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Thread: Circle hooks for salmon?

  1. #1
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Circle hooks for salmon?

    Last fall I was fishing reds in coastal South Carolina with a young guide, and after having all the fun we could stand with jigs, we later switched to small live baits (little mullet) on Owner Mutu Light Circle Hooks....2/0 and 3/0. We were tossing the baits into open pockets in the grass-like weeds, and had a blast. True to their reputation with halibut and rockfish, these light circle hooks seemed to always hook up and ALWAYS in the lip/jawline. So, easy to release any fish requiring that or that we desired to release.

    So...I am going to try them with mooching for salmon in PWS this summer....even though we keep whatever salmon we catch until we reach the limit...personally I believe that catch and release on salmon kills more than half of them, more if you are not extremely careful...but I am still hoping for these hooks to perform the same way, hooking the salmon in the jawline every time. Even though we are keeping them, it is so much faster and safer to remove a hook from the lip than one down in the gullet. Also, gullet hooked salmon can cut the leader with their fine teeth. And, for those of you that do catch and release, these should be the ticket to quicker hook remove and return of the fish to the water...you can't reach down and remove the hook while the fish remains in the water with a hook in the gullet, and those fish are destined to die anyway.

    So...anyone already using circle hooks for salmon?

  2. #2
    Member Col. F Rodder's Avatar
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    Started using them last year flossing reds. they do reduce the numbers of snagged fish. It usually in the mouth or they come off pretty quickly on the bump. Should be no reason that they should not work it the salt with bait.
    I just wish they would go to keep your 3 no matter where they are hooked and would stop the waste of reds. By the time they reach Silak lake they look like they were in the Mardi Gras parade.

  3. #3
    Member Kodiakfly's Avatar
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    I tried circle fly hooks many years ago with mixed results. Sorta different than what you're trying to do, but I used them to avoid snagging and to increase hook ups. They did reduce snagging, but realldy didn't notice much of an improvment in staying hooked...may've even been slightly less. Then I started using size 8 hooks to reduce snags and they worked well for avoiding that, and getting hook ups and it took me down that road.

  4. #4
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Hmmm....forgot about the snagging issue in the rivers, good points Col and Kodiak....hadn't thought about the small hooks to reduce that either, and for reds, a #8 would be fine, but I think those salt silvers would bend and snap those. I agree on keeping the first 3 fish or whatever the limit, wherever they are hooked. I think the requirement to release snagged/foul hooked fish is to discourage snagging on purpose....well, there is a way around that that most know about, we call it "flossing too" and I won't describe it here, but I don't think the reg on that accomplishes that or any other purpose. Maybe it's that weird "fair chase" notion that it is possible to have a a fair battle between you and a fish, or any other animal for that matter, so if you snag it, it's not "fair" so you should release it to die, and kill another fish with correct technique...

  5. #5
    Member bkbaker's Avatar
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    I've trolled last year with circle hooks on my plugs and spoons. I caught most of my fish on mooching rigs, but when the lures did hit they worked great. I thought about rigging my own mooching rigs with circle hooks, but I haven't.

  6. #6
    Member Kodiakfly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Ron View Post
    ...a #8 would be fine, but I think those salt silvers would bend and snap those...
    Not likely on a fly rod. On conventional gear, sure. I use 34007's which are a strong, stainless hooks and a fly rod can't normally put enough "horse" on a fish to break them. Sure, you can break any hook under various conditions, but I started using them on pinks in the salt as they staged to come into sweetwater and were packed so tightly and moving so fast that I was snagging them even with circle hooks (though the hook woudn't nomrally engage in the fish, it would hang up on a fin and be enough to drag me around and be a pain) so I went down to the tiny 8's. That was silver season and I just carried them on into silvers and fished all season long that year for silvers with those 8's and never had a problem.

    As for snagging/release, I don't ever keep any fish in sweetwater, but will occasionally keep one in the salt. I've never thought much about snagging mortality. Maybe snagging with a treble is more damaging than snagging with a single fly hook (I also fish barbless), but any fish I've ever snagged and released has departed with hardly more than a small puncture wound on it. Sure there's what we in the muskie world call "delayed mortality" in that the wound can become infected and kill the fish. But I'd reckon that any fish in Kodiak's short coastal rivers will be spawned and dead of natural causes before an infection can kill them. Now if you're talking about ripping out the side of the fish, with entrails hanging out...yeah, that's probably not a good thing for the fish. But personally (with no scientific backing to support it) I doubt snagging and immediate release at or in the rivers is much of an issue. Those fish are already dying as they swim. A puncture hole is the least of their concerns. But I kinda think we're talking apples to oranges here. Not just gear vs fly, but we're talking filling a cooler vs C&R sport fishing.

