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SteveD

Cat Tip of the Day: How to Hook a Bullhead

30 posts in this topic

On the Catfish Forums we get a lot of questions about how do you hook a bullhead. One of the things about flathead fishing is that you will get a lot of runs and when you set the hook there is a good chance you will come up with a miss. Flatheads have a huge mouth and they will engulf bait unfortunately when you set the hook there is also good chance you will pull the hook from the bait and right back out that big, wide open mouth. Missing a clicker screaming flathead run after waiting several hours for the opportunity tends to get most beginners and even experienced catmen questioning how they have hooked their bait.

There are many kinds of flathead baits and just as many ways to hook up bait. Some people prefer to hook their baits through the mouth, others go 45 degrees across the back, and many people hook the bait just in front of the tail. I’m going to show you how I do it and will tell you right now before the debate starts that I am not claiming this is the one and only method. How you hook a big, feisty flathead bait is a matter of personal preference and one in which you must have confidence. This is the way I do it and it works well for me and I am confident that if I get a run I’m going to hook up with the fish.

Bullheads are my preferred flathead bait. I use circle hooks and have had good luck with them. I have used J hooks and have a leader holder full of pre-tied J-hooks but I seldom use them. Since going to circle hooks I have a good hook-up rate so they are my Go-To hooks. Here is how I hook up my baits and I would use this technique no matter what type of hook I was using.

In my opinion, flatheads will in most situations take a bait head first. This is based on personal experience from looking down the throat of a freshly caught big flathead and seeing the tail of my bullhead just sticking out of his gullet. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so the attached photo should explain how I hook up a bullhead but I will explain it here also.

I primarily fish a two hook cat bait harness made up of two snelled circle hooks. I use a large 8/0 Circle hook as my main hook and run it parallel with the spine near the fin on the top of the back. I run the hook just under the skin and back out leaving plenty of gap in the hook. I run my hooks so that they come out with the hook point facing the head. If the flathead takes the bait head first I want him to encounter the hook point as soon as he takes the bait. As I said I use a two hook cat harness and hook both hooks the same - the large front hook near the back fin and the stinger hook near the tail parallel with the spine and just under the skin, hook point forward. I have an excellent hook up rate.

That is all there is to it – simple and easy to do. Watch out for those side fins and the top fin on the bullheads as they can make a painful puncture. I don’t trim off any fins and I don’t think a flathead is in the least bit worried about them. At this point in the season I’ve been poked by enough bullheads that I’ve learned to just put up with it. If the sting bothers you there is a product out there called Sting-Eze which is for bug bites but it works pretty good on bullhead stings too.

Good Fishing!

HookedBullhead.jpg

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Great tip and great photo to explain your way of hooking a bullhead on. I have read everything on this site that pertains to catfishing. I either over looked it or it has not been written yet, but can you explain or show how to tie a two hook snell. How far apart do you have your hooks and what type of knot is used. Any help in this area I would appreciate and if I missed it on a previous thread I apoligize. Thanks in advance for all your tips and sharing your knowledge so us newbies can get out and catch some great fish............

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Great tip and great photo to explain your way of hooking a bullhead on. I have read everything on this site that pertains to catfishing. I either over looked it or it has not been written yet, but can you explain or show how to tie a two hook snell. How far apart do you have your hooks and what type of knot is used. Any help in this area I would appreciate and if I missed it on a previous thread I apoligize. Thanks in advance for all your tips and sharing your knowledge so us newbies can get out and catch some great fish............

If you read the Cat Tip of the Day: Cat Bait Harness it explains how I make the harness. I use a 5/0 Gamakatsu Circle Hook for the stinger hook and I tie that hook on first using a Snell knot. See this link: http://www.animatedknots.com/snell/index...imatedknots.com

Then I tie on the main hook which is an 8/0 Gamakatsu Circle Hook again using a Snell knot. I tie the hooks approximately 3" to 4" apart. I then add several beads and a spinner to make it a legal rig. I make the leader about 12" to 18" long - that is a long enough leader for a bullhead - I don't like real long bullhead leaders because they seem to snag me up if it is too long.

