Tarpon Circle Hooks

Florida Sportsman

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 30
  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    17

    Tarpon Circle Hooks

    What is your favorite circle hook for fishing large dead baits for tarpon? What size and model number? I am really looking forward to another tarpon season and I want to improve my hook up ratio. I usually fish either catfish chunks, ladyfish or mullet, dead on the bottom or under a balloon. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Summerland Key
    Posts
    393
    I like using owner mutu light circles in 7/0 or 8/0

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    387
    I like Owner SSW inline circles, 7/0 or 8/0. I mainly fish pinfish, and the 8/0 is getting a bit thick for pinfish lips but should be fine for larger / dead baits.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Under a Bridge
    Posts
    2,151
    With large live baits, you're going to be challenged. Even the best dead baiters I know still lose more than 50% of their fish. We can do (and have done) upwards of 75% with light wire circle hooks in live baiting situations (and experienced anglers), but I've never heard of anyone consistently doing that well with dead bait. Here's my thinking process:

    On the one hand, lighter smaller circles seem to stick much better. Like the mutu light swordslayer suggests, or the Mustad 39951BLN that I use almost exclusively (I use 7/0 for crabs, and 8/0 for 6" threadfins). In my testing (note: entirely live bait), the Mustad has surpassed both the Mutu and the SSW, described below....

    On the other hand, you're likely going to want a larger and heavier hook to deal with the large live bait, like the SSW Owners that NW recommends (most dead baiters I know use a heavier hook). The downside is that the hook will not set as surely nor stick as well -- that certainly has been my experience using those hooks in live bait situations, and I only expect it will get worse when a heavy dead menhaden is attached to the line on the first jump. If you want to try a SSW like hook, I'd go in at least 9/0 and probably 10/0 depending on how and where you're hooking the baits.

    If I were in that situation, I'd go with a larger light-wire circle (9/0 or 10/0), but understand they will straighten even easier, and you'll start to lose fish if you use too much drag. You'll likely have to yank the anchor and give chase.

    All of the above said, you can do like I did -- simply try a bunch of hooks and see which ones stick and which ones don't. Let the fish tell you what works best. Tarpon are a shrewd judge of tackle and technique, and the winner should be clear fairly quickly. Just keep good notes and pay attention to what works and does not work.

    Good luck & hope this helps....Mike
    Last edited by Tarponator; 02-21-2012 at 03:07 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bobber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    560
    I use the Gamakatsu 4X 8/0 circle for deadbaiting tarpon- # 209418. Not cheap, but never had a poon throw that hook once set.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bobber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    560
    I use the Gamakatsu 4X 8/0 circle for deadbaiting tarpon- # 209418. Not cheap, but never had a poon throw that hook once set.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    387
    Quote Originally Posted by Tarponator View Post
    With large live baits, you're going to be challenged. Even the best dead baiters I know still lose more than 50% of their fish. We can do (and have done) upwards of 75% with light wire circle hooks in live baiting situations (and experienced anglers), but I've never heard of anyone consistently doing that well with dead bait. Here's my thinking process:

    On the one hand, lighter smaller circles seem to stick much better. Like the mutu light swordslayer suggests, or the Mustad 39951BLN that I use almost exclusively (I use 7/0 for crabs, and 8/0 for 6" threadfins). In my testing (note: entirely live bait), the Mustad has surpassed both the Mutu and the SSW, described below....

    On the other hand, you're likely going to want a larger and heavier hook to deal with the large live bait, like the SSW Owners that NW recommends (most dead baiters I know use a heavier hook). The downside is that the hook will not set as surely nor stick as well -- that certainly has been my experience using those hooks in live bait situations, and I only expect it will get worse when a heavy dead menhaden is attached to the line on the first jump. If you want to try a SSW like hook, I'd go in at least 9/0 and probably 10/0 depending on how and where you're hooking the baits.

    If I were in that situation, I'd go with a larger light-wire circle (9/0 or 10/0), but understand they will straighten even easier, and you'll start to lose fish if you use too much drag. You'll likely have to yank the anchor and give chase.

