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Jan 23rd, 2013
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Your opinion on hook size #13728819 10/12/20 09:26 PM
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Ruark Offline OP
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I've been fishing a small lake about 5 minutes from our house near Boerne. It's about 6 or 7 acres, and is teeming with catfish, mostly channels. The thing is, 99% of them are right at the legal limit - 11 to 13 inches. Haven't seen any 5-pounders yet, although they are in there.

I've been using a plain bottom slip rig. Barrel sinker and about a 18-24 inch leader with a #4 Excalibur treble. Bait is either CJ's shad or Danny King's Blood. I usually juice it up a little with a shot of Baitmate Shad attractant. Also, I ALWAYS sharpen the hooks with a little file until they're scalpel sharp, by the way. My philosophy of sharpness is, "when you feel the hook, it's already in you."

I cast it out and start getting hits within 10 seconds after the bait reaches the bottom. Problem is, these smaller cats don't seem to get the hook in deep enough, and when I set the hook, it just yanks it out of their mouths. I've tried different approaches, such as giving the line more slack to give them time to take it in deeper, and setting the hook earlier or later, etc. Nothing works, I'm missing about 90% of them. Cast, it goes to the bottom, 10 seconds later the rod bends, yank, empty hook. Re-bait. Repeat. Over and over. I caught 2 this morning that were barely keepers, and missed about 30. I did notice that the 2 legal ones I caught were just barely lip-hooked.

For now, I want to address this with a different hook size. What is your opinion:

- go to a larger hook - say from #4 to #2 - so it's more likely to hook it before it slips out of the fish's mouth.
- go to a smaller hook - say a #8 - so the fish will get it a little deeper into his mouth before I set the hook.

What say you?

Ruark

Last edited by Ruark; 10/12/20 09:42 PM.
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Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13728915 10/12/20 10:06 PM
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Beak47 Offline
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We mostly fish shallow at Amistad with slip corks and since Dave Ross taught us how to catfsh the best way we use #10 trebles like he did. It is amazing how it will hook channels and even blues smack in the lips. The #10s can be hard to find in the big box sporting goods stores but Academy usually carries a saltwater version that is very durable. Some of the bait makers say use a #4 but I dont own a hook that big. Next month we will fish straight down with CJs in 60 to 80 feet with a one ounce bullet weight and a #10 treble one or 2 cranks off bottom. Good luck.


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Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13728925 10/12/20 10:12 PM
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When I fish for "panners", I always use a #1/0 Eagle Claw gold hook. For bait I use dip bait with natural sponge. You might rig that way and see what happens. My guess is, though, you have a bunch of little-bitty SOB's messing with your bait.

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Beak47] #13728929 10/12/20 10:14 PM
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Ruark Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Beak47
We mostly fish shallow at Amistad with slip corks and since Dave Ross taught us how to catfsh the best way we use #10 trebles like he did. It is amazing how it will hook channels and even blues smack in the lips. The #10s can be hard to find in the big box sporting goods stores but Academy usually carries a saltwater version that is very durable. Some of the bait makers say use a #4 but I dont own a hook that big. Next month we will fish straight down with CJs in 60 to 80 feet with a one ounce bullet weight and a #10 treble one or 2 cranks off bottom. Good luck.


I could use a slip cork, but it won't make much difference as far as quantity of strikes. I'm getting hits 5 seconds after it hits the bottom like it is. However, now that you bring it up, I'm wondering if the cats "mouth" the bait differently when it's hanging straight down under a cork than they do when it's lying on the bottom. Definitely food for thought.

Last edited by Ruark; 10/12/20 10:15 PM.
Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: uncle_bagster] #13728937 10/12/20 10:18 PM
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Ruark Offline OP
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Originally Posted by uncle_bagster
When I fish for "panners", I always use a #1/0 Eagle Claw gold hook. For bait I use dip bait with natural sponge. You might rig that way and see what happens. My guess is, though, you have a bunch of little-bitty SOB's messing with your bait.


I don't think they're "little-bitty." I can tell by their pull (before they get loose) that they're 10-12 inchers.

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13728944 10/12/20 10:25 PM
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Osbornfishing Offline
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Those little cats like to grab the bait and pull on it before they swallow it. If the fish are that thick, try a piece of cut bait on a 1/0 J hook. If you don’t get hook ups with that try earthworms on a J hook. Also don’t do the big bass hook set. It only takes a little pop to set the hook. You may be ripping those small hooks out of their mouths. Good luck and let us know how you do.

