As a responsible angler, you are interested in more than simply catching fish. Your hook is the first point of contact between you and your fish. The ideal hook is strong, durable and sharp, yet designed to harm the fish as little as possible. Circle hooks and offset hooks are made to minimize injury to the fish. Although you may have to make some minor adjustments to your fishing style, these hooks offer the best hook-up ratio when used correctly.
True Circle Hooks
The straight-ahead circle hook looks like it won't work, but looks are deceiving. Consider that commercial fishermen use circle hooks when long-lining, and you have all the evidence needed to convince the biggest skeptic. Do not set the hook when using circles; instead, simply reel fast and get tight to the fish, then lift the rod. The circle hook sets itself. Ninety percent of your fish will be hooked through the corner of the lip. Circle hooks are, hands down, the most effective style of hooks available.
Offset hooks are modified circle hooks. They are not as efficient when it comes to hooking fish in the corner of the lip, and occasionally result in deep hooked fish. Offset hooks appear similar to traditional J-hooks, and many anglers prefer them. When fishing with offset hooks, reel until the line is taut and then lift quickly to set the hook. If you cannot get used to fishing with circle hooks, offset hooks are a good second choice.
Mustad, Gamakatsu and Owner are considered industry standard when it comes to quality fishing hooks. Mustad is the least expensive of the three, and not as sharp out of the box. Gamakatsu hooks are so sharp out of the box that they often stick anglers before sticking fish. Owner hooks are designed with a patented triple-edge cutting point that decreases resistance as it penetrates. Owner hooks are the most expensive, but they are worth the extra cost.
As always with fishing equipment, buying in bulk gets you the best price possible. Prices as of August 2009 are:
Mustad 25-pack of 8/0 circle hooks - $9
Gamakatsu 25-pack of 8/0 circle hooks - $23
Owner 27-pack of 8/0 circle hooks - $30
Article Written By Stephen Byrne
Stephen Byrne is a freelance writer with published articles in "Nor'East Saltwater," "Sportfishing" magazine, "Pacific Coast Sportfishing" and "Salt Water Sportsman." As a fishing charter captain, he was also interviewed for a feature in "Field and Stream." Byrne studied environmental science at the State University of New York at Delhi.