    All of the above said, you can do like I did -- simply try a bunch of hooks and see which ones stick and which ones don't. Let the fish tell you what works best. Tarpon are a shrewd judge of tackle and technique, and the winner should be clear fairly quickly. Just keep good notes and pay attention to what works and does not work.

    Good luck & hope this helps....Mike

    Excellent info there Mike. I tend to fish with a relatively heavy drag, and tarpon sometimes bend the SSWs a little on me, but not enough to fail yet. I've also bought, but not used: Gami octopus (seems too thin/weak just from handling it), owner tournament mutu and super mutu (both seem way too heavy for live bait), and Daiichi circle chunk light (despite its name, also very heavy).

    Also bought some of the Owner Mutu circle lights, and comparing them side by side, the wire size on the 8/0 is about the same as the SSW 7/0 (the SSW 8/0 is heavier though). Maybe I'll give those a shot. I kind of like the wider bend (and possibly wider gap) of the SSW (I was thinking that the bait could move around on it more easily), although the shape of the Mutu circle lights might give them more strength for the same wire size.

    Have you ever bridled tarpon baits (or heard of anyone doing it)? It might be good for a larger live bait, or a dead bait, to get maximum hook exposure.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Under a Bridge
    Posts
    2,151
    I used to use heavy drag, and in certain circumstances (bridge fishing) I still do, but I have found through quite a bit of trial and error that the lighter wire hooks simply set and stick much better -- as in 25% better landing chance from the bite to the touched leader. Now you might think that fight times go way up, but I've not found that at all. I do lose the occasional fish near the boat, after the first 10 minutes or so I tend to put a lot of heat on the fish to get them to the boat fast and let them go green, but with some experimentation I've figured out how much heat you can and cannot put on them with these lighter hooks. It took me about a dozen fish to get a feel for it, and we were doing very well by the time we started the 2nd dozen.

    The problem I had with the SSW (a hook I really love in the needlepoint J hook with the bent eye), is that you miss too many on the take. Once the hook sets, it sticks pretty well, but I've missed more than on other hooks during the take. Why, I can't say for sure -- it could be the heavier wire, it could be the shape of the hook -- but it was notable. That said, I know more than a few guys who swear by that hook -- I could just never get past the thump, wait a second, reel up, and nothing....too many times for my liking. The ratio of landed fish on the SSW hovered just below 50%.

    I never really had good luck with the Mutu light circles. Had problems bending them out, breaking them, and not sticking. The heavier ones were also a comedy of errors. Frankly, I did just as well with a J hook.

    Do me a favor, and this year, buy a pack of 39951BLN Mustads. Back off your drag a nudge and try them for yourself. [And props to Capt. Jim Lemke who turned me on to them.] We've been landing between 66 and 75% of the fish that eat -- and that's impressive by my estimation, as I can remember many years of being satisfied with 1 for 3 on J hooks.

    I have never bridled live or dead baits.
    Last edited by Tarponator; 02-21-2012 at 06:47 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member tileman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Cape Coral, Fl
    Posts
    679
    quick tip...take a pair of pliers and crimp down the barb, no matter what hook used

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tarponator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Under a Bridge
    Posts
    2,151
    p.s. here's some early experimental evidence of the 39951BLN and what happens with successively heavier drags:



    The fact that they bend out is actually now an advantage. For big fish, I typically don't even touch them. I get the leader in hand (or in the rod tip), and lock down bending (or sometimes breaking) the hook. A very quick release that's much easier on the fish, IMO. The smaller fish (or beach, back-bay or bridge fish) I'll try and get DNA samples, but the large adults (particularly in and around the shark-ridden passes) get a very quick release as described above.

    If you look closely, you will also notice that I use a very simple knot -- a 3 turn clinch knot (except for one knot Harold tied 2nd hook from left in 2nd row). Works like a champ in 80 fluro and you can tie it blindfolded. Even better, I've never had it break.

    Hope this helps...Mike (man, tarpon season can't get here fast enough)

    p.p.s. all of the above is live bait, I do not pretend to be anything but the complete novice when it comes to fishing with dead bait, so take the above FWIW with respect to the original question asked.
    Last edited by Tarponator; 02-21-2012 at 06:48 PM.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •