Are Circle Hooks Good for Catfishing?

Are Circle Hooks Good for Catfishing?

Are circle hooks good for catfish? Yes. Circle hooks are extremely effective for catfish. They often bite violently, and don’t hesitate to swim off with your bait. The circle hook does a great job at hooking fish when they bite this way.

Some people swear on circle hooks, and say it is the only way to catch catfish. Circle hooks will improve hook up ratio but, you can also use J hooks for catfish.

It is important that you understand how a circle hook works before you start to use them.

How do Circle Hooks Work?

Circle hooks work by applying pressure to the fish’s mouth when they swim away. The hook point is turned in, so when the fish swims off with your bait, the hook will pull into the corner of the fish’s mouth.

May I note it is not always in the corner of the mouth. Sometimes it is in the top, bottom, or even in the mouth with no clear angle. Needless to say, the hook up ratio on circle hooks is superior than J hooks, when it comes to catfish of course.

For these hooks to work properly, you need to gradually tighten your line while the fish is biting, and not sharply and swiftly set the hook. If you do not give the hook time to turn into the fish, you would just be pulling it straight of its mouth.

Once you feel that pressure of the fish, reel into it and then lift up on the rod. This takes practice at first, but I promise it is worth it in the long run.

What Size Circle Hook Should You Use for Catfish?

What size hook should you use for catfish? This really is dependent on the species you are targeting, and the size of baits you’re using.

You want to match your hook to your baits, this meaning you want enough room for your circle hook to hook the fish. It is best to leave your hook exposed as much as possible, so your hook can work all the way into the fish’s mouth.

Channel cats I usually use a small piece of bait, so I go with 5ot-6ot. I make sure to hook my baits so that the whole hook is exposed. For blue cats, since they usually get a bit bigger, and have bigger mouths, I go with 8-10 ots.

These hooks can hook my large pieces of bait, and still have room for the hook to get a good hook set. This takes time to learn sometimes, as the fish in every body of water act differently, so see what sizes work for you.

If you are missing a lot of big bites, and the fish do not seem to stay on, you may need to upsize your hook. This can be a good indication that your hook is just not catching any part of the fish’s mouth.

If you are missing many small bites, and just simply not hooking anything at all, you may need to downsize.

Small fish can be tricky, so sometimes you need to play their game and downsize your hooks.

The Best Circle Hooks for Catfish

The best circle hooks for catfish are up for debate, but here are a few of my favorites.

Gamakatsu Circle Hook

These are a great all around circle hook, lots of space and good hook up ratio. You can get them here.

Team Catfish Double Action Circle Hooks

These hooks are probably my favorite by far, the hook up ratio is great. You can find them here.

Whisker Seeker Triple Threat Circle Hooks

A newer hook for me but I love them, a lot of space for big baits. Find them here.

Do You Have to Set a Circle Hook?

People will say yes, and people will say no. If you have your rod in a rod holder, the fish will usually set the hook on itself.

The pressure of the rod in the holder, and the fish swimming away is often enough to penetrate the skin in the corner of the fishes mouth. I like to reel down on the fish as the rod is in the holder, just to keep that tension and drive the hook through if it is not already.

Here is a video of the fish hooking themselves. You can see what I mean by reeling down on the fish

Also, with the rod already in hand and the fish is biting, I reel until I feel the pressure of the fish, and then lift up. This will ensure the hook is already in the fish’s mouth, and the extra lift up is to drive the hook through the fish’s lips.

Like I said before, some say, “all you have to do is start reeling”, but sometimes those fish are finicky. They do not always take the rod down all the way and hook themselves.

You may have to pick up the rod and feel the fish. If they start slowly swimming away, you may have to apply that pressure yourself and drive that hook.

Just something to think about. Don’t be lazy and try to let the fish hook themselves every time, you may just have to improvise and do a hybrid hook set.

The Best Way to Hook Bait on Circle Hooks

The best way to hook your baits using circle hooks is to lightly skin hook them or hook them any way that keeps the hook exposed.

This is a key step in making sure circle hooks set the correct way. You do not want your bait to turn sideways and block your hook point, this has happened to me a few times.

This is one main reason I like using fresh bait. Fresh bait stays on the hook so much better than frozen bait. I can easily skin hook my bait keeping my whole hook point exposed.

If you are curious about some great live baits for catfish, check this out for a good guideline.

This helps to increase your hook up ratio, and lets that circle hook do its job.

Do Circle Hooks Work for Other Species of Fish?

Yes, circle hooks work very well for other species of fish. You just need to be able to size your hook properly to your species.

For example, if you are using circle hooks for bluegill, you are going to need a pretty small hook. If you are using circle hooks for shark fishing, you will need a pretty big hook.

Circle hooks work best when the fish you are targeting take hard runs, or bite quickly. When I say this I mean the fish that do not mind feeling pressure from rod, and simply take off with your bait.

This will help your circle hook pull into the fish’s mouth. For the faster hard running/biting fish, circle hooks are a must. The most common species I have seen them used with are sharks, catfish, striped bass, and various other saltwater game fish.

Is always important to experiment with hooks on the species that you are targeting to see what works best. I have played around with hooks for carp, and I now use circle hooks for them. They always seem to work well for me.

When Should You Not Use a Circle Hook?

If you are fishing for a species of fish that bites subtle you should probably not be using a circle hook. For example, sturgeon is a species of fish that tend to bite very subtly, so they will likely not take a run and hook themselves. You need to do a manual hook set.

Also in the winter time when the bite is very slow, fish tend to bite more subtle. This is a good time to stop using a circle hook and switch to a J hook. You are better able to pick up your rod and feel the way the fish is biting.

Any fish that does not bend your rod in half while biting, is not worth using a circle hook on. You will lose more fish than you catch.

The whole point of the circle hook is for the fish to hook itself, and without sufficient pressure from your rod, it is not going to work properly.


Circle hooks are a valuable tool in anglers tacklebox. You need to ensure you buy the right kind for your type of fishing. Remember, do not set the hook hard ans fast, but rather tighten up and lift your rod.

Circle hooks can be used with so many species, you just need to see where they work best for you.

Good luck! Remember to tune into my Youtube Channel for all my latest adventures!

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