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No More Trebles

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I'm getting tired of dealing with pike that have been deep-hooked and either have been broken off, or returned still with the wire trace disappearing down the throat by people obviously unable to deal with deep-hooked pike.


Obviously education aimed at avoiding deep-hooking, and dealing competently with deep-hooked fish simply isn't working well enough.


Fishing in a way that leaves trebles in fish simply isn't acceptable, leaving them to almost certainly die, probably slowly, either because trebles have effectively stiched their gullet closed, or unengaged hooks on a treble prevent subsequent meals from reaching the stomach.


So we need to find another way to guide newcomers to pike-fishing which will allow them bank most fish that take their bait, even if their bite detection is lacking, and considerably reduce the dangers to the pike.


For the last couple of years I've been using circle hooks when livebaiting mackerel and pouting for bass, and my confidence has increased to the extent that I'm also using circles (size 4/0) when using other baits.


The way that circle hooks work is that they will usually only start to engage when they encounter an 'edge', such as the rim of a fish's mouth, but will travel a 'tube' (such as the gullet) without engaging, meaning that nearly all fish are hooked in the scissors.


(Try making a tube of your fist, and pulling the hook through by pulling down - you'll see what I mean. In fact I find them a bit too ready to engage with the 'edge' created by a finger!)


Something difficult to get used to is that striking simply pulls the hook out of the fish's mouth without it engaging. You have to slowly take in slack, then gently increase pressure until the hook finds its hold.


The question is, will it work for pike?


And to answer that question, I've decided to user circle hooks for most of my piking this season.


The first day out was on the Medway at Allington, where I put a pike rod out, but was really after a large stripey on another rod.


Keeping half an eye out on the pike float, I was taken aback to find it had disappeared from under the rod tip, and instinctively lifted the rod as I would when using trebles.


Of course the hook was pulled out of the pike's mouth without engaging :(


Disappointed, I went down to the Rother at Newenden today (KAPS waters).


The river was moving slowly but very coloured, the day was sunny and a bit too hot for piking, but I had only bought along my deadbaiting gear and some sprats so I was commited to sitting and waiting.


A couple of hours passed by, as I revelled in just being there.


A cricket made friends, joining me on the unhooking mat I was sitting upon (covering the stinging nettles!), a hawk hovered above the river further downstream, a grass-snake swam sinously in front of me (disappearing as I reached for my camera), then a sudden flurry of fish leaped from the water around one of my floats.


The float stayed still, so I tightened the line and twitched the bait.


The float settled again.......... then started to move.


I waited (I wanted to see what the result would be for a strike delayed too long).


The float moved out to the centre of the river, and I began to take in the slack, making sure that pressure was applied in the opposit direction to that the pike was moving.


I felt the resistance and gently increased the pressure.


The pike pulled back and suddenly it was off like a rocket.


The reel conceded line against a fairly tight clutch as the pike went off on the first of three powerful runs.


Eventually the pike came to the top, then treated me to a spectacular display of tail-walking, leaving the water completely.


That answered one worrying question, the hook-hold was secure :)



Eventually banked, I estimated the weight at around 13lbs, and the circle hook was in the scissors where it was supposed to be, despite the delayed engagement.






I was able to remove the hook without opening the pike's mouth.



The next fish came a couple of hours later, again a delayed engagement of the hook, and again hooked in the scissors.


This fish around 7lb, very lively.





It was the liveliness that was my undoing :(



In trying to remove the hook I got gill-raked as the fish thrashed around :( :(


And this time had to remove the hook by opening the mouth and using forceps.





The third fish (around 10lb) took the hook down deep, and I found it engaged right at the back of the mouth.


(I assume that it took it back deeper but being a circle it engaged only when it emerged from the gullet).



What was interesting was that, although I was able to remove the hook easily using long-nosed pliers, if the hook had been left in situ, I don't believe that it would have cause a major problem for the long term welfare of the fish, unlike a set od trebles left in the same place.


Given these results, I'm confident that circles significantly reduce the dangers caused by poor bite detection and delayed striking.


