ARE YOU HOOKED YET?



  —  SALTWATER FLY FISHING, HOOKS — 

TECHNICAL THINKING 

🐬 Saltwater fly fishing is typically done with heavier tackle than that which is used for freshwater or Bass/ Trout fishing, both to handle the larger, more powerful fish, and to accommodate the casting of larger and heavier flies.  Salt water fly fishing typically employs the use of wet flies resembling baitfish, crabs, shrimp and other forage. 

However, saltwater fish can also be caught with poppers and other surface lure similar to those used for freshwater bass fishing, though much larger in the flats and shallows, and low tides  Saltwater species sought and caught with fly tackle include: bonefish, redfish or red drum, permit, snook, spotted sea trout, tuna, dorado, aka mahi-mahi, sailfish, tarpon, striped bass, salmon, giant trevally and marlin. 

Offshore saltwater species are usually attracted to the fly by “ chumming” with small baitfish, or "teasing" the fish to the boat by trolling a large hookless lure (Billfish are most often caught using this method).

Many saltwater species, particularly large, fast and powerful fish, are not easily slowed down by “ palming” the hand on the reel.  With braided line slowing the fish by squeezing the line can result in a nasty ragged bloody cut…

Instead, a purpose-made saltwater reel for these species must have a powerful drag system and Salt water will ruin anything, so rinse your reels after use and keep well lubed. 

Furthermore, saltwater reels purpose-made for larger fish must be larger, heavier, and corrosion-resistant; a typical high-quality HD saltwater reel can range up to $500.00 or more. 


🐬  IMPORTANT:   CORROSION-RESISTANT EQUIPMENT —  is key to durability in all types of saltwater fishing, regardless of the size and power of the target species. Rinsing gear in fresh water is essential after usage.  Reels with removable spools have advantages, but expensive in some cases.

Saltwater fly fishing is most often done from a boat, either a shallow draft flat boat is used to pursue species such as bonefish, redfish, permit and tarpon in shallow waters, or from larger offshore boats for pursuing sailfish, tuna, dorado, marlin and other pelagic’s and most popular methodology may be done from shore, such as wading flats for bonefish or redfish or surf fishing for striped bass and other assorted fish. 

Typically, most trout fly fisherman need to practice new skills to catch saltwater fish on a fly rod. Ocean fish are usually harder to catch. They can be extremely spooky, and much larger. Trout fisherman need to practice with at least an 8 weight fly rod and accurately cast the line 30–90 feet if they are going to have success—particularly in the flat areas fishing for bonefish, redfish, permit, tarpon, jacks and more.  They can be spooky but when they hit, it’s an explosion.

Hooks for saltwater flies must also be extremely durable and corrosion resistant. Most saltwater hooks are made of stainless steel but the strongest (though less corrosion resistant) hooks are of high-carbon steel. Typically, these hooks vary from size #8 to #2 for bonefish and smaller nearshore species, to size #3/0 to #5/0 for the larger offshore species.


CIRCLE HOOKS 


🐬  Hooks  —  Information Gleaned from Favorite Sites From the US, EU, AU — 

Just about any of the popular recreational species that will swallow a live or dead bait can be successfully targeted using circle hook patterns. The only scenario where I wouldn’t recommend using circle hooks is when chasing members of the razor gang such as Spanish mackerel, wahoo or spotted mackerel as these hit and run merchants tend to slash at baits to disable them rather than swallow them whole. Stick to super sharp “J” hook patterns if you want the best results chasing these slashing speedsters.

There are two basic types of circle hook patterns available – offset and non-offset or inline hooks. Research has shown that non-offset or inline circle hooks provide the highest percentage of mouth hooked fish and consequently all the billfish tournaments that I know of these days require the use of inline circle hooks when fishing baits to maximise the survival rates of released billfish.  

Resourceful anglers have incorporated circle hooks into almost every saltwater presentation over the past 25 years.  From their modern origins in the longline tuna and Pacific Northwest halibut fisheries to their explosion across all fisheries in the past decade, circle hooks have flooded the market like a new-moon tide on a Savannah salt marsh.

The key to successful circle-hook fishing with natural bait is picking the proper hook, and our circle hook size chart below should help. Circles range in size, gauge and style, with enough variance to intimidate even the most experienced angler. Consider these important aspects of the best circle hooks before rigging your next bait.

🐬  Back To The Man-Cave  —  After I had read all about circle hooks and realized I had about 150 of them in  x/0 sizes, I realized they were offset hooks and had barbs.   That was not acceptable to me under the new Florida Conservation Guidelines and Tournament use. My pack that holds snelled rigs on site,   I use was first and 3-4 of each size are now barbless,  and no offset. I don’t drag all with me, stuff on boats and cars rust,  so I do a group at a time as needed.

STEP ONE:  A small ordinary bench vise was mated to my bench, it held a small hobby sized vise used on drill press’s in its jaws worked wonders when I wanted to straighten the offset hook.   

