Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page.

"Update on circle hooks."

A recent email from Chris Teague directed me to an excellent study regarding the effectiveness of circle hooks. An outline of the work is given on a New Zealand, kite fishing, website. I'll summarise it here and pick out the key points. I must say that anyone who is not using these hooks for bait fishing by now is certainly missing the boat.

The study involved setting long-lines to catch snappers. These are popular sportfish with large, toothy, bony mouths (similar in general form to the mouth of a bass or cod so the results almost certainly apply to fish like these and probably many others). The set lines were fitted with 4/0 or 5/0 hooks and baited with pilchards and the trial involved 60,000 baited hooks in all (you can't say it wasn't a fair test then!). On each line the alternate hooks were circles or J hooks (of two types). Of course there are things to bear in mind about this. Chiefly that it involves set lines so the fish have to 'hook themselves' but since most of the sea angling in this country is still bottom fishing with grip leads and/or distance casting of some sort and because of this the fish effectively have to 'hook themselves' anyway, it must be highly relevant.

To get down to brass tacks - which type of hook was best? I'll quote the results. In one test the circle hooks caught 507 snapper on a set of 1740 hooks and the same number of J hooks caught only 317 snapper. This is an increase of almost 60%. Even more significant is the fact that, in this test, the circle hooks did not gut hook any small (<30 cm) fish while the J hooks gut hooked 47.

From the point of view of commercial fisheries the fact that the circle hooks caught small fish (as well as big ones) was a bad thing but for anglers (particularly match anglers?) this could be a massive bonus.

In addition to the hook comparison two methods of tying the hook to the trace were compared. Results of this test were even more startling. Circle hooks tied with a snell knot (see diagram - I think it's the same as the , so called, 'knotless knot') caught 40% more snapper than circles tied with a half blood knot and (wait for it) THREE TIMES AS MANY FISH AS J HOOKS in whatever manner the latter were tied.

Well I'd convinced myself ages ago that circles were the only hooks worth using for bait fishing. How about you?

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


Update on circle hooks.

Are they better?.

Only in the case of the very largest fish did the J hooks come close.


Dead easy to tie and apparently extremely effective when using fixed lines.