Difference between a traditional J-hook (left) and a circle hook (right)
Traditional Maori bone matau, or fishhook. The shape avoids stress concentrations which could break the bone.[1] The hole on the underside is for attaching bait.[2]

A circle hook is a type of fish hook which is sharply curved back in a circular shape. It has become widely used among anglers in recent years because the hook generally catches more fish and is rarely swallowed.[3] Since the circle hook catches the fish on the lips at the corner of its mouth, it usually decreases the mortality rates of released fish as compared to J-hook (like O'Shaughnessy or Octopus hooks) which are often swallowed by the fish, causing damage to the gills or vital organs.[4] The circle hook's shape allows it to only hook onto an exposed surface, which in the case of a fish means the corner of its mouth. The fish takes the baited hook and swallows it, and as the hook is reeled in, it is safely pulled out of the fish until it reaches the mouth. At this point it will catch the corner of the mouth, resulting in fewer gut-hooked fish.

It is important not to perform a traditional hookset when a fish bites; rather, just begin reeling in. Performing a typical hookset while using a circle hook often results in the hook being pulled out of the fish altogether.

Studies have shown that circle hooks do less damage to billfish than the traditional J-hooks, yet they are just as effective for catching billfish. This is good for conservation, since it improves survival rates after release.[5][6]

Difference between J-Hook and circle hook

J-hook has a rounded throat, an upward-facing point, a straight medium-sized shank that is slightly longer than the point, and a small brazed eye. Circle hooks have a circular bend, a medium-length shank, and a sharp inward-facing point.[7]


  1. ^ Paulin, Chris (2012). "The traditional Mäori 'internal-barb' fishhook" (PDF). Tuhinga: Records of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. 23: 1–8. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
  2. ^ Object: Matau (fish hook) Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  3. ^ Prince ED, Ortiz M and Venizelos A (2002) "A comparison of circle hook and" J" hook performance in recreational catch-and-release fisheries for billfish" Archived 2012-02-17 at the Wayback Machine American Fisheries Society Symposium 30: 66–79.
  4. ^ Cooke SJ and Suski CD (2004) "Are circle hooks an effective tool for conserving marine and freshwater recreational catch-and-release fisheries?"[permanent dead link] Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 14: 299–326. doi:10.1002/aqc.614
  5. ^ Prince ED, Ortiz M, and Venizelos A (2002) "A Comparison of Circle Hook and “J” Hook Performance in Recreational Catch-and-Release Fisheries for Billfish" Archived 2012-02-17 at the Wayback Machine American Fisheries Society Symposium 30, pp. xxx–xxx.
  6. ^ Prince ED, Snodgrass D, Orbesen ES (2007). "Circle hooks,'J' hooks and drop‐back time: a hook performance study of the south Florida recreational live‐bait fishery for sailfish, Istiophorus platypterus" (PDF). Fisheries Management and Ecology. 14: 173–182. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2400.2007.00539.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2012-12-19.
  7. ^ "Most Popular 5 Types of Fishing Hooks & Their Use Explained". Reelsbay. 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2022-03-29.


External videos
video icon Basic Fishing Gear : Circle Fishing Hooks YouTube
video icon Best way to rig a lure with a circle hook YouTube