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When live baiting for Tarpon.... what size hook do you use?

TampaCTTampaCT Posts: 62 Greenhorn
When you are live baiting (free lining) for Tarpon (beach or pass) what size circle hook do you use?  I have always gone a 7/0 but in a conversation with a friend who Tarpon fishes more than I do... He goes 8/0 all the time.  I keep backing off in both the size of my leader (think I'm coming down from #60 to #50 particularly on the beach) and from 7/0 to 6/0, I figure smaller leader and hook = more pickups.   Also do you have a favorite shape or design in your choice of circle hook?  

Replies

  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 1,083 Officer
    every angler has their favorites. Over the years I have shifted to mostly owner. the SSW inline circle hook works well. as for size, 6/0 or 7/0 for smaller baits, 8/0 or 9/0 for larger baits.  The Mutu light circle in 6/0 and 7/0 work well too.
    I like the heavier hooks not only for the battle but when pitching pass crabs gives them weight to cast and to sink slightly.  
    Other bands have proven to either break or bend under certain circumstances...
    My best hook up rate one summer was using all 8/0 ssw inline circle. 
    i find it best to have rods rigged with 40lb braid/50 or 60 lb leader up to 60 lb braid/80 lb leader and in between, for beach fishing. Depends on water clarity, how spooky fish are, drifting or pitching. Hook a 150 lb girl and you'll be glad you have 60 lb braid and 80 lb leader with an 8/0 in her.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,001 AG
    edited May 2018 #3
    The size of circle hooks aren't standardized.  One company's 6/0 can be the same as another company's 7/0.

    For live bait fishing along the beach and in the passes, I use the 7/0 Mustad 39951BLN more than any other hook for tarpon when fishing with sardines, threadfins and crabs.  It's an inline circle like the Owner SSW that Permit (and a lot of other folks also use).  However, the Mustad hooks and holds better than any hook I've tried -- but it's light wire design does have some drawbacks in comparison to the heavier SSW.

    In my completely unscientific and subjective opinion, the most important feature when fishing for tarpon with circle hooks is gap width.  Too small and the hook doesn't stick.  Too large and they get thrown easier.  For example, several years ago Mustad changed the design (and gap width) of the 39951, and it took me almost a season to figure out what the issue was -- went one size bigger (used to use 6/0) and all was right again in the world.

    Every season I try to experiment with new hook sizes/styles and keep track of how each hook fares, but the 39951 has been the winner for quite some time now.

  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,001 AG
    edited May 2018 #4
    As for leader, it's usually pretty easy to tell if they are seeing your leader, and it generally only happens when the water is super clear and/or you're fishing shallow (say less than 8').  Make a cast to a group of fish, and the pod spitls up and goes around your bait is typically what you see as an angler if the fish are being spooked by your presentation (casting too close) or terminal tackle....

    Frankly, I'd go to a longer leader with a bite tippet before dropping down to 50lb.  More to the point, I'd try  a short 1' bite tippet of 80 tied with a blood knot to about 6-10 feet of 50lb (or even 40) and then attach that to 40lb braid -- as I suspect the fish are being spooked by your line (or your presentation) and not your leader.  

    Also, I seriously doubt anyone here puts 40lb of pressure on a tarpon -- and if you do your hook is liable to straighten -- so I'm of the opinion that unless you're fishing near structure (say a bridge) and need the extra abrasion resistance, anything above 40 or 50lb is a waste.  So on this last point, Permit and I have a difference of opinion.

    How shallow are you fishing?
    What are the fish doing that make you think they are spooked?
    How long of a leader are you using?
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 1,013 Officer
    I fish Trokar 5/0-8/0 depending on the bait. 

    They stick well if set correctly - straight up! Pump them hard several times...

    Leader it's 40-80lb depending on conditions. I've caught many big 150lb fish button hooked on 40lb. For me, Seagar Premier has produced the best results. 
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman St. PetePosts: 945 Officer
    These guys have it covered. 

    FWIW I use long leaders and 60lb yozuri pink flouro, I use 8/0 mustad deamon points. 
  • Rich MRich M Posts: 1,326 Officer
    I use 60-80# Moi Moi leaders and 5/0 thru 12/0 hooks depending on size of fish & what I'm using for bait - a small crab vs an 18-inch ladyfish, and points in between.  

