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MinnesnowtaWild

Best way to hook up?

31 posts in this topic

It seems I have been having problems lately hooking up with the Flatheads. I use either a 5/0 Team Catfish circle hook or an 8/0 depending on the size of the bait. I have always tight lined it and have hoped that the circle hook would set itself. This method has worked for me quite a few times, but I have also missed many fish especially as of lately.

The other night though, my buddy and I were chatting and he thinks the best way to do it would be to use these same circle hooks but use the clicker on my 6600C4 with the bail open instead of tight lined. This would allow the fish to take the bait and be able to swim away with it. With this method, would I just reel up with a light tug after the fish takes the bait? I'm thinking the Catfish take my bait but feel the tension right away and spit it before they had the chance to eat it.

I'm just trying to figure out the best way to hook up with Flatheads, and wondering if I need to switch to a j-hook and start "setting the hook". We use medium-large Suckers/Chubs/Bullheads and I have caught my share of Flatheads so far with my tight line method (including my 30 lb fish), but I feel I may have many more nice fish if I could hook up better.

Not sure if it makes a difference, but I do not have a boat so we fish off the banks of the Minnesota. Thanks for any input.

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Also, the rod I use is a 7' Ugly Stik Catfish rod which is a MH rod and for those that don't know is a mix of graphite and fiberglass.

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I've fished with nothing but circle rods for 5 years and I'ver found that my success using them wasn't an over night occurance and depended on several things. First of all, I think you'd increase your success if you went to a longer, lighter rod, somewhere in the 9'range. Your rod may be fine when the bite is aggressive, but more than likely, the fish feel the resistance and let go of the bait. You also have to have the angle of your rod correct. Make sure you have it at an angle that lets the rod work for you as circle hooks are designed to do. Usually a 60 to 90 degree angle works the best.

All circle hooks are not created eqully either. I'm not familiar with your hooks, but look at the point and then look at a circle hook like a Gamakatsu. I'm not pushing Gamakatsu but using them as an example because they have very sharp, fine points. How much pressure will it take to pull your hook through a fish's lip as compared to a Gamakatsu? The size of the hook point makes a huge difference. Finally, what kind of line are you using? I'll probably get some arguement on this, but stretch in your line is something that isn't desireable with circle hooks and youmay not want to use mono. You want to control your hook penetration with your rod tip, which leads back to a lighter, longer rod. If you're having low hookup success, it's not that circle hooks don't work as advertised, it's because you just have to fine tune your presentation. I hope that you don't give up on circle hooks. I've documented less than 1% deeply hooked fish in the past 5 years on over 1400 fish caught usng circle hooks but it's taken me years to refine the technique. They work and work well.

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I use circle hooks for flatheads and have had an excellent hookup rate. I normally use 8/0 Gamakatsu Circle Hooks which I snell knot onto my leaders. I use my clickers primarily for bite detection in the dark. When I get a clicker run I get to the rod as quickly as possible and just pick it up and engage the reel. If the fish is still running I immediately just start to reel and the fish is almost always hooked.

If the initial run has stopped when I pick up the rod I will engage the reel and reel up line until I have a tight line. Once I feel the line is tight to the fish I start to reel. I don't do any type of hook set - it took me a while to break myself of the hook set response.

I seldom have a gut hooked fish and I have a lot of confidence in circle hooks. Regarding rods - I use the same rods that you are using but I primarily use them for channels (Shakespeare Ugly Stick Catfish Rods, 7 foot, Medium Heavy). They work good for circle hooks on a tight line. My hookup percentage on channels is almost 100% on a tight line. These rods have a light action tip which works good for a fish hooking itself. My flathead rods are short (7 foot) graphite rods in a heavy action. Most people would consider them too stiff for circle hooks but they have worked good for me and the reason I think is because I am using the clickers. I am controlling the hooks set on the stiff rods by reeling to set the hook so I get a good hook engagement.

Don't give up on the circle hooks. I used J hooks for years and I have had a better hookup rate using circle hooks. It just takes a while to change your hook set habits.

