Anglers Gear (10)

The Circle Hooks Comprehensive Guide

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Circle Hook Guide Through Angler Gear’s Prisma

The line started its slow rise from the loose slack sitting under the water and running back into the tip of the rod down to the reel. The angler had expected this and sat patiently, waiting. 

As the line began to grow taut, the angler began reeling up the slack. Again, the angler waited.

Lifting the rod tip up, the beast on the other end recognized something pulling it in the opposite direction. Deciding this was not the direction it wanted to go, the beast sped away.

A few minutes to hours later, the angler brought the beast up close. Snapping a few pictures, the hook was quickly and easily removed from the corner of the beast’s mouth. A few seconds later, it swam away, back into the depths for the next angler to fool it.

This scenario was made possible for two reasons:

  1. Good Catch And Release practices as supported by Angler’s Gear;
  2. A circle hook
barbless circle hook

What is a circle hook?

The circle is somewhat of a misnomer because the hook is not a circle as expected. Instead, it is when the point and barb of a hook turn back and are perpendicular to the shank while parallel to the bend.


Offset or inline?

There are two varieties of circle hooks, offset and inline. The difference is in how the hook rests when lain on its side. If the angler put a hook down and it is completely flat, it is an inline circle hook. If the hook does not lie completely flat with parts rising up, it is an offset circle hook.

Angler’s Gear recommends inline circle hooks. The offset hook will not always work its way back to the corner of the mouth on the fish, defeating the purpose of the hook.


What is the difference between a circle hook and a standard hook?

This is in sharp contrast to the standard J-hook that many anglers fish with on a regular basis. The J-hook, with the point and barb running parallel to the shank, means the hooks are easily swallowed, and can injure or kill a fish as a consequence. This is possible even with a barbless hook, although the removal of a barbless hook is much easier on the fish.


Advantages of a circle hook

These are specially designed hooks because of the way the hook catches hold to the fish for fighting and landing. The circle hook is specifically designed to work its way back from the gullet to the corner of the mouth, where the point and barb pierce and rest on the corner of the mouth of the fish. 

There are distinct advantages to this outside of catch and release. Toothy fish, common in colder waters and in saltwater, can cut through fishing lines without a wire leader. 

The circle hook pulls the line out of the fish’s mouth, protecting the line during the fight, landing, and release.

Like Angler’s Gear points out above, the advantage of the circle hook is the preservation of the fish. The Mid-Atlantic states up to the Northeast have new regulations on Striped Bass fishing, a topic we cover in another blog.

The gap between the hook point and shank is significantly reduced from the J-hook gap. This means there is much less a chance of the hook landing in the gullet.

If this is not enough for anglers to consider circle hooks, here is one more consideration.

Rather than losing precious tackle in gullets by snipping line and allowing the hook to rust, anglers can save their gear – or money in this instance.


Fishing a circle hook

The biggest difference in using a circle hook vs. a standard J-hook is the way you set the hook on the fish. Most anglers will reel down to the surface of the water and pull back on the rod with a big, sweeping motion. This drives the point into the fish.

A circle hook does the work on the angler’s behalf. The angler takes up the slack and lets natural drag pull the hook back to the corner of the mouth of the fish.

Anglers who fish on the shore or bank know the fish will hook themselves on a circle hook. Thus, anglers can leave rods unattended while sunbathing, enjoying a beverage, attending to young anglers, or looking for fresh bait.

It should go without saying, but the circle hook is ideal for new anglers. The lack of extra work necessary for a hook set is ideal.


Circle hook challenges

The biggest issue with a circle hook is the necessary retraining of the normal reactions of an angler to sweep the rod up and back for a hook set. Allowing the fish to hook itself with the slow steady pressure is something many do not do normally. 

Trying to set a circle hook in the standard fashion usually results in pulling the hook out of the mouth of the fish.

The second common issue is bait. Circle hooks are designed specifically for bait fishing in mind, and many anglers will overfill the hook with bait. Doing so makes the hook set very difficult if not impossible. Match the hook to the size of the bait.

What circle hooks are the best

Hooks, like much fishing equipment, have their adherents. However, Angler’s Gear is committed to finding and recommending the best options available.

The Facikono Circle Hook Pack is one of the best options on the market for a few reasons. The main reason is the sheer number of hooks available in a variety of sizes. 

This makes matching the hook to the bait exceptionally simple. The plastic carry box is just an added advantage.

The set comes with hooks ranging from 1/0 to 6/0. The hooks are good for freshwater and saltwater as well.

