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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not bragging but I consider myself a pretty good fisherman. I rarely have any trouble catching fish that I'm targeting. Now here is what I need help with. I've been targeting Flatheads since last year and my hook-up ratio I just horrible. I'm not having problems getting good bites and runs but just can't seem to get them hooked. I use both live and cut bait with both circle hooks and octopus hooks. I've been trying different ways to hook the live bait and nothing seems to matter. Does anyone care to maybe share a secret with me?
 

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Your using circle hooks. DON"T set the hook hard, just tighten the line.

If you use a hard hook set you pull the bait and hook right out of the fish's mouth. The circle hook point is pointing in at the shank of the hook and cannot catch anything with a hard hook set.

The hook is designed to catch the corner of the mouth. If you use a light hook set or pull slowly when the fish takes the bait the hook slides into position in the corner of the mouth and you get a good hook up.
 

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Just an FYI:

I just came back from Oneida. We caught between 60 and 80 Walleye. Because most of Oneida's Walleye are under size we release them. We used circle hooks with crawlers so we would not harm the fish. We did not have one fish hooked deep. They were all hooked right in the corner of the mouth. As soon as we detected a fish we swept the rod gently forward and the fish was hooked.

Circle hooks require a different hook set but they work.
 

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Assuming your targeting big flatheads this I what has worked for me.
Set around a 2ft. piece of rebar halfway in the bank. Then put a 2/3ft. Piece of PVC over it. Ideally you want it to hold your rod up to the reel.
Tighten your drag nice and tight. Like Keepon said let the rod bend and let them hook them selves. They shouldn't be running anywhere unless your using light tackle.
Use 80lb braid with 50lb mono leader and 8/0 circle hooks.
Live sunnies/gills get hooked through the nose. Cut bait I only use heads and hook em through the eyes.
I use salt water rods or 7/8ft cat rods and 30/40 series diawa saltist/6500 Abu Garcia.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for some insight guys. I guess I should have mentioned that I have used circle hooks before and I'm well aware that you can not jerk. Most of the reels that I use are bait runners so I don't need to use a light at night, just listen for the "clicking". Basically all I do is just pick the rod out of the holder and tighten the drag with no jerk. Oh well, I'll figure it out sooner or later.
 

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Thanks for some insight guys. I guess I should have mentioned that I have used circle hooks before and I'm well aware that you can not jerk. Most of the reels that I use are bait runners so I don't need to use a light at night, just listen for the "clicking". Basically all I do is just pick the rod out of the holder and tighten the drag with no jerk. Oh well, I'll figure it out sooner or later.
Been using circle hooks for many years on stripers & cats. I found that to get a better hook-up on a large cat I needed to go to a much larger circle hook comparatively. Plus with a cat's bonelike jaw I found that a slightly modified non-offset circle hook such as a Lazer Eagle Claw L2222 works great especially when fishing bulky cut baits. The Daiichi chunk circle is also a good one. For live bait the Gamakatsu Heavy Duty Live Bait Circle is a good choice plus is available in sizes to a big 12/0.

Best of luck!!
 

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Good point Loggy. I was using 6/0 for 20" - 32" channel cats. I'd go even bigger for flatheads. Fishing live bait it helps to let them run with it a little. Old standard live lining for stripers is give a six count in bait runner mode before you reel tight. Good luck
 

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Just try dead sticking. I went through the same thing as you. Put bells, fluorescent paint, or a glowsticks on your rod tip or use your red light on your headlamp.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm thinking that all of my earlier missed fish were because they just were not very aggressive and not committing to the bait. In the last several days I've gotten a decent amount of flats and very few that I missed.
 

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Fished the Ohio for 10 years. (from a boat) We rarely lost a hook-up. We let the fish run until it stops. Had runs of 300 and 400 ft already. We used level winds with line counters Then when it starts running again it's time to set the hooks. We found gamesaka #8.0 worked great. Live bluegill or larger creek chubs. This one ran 330 ft before stopping::

https://flic.kr/p/W7gzUA
 

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Fished the Ohio for 10 years. (from a boat) We rarely lost a hook-up. We let the fish run until it stops. Had runs of 300 and 400 ft already. We used level winds with line counters Then when it starts running again it's time to set the hooks. We found gamesaka #8.0 worked great. Live bluegill or larger creek chubs. This one ran 330 ft before stopping::

https://flic.kr/p/W7gzUA

Nice Gentleben!! Zebco 33?? Couldn't resist!!:grin2:
 
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