Choosing the Correct Circle Hook Size for Stripers

The circle hook is a single hook tool that is used for fishing in shallow water. The circle hook can be used to catch a variety of fish including walleye, crappie, bass, perch, and pike. Because of its shape, the circle hook is a very versatile hook. The circle hook can be used for fishing in water from 15 to 60 degrees. In shallow water, the circle hook is most successful at 2 to 8 feet of depth. The circle hook is useful in shallow water when casting to structure where a hook bait is the most effective.

The very first time I tried fishing with a circle hook, I thought I’d discovered the fountain of youth. The hook simply plucked the delicate rainbow trout out of the water, allowing me to slam a bonefish on the end of the line and launch a free-for-all party on the flats. Unfortunately, the humble circle hook is not so attractive to the big, bad fish.

The number of fishing articles that are published on a regular basis is mind-boggling, and the number of different ways to rig a hook is equally as daunting. While a lot of the information is good, it can be confusing to find the right information to help you with your next fishing trip. We have done the research on the most commonly used circle hook size for stripers.. Read more about hook size for freshwater stripers and let us know what you think.

Striper anglers take note: When fishing for striped bass with natural baits like clams, squid, mackerel, menhaden, seaworms, and eels, you must use non-offset (inline) circle hooks starting this year. By decreasing the incidences of gut hooking, using inline circular hooks improves the survivability of released striped bass.

The tip of a circular hook is curled back toward and perpendicular to the shank. A J-shaped hook, on the other hand, has the tip parallel to the shank. The phrase “non-offset or inline” refers to the tip and barb being in the same plane as the shank — in other words, the whole hook and barb should lay level when placed on a flat surface.

The turned-in point of a circular hook is less likely to catch on the stomach or esophagus when a fish eats a bait, which is frequently deadly. The hook is instead intended to slip out of the fish’s esophagus and grab on the corner of its mouth. When the fish attempts to swim away, the circular hook sets.

When a striper inhales the bait head first, hooking smaller baitfish like mackerel through the rear with a circular hook can keep it swimming longer and give a better hook-up.

Hooking a fish while using a circle hook is not as straightforward as setting the hook with a traditional J-shaped hook. Instead of lifting the rod sharply to set the hook as soon as a fish grabs the bait, drop the rod tip back toward the fish to give it some slack and be sure it has the bait in its mouth. Then, steadily take up any slack as the fish swims away and the line comes tight. Usually, this sets the circle hook into the corner of the fish’s jaw, and you can fight the fish as usual.

Because of the circular hook’s shape, it’s critical to choose the correct hook size for the bait. If the bait is too big, the fish may spit it out before you have a chance to hook it; if it is too tiny, you will miss the bulk of your bites. It’s also essential to consider where and how you rig the bait, since too much flesh on the hook may prevent it from catching.

For many striper fishermen, using a circular hook is a new challenge, but it’s well worth the effort. You may assist striped bass survive being captured and released by following the rules, which come at a time when the population is overfished and has to be restored.

Striped Bass Circle Hooks

Hook selection for big baitfish, such as adult-sized menhaden (bunker or pogy), mackerel, or scup, is determined by how and where the bait is hooked.

a return (Or Belly)

“With a 9/0 Gamakatsu 4X Strong Inline Circle, I like hooking a bunker through the rear. I sometimes use the same hook to hook the bait through the belly, since this encourages the bunker to swim down toward the bottom.”

–Jim Freda, Captain (Manasquan Inlet, NJ)


“I use a 10/0 Mustad Demon Perfect Circle to hook a live bunker through the snout. I found that the bigger hook is required to create a large enough gap in the striper’s mouth for it to penetrate.”

–Joe Diorio, captain (Old Saybrook & New London)


“When I’m slow-trolling live baits, I typically catch a pogy or a large mackerel on an 8/0 Owner Tournament Mutu Circle. Bridling the bait enables it to swim freely while leaving the hook free for improved hook-ups. It also enables me to use a little smaller hook since the hook isn’t penetrating the bait.”

–Brian Coombs, captain (Boston, MA)

Bridling Bait 101


The difficulty when fishing cut bait (chunks) is to position the circular hook such that it firmly retains the bait on the throw yet is exposed enough to draw away and set on a striper’s jaw. Because you won’t be able to utilize a sweeping hookset to assist the hook tear through the bait and into the fish, choose a hook with a wide enough gap to lock into the jaw of a biting striper.