If there is a drawback to this set, it is the fact the hooks are offset. Using a pair of pliers or a vise, the angler can easily squeeze the bend in the hook. This will drastically reduce the size of the offset if not eliminate it completely.

Mustad demon circle hook

Our second choice is the Mustad UltraPoint Demon Wide Gap. This model is an inline hook, and the wider gap is ideal for larger fish. So long as the angler uses the same techniques of fishing a circle as mentioned previously, the chances of a gut hook are slim.

The Demon Wide Gap comes in sizes from panfish to Marlin. There are three color options, and Angler’s Gear is a big fan of the red model.

The Demon Wide Gap is thinner than some models, making the hook sets much more accurate. The technology also gives a 20 percent stronger metal as well.

What are circle hooks used for

Circle hooks are designed to be used with a circle, round or oval-shaped baits. The circle hook will rotate in the fish’s mouth until it is securely hooked.

The use of circles is recommended, but not necessary to land fish. Circle hooks are best for catching fish that have a tendency to throw the bait or lure out of their mouths, such as catfish and carp.

Why Circle Hooks Make Fishing Easier

When fishing, hooking a fish can be difficult. The fisherman will have to hold the rod with one hand and the fishing line with the other. 

This will make it difficult for the fisherman to take a break from fighting the fish sometimes. If they’re unlucky, they might even lose track of where their rod is at times.

The circle hook design solves these problems by making it easier to catch a fish and prevent it from escaping or being killed in vain. A circle hook has a sharp point that loops around the fish’s lip so that it does not injure its mouth when caught.

Circle hooks are designed so that when they are set by an angler against their prey, they will rotate so that they have a sharp point facing away from both fisherman and prey. This will allow

What are the Benefits of Using Circle Hooks?

Circle hooks are a type of fishing hook which is used in place of traditional J-shaped hooks.

This fishing technique offers an advantage over the traditional J-hook in terms of the size of the fish, as it is less likely to become caught on rocks or seaweed.

The circle hook also has the ability to reduce stress on fish by reducing line twists, which can be beneficial when it comes to landing larger fish.

Circle hooks are designed to catch fish in the mouth, not just in the jaw like a J-hook will do. This makes them safer for practicing catch and release fishing and less likely to cause injury during release.

How to bait circle hooks?

Circle hooks are a more humane way to fish. They reduce the chances of the fish being harmed during removal from the hook and they also increase your catch rates.

Circle hooks are designed to get snagged on the fish’s lip, rather than in its throat. When a fish bites onto a circle, it turns its head sideways to try and get off the hook. In doing so, it opens its mouth and this makes it easier for you to remove them from your line.

When you are at the end of your line, make sure the point of your hook is well-exposed. Circle hooks work because they are designed to catch the corner of a fish’s mouth and retract it back towards the fisherman.

Pick the Right Size Circle Hook for the Bait You Have Selected

The size of the circle hook you use is always going to be proportional to the size of the bait you use and the fish type and size you’re going for. here is a shortlist of circle hooks size for common species:

  • Trout – From #20 for flies to #10 for spinning
  • Salmon – From 2/0 to 4/0
  • Largemouth bass – From #2 to 2/0
  • Smallmouth bass – From #8 to #1
  • Pike – From 2/0 to 4/0
  • Panfish – From #10 to #6
  • Catfish – From 4/0 to 10/0

The best type of bait for circle hooks

  • A chunk of bait is a good choice for a circle hook because it will stay on the hook better.
  • If you’re going for bass, try one of these: clams, squid, mackerel, menhaden, seaworms, and eels
  • When fishing with small baits or hooks, try to use smaller baits as well. Smaller baits have less length and weight, so they are easier to cast out from shore and from a boat as well as reel in.

Circle Hook Size Chart

Getting your circle hook size right is so important! If you choose the wrong circle, it may not work for what you’re fishing for.

Circle hooks are great because they don’t gut hook fish like most other types of hooks do. This will prevent damage to the meat and skin of your catch, which can affect how long your catch will last.

There are many circle Hook Size Charts online that can help you choose the right circle for your needs, but they’re often not comprehensive enough. here’s a quick reference guide to get you started.

