Catfish hooks are a matter of personal preference and every angler will have their own personal favorite style, size, and brand of hooks. Many of these may be specific to the size or species of catfish they target, the techniques they use for catching catfish, or even the time of year they’re fishing.
Circle hooks are the most popular hook for catfish. There’s no argument that circle hooks are the most widely used and popular hooks for catching catfish, especially among the hardcore catfish anglers.
That wasn’t always the case though as the popularity of circle hooks has really exploded in the last five to ten years. There was a time where it was relatively hard to find a catfish angler that actually used circle hooks.
Years ago I heard a lot of “hype” about circle hooks for catfish and tried them on numerous occasions. Each and every single time I tried them I ended up putting them away and switching back to other more traditional hook styles because I missed too many fish or couldn’t catch fish with them. Every once in a while I’d go back to them again and would have the same results.
Several years later I was saltwater fishing on the coast where circle hooks were the hook of choice among local anglers. I had a chance to use them in a saltwater environment which gave me an opportunity to use them and learn while they were in use and really understand what makes them work and more importantly what doesn’t.
I made it back from the coast and immediately began testing circle hooks again using my newfound knowledge and quickly learned that the past issues I’d had were because I was using the wrong hooks and wasn’t using the hooks correctly.
Switching to a new hook style and making some tweaks in my habits changed this and put me on a path to success and I’ve been using circle hooks exclusively ever since.
This is all about learning the essentials of choosing and using circle hooks or better yet “what you shouldn’t do” when fishing for catfish with circle hooks.
These are the mistakes people commonly make that keep them from catching fish.
I’ll be back with another video on different techniques for fishing with circle hooks as well as dispelling the myth that you can’t set the hook with circle hooks because you actually can!
3 Common Mistakes Anglers Make Using Circle Hooks For Catfish
Here’s what you need to know to make sure you get the best performance from circle hooks for catfish and help you put more catfish on the end of your line.
For a circle hook to perform correctly the hook has to slide, turn and catch in the corner of the mouth of the catfish.
For this to happen like it should the hook has to be large enough to do so.
Unlike a j-hook or many other styles of traditional hooks that hook virtually anywhere, they make contact with the circle hook functions in a different way.
When a fish strikes a bait with a circle hook the hook slides until it reaches the inside of the lips and the hook then turns and hooks, setting itself in the process. Traditionally the hook will set itself right in the corner of the mouth.
Because of the way the circle hook functions it’s essential that the gap of the hook remain open. If the hook gap isn’t open or isn’t large enough the hook will slide right out of the fish’s mouth.
Make sure you choose a circle hook with a large enough gap for the baits you’ll be using and the size catfish you’ll be targeting. Not all hooks are created equal and sometimes even very large hooks will have a smaller gap.
Keep in mind catfish have very thick (and tough) mouths that aren’t like the paper-thin mouths of many other species of fish so make sure you choose your hook style and size wisely.
Using a circle hook that’s too small is one of the biggest mistakes anglers make when targeting catfish with circle hooks for the first time.
Make Sure Hook Pulls Forward
Learning how to tie good fishing knots is important and there are many options you can use. Typically when attaching a hook to a fishing line how you attach the hook doesn’t matter much.
Most anglers that use circle hooks prefer to snell the hooks and swear this is the only way you should attach a circle hook. The argument is in how the hook lays when attached to the line and the hook should always pull forward as this helps you catch more fish.
I typically snell my hooks because using my easy snell technique the process is super easy and it’s no more work than using other knots.
I’ve kept in-depth records for nearly two years now of how circle hooks perform with a snell versus tied to the line with a Palomar knot that I’ll be releasing later this year.
Snelling the hook is not nearly important as many people make it out to be, what’s more, important is that the hook doesn’t pull back on the line. Even then it’s not a deal-breaker.
Keep The Hook Gap Open
As explained earlier it’s essential that the hook has an adequate gap when using circle hooks.
It’s equally important that the hook gap remain open as well.
It’s a habit for many anglers to deep hook baits or bury the hook as deep as they can with the bait and fill as much of the hook up as possible. You might have even heard that you need to cover the hook point because the fish will see it and not bite.
This is an old wives tale with absolutely no truth behind it (at least with catfish).
When baiting a circle hook you want to shallow hook the bait keeping the hook gap open and also make sure you hook the bait in a way that keeps the hook from getting fouled.
A fouled hook occurs when the bait flips around on the hook, fills the gap, and covers the hook point.
The easiest way to prevent this is to hook the bait at an angle when you insert the hook, just don’t fill the hook gap up with catfish bait!
Here’s The Video
Everything you need to know is covered in this week’s video.
Which Circle Hooks Should You Use For Catfish?
To get recommendations on the best circle hooks to use for catfish as well as all of the other suggested catfishing tackle and gear check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear.
This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know to choose and use the right catfish tackle and gear and save money in the process.
You’ll Catch More Catfish
I use circle hooks exclusively for blue catfish and flatheads and very often for larger channel catfish. I rely on treble hooks when fishing prepared bait channel catfish with the Secret Catfish Rig and rarely have a need for any other form of hooks.
When you learn to use circle hooks correctly as well as make sure you choose the right hooks you’ll put more fish in the boat.
If you’ve ever had a bad experience with circles give them another try and apply these tips, you’ll be glad you did because they’re a very effective piece of catfishing tackle.
I’ll be back with more information on techniques for fishing with circle hooks including busting the myth that you can’t set the hook with circle hooks, because you can.
To get on the fast track to catching more and bigger catfish check out some of the Catfish Edge products. These in-depth guides available in ebooks and online videos are like a guided catfish trip online at a fraction of the cost of hiring a guide.
Topics cover everything from learning how to locate and catch shad, techniques like drift fishing or splat fishing, and seasonal guides that cover everything you need to know to catch fish at certain times of the lear like Spring Blue Catfish Techniques, Summer Channel Catfish Techniques, and Transition Cats.
Updated December 8th, 2021