The circle hook qualifies as a great addition to fishing safety gear. Because of its unique shape, it is safe for fish, and increases successful catch and release. It is also safe for anglers because the sharp point of the hook is turned so far around toward the shank that it dramatically decreases the possibility of anglers hooking themselves or others.
The circle fish hook has been around a long time. For example, there were similar designs crafted by early Native Americans, who probably weren’t as concerned with catch and release. However, only recently has it increased in popularity. There is no mention of the circle hook in a 1994 “Encyclopedia of Fishing” book, however by 2000, there were numerous studies beginning to appear in fisheries journals with data showing a lower mortality than standard hooks.
But the circle fishing hook can’t replace all hooks. It is mainly for bait fishing. The trick is to NOT jerk the hook when you feel a bite. Let the fish run a little bit, then just start reeling and tighten the line. As crazy as this sounds, you must let the circle hook do its job by pulling the bait away from the throat and slowly pivot in the fish’s mouth. When hooked, the fish will not be able to shake this off like standard fishing hooks and the location is almost always safely away from throat and gills and securely in the corner of the mouth.
Next time you are fishing with bait, first make sure your fishing license is up-to-date, then try a circle hook. I sometimes still struggle to keep my hook setting reflex in check. But with practice and patience, you too will be impressed when you see this piece of fishing safety gear in action.