The circle hooks my brother sent me haven't arrived yet, but I managed to get some from Ebay - were they going to be the answer I was looking for?
They had barbs which were easily squashed flat with jewellery pliers and they were quite small for size 4, smaller than my size 4 J hooks - but I headed to Bury Hill to test them out...
I fished them on both a float and lead set up and as it was getting dark the ledger was away - powerful run which I gave a couple of seconds then wound into. And felt the hook pull out of the fish's mouth. Not a great start!
Back out and I didn't have to wait long - for the same thing to happen again. Not what I was hoping for. Next the float shot under, I wound down and fish on, A 3lb 15oz zander was in the net (top photo). The hook was trapped around the bottom jaw - perfect!
They were on the feed and I didn't have to wait long for another run on the ledger - and pulled the hook out of it's mouth exactly the same as before.
Then the float was away and I connected to this one - at least they were working on the float rod, about 2lb. But the hook wasn't trapped around the bottom jaw it stuck in the top of the throat and as I reached in with the forceps it fell out on it's own.
I had more runs on the lead and didn't connect to any of them. Perhaps the gap between the point of the hook and the shank wasn't wide enough? Perhaps I need to give the hook more room to turn by using a crimp or a bigger loop knot? My plan wasn't working.
I had another run on the float, and it was hooked (trapped) perfectly. A 4lb 8oz fish above - nearly got it all out of the weigh sling for a photo!
Eventually I hit a fish on the ledger, about 2½lb, but this one was hooked in the throat. Circle hooks aren't the easiest of things to unhook from here, you need to double it back on itself - two pairs of hands would be nice. I got it out with minimal fuss - but if it was an inch further down I would have struggled.
I'd had over 20 runs and landed 4 fish - this wasn't the leap forward I was expecting. I'm looking forward to receiving the hooks from the States for some more experiments - especially with hook gape and movement. And I have a few other ideas as well as some suggestions in the comments on my other zander posts - but for the last hour I gave up and put J hooks on both rods.
Just one run, and as I picked up the rod my brain was saying "remember to strike, remember to strike" - I connected to the fish. All the zander tonight fought hard but this one was really gave it some, it surfaced in front of me before hammering off again - a double!?
I breathed a sigh of relief when it slid over the net without shedding the hook - it had made up for all of those failed hook-ups. On the scales she went 9lb 1oz - equalling my PB - or so I thought at the time - comparing the photos (split left pelvic fin) I'd recaptured my PB!
I was still delighted and I've taken the Predator Challenge to over 200lb. I realise I still have a lot of experimenting to do to improve my zander hook-up rate, but that's half the fun of fishing - there is very rarely a quick fix.
Zander now take up the largest percentage of the challenge - I think it's time for some more pike - 91lb left to catch and 96 days left to do it...
|Pike||15 (3)||80lb 14oz|
And as a bonus there were no ghosts about tonight!