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There are several ways to snell a hook, and in those ways I found this one to be the easiest for people to catch onto! So I show everyone this method of snelling a hook.

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Hey Nick - Cool video, Thanks. That will do it, quick and easy with pictures to follow. Now anyone can tie up some bait harnesses.

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Thanks....

Just an FYI to anyone that does use this video to make a legal harness. Instead of making an 8 inch end tag. make it about 12-14 to give you extra line to put your last hook on..

I need to make new harness's... Last weekend snags claimed all mine frown

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Thanks Steve for posting this.

That is how I tie my hook on except I give it 20 wraps instead of eight. I honestly don't know if you need 20, but that is how I learned to tie it. Also, be sure to moisten the line before tightening it down. I'm using 80 pound Power Pro.

This is a very strong knot. If I get snagged with a 10/0 Gami tied directly to the hook, the hook straightens out when snagged. If there is a swivel tied with a Palomar knot, the line breaks at the swivel. My hooks have a turned up eye, and that may also make a difference.

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Great video Nick and thanks for the help, I just tied my first one on and can't wait to get out and try the new snell out. I made mine with 30lb mono and 5 beads with a spinner. Thanks for the great tip and hopefully a great big huge flathead likes it, lol.......Thanks guys..........

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I tied on double hook snell rigs tonight for the first time and had a couple breakoffs on snags. They came undone with a lot less pull than palomar knots. I was checking out the snells and it looks like my line (40lb PP) digs up into the tiny space where the eyelet comes back around to the shaft. I was using a 7/0 and 6/0 gamakatsu circle. Could this be what is causing my breakoffs? Has anyone else ran into this problem?

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Another high percentage hook set rig is the single hook anal belly set. The system is basic and keeps a bait lively and struggling for very long periods of time.

You simply insert the hook into the anal cavity just under the skin... and forward towards the head....and pop the point out at the bony point between the tough skin of the belly fins allowing the shank of the hook to slip inside the bait and exposing only the first section of the hook ready to find it's target once bit.

This rigging offers a rear facing point so snags are limited and the baitfish struggles like mad producing vibration that attracts a predator. Effective with most larger baits like Bullheads, Creek Chubs, Panfish, Drum, and suckers.

When using this rigging I may also add a rubber band just behind the eye of the hook and loop it around the bait to maintain hook positioning if the bait is especially vagarious.

Hook styles that function well with this rig are Circle Hooks, Gami Big Game hooks, Long shank Eagle Claw Baitholder hooks, and in some situations the pin style Turtle/Liver Hooks. Size of hook reflects the bait and the prey. 3 O/T to 12 O/T may be suitable.

Leader length: I keep them short, short for me in this situation may be 1 times the length of the bait, that is my rule. The reason for this is two fold, lessens snags or twisting on the leader due to bait activity or current, and it forces them to emit more vibration when struggling on there leash.

Give it a go, see what you think.

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Interesting hook tip Ed, I would have never considered, but from your explanation... sounds like it could have potential.

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Great tip, Ed. I've been using some small sheepshead for bait lately and I've been wanting to try a different hook-up for them. Hooking them through the bung hole like you indicated might be just the ticket. They are a pretty lively bait - if I get some tonight I'm going to try your method out.

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That trick is also a killer rig with Waterdogs guys.

The strikes are often vicious.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

If the strike is... Thud... and then sits there like a turd....likely a big ol walleye. wink

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Steve you have any results from that rigging yet...curious?

Thanks,

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Hi Ed - I tried it out the last two times I was out. Used it on a small sheepshead and a bullhead. It looks like a pretty effective way to do a hook up on a bait. The baits stayed lively for a long time. Trouble was the flats were not in an eating mood and I was skunked both times. Hopefully this warm weather and recent rain is going to turn on the bite this week.

