The birth of catch-and-release fishing spawned the invention of circle fishing hooks. These are shaped so that the point turns toward the hook shank, almost making a circle. Unlike J-Hooks they are made for conservation. Circle Hooks sizes are made for Freshwater Salmon, Largemouth Bass, and some big Saltwater Species like Striper. Why are Circle Hooks the best hooks for striper fishing?
Circle Hooks are Perfect for Striper:
- They reduce deep hooking
- Keep you from losing tackle
- Less trauma setting the hook
- Conservation-allows to catch & release safely
- Easy baiting
- Reduces snagging body of fish
- Allows control of longer cast over breakers
- Allows using a lighter leader that helps feel bites
Unlike the J-Hook style of a fish hook, Circle Hooks are designed for Catch and Release. Circle hooks have replaced J-Hooks as the Hook of choice for the mighty Striped Bass. Here is why.
Circle Hook vs J-Hook
A Circle Hook is a fishing hook manufactured so that the point is turned perpendicularly back to the hook shank to form a generally circular, or oval, shape. A Circle Hook has the best tendency to hook a fish in the mouth than a J-Hook. This is desirable for various reasons.
- For one it reduces the risk of deep hooking and the fish swallowing the hook
- It can improve the survival of the fish- it might be a Schooler and to small to take
- It keeps you from losing tackle-how many times have you lost a good lure to undesirable fish
- A novice won’t have to worry when to set the hook more properly
- The Circle Hook does all the work
The first time I used a Circle Hook I found the obvious problems that most anglers do like how to bait it or how to set it. The idea behind a Circle Hook is it’s a better way to hook a fish, better for Conservation. Some fish are landed because of being snagged in the body that wouldn’t happen if you were using a Circle Hook.
When a fish takes the bait it will close its mouth turn run and when it does the Circle Hook will move up in its mouth and catch the corner. With a J Hook, the fish will end up swallowing the bait on the hook, wasting the fish if it’s too small or the wrong species that you are looking for.
Or if you miss the set and the fish turns you’ll snag the fish on its body using a J-Hook. Because we are many times throwing back non-targeted species of fish that are too small, it’s clear that we don’t want to gut-hook fish that are to be released back to the water.
The design of the Circle hook has a smaller gap between the hook point and the shank of the hook and because the hook point is angled inward as you can see in the picture above. Unlike a J Hook design, this design keeps the hook from grabbing hold of the fish’s throat until the fish decides to turn and run and that’s when the Circle Hook starts to exit the inside of the fish and catches the edge of his mouth. This makes it easier to Catch & Release of the fish.
To set a Striper on a Circle Hook Don’t Jerk the Rod up like you would with a J-Hook. That’s always your first reaction when a fish takes your bait but not with a Circle Hook. You’ll end up ripping it out of his mouth. Reel in-Reel in and lift up your rod slowly and let the fish do the work-you’ll feel the resistance on the line as the fish turns to run and the Circle Hook will slip up to the front of his mouth and hook the corner of his mouth for a clean hook-set.
The Circle hooks will also allow the angler to use a lighter leader because the hook will be in the fish’s mouth and the leader will be hanging out. This will help with feeling more bites that will help with landing more fish.
How to Bait a Circle Hook
With Fresh or Saltwater bait the Circle Hook the same way. I run the live or soft plastic through the center of the Circle Hook with the hook fully exposed. In Saltwater Surf Fishing
using the Drift Method does not cover the Hook Gap. Use this image as a guide for using bunker As you can see the gap is fully exposed and the bunker is hanging off the Circle.
Check your bait every 10 minutes or so to keep the bait fresh. When using bunker for bait most Surf Fisherman use the head for bigger fish especially stripers. Hook the baitfish like bunker shallow through the mouth keeping the Circle hook’s point totally exposed if you don’t you will lose the fish.
Try smaller types of chunks for a more picky Bass. Serve it up on the Circle Hook and they’ll take it. Same with Blue Crab, Clam, or Squid as a Bait on Circle Hook stays shallow on the crab when baiting with most of the point of the hook exposed. Live eels bait from the bottom jaw out through the eye with the point of the Circle Hook.