    Never thought of doing a bite leader - thanks for that.

    Side note - we had a year where we were routinely getting tarpon to 80# on our trout tackle while trout fishing with 4 inch finger mullet and 2/0 hooks - 25# leader, 10# mainline.  We'd jump 'em and play 'em a bit, then when they started gulping we would break them off, go back to trout.
  • TampaCTTampaCT Posts: 62 Greenhorn
    So I am not really hearing anyone say that leader lb. is really an issue.  #60 unless going deep then #80?  No great advantage to be had going to #50.  Of course no one pulls as hard as #50 it is really all about abrasion resistance where it might hit the fish...  Side question, what knot do you tie to the hook?  
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,001 AG
    A simple 3 or 4 turn clinch knot.
  • Rich MRich M Posts: 1,326 Officer
    I do an improved clinch or palomar knot.  
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 1,013 Officer
    TampaCT said:
    So I am not really hearing anyone say that leader lb. is really an issue.  #60 unless going deep then #80?  No great advantage to be had going to #50.  Of course no one pulls as hard as #50 it is really all about abrasion resistance where it might hit the fish...  Side question, what knot do you tie to the hook?  
    I'd rather fish lighter leader when sight fishing as there is no doubt it's more flexible and thus a slightly better presentation. 

    If drifting deep it really doesn't matter too much but I rarely fish 80lb. 

    Hook knot is either a loop knot most of the time or snell if it's going to be sitting in the rod holder. 
  • ClassicAQClassicAQ Posts: 14 Greenhorn
    30 years of tarpon fishing I've never used a circle larger than 6/0 for mature tarpon, 2/0-3/0 for juveniles.  The distance between the 6/0 tip and shank is wider than the button of even the biggest tarpon.  If someone has a logical reason why they'd need larger than 6/0, please share your reasoning cause I'd like to know it.
  • jbdba01jbdba01 Posts: 144 Deckhand
    Gamagatzo 5/0 circle octopus with a loop knot; my wing span for the length of the leader call it 6' (40# or 60# flouro), to a spider knot on 50# power pro yellow high vis. - using a 8' extra fast extra heavy teramar rod , cabo 50 or 60 reel.

    1-1 this year; juvy at 80# or so - threadfin was used.  Was mack attacked just before.


  • mjrudd1mjrudd1 Posts: 278 Deckhand
    ClassicAQ said:
    30 years of tarpon fishing I've never used a circle larger than 6/0 for mature tarpon, 2/0-3/0 for juveniles.  The distance between the 6/0 tip and shank is wider than the button of even the biggest tarpon.  If someone has a logical reason why they'd need larger than 6/0, please share your reasoning cause I'd like to know it.
    If I'm using a large chunk of bait, I don't want the gap stuffed full. Have had tarpon frequently jump and throw the bait and not the hook, so I'm assuming that circle hook might have slid out of the mouth without digging in if the gap had been full of bait. No proof, just what makes me feel good. I used 6/0, 7/0 and 8/0 hooks during a week this year. Released 11 of 18 hookups with the hook that Tarponator likes. Size did not seem to matter - caught the biggest fish on a 6/0. And went 5 for 6 on the day I used only a mix of 6/0 and 8/0. The different sizes were just because I ran out of 7/0, which is what I intended to use.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,001 AG
    ClassicAQ said:
    30 years of tarpon fishing I've never used a circle larger than 6/0 for mature tarpon, 2/0-3/0 for juveniles.  The distance between the 6/0 tip and shank is wider than the button of even the biggest tarpon.  If someone has a logical reason why they'd need larger than 6/0, please share your reasoning cause I'd like to know it.
    If your tarpon throw the circle hook on or before the first jump with a frequency greater than about 10%, chances are your gap is too small and you'd be better off with a larger hook.  I base that on direct experience, copious note taking, lots of hook experimentation, and a bit of guess work.  There are other things, like using too large of a bait with too small of a hook, or even just an un-sharp hook, that can also result in the same thing -- but I'm presuming as an experienced tarpon fisherman that you're not making any of those mistakes. 

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