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Which fish hook is best for the fisherman and the fishery?

Circle Fish Hooks versus O'Shaugnessy and Octopus Fish Hooks

There is so much hype about the relative efficiency of different fish hooks that it is hard to know which is fish hook best for the fisherman, or the fishery!

Paul's Fishing Kites has participated in large scale hook efficiency research over the last six years and has been involved in the setting of 60,000 hooks over several research projects to answer just that question.

The results make compelling reading as one hook type came out way ahead of the rest.

The the small portion of the extensive work reported on this page compares Octopus and O'Shaugnessy fish hook patterns (J shaped hooks) with Circle fish hooks.

It also tests whether tying or snelling the hook to the fishing line makes any difference to the catch rate and reports the observed incidence of gut hooking where fish have swallowed the hook. Only size 4/0 and 5/0 hooks were trialled.

The sea trials were undertaken in the New Zealand snapper fishery in the Hauraki Gulf (within 15 miles of the Americas Cup course).

This fishery is NZ's biggest inshore fishery for both commercial and recreational fishers.

tying versus snelling graph

The sea trials used four 116 hook longlines which were set daily at sunrise.

The lines were left to fish for 1-2 hours.

Longlines were used to avoid any angler bias due to the different abilities and fishing styles of different fishers.

Each set of the longlines had circle hooks on half the traces (snoods).

The other half were a combination of Octopus and O'Shaugnessy hooks.

The graph above shows the circle hooks seriously out performed the popular J shaped hooks in all size classes of snapper.

The much higher catch of undersized fish on the circle hooks is of some concern.

An article about hook snelling can be found at the following link hook snelling


Tying versus Snelling Fish Hooks

Commercial fishers in NZ use a type of circle hook (Tainawa pattern, Jap Hook) and snell their hooks to the fishing line.

Most recreational fishers tie a knot to the eye of the hook as shown in the diagram on the right.

As one would expect, the commercial fishers had it right.

Snelling improved the observed catch rate on circle hooks by a staggering 30% while gut hooking of the catch was about the same.

hook snelling
The Best Fish Hook

The snelled O'Shaugnessy hooks caught around 10% more than the tied but observed gut hooking of the catch increased from 7% to 26%

NOTE : The results for commercial circle hooks, a Tainawa Pattern, and the circle hooks in the attached diagram are shown later in the report.

The tables below give further details on the gut hooking rates and undersized fish mortality by hook type and compare tying hooks with snelling hooks to the fishing trace.

Obviously All Circle Hooks should be snelled through the eye

Hook Type
Lip hooked*
Gut Hooked*
Circle Hooks Tied
Circle Snelled Hooks
O'Shaugnessy & Octopus Tied
O'Shaugnessy & Octopus Snelled
  • Lip hooked is a fish caught in the mouth which can be released
  • Gut hooked is a fish which has swallowed the hook and is highly unlikely to survive release

Catch Rates

An equal number of each hook and knot type were fished and a vast difference in the catch rates were observed.

The snelled circle hook caught the most snapper by far (210 fish) followed by the tied circle hook (148 fish).

O'Shaugnessy & Octopus hooks whether tied or snelled caught about the same number of fish each (average 78). The snelled circle hook caught around three times as many snapper as the O'Shaugnessy & Octopus hooks.

Want to find out how to do snell knots, it is one of the strongest fishing knots around. Find out how to snell hooks here fishing knot snelling knot


Gut Hooking Rates

The circle hooks gut hooked the lowest proportion of the snapper catch. Circle snelled hooks gut hooked around 4% of the catch while tied circle hooks gut hooked 7% of the catch. However the circle snelled hooks caught around three times as many undersized fish, so will likely gut hook as many fish as O'Shaugnessy & Octopus hooks would for the same amount of fishing effort

The snelled O'Shaugnessy hooks caught around 10% more than the tied version but observed gut hooking of the catch increased from 7% to 26%

Best Hook for the Fisherman

From the observed data Circle hooks are the most efficient hook particularly when snelled to the fishing line. Learn how to tie your own snell knots here fishing knot snell hook

Best Hook for the Fishery

O'Shaugnessy & Octopus Tied but only because they caught so few fish.

Best for the Fishery and the Fisherman

The ultimate fish hook is one which maintains a good catch rate, reduces the catch of undersized fish and prevents gut hooking of the catch.

Paul of Paul's Fishing Kites took the best hook from all of the hook research and fitted a wire appendage to the back of it (see diagram right).

The result is a hook which prevents fish from swallowing the hook, reduces the catch of undersized snapper for the same effort and and maintains an excellent catch rate of big fish.

It is probably the most researched fish hook in the world!

A full scientific report on all of the trials has been published here.

Knot Snell knot snell

A circle hook with wire appendage fitted to the back and held in place by the knot snell.

The graphs in the table below show the new hooks caught 507 snapper from 1740 hooks run without guthooking one fish under 30cm. The O'Shaugnessy & Octopus hooks caught only 317 fish from 1740 hooks run at the same time and gut hooked 47 snapper under 30cm

If you want give the NewTARGET SNAPPER HOOKS a try out or find out more click HERE for secure online ordering


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