Live Bait works the same the Circle hook’s gap needs to show. Even hooking a live bait from the back of the neck without rubber bands or bridles, you still need to bait shallow. Use a Fishfinder Rig when you are drift fishing like you would Surf Fishing for Striper. It’s made for a Circle Hook and keeps a finicky Bass no matter how big or small from feeling anything unusual on the bait line. Sometimes it won’t matter if the fish are banging on anything but if they are picky use this type of setup.
Circle Hook Sizes
Circle hook sizes start with hook size 1/0 increasing in size through 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, etc through to a massive 20/0 for the largest ocean shark. Circle fish hook sizes start at a tiny No. 32 and run-up to a huge 19/0. From size 32 to 1, saltwater hook size increases while the number decreases. From size 1/0 to 19/0, the hook size increases along with the number. Keep in mind that saltwater hooks are not standardized, thus, one brand’s 3/0 may be larger than that of another brand.
Depending on the size and some characteristics of the Circle hook will dictate what kind of fish it’s qualified for. While saltwater fishing hooks come in many sizes and shapes, they are generally made of one of two materials: stainless steel or high-carbon steel.
Circle Hooks also are defined as non-offset or offset. Non-offset circle hooks have the point aligned even to the shank; conversely, the offset hooks are aligned at an angle to the shank.
The first is corrosion-resistant but brittle, while the second will rust but is more forgiving of bends and twists. So in order for them to work well, they need to be sharpened and oiled for extending their life. A thinner type wire material used in Circle Hooks is better for using live bait while a heavier type gauge of Circle Hooks is used for bottom fishing off a boat or piers.
What Size Circle Hook for Striped Bass
One of the best ways for taking stripers in early Spring from boats or the Beach is by drifting different baits such as cut bunker, bunker heads, eels, and worms. I’m from New Jersey and fish Striper from the Surf. Anglers in the Northeast use clams for stripers. The one thing most coastal areas have in common, especially in the northern portion of the East Coast, is a healthy stock of surf clams. The abundance of this readily obtained bait has caused more and more serious striper fishermen to use clams during the early season. Even Fishing through Clam Beds can add results.
In early Spring decide on Clams or sandworms using a Hi-Low Rig that will present the bait near the bottom and top of the water. Natural baits, like live eels, are especially effective for spring stripers that are fattening up after a long winter. No matter how you put together your hi-low rig, one important consideration is the size of the hook you use.
When using worms, a short- shank, bait-holder type hook in size 2, 1, or 1/0 will work best. If you choose to use clams or cut baits for bait, bait-holder hooks in sizes 1/0, 2/0, and 3/0 will give you the best results. In the Fall moving up to 5 through 8 size Circle Hooks as the Bass get bigger in size.
Fish Finder Rig Surf Fishing
In every Tackle Store along the Eastern Coast especially New Jersey the most talked about Striper Rig is the Fish Finder will catch trophy size fish with Cut Baits like Mullet or Bunker sized 1-3 inches big, in the elements of the Jersey Coast. Species: Striped Bass, Red Drum, Flounder, Sea Trout, Blue Fish, Snook any kind of large fish in the wind currents and waves it works well. The Average Striper size Fish Finder Rig: 5/0 Circle Hook, 18″ Steel Leader #40 Lb., 8 MM Dia. Red Bead, Size 5 Sinker Slide, 3 Oz. Pyramid Sinker. For bigger species of fish 8/0 Circle Hook, 36″ Steel Leader #80 Lb., 8MM Dia. Red Bead, Size 6 Sinker Slide, 6 Oz. Pyramid Sinker.
The Fish Finder will move on the floor of the ocean kicking up sand while attracting the attention hopefully of a monster Striper looking for a meal. The weight of the Pyramid is adjustable to any size to hold the bottom. It will dust sand at the bottom to imitate a wounded fish which will also attract the Bass. The slider keeps the weight of the sinker off your line so when a fish does take your bait it connects directly to your rod via your line. Like the Circle Hook, It’s a great tool for catching Striped Bass.
Try this medium-heavy Surf Rod PENN Carnage II Surf Casting Fishing Rod, 11′ – Medium-Heavy along with with a great surf addition Daiwa Saltist Spinning Reel is the pinnacle in saltwater spinning. Hardbody aluminum frame and side plate. Air Rotor and Air Bail for lite weight and performance. Packed with 8 CRBB long lasting bearings and one roller bearing. ABS Aluminum spool. Or my favorite Penn 1403983 Slammer III Spinning for Big Bass slammers. Hurry temperatures coming down.