However, no more delayed engagement for me (will that result in fewer hook-ups?)



So, a succesful day piking, and a very successful first day of experimentation using circle hooks for pike.


Too early to draw conclusive conclusions, but my confidence in using circles for deadbaiting has been boosted considerably.


I'll report on future results on this thread, and if anyone else fancies taking part in the experiment, I'd be interested to hear their experiences.


The circle hooks I was using were size 2/0 s, attached to wire traces (I believe that it's important to allow the hook to move freely on the wire, ie with a small loop at end of the trace that will not interefere with the hooks movement as it swivels to engage in the scissors - try to tighten up against the direction of the pike's travel so that the hook has to swing around the 'edge').


Although more expensive, it's worth investing in good quality circle hooks which have a very sharp point.


Circles were originally developed for longlining, with hundreds if not thousands strung out on a line, and where quality isn't so important, but price is. Unfortunately a lot of circles manufactured for the commercial longliners find their way onto the recreational market. Cheap maybe, but they are a poor bargain that will only result in hooks not engaging properly when used for pike fishing.

Edited by Leon Roskilly

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I agree Leon, its no secret I hate treble hooks.


I've been using circles for perch and found the to be excellent! One thing though, although I reckon you can leave takes longer you really don't need to! It is quite hard to unlearn striking though :P


Below is a post of mine from last winter about using circles for perch:


Some of you may remember I found I recently found a great bit of the Thames whilst perching, all I found was pike however! I got to thinking about supple wire due to the number of pike and circle hooks as Thames perch can be quite tricky. One perch might take the bait but not swallow it so a strike doesn't hook the fish, whereas the next fish might swallow the bait immediately making deep hooking a constant worry. So after some good advice I brought myself some thin and supple wire as insurance against the pike and some circle hooks as insurance against deep hooking. So back I went to the Thames, this time with Anderoo in tow, unfortunately Mother Nature had decided to flood the Thames yet again and all the fish had gone!


Well after weeks of rain finally it stopped, the Thames returned to a normalish level and it got really cold. Personally I love really cold weather, I find it really seems to get the perch feeding! So today off I went back to the same stretch hopeful that the river would now be clear enough to make livebaiting for perch a realistic proposition. Well the river looked in great shape, in this particular stretch I often find the perch ten yards off the main river in a (quite big) side stream. The main river was fairly clear but pushing through and with a bit of luck pushing the perch into the comparatively slack side stream.


Well after a late start and once I'd caught some livebaits I had 1.5 hours of light left. Well the long and short of it, I wasn't disappointed! I went on to have perhaps the best days fishing I've ever had! I caught 11 perch including 8 over 2lbs!


Here is the first '2' (2lb 2oz)



and a 2lb 8oz fish



Then I caught a real biggie, I realised it was possibly the biggest perch I'd ever seen. It was, and before I'd taken off the weight of the sling I thought I'd caught my first ever 3! Somehow the sling seemed to have got heavier since the last few fish so I settled on the rather frustratingly funny weight of 2lb 15.5oz. Despite trying to catch a '3' for almost 10 years I had to laugh as to how close I'd got!


The fish:



The session was just amazing every cast and the float just sailed away and a fin perfect big perch was on the end (well except a few jack pike). I had perch chasing the hooked fish to the net. And one of the most memorable sights, a perch missed my bleak livebait which then came up to the surface followed by a mid 2lb perch with took it a gently as a carp taking a pedigree chum mixer. It was amazing, I could see every stripe with its dorsal held erect out of the clear water!


So once it was too dark to see the float anymore I packed up having caught a few pike, 3 perch between 1.5 and 2lbs and then perch of 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, two 2.8s, a 2.10, and the 2.15.5oz. What a session!


Back to the rig etc:


As I mentioned earlier I was using some a light and very supple 7 stand wire used for making jewelry. This performed beautifully, I'm certain the perch didn't mind it as almost every cast ended with a fish. Of course it withstood the pikes teeth too. I'm fairly happy I've found the answer to the problem of pike taking livebaits for perch. Its worth mentioning that it is only 5lb breaking stain and probably wouldn't be a good idea anywhere with large pike.