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Yup...if'n they don't bite..darn tough to hook um...Eh?

Once they do...I'm still interested in your report on hook up percentages with it.

Also kinda curious...that Dark Backed Flatty in your profile pic...If you remember...what month was that caught in, and on what river...generality on location works for me...the month/date I'm more curious about?

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Also kinda curious...that Dark Backed Flatty in your profile pic...If you remember...what month was that caught in, and on what river...generality on location works for me...the month/date I'm more curious about?

14 August 2005 on the St Croix River. I was all by myself and caught her at 0030 in the morning. I had a heck of a time getting her into the boat. You can fish two rods on the St Croix and right in the middle of fighting her the other rod took off. I hooked the other fish up with one hand and had the big fish on in my other hand. I quick put the second rod back in the rod holder while I handled the big fish. I didn't have a net big enough so I grabbed her by the lower lip and hoisted her into the boat. I then grabbed the other rod and wrestled it near the boat and it was a great big turtle. I cut the line and went back to the big fish. I had some trouble with my camera but did manage a couple of good pics. I got her back into the water in good condition and she swam away strong. She was a beauty - I try to fish that same spot every year at that time hoping to catch her again and just a little bigger this time. I guess I better head out there again tommorrow night. Here is another pic of her:

14Aug0555Flat2.jpg

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Be careful when using 2 hooks.

This is the actual Minnesota State Statute

Quote:

97C.315 ANGLING LINES AND HOOKS.

Subd. 2.Hooks.An angler may not have more than one hook on a line, except:

(1) three artificial flies may be on a line used to take largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, crappies, sunfish, and rock bass;

(2) a single artificial bait may contain more than one hook; and

(3) as otherwise prescribed by the commissioner.

Interpret it how you may, but to me it is still confusing.

When you hook live bait on it, is it still artificial?

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Be careful when using 2 hooks.

This is the actual Minnesota State Statute

Quote:

97C.315 ANGLING LINES AND HOOKS.

Subd. 2.Hooks.An angler may not have more than one hook on a line, except:

(1) three artificial flies may be on a line used to take largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, crappies, sunfish, and rock bass;

(2) a single artificial bait may contain more than one hook; and

(3) as otherwise prescribed by the commissioner.

Interpret it how you may, but to me it is still confusing.

When you hook live bait on it, is it still artificial?

How is a cat bait harness any different than this?

baitharness.jpg

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Very confusing indeed.

I guess the beads and spinner make all the difference?

How many beads, how big of beads, how big of spinner, how many feathers, how much mariboo etc make the difference? I have yet to find anything well defined.

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Very confusing indeed.

I guess the beads and spinner make all the difference?

How many beads, how big of beads, how big of spinner, how many feathers, how much mariboo etc make the difference? I have yet to find anything well defined.

There are those that watch things happen, there are those that wonder what happened and then there are those that make things happen. You get to decide which one you want to be.

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Steve's logic would pass muster in any court, in the unlikely case that a CO thought he needed to write out a ticket. Precedent is king. With the precedent of the various legal rigs Steve showed, all designed to hold smaller LIVE BAIT in pursuit of smaller gamefish, you will have a hard time convincing a judge that the slight upsizing of the hooks, bait, and predator makes his rig any more illegal based on your statute.

It's hard for written laws to cover every possible case and still fit within a book small enough for people to be able to interpret and enforce. Statutes can't always spell out everything, sometimes common sense has to be employed in parallel.

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Yep and yep!

Two words= one bead!

I roll with confidence with one bead forward of the first hook. I know Steve has and I have, but the legal lure road has been travel before and one bead is the answer I have recieved from down town and anyone who would be checking my bait rig on Pool2.

Now, get checked by a CO, reel up and have two 10" bullheads (one on each hook), that would be a total other story.

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