One of the keys that I have found with the circle hooks, is do not try to hit a grandslam when setting the hook. These hooks do not need to be jerked hard. You are not trying to jerk the fish out of the water, it will be extremely hard the yank a fish that big out of the water. Always keep your hooks as sharp as possible. Let them do the work. They sould set themselves when the fish starts to swim away with minimal tension. I am not saying not to put a little tension on the line. I know when we are trolling using them, we are usually feeding the bait to a weary fish and let them have it to get the hook in their mouth well. Then we slowly tighten the drag and the hook sets itself. It is not like the 10/0 or so straight shanked hooks that we use. You want to sink those babies home when the fish bites, or set the drag heavy and let the boat do the work. Trust me, it takes one man to hold a rod when a big fish hits it, and out there, that could be the next strike. If you have the patience, circle hooks are the trick, especially when you are fishing for bottom fish or fishing other than trolling. You should catch more fish without them "spitting" the hook.
Thanks for the info. I would have been trying to set them like we do with the regular J shaped hooks. Normaly we wait for the pole to dip long and slow. When it comes up we grab the pole and next tug at the line we jerk the rod like we're stealing it.
I am concerned about the shape in regards to the fish tasting it. The smelts we use get the hook laced through them and then are tied to the hook real close and snuggly in hopes that the fish wont know where the bait stops and the hook starts. Since the circle hooks are so wide I'm not sure how I would go about baiting it to hide the metal. Any thoughts?
GRAVITY. It's not just a good idea. It's the LAW!
4ked Horn, post a pic of your bait. I have rigged about every type of trolling bait known. I am not sure what you are using, but if you post a picture I will be able to tell you how to hide that circle hook. You may be able to get by with a smaller circle hook than you think. I have seen some very large fish get caught on small ones. Just send me a pic and since our offshore season is getting into full swing I will have a lot of time to try to figure something out for you. It might be that you can sew the hook into the bait like we do for larger baits such as mackeral. Sounds difficult and time consuming, but it only takes a min or two and the hook is both hidden and attached well. I like doing this because most of the time, the bait will last longer and a gutted bait has more action, and is more natural looking. Just post a pic or send one to my email, and I will figure something out for you. From what it sounds, you may be using a hook that is a little large, that is, depending upon the size fish you are actually catching. If the average fish weighs 50-150lbs you could probably get by with a 4/0 circle hook. Now if you are catching those 20fters then we might want to consider maybe going a tad bigger. Just like I know that there are 1000+ lb marlin out there, I do not a bait with a 14/0 hook to catch them. You have to look at the average size fish that you will be catching and match your hooks to your bait and your fish. Now, by all means, if you have some huge bait, put huge hooks in it, but if your baits is small, make your hooks match. Also, I wanted to ask if you guys ever use flourocarbon line as a leader. That stuff is awesome. It may cost more, but hands down, awesome. I can tell the difference from day and night. Especially on yellowfin tuna that are real leader shy. But I have several tricks to hide the hook, I just need to see what your average bait looks like and know how big the average fish is that you will be planning to catch.
Sorry no digital camera available at the moment. These links might help.
The bait is 6" long whole smelt or herring. Long and thin. The hook we will normaly be using are these in 6/0. If you click on the hooks a printable page will open that will print the hooks in actual size.
The circle hooks I have are these in 10/0 I believe. I was given them by the guy that helps me with my boat and he uses them on the coast for something like halibut if I remember right. I'm also concerned about catching the fish in the front of the mouth mouth because it it a retractable sucker tube. I think if the hook didn't set in the cartilage of the mouth it would just tear out.
Our hooks have to have the barb removed or bent down.
The sturgeon we are likely to catch are from 4 to 9 feet long. The mouth on a 4 footer is as wide as your palm.
Tell me more about the florocarbon leader. Will it snell or must it be tied. Is it braided? Will it cut the fishes mouth like spider wire would?
GRAVITY. It's not just a good idea. It's the LAW!
4ked Horn, Flourocarbon is new and improved monofilament. It can be snelled. I never snell, so I have no experience trying to snell it. I always crimp my line. A little secret with the flourocarbon, I would usually use 150-200lb leaders on my tuna rigs, but I will use 100-150lb flourocarbon. It is much stronger and near about invisible under the water. But about the hooks. WOW, 10/0, that is impressive. I would use those live baiting for marlin with a 5lb tuna. I do not have a printer right here with me, but look up these hooks, owner SSW in-line circle hook in maybe 5/0 or 6/0. Like I have said I have never fished for these fish. Ok, the herring or smelt, they are somewhat narrow, but a little broad, maybe 1" thick. Do you want your bait just twirling or drifting in the current, or do u want it to swim? I take it from what you said, there is not a real need for the fish to look alive, correct me if I am wrong though. Also, tell me if you need the hook tip inside the bait. Are there a lot of things to get snagged on or a lot of grass to get caught in?
Those fish should have a cartilage or bone structure around their mouth. These hooks target that structure and wrap around it. I have yet to see one fail, when the person did not try to jerk the fish out of the water. If you let the fish take the bait, turn and start swimming off, the hook with set perfectly in the corner of the mouth. Plus you sorta get a barb or safety catch, even after you press the so called barb. The tip acts as a second barb. But I am thinking that a 10/0 hook in a 6" bait is a little big. I use 10/0 on maybe a 12" bait. I am going to think and try to figure out which baits we use that are similar to the smelts that I could rig to show you. Do you know what a mullet is? If so, how does that compare anatomically with the smelt?