    As for reds, I don't fish for them at all.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'n Ron View Post
    Last fall I was fishing reds in coastal South Carolina with a young guide, and after having all the fun we could stand with jigs, we later switched to small live baits (little mullet) on Owner Mutu Light Circle Hooks....2/0 and 3/0. We were tossing the baits into open pockets in the grass-like weeds, and had a blast. True to their reputation with halibut and rockfish, these light circle hooks seemed to always hook up and ALWAYS in the lip/jawline. So, easy to release any fish requiring that or that we desired to release.

    So...I am going to try them with mooching for salmon in PWS this summer....even though we keep whatever salmon we catch until we reach the limit...personally I believe that catch and release on salmon kills more than half of them, more if you are not extremely careful...but I am still hoping for these hooks to perform the same way, hooking the salmon in the jawline every time. Even though we are keeping them, it is so much faster and safer to remove a hook from the lip than one down in the gullet. Also, gullet hooked salmon can cut the leader with their fine teeth. And, for those of you that do catch and release, these should be the ticket to quicker hook remove and return of the fish to the water...you can't reach down and remove the hook while the fish remains in the water with a hook in the gullet, and those fish are destined to die anyway.

    So...anyone already using circle hooks for salmon?
    Hmmmm. The only thing I think of is, if you're mooching for salmon and the fish swallows your hook deep enough to hook it in the gullet, even a circle hook is going to find something to get caught on in there. I don't think the hook, just because it's a circle hook, is going to magically make its way to the corner of the jaw and imbed itself there instead if the fish swallows it. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but it seems unlikely to me. YES I could be wrong! I don't mooch that often.

    I use treble hooks for trolling and VERY rarely have a fish that's hooked anywhere BUT the corner of the jaw/mouth area. But trolling is a slightly different story than mooching. It sure couldn't hurt trying.
    Year round saltwater fishing adventures in Homer, AK.
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  8. #8

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    I used circle hooks out of Seward for silvers year before last cause I accidentally bought them. I was losing easily 90% of the fish I was hooking almost imediately as opposed to the guy on the other side of the boat with siwash hooks had about a 90% success rate. Tried them two days in a row. Same lack of success both days. Other guy on the boat was fishing the same way, same rod, reel, nose clip, and line setup. Even let him use the circles for a bit and found that with the circles the fish would be there for about 3-5 seconds then they were gone. Won't use them for salmon anymore.

    I like the idea of trebles except the three hook part. They are banned on my boat. As are stinger hooks on a jig. Too unpredictable.

  9. #9
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
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    Default Usual range of experiences...

    Never is a one size for everyone or everything solution, is there? Some good points there on releasing spawning fish, most of mine are caught in the salt, and on salmon mortality, I was thinking of how easily salmon bleed and they seem to go pretty fast if you have to take them out of the water to get the hook out, unlike catfish for instance, which can lay on the bank for an hour, then accidentally get kicked in the water and away they go!

    When we were fishing the reds down in Florida, North Gulf, we were using conventional hooks with bait awhile, and soon had to quit because they are such aggressive strikers that most were hooked well back in the mouth or in the gullet. Those SC reds hit so hard, I know they were inhaling those baits, but everyone was hooked in the jaw, just like a circle hook is supposed to do...same with all the halibut or rockfish I have caught on circles, and it has been a bunch.

    I did try circle hooks on metal jigs, but in that case I did have a hard time hooking anything, unlike someone else here. However, they were more conventional, no offset and fairly heavy wire. The Owner Mutu Light circles I mentioned are fine but seem very strong, have a fairly wide gap, AND they are offset...might work better on lures, and may be why we got all our fish in the lips fishing with bait.

    For sure, I am going to try them mooching silvers and feeder kings in the salt. As far as tying double mooching rigs, I did that for years following my NW Coast experiences in the lesser 48. But, after I and a few years later another guy on my boat got the second hook deep into a hand trying to unhook a well-bonked silver, I have gone to using a single hook when mooching, and haven't noticed any difference, other that a bait stolen a little more often....sure easier too, just tie a hook to a leader instead of all the Houdini stuff tying those great looking double-hook mooching rigs! I am only using 1 stinger hook on a bottom jig now, for the same reason.

    KodiakFly...you have sold me, I am going to try some quality small #8 hooks, but on a light conventional rig, arthritic knuckles have greatly limited my fly fishing days. If you have a lsource for those stainless strong #8's, can you give us a link? Sometimes I like to fish in the thick of the pinks and try to get a fresh one in the mouth without snagging any others...they are a fun fish when nothing else is happening!

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