Circle Hook Size Chart for Common Game Fishing Species

Largemouth bassFrom: #2To: 2/0
Smallmouth bassFrom: #8To: #1
Trout Dry fliesFrom: #20To: #14
 Wet fliesFrom: #10To: #6
Slamon From: 2/0To: 4/0
WalleyeLive baitFrom: #2To: #1
CrappieLive baitFrom: #6To: #2
Panfish Live\ Plastic baitFrom: #10To: #6
Yellow perchSmall minnows & LeechesFrom: #8To: #4
Catfish From: 4/0To: 10/0
Pike From: 2/0To: 4/0
Carp From: #8To: #4

How are circle hooks sized?

Circle hooks are the size as all fishing hooks do, which means the width of the gap, the part that connects the hook shank to its point.

Hooks sizing is based on the # and /0 system, where # is the smaller size from #32 being the smallest to #1 being the biggest, and then it continues to grow from 1/0 to 20/0 is a giant hook.

We’ve conducted a fishing hooks size chart in mm and inches to demonstrate the actual sizes.

What size circle hook should I use?

There is no short answer to this, that’s why anglers use a circle hooks size chart. The range of circle hooks starts at small #20 for trout and goes up to a 5/0 size and bigger when you are fishing for catfish.

It all comes to the fish species and size you are after, as well as the bait you are using. Below is a circle hook sizing chart that will help narrow down the right circle for your next fishing adventure.

How do I know what size hook to use?

When it comes to Fishing Hook Sizes, you should determine the circle type. The circle types are divided into four categories: small circle (SC), large circle (LC), semi-dropped point, and regular shank. All of these circle hooks come in different sizes usually ranging from #12 up to #32 for SCs, #1 to 5/0 for LCs, and #12 up to 10/0 for regular circle shank hooks. For circle type with a semi-dropped point (CPS), circle hook sizes range from large circle sized (5/0) down to small circle sized hook (#20).

Best circle hooks

When looking for the best circle hooks, our take is to stick to the brands that have been tried and tested by veteran fishermen. These are hook brands such as Eagle Claw, Mustad, Gamakatsu, VMC, and Owner Hooks – all of which you can find below in our review.

Mustad circle hook size chart

The Mustad company is one of the top producers of circle hooks. They go big when it comes to circle hooks, from Mustad Demon Perfect Circle in-Line 3X Strong Hook #2 being the smallest to the giant size 20/0 Mustad 39937NP-DT Giant Demon Perfect Circle Hook

Mustad demon circle hook size chart

You can’t talk about Mustad circle hooks without mentioning the Demon series. The Demon hook is a staple for any serious big game fisherman and must have been created by an angler who has spent some time dangling from that end of a fishing line before. 

With its unique design, you get extra strength at the point with no loss in sharpness, and it provides incredible hook sets. It’s been a favorite of anglers worldwide for years now, and you’ll find some serious fish on these hooks every time they go out. The Demon is one of those products that live up to the hype- if you haven’t tried them yet this year make sure you pick yourself up a pack.

Gamakatsu circle hook size chart

Gamakatsu is one of the leading brands when it comes to fishing hooks in general and circle hooks in particular. Gamakatsu developed the Octopus circle hook, which has proven its effectiveness many times over. 

It features an offset point for improved penetration, increased holding power, and less damage to your catch than other types of hooks available out there. Unlike Mustad, they offer the option of a smaller circle hook starting with a size #8 which is perfect for many fish species like largemouth and smallmouth bass, Walleye, Crappie, and more.

More circle hooks brands to consider

In order to prevent overwhelming data, we want to mention also, Owner, Eagle Claw, and VMC as great options for circle hooks. These brands are known throughout the fishing industry for high-quality products that last a long time. They do not disappoint when it comes to their circle hook offerings either which is why they come up in this blog.

Some common questions

What size hook is bigger 4 or 6?

If you are referring to the left (small) side of the chart, then #4 is bigger the #6. If you are referring to the right side of the chart then 4/0 is smaller than 6/0.

Check our fishing hook size chart in mm to better understand the practice.

What size is a size 1 hook?

Again, if you’re asking about the #1 then it’s would be

Length mmGap mmLength inchesGap inches

If you’re asking about the 1/0 hook then it would be

Length mmGap mmLength inchesGap inches

How to Tie on a Circle Hook Successfully Every Time

There are various ways to tie on a circle hook for fishing success. One way is using bait and wrapping it around the shank of the hook so that it’s secure against the pole.

Another way is to place your thumb over one eye of the circle and wrap up until you reach its other eye. Make sure that there’s enough left untangled at the end to secure it around

Circle Hooks for Surf Fishing

Since man first learned how to take fish from the water, the Circle Hook has been around. From the bone beginnings of anglers in the Pacific Northwest to modern, high tensile models available for the inshore angler, the circle  has certainly had a serious effect on the hook and saltwater fishing market.

