As far as I can tell, MN DNR’s Tom Jones has published the only scientific study specifically testing circle hooks on walleye…ever? It was a small sample size, but here’s what he found when comparing them to traditional “J-hooks” on Mille Lacs….
> “…circle hooks killed 12% of fish landed whereas J-hooks killed 27%.”
But NOT how/why you might think…. 🤔
> …not because circle hooks don’t gut-hook walleyes – as many of their promoters claim. In fact, circle hooks gut-hook walleyes at almost the same rate as traditional hooks….
> After letting the fish take the bait for 20 seconds – a length of time intended to maximize the likelihood fish began to swallow the hook, Jones instructed anglers to start reeling in – the proper technique for circle hooks. Anglers did the same for J-hooks, except after 20 seconds they set the hook with a yank of the rod as they normally would.
What they found:
> Anglers were about 15% LESS successful in hooking a fish with circle hooks than J-hooks.
> Once hooked, both hooks were equally successful at keeping fish on the line so they could be landed.
> Circle hooks deep-hooked 44% of the fish, slightly fewer than the traditional hooks, which gut-hooked 53% – but that difference wasn’t statistically significant.
> The internal injury rate for circle hooks was lower than J-hooks, and the damage was often less severe – less likely to be fatal to the fish.
> Bottom line: Circle hooks would have likely killed 12% of the fish that took the bait, compared to 27% for traditional hooks.
People miss way more fish with circle hooks. So circle hooks “kill” less walleyes simply because folks catch less fish when using ‘em.
When walleyes have swallowed the hook: Circle hooks apparently do less damage because you’re supposed to do a steady, reeling hookset…instead of swinging for the fences and potentially ripping their insides out.
It’s pretty interesting to debunk the whole gut-hooking myth…. Buuuut regardless of what style of hook you use, if 12% or 27% of the fish you catch are dying, then you’re taking WAY too long to set the hook…. 🤷♂️ Just saying.