Tune-Up Tuesday: J Hook or a Circle Hook - Tips and Techniques

Posted on Jul 31, 2020

By Dave Brown

Tune-Up Tuesday: J Hook or a Circle Hook - Tips and Techniques

What's the difference: J Hook vs Circle Hook?  

The fish reports are coming in strong, you are all geared up and ready to hit the water. Now its time to load up that tackle box.  But do you go J Hook or Circle Hook?  

In this weeks Tune Up Tuesday, we will give you the differences between a J Hook and Circle Hook as well as the benefits of each. 

Tune Up Tuesday

What's the Difference?

There are many styles of hooks to choose from. If you are about to head out on a boat and do some bait fishing, it is good to know the difference between the two main styles you will see on the water, the J Hook and Circle Hook.

The big difference in the at first glance is appearance.  The J Hook is just that, a J shape, while a Circle Hook has more of a rounded shape to it hence the name Circle.  One of these you can make the swing to set the hook, and the other you just turn the handle for the perfect hook set. 

The J Hook

 The first hook we'll talk about is the J Hook.  As I mentioned above, this hook is shaped like a J.  This is probably the most versatile and common hook you'll see while out fishing.  

The J Hook, such as the Gamakatsu Octopus Straight Eye 4X above, can be used with just about any bait out there.  From live bait, to dead chunks of bait, to trailing these behind the skirts of your trolling baits.  

If you like to make a big swing while setting the hook, the J Hook is for you.  With the J Hook, you will hook the fish anywhere.  A lot of times you will get deep hook sets within the belly of the fish.  If you plan to keep and harvest some fish for eating, this is no problem.  You feel the nibble or bite, and swing away.  Remember, fish don't have hands, so if you feel your bait move, the bait is in or around the fishes mouth. 

The downfall of a J hook is that when a fish swallows the bait, the hook is down deep.  If you plan to release fish, the mortality rate increases.  Also, a big disadvantage of the J Hook is that with a deep hook set, your line runs across the fishes teeth, increasing the chances of bite through and break off. If you use a quality leader, such as Soft Steel Fluoro-Stretch Fluorocarbon, you can increase your chances of landing the fish with the superior abrasion resistance that the fluorocarbon offers. 

The Circle Hook

The Circle Hook is a relatively new player in the game. You will find fisherman using these more and more as you walk the decks of sportfishing boats around Southern California and up and down each coast. 

Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Hook

The Circle Hook, like the Gamakatsu Octopus Circle Straight Eye 4X above, can be fished relatively the same as the J Hook as far as baits go using both live bait or chunk bait.  The big difference is in the swing...or non swing in this case.  

The Circle Hook is unique in that 99% of your hook ups will be placed in the corner of your fishes mouth.  The unique shape, with the bent n barb and more circular shape of the hook allows for this to happen.  

When fishing the Circle Hook and you feel a fish taking your bait, you don't make a big television hook set swing.  You simply turn the handle of your reel.  That's it!  When you turn the handle and the fish starts to take line, the Circle Hook simply lodges itself in the corner of the fishes mouth.  The unique shape allows it to do that.  Science, Magic?  Who know. 

The benefit of the Circle Hook is that you don't have deep hook sets in the belly of the fish.  That said, you don't have to worry about getting cut off by a fishes teeth.  


As I mentioned at the beginning, there are many hook styles with the J Hook and Circle Hook being the most prominent in the saltwater world.  Whether you are a big swinger, or just want to turn the handle, I hope that the above explanations of J and Circle Hooks helped you out. 

Do I recommend one over the other?  I'd say try both.  I love the big hook set and excitement that it brings, but knowing that I have a secure, corner of the mouth hook set is pretty darn nice and reassuring that I can lock in for the long battle and not worry about getting cut off. 

Here is a quick video with all of the talking points of both Circle Hooks and J Hooks.


See you on the water!
Dave Brown- Okuma Fishing Tackle 

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