You know I feel extremely fortunate to have dedicated a whole season specifically targeting pike on the fly. For the past 14 yrs I’ve pretty much been set in my ways with regards to my overall rod n line set up. But since moving here to Replot I’ve approached the sport differently the last 2 seasons and invested a lot of time using an array of different set ups, rigs, flies, & hooks that other pike fly-fishermen use and swear by purely because I’ve wanted to see what all the hype was about. For me its been an extremely interesting exercise and one that has given me some food for thought for next season. A topic which I’ve read a lot about over the last 2 years has been the use of circle hooks and how some chaps in the sport swear by them and so this year I’ve fished with them as often as I could. I generally use Gamakatsu SL12 big saltwater hooks but have used
Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hook (Inline Point) 6/0 as well as
Blacked Nickel Hi-Carbon Circle Hooks 6/0 every other day alternating between barbed & de-barbed. Out of the 84 fish I caught using these circle hooks, only 4 were caught in the scissors and out of the 17 I took home for the table 9 were damaged by circle hooks & out of those 9, 5 were barbed. Now is it me or are those statistics pretty bloody dismal. It begs me to think that whoever thought that circle hook will improve your chances of hooking the pike in its scissors is just talking a loada bollocks in my eyes. I wouldn’t be questioning this thought process if it was only a couple of fish I’d caught………… but come on, 4 caught in the scissors out of 84 with 9 deaths. One of the reasons for these deaths has been the fish are hooked before I’ve realize the pike was on, and the fly ends up being swallowed further to the back of a pikes mouth and ends up snagging its gill rakers and even under its tongue. Circle hooks were 1st designed for the Saltwater baiting brigade where the shapes of the mouths that are being targeted differ drastically from a pikes mouth. My one concern is the upturned hook point at the front of the hook.Although I can see the benefits when using bait with these hooks the upturned hook point doesn't allow for a brisk hook up in a pikes mouth,Which then allows the hook to move more freely withing the large cavity of a pikes mouth.
One only has to take a look at slow motion footage of pike attacking lures under water to see how wide their mouths open and how they engulf their prey/lure/fly. Circle hooks are never used to catch Barracuda or Wahoo purely because their teeth and the shape of their mouths is not conducive to the shape of the circle hooks…so why should they be good for catching pike………I have no idea. I will be using them again next season……(maybe not as often as this year ) before I make my final decision whether to scrap them altogether from my flies. I’m just glad I spent the time and stuck to a strict regimented routine with these rigs n set ups this season as it really has opened my eyes & begged me to wonder whether the so called "experts" in the sport really know what they are talking about.