One last thing - I'm running PowerPro line on all my rigs. 30 lb on my channel cat rods and 65 lb on my flathead rods. So I don't get any stretch on the hook engagement like you would get from mono line. I have not had any problems using PowerPro with circle hooks.

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I won't use circle hooks with live bait, Gammi Octopus 10/0 J-Hook all the way.

Now cut bait is a different story for me, nearly 100% circle hooks with the reel tightlined (no clicker or freespool). Now I'm obviously fishing out of a boat where I have rod holders I trust.

If you are going to use circle hooks for flatheads with live bait, I think you'll want to upsize your hook. 5/0 is pretty small IMO for the size bait you are fishing as well as the potential size of the fishing you will catch. Now I've caught plenty of mid twenty pound flatheads on tightlined cutbait on 5/0 circle hooks but those were incidental catches and not my targeted species.

What you also might be experiencing is a more finicky and tentative bite related to cooling water and dropping activity level of the fish. Remember, 50 degree water will pretty much put the flatheads to sleep for the winter. We don't start seeing regular feeding activity until nearly 60 degree water temps in the spring. We're right in the middle of that temp range right now.

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I’ve had really good success using both Circle and J hooks. Some of my biggest fish have been caught on Circle hooks.

I now use J hooks for Flatheads for 2 reasons. 1 because I enjoy “setting the hook” and 2 I think the J hooks are less likely to have the hook point catch and back hook itself back into the bait.

Both are personal preferences and I still use only Circles for Channels

IMO, if at the end of the day/week/year your hookup ratio is better than 50% you are doing pretty good.

Remember, these fish your missing could be Walleyes, or Sheepshead or something too.

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Wow, lots of great responses so far! We have still been targeting the Flatheads and just the two nights ago my buddy pulled a 23 lb Flathead out of the river and we are getting lots of other bites. The line I use for now is 30 lb Berkely Big Game, but am planning on buying PowerPro in 65 lb in the spring to put on my Abu Garcia.

I did notice I had better hookups with my Creekside 8' fiberglass Catfish rod, but it was ill-equipped with a medium sized Quantum spinning reel. I'm going out today and I am going to experiment with the clicker to see if I can use that instead of tight lined.

Also, the Team Catfish hooks are similar to the Gamakatsu circles in thickness and how sharp it is...but I will buy some Gamakatsu hooks to give them a shot.

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Also, the Team Catfish hooks are similar to the Gamakatsu circles in thickness and how sharp it is...but I will buy some Gamakatsu hooks to give them a shot.

I've looked at the Team Catfish hooks but the ones I saw were straight shanked hooks. I prefer the octopus style circle hooks because they work better with a snell knot. I use the Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hooks and they are very easy to snell. I pretie all my leaders so that I don't have to fumble around in the dark trying to tie hooks.

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i have had great hook up sucess with team catfish circle hooks. i use 5/0 with my channel rod and tight line it and 8/0 with live bate and have had very few misses this way i am a firm believer in there product not to say i don't use the gamukatsu because they work great to but i personally have had better sucess with team catfish products so far but i just switched at the last to months of catfishing for the year so i will test them more next year

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I like to let them run, but not too long so the bigger fish gut it.....Always with a clicker and freespoolin' as far as setting the hook goes I just click it over and start reeling with a slight tug to set. All 8/0 Gamies for hooks.I tried Kahle hooks for a while with same sucess and have a ton of them if you want some we are close. They are worth a try too.

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That's a nice offer smeese, maybe when the Cattin' starts next spring I will take that offer up. I think I may have seen you before fishing the river, but could be mistaken.

With Khale hooks is it necessary to set the hook, or are they similar to circle hooks in that they are "self setting"? It seems the best conclusion for big Flatheads is to use big 10/0 Gamakatsu cirlce hooks or J-hooks depending on whether or not the fisherman wants to set the hook or not. I have had decent luck with Team Catfish circles but am just trying to see what other people are using.

I have many rods and reels, but I have narrowed them down to 2 setups...

Channel rig- Quantum SX30R, 8' MH Creekside Catfish series rod (fiberglass), 5/0 or 8/0 Team Catfish circle hook, and 25 lb Berkely Big Game mono line.

