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Use Small Circle Hooks For Easy Release on Little Sunnies

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July 12, 2011

Use Small Circle Hooks For Easy Release on Little Sunnies

By John Merwin

Summer always makes me think of panfish, or more specifically taking little kids fishing with bait and bobber. Small children need more or less instant results to hold their interest. The little sunfishes hanging around off the end of a dock are usually very accommodating. It’s a great combination.

The biggest problem comes in unhooking and releasing all those little sunnies. Some will have swallowed the hook. I’d rather not have my young granddaughter see me wrench the guts out of a 4-inch pumpkinseed to retrieve it. So, a few days ago, I experimented with little circle hooks.

The results were just great. As the close-up photo shows, little circle hooks jaw-hooked the small sunnies, making for an easy release. Specifically, I used size 12 Eagle Claw “Circle Bait” hooks, model L702G. The bait was Berkley’s Gulp! Alive! one-inch minnow, which comes in a liquid-filled jar and is very easy to use. (I was too lazy to dig garden worms.)

Fished under a slip-bobber rig, that hook-and-bait combo caught 24 small sunfish as fast as I could reel them in. Every one was jaw-hooked no matter how long I let the fish tug the bobber around before I started reeling. There is no hookset required. The nature of circle hooks is such that all you do is reel in--perfect for little kids.

A couple of cautions: Make sure whatever circle hook you use is non-offset. Circle hooks with offset points--meaning bent to the side--gut-hook fish regularly. Non-offset hooks do not. The Eagle Claw L702G is non-offset, but unfortunately is not labeled as such. Now you know.

Also, unhooking fish requires a slight twist of the wrist because of the circular hook design. The straight pull you’re probably used to won’t work. Grab the hook with fingers or forceps and twist to remove. It’s odd at first, but practice makes perfect. And while you’re at it, pinch down the barb--something I probably should have done but didn’t.

Comments (10)

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from Riverrat57 wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Great post John. Thanks. I never really thought of circle hooks for panfish. I'll now give it a try. I do get the opportunity to take some little kids fishing once in a while.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Good tip. I've never tried circle hooks for these little guys, but I generally do smash the barbs down at least a little to ease unhooking. Fish already shake loose with the barbs up, so I see little to no disadvantage.

I still enjoy catching more bluegill, pumpkinseed, and sunfish than I can count under a bobber on worms or hot dog pieces than I can count when I return to the old cabin in the Catskills. Sometimes I hook into a rock bass or a largemouth, but those are usually for dusk when the fly rod comes out.

Better yet is after dark when it's time for Jitterbugs, ever growing bass, and madly aggressive pickerel.

The place doesn't allow gas motors, so it barely gets fished. I can imagine some of the big game species are getting quite large by now. Haven't fished it in years, but I've been fishing it since I was a little kid. Can't wait.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fishdog52 wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Seems like a fine idea. Why did I not think of that?

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from flytier1010 wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Will try soon

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from calapp wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Good idea. Didn't realize circle hooks were available so small.

Why not for trout on bait too?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

this is why i like this blog. thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Gives me the idea of tying flies on circle hooks.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoorsben wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

Good tip. The Gulp Alive Angleworms are also a killer on panfish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jefferson Mathews wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I will have to try it this weekend for them Irish gills (Irish Hills area, Michigan lakes).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from flytyinfisher wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I catch and release as many trout as possible but some just swallow the hooks. What i want to know is how well these circle hooks work and will the hold bait such as crickets and salmon eggs?

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from Riverrat57 wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Great post John. Thanks. I never really thought of circle hooks for panfish. I'll now give it a try. I do get the opportunity to take some little kids fishing once in a while.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Gives me the idea of tying flies on circle hooks.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from outdoorsben wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

Good tip. The Gulp Alive Angleworms are also a killer on panfish.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Good tip. I've never tried circle hooks for these little guys, but I generally do smash the barbs down at least a little to ease unhooking. Fish already shake loose with the barbs up, so I see little to no disadvantage.

I still enjoy catching more bluegill, pumpkinseed, and sunfish than I can count under a bobber on worms or hot dog pieces than I can count when I return to the old cabin in the Catskills. Sometimes I hook into a rock bass or a largemouth, but those are usually for dusk when the fly rod comes out.

Better yet is after dark when it's time for Jitterbugs, ever growing bass, and madly aggressive pickerel.

The place doesn't allow gas motors, so it barely gets fished. I can imagine some of the big game species are getting quite large by now. Haven't fished it in years, but I've been fishing it since I was a little kid. Can't wait.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fishdog52 wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Seems like a fine idea. Why did I not think of that?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from flytier1010 wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Will try soon

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from calapp wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

Good idea. Didn't realize circle hooks were available so small.

Why not for trout on bait too?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 40 weeks ago

this is why i like this blog. thanks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jefferson Mathews wrote 2 years 38 weeks ago

I will have to try it this weekend for them Irish gills (Irish Hills area, Michigan lakes).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from flytyinfisher wrote 2 years 35 weeks ago

I catch and release as many trout as possible but some just swallow the hooks. What i want to know is how well these circle hooks work and will the hold bait such as crickets and salmon eggs?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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