What do you guys think about circle hooks?

Does anybody use circle-hooks by choice when not required to by law? I used them a few times because the author of a book I once read on saltwater fishing recommended them. I caught a couple of halibut on them, and they did a pretty good job keeping the hook in the corner of the mouth. The so-called self-setting design seems to work as advertised at least some of the time. In fact the only time I've ever caught a jacksmelt on a 5/0 hook was on a circle-hook. So it seems that once they find the hook point there's a good chance they'll end up hooked. However, just looking at the design it seems that there would be a lot of spit hooks. I'm curious if any of you ever use these hooks by choice. I only use various types of j-hooks right now.


Well-Known Member
I like them. I have some nice ones that I use sparingly on certain fish. Most situations I use regular bait holders because I hate losing circle hooks. I actually feel lucky when I find free broken off circle hooks in the mouths of yellowtails.

As long as the hook is sharp enough to “catch”, it should be able to “roll” itself into the flesh. The fish hooks itself if it swims with the hook in the mouth. I think that’s why people say not to set the hook with a circle hook. You may just pull the bait out of the fishes mouth.
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Active Member
I try to use circle hooks as much as possible when I know I'm going to be distracted while fishing. Good examples are taking kids fishing or grilling while fishing. If I can't watch the line and be there right away to set the hook, circle hooks are great because the last thing I want to deal with is a bleeding gut hooked short fish. It also helps reduce the chance of losing those missed suicide bites that tend to happen when you aren't watching your line.
As you pointed out, the way the hook is, the fish needs to be committed in order for the hook to work. So ideally, for more active hunting fish, circle hooks work wonders (stripers and halibut). But for the little nibblers like perch/smelt, it tends to lead to a very frustrating day of fishing.

If I'm active fishing with bait (rarity), I use octopus hooks predominately unless the bait requires me to use a longer barbed shank such as using shellfish (whole shrimp/mussels).


Well-Known Member
i use them if i can find them. usually at walmart or big5 they have pseudo circle hooks and one can't find the real thing.

using them is a challenge that can be learned. For stripers, it lets you be patient for the bigger fish instead of jerking it too early. And the little fish know that the bait will come off when you set too soon on them, then they get their free meal. Plus helps prevent gut hooking.
Good feedback - I can certainly relate to using them on a pole in a holder or a second pole not in hand. That's pretty much the only scenario I've had success with them when fishing for halibut. I've used the Owner circle hooks before and those things are wicked sharp and hold-up to saltwater well. I think I'll give them another try when the circumstances seem right. There's quite a lot of nuance about when, how, and what sizes to use.

Red Fish

Senior Member
Yes, like the Owner Mutu light circle for live bait fishing mostly for halibut and striper. You have to set the a couple pounds of drag so the hook will set properly by itself. And yes, mostly from a rod holder. Many times a circle hook can catch a bite you didn’t even see. Most times, I just start moving towards my landing net and make sure the net is untangled when I see the rod loading up and then pulling drag.
The other scenario fro circle hooks would sharks. All the crunching they do on tough big baits pushes the hook through their skin to set hook. As someone mentioned, they need to be sharp hooks. The Eagle Claw Sea Circle work for sharks as do the Gama Circle and Owner Mutu.


Active Member
I’ve used several brands of hooks. I like the owners a lot because they’re very strong. Used them fishing for yellows with large macs and never been disappointed. It was suggested I try gamakatsu nautilus lights, and those too have their spot in my box because they are much finer gauge than the owners, great for smaller baits like anchovies.

However, the funny thing is, my favorite brand are matsuo circle hooks. Thin gauge, strong and cheap! Never had rust problems on them and No failures to date.

Red Fish

Senior Member
Red, Is that your go-to hook for live bait fishing, or are you just saying you've used them for that before?
It really is my go to hook. Many times it takes a long time to get a hook up pier fishing and staring at a rod for a long time is something I don’t like to do as much any more. That is also what I usually use some type of reel with an audible “clicker” whether spinner or baitcast.
Never. I may be one of the few who actively loathes them.
Is that based on any direct experience or did you just hear that Trump uses them? JK :p I haven't used them enough to have a strong opinion either way except to say they work...at least sometimes. I'm tempted to do a 2-pole fish-off - same bait, same rig, and see what happens and how it happens.
It really is my go to hook.
That's a pretty good endorsement. I can see that it would probably do a great job keeping a live baitfish on the hook.

Last question for those who use them: what sizes do you recommend? I'm thinking about SB & halibut. Thanks.
When fishing for catfish or salmon VMC Sureset circle hooks work for me. These hooks are sharp and similar in shape to Owner mutu.
I use VMC sport circle hooks with shrimp when fishing for SW perch.
VMC Sureset circle hooks with live bait targeting halibut but I haven't tried them for SB yet.

Note to K1n. Matsuo hooks are my go to hook for rock fishing. Tips are stealthy sharp. When the tips are bent following a snag just use a fingernail to push the hook tip straight and go on fishing.
you've all just about said everything needed to be said about circle-versus- J hooks, certain fish nibble at the bait, that's where an open/J hook and a quick hook-set works, fish that grab the bait turn and run will normally hook themselves with a circle hook, when using circles for rock-fish and the such just start reeling, if you try to set the hook the guy's around you will all yell "SWING ON AND A MISS" and actually, that's the hardest thing to keep from doing, it's like in our DNA when we get a bite to swing for the fence! But I really, really do love circle hooks for the "right" application IE tuna/yellowtail/ leaving the rod in a holder while you chase a rugrat down and so on.


Well-Known Member
I like circle hooks for most applications other than on sabikis and fishing soft baits like sea worms, mussels, and ghost shrimp. There's also the issue of using offset vs in-line circles. With offset circles I can set the hook a little more than with in-line circles, but there is often a greater risk of gut-hooking a fish. In-line circles definitely fit the "self setting" part of the circle a little more. They are, however, somewhat difficult to find in a wider variety of sizes. I like to use Owner mosquito circles as my general pierfishing and inshore rockfish hooks. For bass, bonito, barracuda, and deepwater RF I use Mutu lights, while for yellows, big sheephead and lings I like to use Super Mutus. When shark fishing, I use relatively cheap(er) Mustad or Eagle Claw hooks as given after all the abuse a leader takes when a (big) shark crunches the hook and rolls up in the leader, the rig is essentially one-use. A persistent issue that I run into with the lighter wire circles is the bent down tip breaking off or bending outwards. The latter issue is usually fairly easy to fix, but I have lost the use of a good many hooks from snags.