hooks. A little while back I mentioned these hooks and said that the idea was fine but I didn't know whether to strike (like a J hook) or not to strike (like a circle hook). I feared that, due to this dilemma these hooks might not be all they were cracked up to be. I NOW HAVE THE ANSWER. USE THEM AS CIRCLE HOOKS AND THEY WORK VERY WELL! Apparently in the past some people who tried circle hooks found it difficult to thread worm baits on them. Semicircles should eliminate even this tiny problem.

The revelation came in a letter from my correspondent Paul Francis and it is so convincing that I'll put it on verbatim.

Hi Mike,

Hope you and your family are all well.

Went bream fishing with my brother last Wednesday. Had a very good day with each of us catching over 30 and most of them of a good size. As an experiment I used Varivas semi-circle hooks, size 2. My brother used his normal ones. Both of us used small squid strips for bait.

As mentioned, each of us caught about the same amount. My brother was striking the bites as normal but I wasn't. I let the bite develop and just reeled in when they started to make off. To be honest there didn't seem to be any difference in the hook up rates. We both missed about the same amount of bites.

What was noticable though was that all of mine were lip hooked in the corner ofthe mouth. Despite some fish taking a considerable time before they tried to make off. By contrast a lot of my brothers fish were deeply hooked. 6 of them so deep that he kept them.

As the tide slackened the dreaded pouting came out to play. Again I didn't strike at the bites and once again they were all hooked in the corner of the mouth. As the tide picked up again I tried using ragworm to see how things went with wrasse.

The hooks were fiddly to put a worm on but not impossible. Once the pouting cleared off I caught a half dozen wrasse, two of them decent sized. Again I didn't strike and the same as the bream and pouting they were all lip hooked in the corner of the mouth.

The only problem I had was that whilst fighting what was probably a big wrasse the hook snapped at the bend.To be honest I think it was probably a case of the hook had had a lot of hard use during the day and was smaller than what I would normally use for wrasse.

I would certainly use the hooks again and given that you don't appear to need to strike I think they will be ideal for uptiding where the lead is anchored and the fish hook up as they move away. They also suited my type of fishing in that I return most of the fish I catch.

I intend to try them out again in a few weeks time when we go out from Langstone harbour. This time it will be larger sizes and will be trying for smooth hounds with crab bait.

Best wishes,


Well there it is. The shrewd ones among you will have noticed the little seed of doubt in Paul's email. Are they brittle? (I hate hooks that snap - at least if they straighten you stand a chance of landing the fish). So I got out the pliers and tried a few - they straightened - so Paul simply had one badly tempered or fatigued hook (which you can occasionally get with any type). Anyway I'm convinced but I have already gone over to full circles for all my bait fishing. It saves so many fish that in my mind there's no contest.

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 - docladle@hotmail.com


Semicircle hooks - the business!.

The comparison.

From the left a full circle, a semicircle and a J hook.  The circle hook is on one of my pike traces.