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After talking with Russ Symons, reporter & photographer for Sea Angler Magazine, about the strange circular hooks he used to repeatedly lip hook Plaice during his visit to the Club, he told me they were made by a company in the U.S.A. "Eagle Claw", and are known as their "Circle" pattern. He obtained them from "The Harris Angling Company", who are based at Blacksmith House, East Ruston, Norfolk, NR12 9HL,
ORDER HOTLINE: 01692 581208
Fax: 01692 581388
Web Site: www.harrisangling.co.uk
You do not "Strike" at bites when using these hooks. You simply tighten your line and the fish will lip-hook itself.
We've now obtained some to try out and we will report on their use in the near future, although as we've already told you, the size 2/0 worked for Russ Symons when catching Plaice on the "Skerries".
We initially obtained two different patterns, which we've shown above actual size. The Circle Sea Hook pattern is a very strong "Big Game" style hook. The other, "Circle Seaguard" pattern is finished in a bright surface and is a little lighter in construction, although it is still a very substantial hook.
Sue Harris also Emailed us to let us know that they now stock a similar pattern of circle hook in a fine wire pattern. It's known as the "Owner Mutu Light Circle Hook" They keep this hook in sizes 2 or 1 (8 per pack), 1/0 (7 per pack) & 2/0 (6 per pack). They will also obtain them in sizes 3/0, 4/0 & 5/0 by special request. They recently obtained some for Neil Mackellow. They are £2.95 for a packet.
We ordered some and they arrived by post within 36 hours. They are of lighter construction but if anything even sharper than the Eagle Claw circle pattern. These look just perfect for Plaice in sizes 1/0 and 2/0. The smaller hooks in size 1 & 2 look promising for general beach fishing. Very promising!
N.B.: All prices from Harris Angling include carriage.
We have also contacted "Wolf Fish" at their site in California
and ordered some similar patterns from their "Gamakatsu Octopus Circle" range, in sizes 3/0, 4/0, 6/0 & 8/0.
They arrived today, 30th May. As you will see from the photographs below, they are quite significantly different to the Eagle Claw Circle range of hooks, but then again, the Owner Mutu range are also slightly different in style and construction.
12 packs cost me a total of $23.40 (US) but I had to pay $23.95 carriage on that order. My order took 12 days to arrive by courier. First impressions are favourable.
|After commencing this article, I was watching an
American fishing programme on Sky TV. They were using these "circle" hooks
to catch tuna off the coast of California.
They commented on and then demonstrated how, by tightening, instead of striking, these hooks repeatedly clean hooked fish in the scissors of their jaws.
The way circle hooks work is that the fish takes the hook and bait into its mouth. When the angler feels the weight of the fish, he tightens the line, which causes the fish to turn and attempt to escape sideways. The hook and bait should not take immediate hold, but as they are leaving the fish's mouth, the design of the hook causes it to snag in the fish's scissors at the side of the jaw.
They were originally developed for use by commercial "long line" fishermen. They are said to have an 80% better hook-up rate than conventional fishing hooks.
They also confirmed that, as a direct result, there was far less chance of getting a nylon snood sawn through by the fish's teeth when using these particular circular pattern hooks.
Comparison - note the side by side comparison of the same size circle hooks from different manufacturers. The Gamakatsu hook has a longer shank with an offset eye. It is of finer and generally sharper construction. The most important point is which will be best at catching fish?
I was talking recently with Ted Tuckerman, who told me the NFSA is about to undertake evaluation trials of circle hooks to see if they will aid catch & release fishing.
Email from Russ Symons 26th May
Welcome to the "Magic Circle!!" I think you will be agreeably surprised at how effective they are. Be careful to bait up so that the hook is not masked by the bait and most difficult of all resist the temptation to strike. In fact I have found it best to leave the bite till I feel the fish very positively, then point the rod at the fish and reel slowly till the weight of the fish is felt, then lift the rod into the fish.
Just this morning I received a few 12/0-14/0 and 16/0 circles which I want to try on shark and conger....sounds daft but this bit of experimentation has given my fishing a real lift. I feel that if this works out over the whole range of species...as I fully expect it to....then this will be a very positive move, enabling us to return fish without having to lift them inboard and maul them about in order to remove the hook.