“I use a 9/0 hook like the VMC 7385 Tournament Circle Hook for large baits like bunker and bunker heads. I like a 6/0 or 7/0 octopus-style circle hook like the Eagle Claw Octopus Wide Gap Circle Hook for pieces of smaller baitfish like mackerel or mullet since it is thinner and will rip free of the chunk.”

Jimmy Fee (Jimmy Fee) (Jimmy Fee) (Jimmy Fee (Editor, On The Water)



Eels like a smaller circular hook because it has a thinner profile. A circle that is too big may disrupt the presentation and cause the bass to spit the eel. To prevent their eels from ripping off the hook on the throw, most fisherman in the Northeast hook them through the lower jaw and out an eye socket.

“I like a 7/0 Mustad Demon Perfect Inline Circle for drifting eels over rocks and rips.”

–Captain Joe Diorio

“When throwing serpents from the beach, I like the 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Inline Circle most of the time, but when I can only find tiny ‘shoestring’ eels from the local store, I downsize to a 6/0.”

Ron Powers (Ron Powers) (Massachusetts-Based Surf Specialist)

Soft baits like clams, squid, and seaworms are rapidly swallowed by stripers, making them ideal candidates for circular hooks, whether mandatory or not.

“I match the size of my circular hooks to the size of the baits. I use a 4/0 or 5/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Inline Circle with half a surf clam. A 6/0 or 7/0 of the same type hook works better for a full clam.”

–Richard Swisstack, Captain (Cliffwood Beach, NJ)

“In the early spring, I use a 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Inline Circle to catch big stripers with bloodworms. Fishermen bag the worms in the mesh netting that trout and salmon anglers use to create egg sacs in certain places, particularly in rivers where tiny bait-stealers may chew up a large bloodworm bill. Depending on the size of the bait, these worm bags may be used with 5/0 or 6/0 circles.”

Scott Paikin (@ScottPaikin) (NJ-Based Surfcaster)

Frequently Asked Questions about Circle Hook

  • What if I used a circular hook to gut a striped bass?

Unfortunately, circular hooks aren’t failsafe, and you’ll sometimes gut a fish if you use one. If a hook gets stuck in a fish’s throat or stomach, don’t attempt to pull it out. Before releasing the fish, cut the line as near as possible to the fish’s mouth to offer it the greatest chance of surviving.

  • What if I catch a striper on a J-hook by accident?

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) stated in March 2021 that the purpose of the striped bass circle-hook requirement was that no striped bass may be caught using bait with a non-circle hook, regardless of the species. If you hook a legal-sized striper when fishing natural bait for another species, such as bluefish or fluke, you must release the fish right away.

  • What about the worm and the tube?

Fishery managers at the ASMFC reviewed the mandate and provided updated advice in March 2021, after originally proposing that circle hooks would be needed on tube-and-worm rigs, which are trolled and seldom result in gut hooking. The circle-hook rule does not apply to artificial lures topped with bait, such as the tube-and-worm rig. The ASMFC further clarified the definition of “bait” that mandates the use of circle hooks, stating that natural materials like as pork rinds and bucktails are exempt from the circle-hook requirement.


There’s lots of conflicting information out there when it comes to selecting the correct circle hook size for stripers. Between the technicality of millimeters and the confusing facts about the size of fish in the water, it’s easy to get lost in the details. This guide is not intended to be the end-all be-all of hook sizes, but instead to clear up any confusion about what size hook to use for a given situation. We’ll explain how to size your circle hooks to match what the fish are doing and how to select the correct hook size for the fish you’re after.. Read more about circle hook sizes and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size circle hooks to use for stripers?

The size of the circle hooks you should use will depend on the size of your bait. If you are fishing for stripers, you should use a size 8 or 10 hook.

How do you size a circle hook?

The size of a circle hook is determined by the diameter of the eye.

How do you catch striped bass with a circle hook?

You need to use a circle hook with a treble hook.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • what size circle hook for striped bass
  • how to bait a circle hook
  • circle hooks size chart
  • hook size for freshwater stripers
  • what size treble hook for striped bass