Circle hooks are without a doubt the most popular hooks for blue catfish, especially in recent years. Most people either love circle hooks or or hate them and there is not a lot of “in between”.
Years ago, I kept hearing catfish anglers praise circle hooks and I tried them several times and could not stand them. I hated not setting the hook and didn’t catch many fish with them. This was because of the hook style I was using and not having a good understanding of how to fish with these hooks.
The “new breed” of circle hooks allow you to set the hook with them using a modified hookset and whether you let the hook for the work for you or prefer to set the hook, it’s hard to argue the effectiveness of the circle hook for catfish.
Circle hooks do most of the work for you and when used correctly they are very effective not only at hooking fish, but also at reducing gut hooked or deep hooked fish.
If you are fishing for catch and release purposes, regardless of what size fish you are targeting, then circle hooks will help greatly to keep from deep hooking or gut hooking fish.
I use circle hooks almost exclusively for fishing for blue catfish. There is one specific time of the year where I will use other hooks on a limited basis because they outperform circle hooks. This is a very small window though and I use these other hooks on a very limited basis.
Circle Hook Sizing
One of the critical factors of using circle hooks and them working correctly is correct hook sizing. This was the first mistake I made when I started using circle hooks and a lesson it took me a long time to learn.
For a circle hook to work properly it needs to have room to turn and slide towards the corner of the mouth of the fish. If the gap of the hook is too small or not “clear” the hook will not work properly.
It took me a lot of trial and error to understand this and when looking at properly sized circle hooks it seems like you are using a hook that is way too large, but this is not the case.
Sizing from manufacturer to manufacturer can vary greatly also. It’s common to hold a 10/0 hook from one manufacturer up to a size 7/0 hook from another manufacturer and for them to be close to the same size or exactly the same size.
Circle Hook Styles – Traditional and Modified
Traditional circle hooks are built in more of a true “circle” shape and many have a very small gap in them.
The “new breed” of circle hook that is popular with catfish anglers is more of a hybrid style hook that looks like a cross between a circle hook and a kahle hook.
These hooks allow you to fish the hook like a traditional circle hook and allow the hook to do all the work for you. You can also set the hook like a traditional hook using a modified hook set.
Circle Hook Eyes
The eye of some circle hooks is turned up and some anglers claim this makes the hook work better and that you cannot snell the eye of a circle hook that is not upturned.
This is absolutely false.
The claim is also that there is a massive increase in effectiveness when a circle hook is snelled. I have some lengthy opinions on this topic that I will eventually disclose.
You can absolutely snell the eye of a circle hook with either kind of the eye. The eye has no impact on how well the hook works or whether or not you can snell it.
If given the choice I prefer a hook eye that is not upturned.
Inline Circles Vs’ Offset Circles
Another topic of great debate among catfish anglers is inline circle hooks versus offset circle hooks.
On an inline circle hook the hook point is perfectly in line with the shank of the hook. On an offset circle hook the hook point is offset slightly from the shank of the hook.
There are strong opinions on inline versus offset hooks and everyone claims that one works best over the other.
After years of fishing with these hooks and using both inline and offset circle hooks my opinion is always changing. I would love to say that one works better than the other but I cannot provide any definitive information that one is better than the other.
Which Circle Hooks To Use
The best circle hooks available for catfish are the Daiichi Circle Chunk Light and the Team Catfish Double Action Circle Hook.
Both hooks are very similar. The Team Catfish and Daiichi hooks come in different sizes.
The Team Catfish Double Action hook is an offset circle and the Daiichi Circle Chunk Light is an inline circle hook.
Both hooks are super sharp hooks right out of the package. They hold a point well. They are also both this “modified” style circle hook that is more of a cross between a traditional circle hook and a kahle hook.
This again allows you to either fish them like a traditional circle hook, allowing the hook to do the work and set itself, or fish like a traditional hook, still setting the hook but using a modified hook set.
I’ve been using the Daiichi Circle Chunk Light for about 6 or 7 years almost exclusively for blue catfish and begun using the Team Catfish Double Action hooks within the last couple of years as well because they offer larger sizes that at times is needed when fishing for trophy fish.
The “ideal” all around size in these circle hooks is the 7/0 Daiichi Circle Chunk Light and the 8/0 Team Catfish Double Action hook. These hooks are capable of landing blue catfish from one pound all the way up to the biggest trophy class fish that swim in your lake or rivers.
If you are fishing for 1-10 lb blue catfish both of these hooks work well but I always keep some size 5/0 hooks in my tackle box in either hook. There are times that the fish are not biting aggressively and downsizing the hooks can increase the number of fish you catch but I find this to be a rare need.
Just keep in mind that the gap on the hook needs to be large enough to turn and clear the outside of the mouth of the fish so smaller sized hooks can actually be a disadvantage at times.
Kahle Hooks For Blues
Again, If fished correctly circle hooks can be very effective and will work well most of the year.
There is a brief period of the year when I fish a pattern outlined in the Spring Blue Catfish Techniques ebook that the fish will bite very short, and not very aggressive and only in a certain area.
This is one time of the year that I will venture away from circle hooks for blue catfish. During this brief period, in a very particular area, the circle hooks don’t work as well.
Holding the fishing rod and being able to make a quick, short, aggressive hook set will produce eight to ten times more fish so during this time I will switch to a kahle hook.
Prior to using circle hooks I used 4/0 kahle hooks almost exclusively for blue catfish and they are good hooks but overall, circle hooks are better.
When you use circle hooks with the right gear and fish with them correctly you will hook more fish, will lose less fish when reeling them in and all around will be more successful catching blue catfish of all sizes.
If you prefer to use kahle hooks or keep some around for trial, the 4/0 kahle hook is a good all around size for fish from 1 to 10 lbs and a 5/0 size is good for fish larger than 10 lbs.
Suggested Hooks For Blue Catfish
Daiichi Circle Chunk Light Size 7/0 (Amazon)
Eagle Claw Kahle Hook Size 4/0 (Amazon)
To get more in depth information on catfish hooks and all the fishing tackle you need for catfish but nothing you don’t check out the free Catfish Tackle 101 eBook.