Personally I like the Eagle claw hooks and for the price they are good value...but...the Gamakatsu hooks are the best, they really are wicked hooks.
When this weather bucks up I want to go deep to find some ling, cod etc to try these hooks on and gain more experience in their use. So if any good skippers want to take part in the feature, give me a call and lets set something up.
First Trials off Dartmouth
Bank Holiday Monday, the 29th May saw a window in the weather that allowed your editor to fish the Skerries for the first time in several weeks. Conditions were far from perfect, but fishable.
I used the Mutu Light Circle pattern hook in size 1/0, attached to a 10 lb bs clear mono snood with red beads & silver sequins just above the hook. Snood length was about 7 feet with a small swivel and bullet weight about half way up the snood. Sliding boom and 2 oz watch lead weight on more 10 lb bs leader, attached to 10 lb bs Spiderwire braid. Rod - Conoflex 6lb test curve "Light Sabre" boat rod. Reel - Abu "Morum" 6600 multiplier.
I found it very difficult to thread on a large live ragworm, due to the acute angle of the point, which tended to re-emerge through the side of the worm before I had intended it to reappear!
It's easy to mount fish, peeler crab, or squid baits on these hooks. That's obviously what they are intended to be primarily used with.
I caught 5 Plaice while on the drift. 3 were cleanly lip-hooked, while the other two took the complete hook and bait deeper into their mouth, but not as deep as you often experience with an Aberdeen pattern hook. My best Plaice weighed 3 lbs 15 ozs - just short of the magic 4 lbs barrier.
I also caught 9 Dogfish on Peeler Crab & Squid baits - every "Doggie", without exception was lip hooked and very simple to release.
Brian Comer, another member of DA & BA has also fished on two occasions within the past week, using the Eagle Claw Circle Seaguard pattern in size 2/0. He told me that on the first occasion he caught two mackerel, both of which were cleanly lip hooked.
On the subsequent occasion, last Monday, 29th May, he drifted the Skerries in his own boat, using braid line and caught 3 Plaice, all of which were cleanly lip hooked.
Sunday 5th June
Took my Daughter, Michelle, & her Husband, Ben, out on the Skerries for some holiday fishing. Our catch included School Bass up to 2 lbs and small Tub Gurnard, all under-sized & returned alive. We also had about a dozen Plaice between 1¼ lbs & 2 lbs.
Michelle & Ben were using wire "Aberdeen" pattern hooks in size 1/0. I again used the Owner Mutu Light Circle pattern hook in size 1/0.
We were all fishing light tackle and using braid line.
Of the 5 Plaice that I caught, 4 were cleanly lip-hooked; one took the hook inside its mouth, though not deep down.
Of the last 19 fish I have caught using this pattern of hook, 16 have been cleanly lip-hooked.
"Res Ipsum Loquitor" - I think that's Latin for "Let the facts speak for themself." It's a long time since I was at school!
Ben & Michelle were using "Aberdeen" hooks. We had to cut off several that had been taken more deeply, before releasing the fish.
Thursday 15th June
Due to the continuing high winds which have made fishing the Skerries impossible, I went grubbing around in my boat on some of the inshore marks just outside the Dart Estuary. I caught 3 Wrasse, including a large "Corkwing"; 2 Pollack up to about 2 lbs. each; 2 Mackerel; and 19 Dogfish. Still using the Onner Mutu Circle Hook in size 1/0. Of these 26 fish, only one Dogfish took the hook in the back of its throat. The remainder were cleanly hooked in the corner of the mouth.
Friday 16th June
Again inshore from the boat. Quite rough conditions. Big tide ebbing. Fished for Wrasse on a local reef mark, again using circle hooks in size 1/0. Today, the Ballan Wrasse, mainly smaller fish up tp 2½ lbs. repeatedly swallowed the circle hooks right down into their stomach. Only 1 fish out of 5 was lip hooked. Bites felt tentative - gentle nibbles at ragworm & squid cocktail, unable to clearly feel the weight of the fish come onto the line due to rough swell. Maybe these conditions are those when circle hooks are not at their best. Would Aberdeen pattern hooks have fared any better?
