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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There is an artilce in the latest Fly Fisherman by Lefty on circle hooks and their advantages. Since most of us practice C&R and circle hooks appear to reduce mortality, shouldn't we use them more for steelhead?

The information in the article involved stripers. Is there any available on steelhead?

With tube flies, the short shank on circle hooks is no disadvantage.

Do they reduce the rate of hookups?
 

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TR3
As stated in another post, I'm not convinced that circle hooks significately lower your hook up rate(maybe just a bit). I've been digging them for awhile for a few different reasons. I do have one concern: this past fall I was broken off by a fish. At least 8 days later I had a client hook the same fish in another run, still sporting the hook, pierced nicely in the corner of the mouth. I have always assumed(perhaps wrongly) that fish would shake conventional hooks in this time frame. As this was a one time deal, it's hardly scientific, but about the only negative aspect of circle hooks that I've found.Too much snow in the driveway to do any more study this weekend.Brian
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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I think it's always good to err on the side of safety, but IMHO circle hooks are really kinder, gentler bait hooks. They were designed for ling liners who rig bait on lines many miles long and can't tend to the fish until they come back around. This was a recipe for deeply gut hooked (man I hate that term) hooks which killed fish and created a hassle for fishermen. The circle hook ensures that these fish are hooked in the lip after swallowing a hook. As the fish swims away the circle slides out of the gullet and catches on the lip of the fish just before it exits the mouth cavity.

I have never had a steelhead swallow a fly, but then again I don't fish small egg hooks or nymphs etc and that might make a difference. The steelhead I've hooked over the years have been moved to take a fly, so there was an active lunge toward a swinging fly and immediate feedback to set the hook. There was no time for the fly to be swallowed, and quite often the set is missed. The circle hook would require that the fish be given the time to partially or wholly swallow the fly, then the angler hold tight as it swims away (unless it rejects it). As it tumbles out, it grapples the lip as you wait for the tightening to occur.

My experience has been that steelhead do not act in a feed instinct, like say a sturgeon (perfect circle hook candidate) or a catfish on a doughball. They act in a reflex action and thus do not swallow the fly, nor are they gut hooked.

For normal west-coast style wets and dries, I can't visualize the benefit of using circle hooks...

.02 FWIW
 

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Juro, you are bang on so far as the design of circles. Truly a brilliant solution to the dreaded plunker gut hooking(gag).You're right, an entirely different taking scenerio to west coast steelheading(no indicators here thanks).The hooks work in a slightly different manner when fished on the swing, definately not swallowed.As with conventional hooks, the circles slide into the corner of the jaw as the fish turns. I fish the hooks(1&1/0) on fairly large tube flies(2.5"-5") My original reason for using these hooks was to thwart the leaves that I was picking up on a particularly windy day. Since then I have found some other benefits. That said, I bounce back and forth with conventional hooks. From a conservation standpount I will say that I think the circles are a little less prone to twisting and tearing than conventional short shanked tube hooks. Can't say for sure on the hooking rate, but experimentation keeps things interesting.Brian
 

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Several discussions on several boards about this. No clear preference per se from the respondents. There is specific mention of the need to fish a circle hook differently than a J hook, by allowing the fish to hook itself; we're all aware of the idea. Another idea discussed many times across the boards is: to work the gape of a J hook to more closely approximate a circle, by creating a "Conservation Bend", essentially reducing (closing to a point) the gape, thus reducing the potential for a grab by the hook point.

I've tied a few circle flies, others have mentioned doing so, with mixed success rates.
 

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When it comes to circle hooks, I give them a thumbs up. Last year I fished both circle and "J" hooks. If there was a difference in the number of hook ups, it was only due to my lack of ability as a fly fisher. I've never fished for steel head before, but for bass, they worked great! In the lip every time. Circle hooks made things very easy for C&R, but made things tough for tying.
 

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Flyfishing Camp Cook
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I confess, I still use bait

So Ii'll give my insight, since my first experiences fishing for stelhead was in the bait arena. I'd say everyone is right on when they talk about uses of a ciircle hook. Ii've used them actually, and thy are great for BAIT. Not sure aboout a fly though.

Now with feeding. I've heard many things over the years I personally feel it depends on what fish you're fishing for and how long it's ben in the river. Say your salmon. They'll readily feed on egs and sanddshrimp in flux zone and parts of tribs if fresh from salt (usually bearing sealice). I've caught many kings and silvers with food in their stomachs, and caught them using bait (tha's if the're fresh). Now, same fish, sealice gone, and colors showing, then you need to tick them off. Spinners and plugs always give a good HARD strike. From my experience, same is true so far for stelhead, winterruns that is. You get one fresh from thesalt, and it'll hit eggs and sandshrimp. Caught a 22lb buck on the Nooch in Mmarchh on sandshrimmp. Iit engulfed the thinng. Luckily it was a brat and a keeper. It actualy had some eggs and some misc. shrimmp already in it's stomach (partialy digested, so cuodl't tel what it was for sure). Summerruns, I've heard conflicting reports abouut them too. But Ii've caught many with stomachs filled. The coolest thing I ever saw was about 20 years ago. Watched a stelhead slam and at a mouse thta hd fallen into the river. Had also caught a few with mice in hei stomachs (this was back in the day we kept our Nates). A favorite fly is a mouse pattern tossed next to th bank like a hopper. Have scored a couple steelhead this way. Pluus th old favorite periwinkles (stonnefly larvae I do believe). Was fishing the lower Tilton in WA for trout, whe my rod went berserk. Was fishing periwinkles. Landed a beautiful 12lb hen. I'm lucky sh didnt bust my 4# maxima. She had a belly full of them. As you can tell, if I have a keeper, I always dissect the stomach when I'm cleaning them.

I'm not a scientist, but these are y observations. Thats why alot of my tidal river/trib mouth flies are similar to aquatic insects/creatures. But my upriver fliies are big, flashy, osetimes gaudy things to tick them off or make thm realy curious. Just my thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Juro: Comment from Lefty Kreh's article "In my experience and those who helped me test circle hooks, fast-swimming fish such as albacore and bonito consistently hooked themselves before the angler realized the fish had taken the fly. Circle hooks will prevent salmon, billfish, tarpon, and many other leaping species from throwing the fly when they jump." That presumably includes steelhead. Even though they were origionally developed for bait, they may be a good idea, in terms of less damage to wild fish.

Jimmy: You might try tube flies, then the circle hook would be no different than any other short shank hook used with the tube. Incedentally, some of the tube flies(leech and others should be great for bass.
 

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Flats Rat
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I haven't tried circle hooks yet but did buy some at the end of last season. I also tied and fished on the new Tiemcos which look like the shape Dave was referring to. I probably fished them no more than four times but I seemed to drop a small percentage of fish after a good hook set. It felt like they were slightly less forgiving of allowing any slack compared to regular J's on fish hooked in the scissors. That may have just been me or maybe the slightly finer steel in the Tiemco. Again, not enough of a trial to be scientific. I've never had a problem with a deep hooked striper but that may be due the their enormous mouth cavity - God Bless 'em. :D

I am tempted to try circle hooks on bonefish flies if I can find them in smaller sizes. Deep hooking can be a problem since occaisionally they'll inhale a small fly which gets impaled in the grinding plates at the back of the throat. Trying to remove hooks this deep can easily result in gill damage so I've clipped the cast as advised but always felt pretty sick afterwards. Circles may be the way to go here.
 
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