Flathead rig- Abu Garcia 6600C4, 7' MH Ugly Stik Catfish rod, 10/0 Gamakatsu Octopus circle hook/J-hook/Kahle hook, and 80 lb PP.

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I looked through Gamakatsu's product list and didn't see anything bigger than 8/0 for octopus circle hooks, but definitely found 10/0 octopus hooks.

My list to buy for Spring:

-Gamakatsu 10/0 Octopus hooks

-Gamakatsu 8/0 Octopus Circle hooks

-Team Catfish 8/0 Circle hooks (to add to my collection)

-Team Catfish 5/0 Circle hooks (for my Channel rig)

I already am having withdrawals from Catfishing! I cannot freaking wait for Spring...

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I'm gonna try Kahle hooks this year. John did really well with em last year, outfishing me every time we went out with a hookup percentage about twice what mine was.

Here's the 8/0 kahle hooks that I just ordered (on left) next to a 10/0, 9/0, and 8/0 gamakatsu octopus hook (moving left to right).

1234043903_IMG_0038.JPG

Here's the comparison of gap size on the 8/0 kahle (outside) versus the 10/0 octopus (inside):

1234043920_IMG_0045.JPG

Best part about these was that they were only 12 cents a piece when ordered 100 at a time from a popular auction site.

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Have fun experimenting... wink

I got a hook that works well, I stick with it. Same goes for everything in my rigging... from hook, line, swivel, to how I hook my bullhead.

If I start switching stuff up, it gets in my head. If I then miss a hookset, I start wondering... was it the new hook, how I had that bait hooked, etc. After awhile, you start to second guess your "old" way of doing things even.

Frustration and lack of confidence not a good thing. grin

Remember... 9 out of 10 "missed" hooksets probably were never fish in the first place.

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Have fun experimenting... wink

I got a hook that works well, I stick with it. Same goes for everything in my rigging... from hook, line, swivel, to how I hook my bullhead.

If I start switching stuff up, it gets in my head. If I then miss a hookset, I start wondering... was it the new hook, how I had that bait hooked, etc. After awhile, you start to second guess your "old" way of doing things even.

Frustration and lack of confidence not a good thing. grin

Remember... 9 out of 10 "missed" hooksets probably were never fish in the first place.

Sounds like a good way to never learn anything new smile

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Sounds like a good way to never learn anything new smile

Understand that... I'm just speaking from personal experience.

About 3 years ago, I experimented with darn near every hook, sinker, and hook placement in bait location you could think of to cure my "swing & a miss" dilemma. The result of that showed I was never doing anything wrong in the first place.

Guess the point is to not overthink this. Basic hook, line, and sinker. grin

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Just giving you a hard time smile

Basic message--use what you have confidence in!

I'll second that, about what you have confidence in... but also add... If your curious/wondering/or thinking about doing / trying something new.... or would this work instead,..... take action! You don't want to be looking back and thinking "What if"

And when your in this mode of thinking.... It usually means the bite is pretty slow and you would not be any worse off trying something different.

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I'm always looking for a set up that might increase my hook up percentage. One never knows what might work better for each anglers technique.

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I tried about two dozen or so different methods this year after running out of Kahle's. I wanted to use up some of the "other" stuff in my collection of terminal tackle.

I am simply convinced that the kahle's are not only cheaper than most......they perform at least as well as all of them.

It's about confidence in your gear for sure.....but why not get confident with the least expensive big game hooks on the market??

Call me crazy, but cheap is good.

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There is an old saying: "If you always do what you always did - you always get what you always got".

I like the St Croix because I can fish two lines. I guarantee you that a lot of times one of those rods is doing something I haven't tried before but always wanted to. I'll try anything if it passes the common sense test. This is the time of year to analyze what worked for you before and what did not and in the process think of new things to try or experiment with.

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I am simply convinced that the kahle's are not only cheaper than most......they perform at least as well as all of them.

I hear that!! Kahle style only way to go in my book! I won't run out of them bad boys ever!!

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Are they similar to circle hooks in that you don't need to do the traditional setting of the hook?

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