Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Circle hooks for Perch???

Having a ravenous pack of small perch occupying what was, for a short while, a roach stretch of the local canal has its drawbacks and its benefits. The main drawback is that there may well be larger perch hanging around but they don't get a look in, the main benefit is that they provide me with an experimental testbed where I can learn something about catching perch in general

In my previous post I explained how a change to circle hooks radically shifted the balance in my favour with bass, and drew some comparisons with perch, a fish which is not only closely related but also displays similar aggressive feeding habits. Yesterday I decided to try out two rods, one with a standard wide gape pattern hook and the other with the same pattern slightly 'circularised' in order to see if it would make even a slight difference to the hook up rate and avoid deep hooking in the throat.

I started out on maggots and had a number of small fish, but things were quite slow and for a time it seemed that the experiment would not yield enough data for me to be able to draw any firm conclusions from it. However, a change to worm baits from maggot saw a sharp increase in the amount of bites and consequently, fish on the bank. The worms were attacked with gusto, but it made not a jot of difference how large the worms were, the small fish were just as able to consume them as their larger pack members; just as with bass, big bait certainly does not equal big fish. The standard hook performed as usual, with more fish deep hooked than was comfortable, but the circularised hook brought about a change for the better with just the one fish deeply hooked and far more bites resulting in clean hook ups in the jaw. It wasn't perfect, but it was clear that even this lightly modified hook was performing as I had forecast it would; had I been able to create a full circle hook out of the standard pattern then I'm certain that things would have been very different indeed.

Next on the agenda is to create that full circle hook, for none are commercially available in small sizes as far as I know, and see what occurs. I don't think the hook need be too small, indeed with perch of any size the hook I think the hook could be as large as perhaps a size 6 and it would still catch even the very small fish, such is the capacity of the perch to extend its mouth and open it wide. As mentioned before, the main problem encountered with circle hooks is bait presentation and this will be a problem if worms are used, but with maggots I see no problem whatsoever. With earthworms, the sharply inturned point of the circle hook means that a worm hooked normally - right through the body - will mask the hook point. I think that I will have to just nick the hook through the side of the worm, or nip the worm in two and hook it through one end for the hook to be able to do its job properly.

It is common knowledge that perch bites are very hard to hit and specimen perch anglers complain of having to use tackle that presents almost nill resistance to a taking fish and even then, having to wait for runs or dips of the float to develop over quite a period of time to stand any chance of actually hooking the fish. Even in my catching of small perch on the canal cut I can see their problem clearly, but I don't think it is a problem of resistance, or any such thing, I think it is merely that suitable hooks are not regularly used for perch, that the perch has a mouth that defeats, on more occasions than not, the efforts of standard pattern hooks to find a secure hold. I'm predicting, and I see that there are a few others out there who are running their own experiments who would concur, that the use of circle hooks could relegate all these problems to the dustbin of perch fishing history and make the catching of big perch rather easy...

If you can find them, that is!

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