To protect my hands,  I used slit round tubes commonly known and used as shear pins in various sizes to apply the leverage to the shank and voila — straight:   I had a box of them in all sizes and they fit over the shank and eye of the hook. And so far no fingers got stabbed in the course of hook mending.

Hooks bend easily till you get to tuna and marlin size. just apply steady pressure in stages.  The hook comes straight. It was straight when it was made and bent in the last stage anyway.  It worked so easy I took all my Aberdeens and Limerick's and performed the same process.  I fish in-line and barbless now.

STEP TWO:  One can use small flat pliers, no ridges to flatten the barb.   Alternative: I used my Dremel tools and a small cylindrical fine grind head to remove the barb and polish the barb area, either plan works.

STEP THREE:  I used clear polish ( Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Is popular) on the barb ground area ( very small) and on the full snelled hooks both on the hook snell and the knot on the loop end.

STEP FOUR:  I have my own snell formula.  I will soon share it.  It’s a power shell with a different twist.



🐬  
Circle Hook Size  —  A true circle hook is engineered so the point is at a 90-degree angle or less to the shank of the hook — that single attribute causes predictable hook-sets in the corner of the jaw. But getting the right-size hook might play an even larger role in whether your bait swims naturally or the hook sets true.

Trokar TK5  —  “The difference in sizing between manufacturers can be drawn all the way back to some of the original hook makers,” says Matt Gray, category manager of Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle. “Some manufacturers base the size on gap size, while others base it on the overall length of the hook.”   When live-baiting, match the size of your hook to your baitfish, he says. A hardy baitfish, such as a blue runner or jack, can handle a thicker-gauge hook without killing the bait.
 

🐬  In-Line or Offset Circle Hooks  —  Offset circle hooks defeat the purpose of a conservation-crafted hook because of their tendency to lodge deep in the throat of a fish.

“Use in-line hooks for situations where conservation is an issue,” says Syd Rives, of Gamakatsu hooks. “In-line circle hooks don’t gut-hook fish as often as offset circles, so they are a good choice for tournament fishermen and other recreational fishing, where the angler is not keeping his or her catch.”

Nonoffset circles are definitely picking up steam in terms of popularity. “The Big Eye Circle is perfect for larger fish, bottomfishing, deep-dropping and trolling,” says Rives. “Gamakatsu’s HD Live Bait Circle is a good chunk-bait hook for larger fish like tuna and bottom species.”

Some circle hooks have offset eyes for a snelled connection that doesn't gut-hook species, such as Gamakatsu's Octopus Inline Circle and VMC's Sport Circle. "If I'm drifting baits for tarpon in Key West harbor, I always snell to an offset-eye circle hook," says Weinhofer. "A snelled hook seems to drift back truer with the chum and leads to a solid hook-set."


🐬  Gamakatsu   —  “The thinner your hook, the better your penetration and the faster the hook will set itself,” says Cyrille Mathieu, VMC Hooks’ vice president of sales and marketing. But not all species are caught on light-wire hooks; different species and tactics require distinctive styles of circles.

“We offer a wide variety of circle hooks,” says Mathieu, “from fine-wire to 6x-strong wire gauges, smaller and larger hook gaps, offset and nonoffset hook shanks, and even regular and large hook eyes.”

The different characteristics of a hook hint at how the bait is rigged and what species it can handle. Giant marlin often require a 6x-strong, heavy-duty 16/0 circle hook such as the VMC 9788, says Mathieu.85.

🐬  Mustad —  Demon Circle Ex-Fine —  Short-shank circle hooks interfere less with the bait presentation, while longer-shank hooks are used with larger baits. Light-wire hooks are ideal for stealthy and realistic ­presentations, such as when you’re casting delicate live shrimp.

The heavier the gauge of the hook, the more drag pressure the hook can handle. However, a thicker-gauge hook shank requires a larger bait that can stay alive and will present properly. Heavy-gauge or larger-size hooks often come with larger hook-eye openings to handle thicker leader, wire or cable material. 

Wide-gap circle hooks offer the best hookup ratios, which explains why many billfish anglers use them when tournament sailfishing. But wide gaps are also more likely to bend or snap under a heavy load. The best bet is to find a happy medium that suits your style of fishing.


  • So it makes sense that hook materials must be strong yet able to rust from a fish mouth. Most manufacturers now produce their hooks from premium high-carbon or Vanadium steel.

  • Sometimes a black-nickel finish is added to increase sharpness and encourage corrosion, depending on the manufacturer. In fact, some ­manufacturers, such as VMC Hooks, recommend that stainless steel and other highly noncorrosive ­surfaces be banned as finishes because they inhibit rusting.

  • Saltwater, by boat,  deep or pier fishing is a different set of rules.  Mostly seasonal and size limitations, you need the state chart or a lawyer to figure the rules and limits on time and size.  My conventional fishing gear like spinning and larger heavier casting reels, usually live bait and some lures work for that in the inner-coastal, bridges and offshore. 

  • Be aware of the area you will be fishing and local fish you might catch. Know the regulations for your target species and make sure you have all the proper gear. Determining ahead of time which fish you are going to keep versus which fish you will release is an easy step to take.  
    Knowing which fish he plans to release helps to get those fish back in the water quickly, increasing survival and benefitting the fish population. 