Finally as I mentioned I used circle hooks, the again performed amazingly! Every fish was hooked nicely in the lips or scissors, you can see the hook in this pic:




Whats more I could crush down the barb making unhooking an absolute doddle but due to the shape of the hook none of the livebaits could drop off as they might on a normal hook.


This was one of those rare days where everything just works brilliantly, conditions are perfect and the fish play ball, oh and as you might guess I'm going back tomorrow ;) ;P

Edited by Richard Capper
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I was thinking along the same lines Richard, with perch being almost like bass but with stripes.


(I'm never sure just how long to leave a take on a worm, with bigger perch wolfing the whole thing down but the smaller ones grabbing the tail and making off with it as they are chased by others. Circles could reduce the stress of getting it exactly right)


What size circles are you using for perch?

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I was thinking along the same lines Richard, with perch being almost like bass but with stripes.


(I'm never sure just how long to leave a take on a worm, with bigger perch wolfing the whole thing down but the smaller ones grabbing the tail and making off with it as they are chased by others. Circles could reduce the stress of getting it exactly right)


What size circles are you using for perch?


Er they'll be 4s or something similar but I'm not certain! I haven't used them yet this season, I'll have a look in my perch tackle and will let you know!



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I was thinking along the same lines Richard, with perch being almost like bass but with stripes
I've often thought that myself, Leon. It's hardly surprising though, both are Perciforme Edited by corydoras

The problem isn't what people don't know, it's what they know that just ain't so.
Vaut mieux ne rien dire et passer pour un con que de parler et prouver que t'en est un!
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You can safely use microbarb or crushed barb circles so that hook removal is dead easy.


I can\'t remember the last time I used any hook pattern other than a circle when bait fishing for critters with a bony mouth ridge. Not so good for carp though.


I use everywhere from #8 up to 6/0 depending on fish and the size bait I\'m using.


I think I hook a slightly lower percentage but

- gut hooking is pretty much a thing of the past

- a hooked fish almost never gets off.


I\'ve tried at least a half-dozen circle hook variations but have always come back to the Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hook and have pretty much quit trying any others. I prefer the red ones since I think they attract more bites.


Catfish anglers in the States have moved to using almost nothing else. Ask Andy Burgess how the #8 worked for the 6-7 lb cat he caught when the lads were visiting. We weren\'t expecting any fish that size and #8 is good for bluegills but a frisky kitty decided a cricket looked like a perfect snack.


Offset (left photo) or straight (right photo)

GOHOP.JPGgama_inline_red.jpg | i313207sn01.jpg

" My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!" - Harry Truman, 33rd US President

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For the last couple of years I've been using circle hooks when livebaiting mackerel and pouting for bass, and my confidence has increased to the extent that I'm also using circles (size 4/0) when using other baits.


That's interesting.


I've experimented with circles and I'm always interested to hear what others have found when using them for bass. How were you mounting the lives before hand; and what made you switch to circles? Are you hooking more, or less, bass than before? What other bass baits have you used with circles; and what problems have you encountered with them?


For what it's worth, I don't fish for pike very often but never use trebles when I do. Most of my pike are caught whilst fishing for perch, with a single size 4 conventional J hook. Even though I don't use wire, (whilst perch fishing), I land a large percentage of them. More often than not, they are hooked in the corner of the mouth. Quite often they are hooked on the outside of the mouth by the scissors. Not sure how that happens, but it does quite frequently. If I specifically target pike I use a wire trace, but stick with the single size 4 hook.



Don't drink and drive.


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Nice post Leon.


I have a few questions though. So instead of using 2 trebles are you using just a single circle hook? I'm guessing hook placement isn't as important as when using trebles due to the decreased chance of deep hooking but what is the best way to hook the bait? Finally, what make is your landing net? I've been thinking about buying a wider mesh net for my piking and that looks perfect.



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If I ever take up pike fishing I will be sure to use the circle hooks. I can't stand deep hooking fish, if I do that I usually pack in fishing for a few weeks because of the guilt. Thanks for the advice

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