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April 09, 2014

A Vicious Circle

Pick the right circle hook for success in today’s sea of options.

“If I’m deep-dropping or fishing for tuna, I’ll use a heavy-gauge hook to handle the heavy drag pressure,” says Weinhofer. “But for sailfish tournaments, I’ll use a 6/0 thin-wire VMC tournament hook with a large gap that maxes out at about 28 pounds.”

When shark fishing, Weinhofer intentionally uses a light-wire hook to help with the release. “I ask my anglers to take it easy on the drag when fishing sharks,” he says. “When the shark gets to boat-side, I can apply pressure with my hand on the leader, and the hook actually bends free without me getting close to their teeth.”

In-Line or Offset

The in-line versus offset argument has been around for years, and it’s still debatable whether offset hooks catch more fish than in-line (nonoffset) hooks. Based on my fishing experiences, offset circle hooks defeat the purpose of a conservation-crafted hook because of their tendency to lodge deep in the throat of a fish.

“Use in-line hooks for situations where conservation is an issue,” says Syd Rives, of Gamakatsu hooks. “In-line circle hooks don’t gut-hook fish as often as offset circles, so they are a good choice for tournament fishermen and other recreational fishing, where the angler is not keeping his or her catch.”

Nonoffset circles are definitely picking up steam in terms of popularity. “The Big Eye Circle is perfect for larger fish, bottomfishing, deep-dropping and trolling,” says Rives. “Gamakatsu’s HD Live Bait Circle is a good chunk-bait hook for larger fish like tuna and bottom species.”

VMC recently introduced its 7266 Inline Single hook to replace trebles on lures and plugs. The high-carbon-steel hook features an extra-wide gap to improve catch rates, along with an ­oversize eye for freedom of movement.

Some circle hooks have offset eyes for a snelled connection that doesn’t gut-hook species, such as Gamakatsu’s Octopus Inline Circle and VMC’s Sport Circle. “If I’m drifting baits for tarpon in Key West harbor, I always snell to an offset-eye circle hook,” says Weinhofer. “A snelled hook seems to drift back truer with the chum and leads to a solid hook-set.”