Monday 26th June
First day of our Charter trip from Dartmouth to Guernsey. Mid-channel wreck. Using Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hook in size 6/0, baited with whole fillet of mackerel. Ling 9 lbs. approx. took hook back into gullet. Next ling 16 lbs. 4 ozs. Cleanly lip hooked. Conger estimated by skipper at between 35 & 39 lbs. Cleanly lip hooked on 30 lbs. main line & 30 lbs mono trace.
Tuesday 27th June
Shoal Bank, south of Alderney. 2 Dogfish, Both cleanly lip-hooked on Owner Mutu Circle Hook in size 1/0. Returned unharmed.
Friday 30th July
Further telephone conversation with Ted Tuckerman, who told me that on a recent bass fishing trip, he had passed round Eagle Claw Circle Hooks for all to try. 6 Bass caught, all cleanly lip hooked.
Saturday 1st July
Inshore marks off Dartmouth. Owner Mutu Circle Hook in size 1/0. 3 Wrasse to approx 3 lbs. including a Corkwing Wrasse of approx 8 ozs. 2 Gurnard to approx 1 lb. 7 School Bass to approx 2 lbs (all under sized). All caught on ragworm tipped off with fillet of sandeel. Every fish cleanly lip hooked. All fish released successfully.
|Sunday 16th July
Extract of Email received from Bryn Lavis of the British Conger Club.
It sounds as though the 'secret' of the circle hooks is now getting out in this Country. I wonder if they will ever get used as much as they do over in the USA?
We have been using them now for several years, initially for Ling fishing as we found out that you do not get so many bite-offs, but have subsequently found, as the Americans reckon, you actually hook more fish and the bonus is that 99% of the fish are always hooked in the corner of the mouth thus allowing more returned fish.
|Saturday 5th August
Extract of letter received from Tony Vallack of the Plymouth Specimen Anglers Group.
I have been fishing with "Circle" hooks for years now. The style I've got is called "Kahle", and they really work.
Crab fits right in the hook. When using small Pollack as bait, I just hook them right through the eyes.
(ED: This is not a true circle
hook as the point does not turn sufficiently inwards towards the shank - see
the examples shown above for a proper comparison - it has more in common
with the Mustad specialist Bass hook, intended for mounting Peeler Crab,
secured in the bend with bait elastic).
|Monday 7th August
I've caught quite a few more fish using "Circle" pattern hooks.
Last Saturday, I enjoyed a day out on the "Skerries". I caught Plaice; Lesser Spotted Dog Fish; Mackerel; and Bull Huss, using head-hooked ragworm, tipped off with squid strip; a long thin sliver of mackerel belly; or a fillet of sand eel. Every fish was cleanly lip hooked on an Eagle Claw "Circle" pattern hook in size 2/0.
I'm a convert for most forms of fishing.
I have only found two situations where they have their limits.
When you're catching fish from deep water in turbulent conditions, it can be difficult to feel the bite. As a consequence, the fish can have time to swallow the bait and hook complete without the angler being aware of precisely what is happening. This would still be the case when using conventional pattern hooks.
The other occasion when "Circle" hooks are compromised and seem to be far less effective is in presenting live sand eel, hooked through the eyes or back of the head, for Bass. The fish takes the bait in its jaws and runs off with it. You let it make its first run. It stops and turns the eel to swallow it. You tighten on the line at this point. The fish should hook itself through the "scissors" at the corner of its mouth as it turns away when it feels the strain on the line. This is when you meet the problem. Using a smallish "Circle" hook, say in size 1/0 or 2/0, the point of the hook is forced back into the livebait and the Bass is not hooked.
The answer, if you do want to use "Circle" hooks for this purpose, is either to lip hook the sand eel, or if you insist on head or eye hooking your sand eel, use a larger size of "Circle" pattern hook.
Live "Joey" Mackerel hooked through their top lip on a
size 5/0 or 6/0 Gamakatsu circle hook are deadly for Bass.