Because circle hooks help to significantly increase fish survival rates when practicing catch and release, they have been incorporated into live bait regulations for many states. The difference between a circle hook and a J-hook is that the circle hook is shaped so that the point is turned perpendicular towards the shank instead of the point being parallel to the shank as it is with a J-hook.

circle hook and j hook

Here are the five benefits of using circle hooks when practicing catch and release fishing:

  • Circle hooks can be used in both freshwater and saltwater fisheries to cause less harm to catch and release species.
  • Anglers don’t need to set the hook when using a circle hook. Circle hooks will set themselves in the jaw or lip of the fish, as long as you let the fish take the bait and reel at a steady pace while keeping light pressure on the line.
  • Circle hooks come in a wide variety of sizes from a tiny size 32 to size 19/0. This means they can be used on any species that is caught on hook and line. When buying circle hooks, consider the size of the fish you are targeting and the bait that will be used.
  • Circle hooks prevent gut hooked fish since the shape does not allow them to get caught in the gut cavity or throat of the fish. The hook generally slides toward the point of resistance and embeds itself in the corner of the fish’s mouth.
  • Non-stainless steel circle hooks will dissolve or deteriorate over time if they happen to stay in the fish.

snook caught on a circle hookKids and beginning anglers should use circle hooks whenever possible as they are learning to get a “feel” for the bite. Always be sure to check the fishing regulations specific to your state so that you are aware of seasons, sizes, limits and gear requirements.


  1. I switched to circle hooks about 9 years ago when I started coming to Florida 2-3 times a year and it’s the best change up I’ve ever made. They make snook, redfish, & snapper catching & releasing so easy. BTW, this picture looks like it was taken from our dock on the Myakka River just south of Venice. There’s a narrow island just about same distance from our dock as in photo. Catch snook from dock every day but more fun when we get out in the boat & head down to Charlotte Harbor for tarpon. Amazing game fish, what a fight they put up. Can’t wait to get my husband down to Florida in January to have some more fun!

  2. A very good read on circle hooks from J hooks. I’ve been fishing for years but always wondered how I can prevent these little bass from getting my shakeyhead so deep in their throat. I never keep any fish…all for fun for me.

  3. I just recently starting using Circle hooks esp when using live bait like small bluegill. I’ve only caught a white crappie and I was using a 5/0 circle n it hooked him right in the top lip and still had my bait living. The only J hook that I really prefer is Tru-Turn hooks, I’ve use a size 8 to catch bluegill and so far (knock on wood), I haven’t had one swallow the hook, usually they end up either in the corner of mouth or in the top of the mouth n come out the nostril. I do have other J hooks, mainly EWG Worm Hooks for Texas rigging my soft plastics but I picked up a pk of 1/0 & 2/0 Tru-Turn to see how they do compared to other J hooks.

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