Tackle and Tactics
"Responses on circle hooks."
My last piece on the Circle hook tests in New Zealand stirred up a few doubts in the minds of other anglers. In particular I had a couple of emails questioning whether hooks set on long lines were a reasonable test for rod and line fishing. I Quote -
Your recent article "Update on circle hooks" dated 6/10/2005 bases its findings on long-line usage in New Zealand. I'm not totally convinced that this is good enough evidence to back up their effectiveness. As I have told you I am from an old Deal fishing family and as a kid used to lay hundreds of yards of long lines (most of which caught stones of cod and whiting!!) which used old long shank 4/0 hooks on the end of 3 foot snoods made from that orange hand-line nylon!!!!! Therefore I am sceptical regarding this info. as if, as I imagine, there is a plentiful supply of fish most any hook will catch them! We used to catch pin whiting on almost gaff sized hooks on baits like sprat, whelks and herring (not secured by elasticated nylon either!!).
I am very interested in the circle hook theory, as these days any advantage we can get for shore fishing is a well needed bonus, but will two 3/0 circles provide me with more catching power/options (not too sure these are the correct words!?) if masked with lumps of fresh crab or even three yellow tails??? I have just purchased a few packets and will let you know how they perform when pennel fishing for cod. I have read all your articles on these hooks and am still not convinced that I am missing the boat.
You pose the question, am I converted? Well I'm not sure about that yet. The statistics you post look impressive and firmly in favour of circles over J's, but are based on an 'unmanned' fishing style, i.e. rod (or long line in this case) left unattended for fish to either hook itself or not as the case may be. Circles were the hands down (excuse the pun there !) winner.
Do you think similar trials with 'rod in hand' tactics would be as successfully in favour of circles?
I have to say that my own first reaction on reading about the circle hook tests was exactly the same as those of Sean and Billy. Notice that although they have doubts they are both open minded about giving the hooks a try. Few people can be more sceptical than I am (my wife will confirm that) and when a number of people start posing the same question it is always worth another look. At the end of the day it is only by trying these things that we will get the answers to the questions. I was certainly well aware that a hook on a long line is not the same thing as a hook on a rod and line. As noted above the fish have to hook themselves and I'm sure that Billy is right in suggesting that if there are plenty of hungry fish about you'll catch some of them on any old hook. However, what are we really talking about? It is a matter of probabilities. Often one fish caught can make the difference between a blank and a good session. If I can increase the chance of a bite turning into a hooked fish I'm all for it. For example if I use only the sharpest trebles on my plugs and lures, the proportion of missed bites goes down. In the extreme case no one would surely dispute that you'd be crackers to fish a lure carrying really blunt hooks.
Secondly, it is certainly possible that if the angler holds the rod, waits for bites and strikes effectively (as I have always tried to do and no doubt Billy and Sean do) then the circle hook may lose its advantage. However, as I said last time many of the modern methods (distance casting, match fishing, uptiding, etc.) rely on the fish hooking themselves against the resistance of a grip lead or fixed weight of some sort. This, to my mind, is almost the same as a hook fished on a long-line. So the improved hooking power shown by circle hooks should be a huge advantage for the "wait-for-a-fish-to-hook-itself" approach.
Finally, whether the hooks are better or not as fish catchers one thing is certain (and my bass and pike fishing results have already convinced me of this) you will deeply hook a lot less fish by using circle hooks. Anything that helps propogate the 'caring conservation minded angler' image these days must be worth trying. Anyway, the sooner we can build up a body of knowledge on the potential of these hook for angling the better it will be.
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Responses on circle hooks.