So in the fly fishing "off season" I've been giving thought to circle hooks. I'm just curious to hear some thoughts from the rest of you. Does anyone have any experience using circle hooks for flies?
I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject. It seems to me that circle hooks, in regards to fly fishing, are most popular in the saltwater circuit. And it seems a large part of using circle hooks for fly fishing originated there in response to heightened concern with conservation and promoting healthy catch and release. (one short article on the subject http://www.flyfishinsalt.com/techniques/basics-and-rigging-tips/circular-logic-32542.html)
And the other day I read an article about the Moffit style of fly fishing. This is basically using a "hookless" fly tied up the leader above a hook. Pretty much like bead fishing. Well Moffit uses a circle hook, with the fly on the leader up to a foot above the hook. Now my first thought is the 2-inch rule with beads, and can't help but immediately think of a bunch of foul hooked fish. But supposedly this system - using the circle hook - leads to less foul hooked fish. The article that got me reading more on this subject is here... http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/fishing/fly-fishing/how-fish/2009/03/look-ma-no-hooks
So has anyone ever used circle hooks with beads? Do you think it'd cut down on the random foul-hooked fish (saving an eye here and there, for instance)? Would it make any difference?
I've read about people having poor luck with small circle hooks. Supposedly it has to do with the size of the gap compared to the size of the fish's mouth. It may be that to work as intended, circle hooks have to be a bit on the large size - which is why they seem more common in streamers and nymphs to some regard. And maybe why they've hit off so well in saltwater fishing. But I've also read about circle hooks being popular for Czech nymphing and other deep water nymphing where maintaining good contact with the fly and/or detecting strikes may be difficult. This points the other direction to the size of the fly not being such an issue. Any thoughts?
Then today I was checking out the bouncer flies website, and noticed that they had a half-page discussing using circle hooks for salmon in Alaska. Specifically, it points out the benefit of reducing foul hooked fish where salmon have really stacked up. My initial impression is this would relate especially to sockeye. The page is here if you're interested. http://www.bouncerflies.com/bouncersforalaska.html So this got me thinking about using circle hooks for lining reds. Would circle hooks "set" themselves? Would they spare fish from the "Kenai twitch?" Would there be any change in hook up rates? Has anyone tried this?
A while back I picked up some Mustad C51S N circle hooks on sale in size 4, 6 and 8. I think I'm going to try out a few patterns for trout and salmon next year. Until then...