  •  Knotless, rubber-coated net – These support the weight of the fish while removing a minimal amount of slime, which protects the fish from infection.

  • Barbless circle hooks – Are 90% more likely to hook a fish in the mouth. Hooking a fish in the mouth reduces internal harm and decreases de-hooking time, getting the fish back in the water faster and increasing its chance of survival.

  •  De-hooking tool – Allows anglers to quickly release their catch while minimizing fish and self injuries and handling time. Just take the hemostat and crush the barb, then if you hoof your face it will be easy to remove.

  •  Correct weight tackle – Using tackle heavy enough to land a fish quickly is important so fish are less exhausted and more able to avoid predators upon release.

  • If you are new to fishing, this might be the first time you have heard about barbless hooks and you may not know exactly what they are. Barbless hooks are simply hooks that do not have the small v-shaped metal piece at the pointed end of the hook that points in the opposite direction of the sharp pointed tip. 

  • Some hooks can be purchased without the barb, but you can also crimp down the barb on any standard barbed hook using a pair of flat-nosed pliers to make it barbless. Since it's important to help conserve our fish populations for future generations, more and more anglers are making the decision to use barbless fishing hooks instead of barbed hooks. 
  • Hooks without barbs are far better to use for catch and release fishing because they greatly reduce the chance of causing injury the fish. This may not matter if the fish is within the state regulations and you plan to take it home for dinner, but it can make a difference in the survival rates of any fish that you release.  Hooks without a barb tend to cause less injury to the fish because they can be removed more easily. 
  • You can return the fish to the water quicker since barbless hooks allow you to remove the hook faster. In most situations, you won't need to use pliers or a de-hooking device.   Barbless fishing hooks are safer for anglers to use. As you might imagine, a hook without a barb will be much easier to remove from your skin or the skin of another angler in case of an accident.
    Hooks with barbs create resistance that can make it harder for the point to penetrate. Hooks without a barb don't create that resistance, so hooking the fish can be easier with barbless fish hooks.
    Fishing regulations may occasionally require the use of barbless hooks while fishing for certain species or on specific waterways when additional conservation measures are needed to protect the fish population.

  • Treble hooks without barbs can be used to replace the treble hooks with barbs that often come attached to most lures. It doesn't matter if you want to use a topwater hard bait, crank-bait, or spoon, most barbed treble hooks can easily be replaced using a pair of split ring pliers. 
    Dremel tools make a circular diamond wheel that reshapes treble hooks beautifully and polishes.

  • Make sure to reel the fish in as quickly as possible especially a big one, by managing the drag tension. Horsing a trout into the boat can usually result in additional tearing of the area they are hooked, especially around the mouth.   Work them in as they tire and keep tension on the line to prevent a hook release.

  • Anglers should always use a net for landing medium-to-large trout and dip/wet any measuring board with water before laying the fish on the board.    Avoid removing large fish from water. If you must remove them, support their weight horizontally to prevent damage to their internal organs.  And take pictures of your catch while it is in the water. This puts less stress on the fish and the fish will look bigger.

  •  If a net is needed to land or control a fish, always use a knotless, rubber-coated landing net.   Return the fish to the water as quickly as possible.   One of the major factors in the survival of a released fish is how much time it spends out of the water.   Be sure to wet your hands before handling a fish to prevent damaging its protective slime coating. 

  • Don’t use gloves or towels, as this will remove the protective slime.   Never hold a fish by the gill cover or eyes and hold fish horizontally to support their internal organs.  If possible, keep the fish in the water while removing the hook.  Gripping devices can be effective for controlling and handling fish, especially ones with sharp teeth. Grip behind the lower lip and support the weight of the fish in a horizontal position.   
    If the fish has swallowed the hook, cut the line as close to the hook as possible. Attempting to remove the hook can do more harm than good. Use non-stainless-steel hooks since they eventually dissolve or pass naturally.
     Place the fish in the water and allow it to swim away on its own; do not toss the fish back.  If fish is in shock, 
    Revive fish that do not swim away immediately or appear lethargic.    
    Place fish in the water head first – it is easiest to hold one hand on the bottom lip or tail and one hand under the belly of the fish.    Move the fish forward in the water – this allows the water to be flow through the mouth and over the gills. The fish must face the direction of water flow.  

  • Use a figure-8 motion to move the fish forward constantly, ensuring water continues to flow over the gills. Never jerk fish back and forth, since this action prevents water from properly flowing through the gills.  For fish caught in deep water with signs of barotrauma, use a descending device to return fish to depth or vent the fish by inserting a sharpened, hollow tube at a 45-degree angle, one inch behind the base of the pectoral fin.

  • The steps you take on the water today can help positively impact the future of your Florida fish populations! Dropping temperatures don’t have to mean a drop in the survival of the fish you release. To learn more about proper catch-and-release techniques, visit     MyFWC.com/FishHandling



*-07/16/2022