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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ristori: Circle hooks save lives of marlins
Thursday, March 17, 2005
BY AL RISTORI
Star-Ledger Staff

If there was ever any question about how effective circle hooks are in preventing unnecessary mortality in sportfishing, it was settled during a recent study by John Graves using 40 very expensive pop-up satellite archival tags on white marlin caught off the Mid-Atlantic coast (New Jersey and Virginia); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Isla Mujeres, Mexico; and La Guaira Bank, Venezuela.

Graves is the chairman of the Department of Fisheries Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and chairman of the U.S. International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas Advisory Committee. He described the satellite tag experiment yesterday at the New Jersey Sea Grant Workshop for Party and Charter Boat operators in Clarion Conference Center, West Atlantic City.


The whites were caught on sporting tackle with 20-to-30-pound lines, and on dead balao baits. They were fought 10 to 15 minutes until sufficiently tired to be handled at boatside without injuring themselves. The tags were set to pop off in 10 days and send information relative to movement, temperature, pressure and light level to a satellite. Only seven whites died during the experiment, and every one was caught on a standard J-hook.

There was no mortality among the 20 white marlin hooked with circle hooks. Furthermore, the researchers found no relationship between fighting time and mortality or between fish that required resuscitation at boatside and subsequent mortality. The one constant was that circle hooks save marlin.

That study merely confirms what we've known for years through experiments with penned-up fish of many species. In a striped bass experiment, less than 1 percent died after being caught on circle hooks while 10 percent of J-hook captures didn't make it.

The bottom line is that there is simply no justification for not using circle hooks in most bait fisheries.

That might be more understandable if anglers were being put at a disadvantage, which is far from the case as hooking rates are generally higher with circle hooks and very few fish are able to throw them once set. Furthermore, the hooking procedure of simply pointing the rod at the fish and reeling tight is so simple that even a beginner can hardly go wrong.

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What Do Yo Think ??? For or Against ??
 

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I use them in the Del. river and on the surf. i dont have a problem with them, so i am for them
 

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I use them for most everything except WeekFish, i beleive for those that Target Taug your missing out if your not useing circles!
 

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I can't state enough how effective circles are and how much they contribute to lower hook mortality and catch and release mortality - I'm behind them 1000%.

I don't think there is any excuse for not using them almost exclusively for just about any type of fishing. You can even set the hook if you use the wide gap Gamagatsu(spelling yikes?).

For surf fishng for stripers or other species they are excellent and there are ways to rig cirlce hooks for use with whole fish, knoggins or free swimming live baits that over come circle hook use with these types of bait.

As Bluefinn said, they are deadly on tog, kingfish and other small fish. They can be used when fly fishing and I have no doubt it is only a matter of time before they are on jigs and metal and even plugs - jigs and metal are easy since it is on hook. Plugs are more difficult since you do need the additional bends on a hook to push off the plug body for hook sets - but look at tru-turns funny lookin hook with the big hook and two smaller ones - it is just a matter of time before we see a circle hook on plugs also.

For all my bait fishing I use nothing else...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just wanted to give a visual here -

J Hooks on the Left/Circle Hooks on the Right
 

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I believe in freedom of choice for whatever hook you decide to use,for any type of fishing. I fish with j-hooks alot when fishing big chunks of bunker in the Del bay,the circle hooks don't work on the heads or huge chunks,you miss alot of fish,Gamakatsu biggest size currently is only 8/0. Fishing clams or blooodworms I will use circle hooks sometimes. If you are going to keep the fish,whats the difference? :rolleyes: I feel that circle hooks are great on agresive fish,but suck when the fish are picking away at the bait. Also,if you do fish live bait or chunks,and you set the hook right away,you get very few gut hooks. ;) I have had bass swallow the circle hook when they were very aggresive also. :( I will say that when you use j hooks you should use the right size for whatever you are fishing for example 9/0 for big chunk,10/0 for heads will stop gut hooking fish. :eek:
 

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I've been using circles for about 7 years for stripers and tuna, I don't fish for much else. They work for me chunking, eeling even have them on diamond jigs that are deadsticked for tuna.
I use bunker heads and circles no problem. It is difficult sometimes when the fish are picking at the bait. However with some practise they can be just as effective then too. I like offset hooks. Easier to put through a bait.
 

