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Circle the hooks!

by Les Albjerg
(Caldwell, Idaho)

It was a perfect day today! There was no wind and it was in the mid-60's. I forgot my camera, and left the phone in the car so no pictures. I have really wanted to try the "Ultralight Worm Fishing" with the Mummy Worms. So, I headed out to Marsing Pond which is really a large pool on the Snake River to try it. The twist is I used the Gamakatsu Barbless Circle Hooks that I had snelled with 7x tippet. I was fishing with my Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori 63 at the head of the pond where the water comes in. This is my favorite rod so far! There is some thinking behind this madness. I have a friend in Virginia that is a big time catfish fisherman, and he highly recommends circle hooks for catch and release. I found this to be true with the Gamakatsu Barbless Circle hooks as well. What a blast! I cast the Mummy Worm out using 6 meters of #3 level line, 12 inches of 5x with double loops, and my snelled circle hook. The weight of the hook makes for just a slightly positive weight so you get a very slow sink on the bait. I had some bright Keiryu markers with me if needed, but the Pals 3 level line was bright enough to see the action! The Mummy Worm would drift along and slowly sink as it drifted. Then, all of a sudden the line would take off! A gentle set of the hook and the fight was on! All seven rainbow trout that I caught were hooked in the upper lip. I really think that the trout had sucked the Mummy Worm way in, and when I set the hook it pulled the hook out of the back of the mouth and into the lip. I observed two takes and they really sucked the worm all the way in, and when I lifted the rod on those two you could see the Mummy Worm coming out and the you could see that the trout was hooked and very aware of it as it headed for the deep or the air! Those two swam a good 12-18 inches with the Mummy Worm in their mouths before they knew anything was amiss. I had several good jumps today. Talk about feeling connected to the fish! All fish were released to fight another day. The only downside is no Mummy Worms were recovered. Out of nine strikes, I landed 7 fish. I'll take that percentage.

Now for the sad news. Frankie (my Brittney) and I headed over to Red Rock Pond for some Sunfish action. I wanted to fish with my Kyogi because next week I am going steelhead fishing with it. (6 meters of Kyogi is like driving a 3/4 ton truck after driving your Porsche Suntech Keiryu Sawanobori) Both are great rides, just different purposes. When we got to Red Rock, I was casting for a good 20 minutes from the dock and nothing hit my wigglers, or mummy worms. There was a guy there watching birds, and he said to me, "Hey did you see all the dead fish?" I said, "No." Frankie and I walked around the pond and saw 100's of dead bass and sunfish. I stopped at my favorite micro fishing spot and rigged up with my Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 24 and a size 28 hook with a piece of red wiggler, nothing! I think my Warm Water Pond suffered a total Winter Kill! We had the coldest winter in over 40 years.

Comments for Circle the hooks!

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Mar 14, 2017
"Setting" circle hooks
by: Brad Clark

Les: I have been using circle hooks for years on tarpon to avoid the problem that many tarpon fisherman run into, the difficulty in getting a conventional fly hook to puncture a tarpon's notoriously tough mouth. I have also used them on bonefish and stripers although with mixed results on stripers. On tarpon you do not set a circle hook, rather when the tarpon takes the fly he will turn and the fly will be pulled virtually every time to the hinge of his mouth resulting in a perfect hookup. You don't raise the rod or even move the rod lateraly to set the hook rather you strip set pulling the line to you with your stripping hand or as I do, just hold the line letting the tarpon hook himself.

You referenced thinking the fly went deep in the fish and then came back out partially until hooking him in the lip. You might want to try not setting the hook at all, letting the fish pull the line tight and hopefully resulting in a hook set in the corner of his mouth rather than the lip which should result in a stronger hook up and less chance of pulling the hook from the relatively weak lip hook point.

I believe the reason I have had less success with circle hooks on stripers is because either I struck the hook or because the fish didn't turn on the hook. For a circle hook to work as intended I believe the fish has to turn on it otherwise you run the risk of the circle hook just bouncing out of the mouth. Also please do not use offset circle hooks. They can get caught deep in the fish. And be absolutely certain to crush the barb. A circle hook is hard to take out of a fish anyway and one with a barb is especially difficult and will result in unnecessary damage to the fish.

Mar 14, 2017
Thanks Brad
by: Les A.

That was really good information. I was amazed at the secure hook-ups that I got with the circle hooks being the first time I had ever used them. The ones from Chris are barbless from the factory, and are very sharp. I have tied some mop flies on circle hooks too, and am looking forward to trying them out when the rivers settle down. No tarpon around here, but my brother did just move to Florida! Anyone else out there have experience with circle hooks?

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