Do you love big bluegill?
Has anyone used a "Circle hook" for Bluegill? I bought some black finished size 10 Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Circle hooks to try on Bluegill. Supposedly you don't need to set the hook with your rod when you get a bite, just start reeling in the fish. And supposedly, the fish are never hooked deep in their throats, but in the corner of their mouths, making it easier for catch and release. I'm going out to Lake Perris in the morning to give them a try so I'll post my hook test tomorrow...
Everything I have read about circle-hooks says that you shouldn't "strike" on the bite. The fish has to turn and in doing so the hook pulls to the corner of the mouth and "cams" round and sinks past the barb.
I have used them on bigger fish (LMBs to Stripers to Saltwater species) but have never found any small enough for Sunfish. Some hooks are circular in shape but not true Circle Hooks, at least they don't work quite the same in my experience.
Pretty cool that you have found some small ones. I will keep a look-out for some now.
Are you going to try them out? I will ask my competition pals and I guess I will have to hunt down some #12 or #10 circle hooks.
While not scientific - I will know right out the gate that the thicker wire on these won't fish as well as a fine wire hook. I tried a "normal" gauge wire on Saturday and it cut my bites by 1/3 vs. a light wire hook on the same fish / same spot. I don't think the shape is as important as the weight of the hook - but I am open to it and will try it.
Without trying it I say the applications for people to use might be:
Restful fishing (not watching the rod)
Drift fishing - from the sounds of Keith's description of its action/use.
I can safely tell you that I put hooks in 350+ bluegills on Saturday and none of my hooks were circular.
Well - not many or I wouldn't have been able to land that many. I had 2 small fish and one medium fish that were deep-hooked.
I am on that bite indicator and the goal is to NOT have them swallow it. It is a fine line between letting them take it and striking before they have the hook.
I think for Johnny's competitions these hooks would not be the best choice. I've found they don't stick smaller bluegill, (under 3" ) very well. In addition, I think they can be somewhat harder to remove, once you have the fish on the bank.
On the other hand, if you're only targeting larger gills, and aren't in a race, these hooks can be quite useful. I know that my hybrid bluegill pond is catch and release, and these hooks have become my favorites to prevent harmful, deep hooksets.
I thought they might be harder to get out, but deep-hooking is not an issue with barbless hooks and very light line.
Of course, if not paying attention - that is a totally different story. I completely understand being outdoors and taking an eye off the float.
I have the world's best tool in either my mouth or tucked behind my ear in case any fish does get deep-hooked. It's called a disgorger and all bluegill hunters should have this tool - it saves lives.
If I happen to deep hook a prized gill and can't get it out on the first try, I just cut the leader - chances are my hook point needed replacing anyhow and the thin hooks melt out of those fish quickly with their acidic mouths.
Mortality is usually for about .5 % which are very small fish where a gill is broken. Tee 3" potato chips can be fragile... the rest of them no problem.
It is good to see so many people trying these hooks. As others mentioned, it is sometimes hard to find non-offset circle hooks, but it is usually easy to remove the offset with a pair of pliers.
My experiences are similar to other comments. The offset models do tend to deep hook fish, but the non-offset hooks rarely deep hook fish.
Circle hooks work very well for me as long as I do not snatch. After using them extensively in saltwater, I have found them very useful for panfish, catfish and other freshwater species.
I have tried to use bigger circle hooks with the barb bent down and have lost fish. You have to keep the rod really bent or they back out fast. Of course that's on bigger fish that run.
I tend to use them when drifting or tight-lineing bait deep. Even with low stretch line it tough to see or feel a bite and the circle hook helps.
They aren't good for every situation, but where they work, they work very well and prevent gut-hooked fish.