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hey 2dogs,U say dead sticking diamond jigs for tuna,how do you make out with this?and are they naked jigs or are there strip baits on them.never tried but often wanted to.thanks if anyone also has an opinion please post
 

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I run a line off the outrigger with a 16 oz Vikie jig with a circle hook. The motion of the boat works the jig. Usually get at least 1 fish if not more doing this. Need to determine how deep the fish are and get the jig in the zone. The jigs are naked. I've limited out using jigs when the tuna just weren't taking chunks. Pays to have a few on board.
 

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thanks for the reply 2dogs.I will try this first chance I get.I have only been on the tuna grounds and in the canyon A couple hundred times and havnt tried it yet.duh its never to late to try new things!thanks again
 

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Great for dead stickin - very very low gut hook rate.
However, if I'm jiggin back some bait and actively using my set up, i'll use a standard J - or a circle.
I feel all us dead stickin BAIT THROWERS OWE IT TO THE FISH and the whole community to USE CIRCLES - no reason not to.
And maybe this is psychological, but I feel my hook up rate increased when I switched to the straight shank (not bent eye like in NS's pics). I use the Gami 4x strong circles and use a polamer or improved clinch knot. I heard it provides a less restrictive action and allows the point to find the corner of the mouth more easily.
 

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I even started using them for Fluke last year with great success. I have always let the Fluke take my bait a bit before setting the hook. The circles definately ended the problem of gut hooked shorts. A lot of times, if they were gut hooked, I would cut the line, but they had already been bleeding by the time they were landed.
 

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I think that they are a benifit for all fisheries.
Been using them for tuna chunking and stripers for last 4/5 years.Guess I'd better learn how to rig ballys w/ a circle, last thing I want to do is kill a marlin!
 

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I use them for bass and given the way they eat, I'm not sure why they are not a mandatory. Since we need to release the many that fall out of the measurement limits and those we catch after we filled our limits, why not give them the best chance of survival. A gut hooked bass is a dead bass in my opionion.
 

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Tried circles a few times and I always go back to the J hook. Just don't like them and we still had a few fish gut hooked.

There are ways to fish that can almost stop gut hooking. If you dead stick then lock it down. Fish like stripers pick up and turn away. Locked up will almost always set the hook in the mouth. Try holding the rod. A tape we made last November in the back bay. Nine stripers on 7/0 J hooks with clam bellies. Had the rod in my hand for every fish. All nine were lip hooked because I set the hook on the first tap.

Stripers aren't tog that pick at a bait. Look at the mouth. It's a vacuum cleaner for inhaling food. They will hold the food in their mouth for a few seconds because they are programmed to crush or crunch with their back plates before they swallow. Set the hook during these few seconds and it's lip hooked. Let them run line the way some do and the hook could be hanging out it's arse.

If you dead stick without locking it down then by all means use circles but they aren't foolproof. If anyone thinks they are then stop over at the dock. I'll put a chunk of hotdog on a circle and you can swallow it. Then let me pull it out. :D
 

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Slammer, those big heads have to be rigged a different way or you do lose some fish as you can attest to. Darren Dorris of the NJ Angler presented a way to rig them at striper night a few years back - basically, the head gets clipped to a big swivel thru the nose and the hook is set just above the swivel, not pinned to the head but freely above the head. This method works better than pinning the cirlce into the big bait, but since I don't use J-hooks any more I can't do a comparision. If you ever get the inkling, do a comparison for us and post the results - I'd be interest in what performs better.
 
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