Circle hooks v J hooks in US study

ACCORDING to a study in the US, anglers using circle hooks to prevent injuries to billfish may lessen their chances of successfully hooking other gamefish. 

Research conducted by North Carolina State University and published at has shown circle hooks make it more difficult to catch non-billfish.

“We wanted to know whether circle hooks are effective as conventional J hooks when angling for non-billfish – such as yellowfin tuna – in North Carolina waters,” says Paul Rudershausen, a research assistant in NC State’s biology department and lead author of a paper describing the research.
The research team worked with charter boat operators who were experienced with use of circle hooks to look at the efficacy of circle hooks versus J hooks when trolling offshore with rod and reel.

Studies have found that circle hooks are less likely to mortally wound billfish when caught and as a result, America’s National Marine Fisheries Service instituted regulations requiring anglers in Atlantic billfish tournaments to use circle hooks when using natural baits. J hooks are still permitted if an angler is using purely artificial bait.

Moves to expand circle hook regulations outside billfish tournaments led the researchers to determine whether circle hooks would be as effective as J hooks when fishing for non-billfish species. They say the answer is no.

The researchers looked at the relative effectiveness of circle and J hooks for three popular sporting fish: dolphinfish (often called mahi mahi in the Pacific), yellowfin tuna and wahoo. “Circle hooks were roughly 60 to 70 percent as effective at catching these three species as J hooks,” Rudershausen says.

The researchers found that the fish would still strike at the bait, but that the hook was significantly less likely to set in the mouth of the fish. However, when the hook did set, anglers were just as likely to be able to get the fish to the boat.

The researchers now hope to assess the potential economic impact of any expansion of circle hook regulations in the US.

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