How to Catch Saltwater Fish Using Circle Hooks

How to Catch Saltwater Fish Using Circle Hooks
Circle hooks have been around for several years and are widely used among many anglers as a favorite hook for bait fishing. The rounded design of the hook tends to hold the bait securely in place and prevent currents or waves from sweeping the bait off the hook. However, as the conservation movement of catch and release continues to gain support and use, circle hooks are being used more often as an aid to safely releasing fish. Circle hooks tend to be more prone for lip rather than gut hooks which greatly increases the odds for a fish to survive following the catch.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Saltwater rod and reel (matched)
  • Mono filament fishing line
  • Circle hook
  • Weight (pyramid)
  • Swivel
  • Bait (shrimp, sand fleas, menhaden, etc)
Step 1
Select a circle hook based on the fish species as well as personal preference. Circle hooks are often offered in sizes from #2 up through 6/0. A good starting point, if you are unsure, is a 3/0 or 4/0 sized hook for many saltwater applications.
Step 2
Attach the circle hook to your fishing line with an improved clinch knot. Animated instructions for tying the knot can be seen at Make sure to pull the knot down tightly and trim any excess line from the end of the knot with a pair of snips.
Step 3
Choose the type of bait you will be using. Depending on the fish species, you may want to consider cut shrimp, sand fleas or menhaden. Personal preference as well as time of year will also impact your choice of bait. Place a quarter sized piece of bait onto the hook. Insert the hook once through the bait for about 1/2 inch or so.
Step 4
Cast the bait into the water and allow it to settle and move with the current, waves or tide. Often times this is the point where many fishermen place their rod into a holder and rig a second or even third rod.
Step 5
Watch the tip of the rod for signs such as excessive movement or bending that would indicate a fish has taken the bait. Do not set the hook as you would normally do. This will pull the hook from the mouth of the fish.
Step 6
Allow the fish to take the bait and hook and begin to turn away from you. Hold the rod and wait for the turning motion of the fish to pull the circle hook forward. This will cause the hook to engage and hook the lip of the fish. Play the fish as you normally would and then release back into the water.

Tips & Warnings

Add a weight to the rig if necessary or desired. For example, slide a pyramid weight onto the line before tying on the circle hook. this will create a slider rig which may be effective especially for surf fishing.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.