There are some as far south as Key West, Fla., using circle hooks for everything from bridling for big offshore to bottom fishing on the flats for the occasional shark.

It is with the surf angler that the circle hook works exceptionally well.

Surfcasting gear

Most people not familiar with surf fishing do not understand what it entails. The angler needs to get a baitwell off of the shore and into better water. 

This can mean needing to be 70-plus yards from the shore. It is common for anglers to use rods of 11’ to 16’ along with weight exceeding a full ounce. The combination of these two means getting baits to where fish are likely to be.

Unlike many other styles of fishing, surf fishing is a cast and wait for the game. Many times anglers will have multiple rods in holders on the shore, waiting for a fish to take the bait. It is here the circle hook is such a benefit for the angler and for the fish.

Setting the hook

Traditional anglers will use the rod and set the hook with a sweeping motion. A circle hook is designed to let the fish hook itself as it begins to swim away with the bait. The combination of the movement, hook shape, and resistance from the line pulls the hook back out of the gullet and into the corner of the mouth, hooking the fish.

What circle hooks to use?

Surf fishing off of the shore runs a gambit of species and sizes. There are reports of huge sharks taken from the shore as well as smaller game fish. Regardless of the species, what is absolutely necessary are hooks prepped for saltwater.

Jshanmei Has An Excellent Assortment Of Saltwater Circle Hooks designed for the surfcasting angler in mind. Hook sizes up to a 5/0 mean hooking almost any bait onto the line for a number of species from fun to fight to excellent table fare. There are 150 different hooks and plastic divided carrying cases.


Circle Hook Size Chart

A close second for surfcasting, the Facikono line comes with 180 pieces and fishing clips to change out hooks quickly and easily. The package also has sizes up to 6/0 for good size game.


Catfish hook size chart

What size circle hooks for catfish?

There are few freshwater species that can survive in a multitude of locations better than a catfish. Additionally, some species of catfish can grow up to six feet long or more and tip the scales at over 150 lbs. Stout gear and heavy line are necessary when you are serious about trophy catfish.

The catfish hook has seen a huge upswing in technology, even over the last decade. For many years, the only options available for the catfish angler were J-hooks and Kahle Hooks, both of which do not work well for Catch And Release Fishing.

Tackle and hook manufacturers have noticed the upswing in catfishing and catfish popularity. Their research and development departments have worked on creating hooks designed specifically for the catfish.

Catfish do not have soft, fleshy mouths like many other species of fish. The mouth is hard, thick, and lined with teeth designed to hold and grind. This makes hooking a catfish more difficult than some of its freshwater kin – necessitating a sharp hook.

What circle hook is best for catfish

Like many things, it depends on the species of catfish.

Most people assume catfish are bottom dwellers who eat basically anything they do not have to pursue actively. This is why many anglers use cut-bait, liver, stink baits, and the like. These baits do not do anything but float in front of the catfish for an easy meal.

However, some species of catfish are predators and are actively hunting. In the U.S., the Flathead catfish is a top predator, living in big bodies of water and moving rivers. Anglers use live bait, normally panfish, to entice these monsters to the bait. Catches of Flatheads of 15 lbs and up are quite common. Many use gear similar to saltwater fishing for them as well.

Which Circle Hooks To Use

Anglers can fish for small bullheads, which will tip the scales at a few pounds on average all the way to monsters like the European Wels Catfish that can grow to a length of six feet and weigh over 200 lbs. This means there is no one good circle to use. The size of the hook is what will make a difference, depending on the species.

We’ve built a Catfish Hook Size Chart as a part of our comprehensive Fishing Hooks Size Chart.

We also have the 11 Best Hooks For Catfish review

Big Worm Fishing Circle Hook

Angler’s Gear found the Big Worm Fishing Circle Hook Pack to meet almost all of the needs of the catfish angler. The set comes with 120 hooks in sizes from 1 to 8/0, perfect for any size of catfish. Best of all, the hooks are good for fresh and saltwater.


Final Words

The use of circle hooks can help reduce the number of fish that are caught and released. 

Circle hooks cause less damage to the mouth of a hooked fish because they tend to hook in the corner of the mouth. 

This reduces stress on the fish and allows for a quicker release.
-Anglers who use circle hooks also report catching more fish than those using traditional J-hooks.
-The popularity of circle hooks is growing, as anglers become more aware of their benefits. More and more fishing tournaments are beginning to require their use.