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Osbornfishing] #13728958 10/12/20 10:34 PM
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Ruark Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Osbornfishing
Those little cats like to grab the bait and pull on it before they swallow it. If the fish are that thick, try a piece of cut bait on a 1/0 J hook. If you don’t get hook ups with that try earthworms on a J hook. Also don’t do the big bass hook set. It only takes a little pop to set the hook. You may be ripping those small hooks out of their mouths. Good luck and let us know how you do.


Worms on a J would definitely hook some, but I'm afraid if I did that, I'd just be swamped reeling in 6-8-inchers all day. I have thought about some kind of cut bait on a J hook - but how about a #2 Kahle? Would that work better than a J? Never used them myself for cats, but I've heard of lots of guys that do. In any case, one issue I have with cut bait is that there's nowhere around here to get it. The whole attraction of this fishing hole is that it's like 5 minutes from my house. I don't even know the nearest place that sells live bait, even minnows (I'm near Comfort, TX). If I have to drive 2 hours just to get bait fish to cut, it kinda defeats the whole purpose. So I'm trying to make do with what I have. Maybe chicken livers from the Comfort grocery store....

FWIW, I'm 70 years old and have been fishing since I could walk, fresh and salt water. I'm actually pretty well burned out on "hard" fishing. Sold my boat several years ago. This is something I'm just doing for fun and to relax. Brings back memories of being a kid fishing from the bank... (-;

For now, I'm going to try those #8 trebles and see how that works.

Last edited by Ruark; 10/12/20 10:57 PM.
Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13729125 10/13/20 12:42 AM
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I would try to use a drop shot rig with 2 small (# 2- 6) J hooks on short (~3”) dropper loops. It is very sensitive rig and allows set the hook very effectively. You can feel even turtle bitings if you keep the tight main line. Just set the hook if you feel that fish (turtle?) pull the line. It works for me great in my shallow creek.

Last edited by Bobbycat; 10/13/20 12:43 AM.
Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Osbornfishing] #13729127 10/13/20 12:43 AM
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Ruark Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Osbornfishing
Also don’t do the big bass hook set.


Good point.... I have a habit of setting the hook pretty hard, from fishing in deep water, and using sproingy mono... To make matters worse, I'm using braid on this rod!

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13729130 10/13/20 12:47 AM
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I also use braided main line for better sensitivity, but I tie drop shot (Kentucky) rig, using mono to avoid tangling.

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13729131 10/13/20 12:49 AM
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I have forgotten, use T knots when you tie Kentucky (drop shot) rig.

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Bobbycat] #13729261 10/13/20 02:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Bobbycat
I would try to use a drop shot rig with 2 small (# 2- 6) J hooks on short (~3”) dropper loops. It is very sensitive rig and allows set the hook very effectively. You can feel even turtle bitings if you keep the tight main line. Just set the hook if you feel that fish (turtle?) pull the line. It works for me great in my shallow creek.


At this place, I'd probably use a single drop, since I'm getting bites 10 seconds after it hits bottom. I might try a drop shot next time - I'm curious if I'll get more positive hookups if the fish takes the bait that way instead of when it's lying on the bottom. I'll put a 6" drop about 2 1/2' up. I have some smallish pyramid sinkers that should work. But I'll probably use a #8 treble and CJ's.

Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13729325 10/13/20 03:35 AM
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Catfish Lynn Offline
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If your thinking there may be some larger, use 4/0 or 5/0 Eagle Kahle. It is possible to catch smaller Cats on them.


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Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13729397 10/13/20 11:27 AM
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I went to Hubbard and got bites as soon as the bait sunk. I couldn't catch them. I was using chicken breast.
I put on a small perch hook and started slaying the smallest catfish I had ever caught. They were so small they were like large tadpoles


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Re: Your opinion on hook size [Re: Ruark] #13729671 10/13/20 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Ruark
Originally Posted by Bobbycat
I would try to use a drop shot rig with 2 small (# 2- 6) J hooks on short (~3”) dropper loops. It is very sensitive rig and allows set the hook very effectively. You can feel even turtle bitings if you keep the tight main line. Just set the hook if you feel that fish (turtle?) pull the line. It works for me great in my shallow creek.


At this place, I'd probably use a single drop, since I'm getting bites 10 seconds after it hits bottom. I might try a drop shot next time - I'm curious if I'll get more positive hookups if the fish takes the bait that way instead of when it's lying on the bottom. I'll put a 6" drop about 2 1/2' up. I have some smallish pyramid sinkers that should work. But I'll probably use a #8 treble and CJ's.


I would put 4-6” drops about 10-12” up. Under ~30 degree angle casting, the bait will be on the bottom or very close if you keep the line tight.

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