Best Circle Hooks for Big Catfish: Monster Cats Await

As a catfish angler, finding the best circle hooks for big catfish can make all the difference in your fishing experience. 

Catfish come in many sizes, so it’s essential to consider factors such as the size of the hook, the type of bait used, and the species of fish you’re targeting when selecting the right circle hook.

Among the popular choices for catfish hooks are kahle hooks, octopus hooks, and inline circle hooks. Kahle hooks, favored for their wide gap and unique design, are a good choice for live bait, both for larger catfish like the flathead and smaller species like channel catfish. 

For bigger baits or cut baits, inline circle hooks and octopus hooks are best bet, as they ensure proper hook placement in the corner of the fish’s mouth, giving anglers a better catch rate and reducing instances of gut-hooking fish.

So, how can you determine the best hooks for your catfish fishing adventure? 

Factors like bait size, fishing line, and the time of year can make all the difference in finding the right size and type of hook. Read on to explore the best catfish hooks and elevate your angling success.

Choosing the Best Circle Hooks for Big Catfish

Catfish Swimming in its natural habitat

Circle hooks have become increasingly popular among catfish anglers due to their effectiveness in preventing gut-hooking fish and ensuring a good hook set in the corner of the mouth. 

This section will discuss some popular brands and recommendations for choosing the best circle hooks for catfish.

Popular Brands

Some of the most popular circle hook brands for catfish anglers include:

  • Team Catfish
  • Whisker Seeker
  • Mustad
  • Gamakatsu
  • Eagle Claw

These brands offer a variety of circle hook styles, sizes, and materials, such as high carbon steel and stainless steel, ensuring a suitable option for your catfish fishing needs.


When choosing the best circle hooks for catfish, consider the following key factors:

  1. Type of bait: Kahle or inline circle hooks are good for live bait, while octopus hooks are better for cut baits. Consider using specialized hooks like dip bait trebles or punch bait holders if you use dough or stink baits.
  2. Size of the hook: The size of the hook should correspond to the size of the bait and the species of catfish you are targeting. Bigger hooks like 8/0 or 10/0 are more suitable for big catfish, while smaller hooks like 3/0 or 4/0 work well for smaller catfish.
  3. Gap width: A wide gap is important for ensuring the hook point effectively penetrates the catfish’s mouth, especially when using bigger baits or targeting large species like flathead catfish.
  4. Holding power: A good catfish circle hook will feature a unique design and strong materials like high carbon steel or stainless steel to ensure a good hookset and hold on a large or hard-fighting catfish.

With these factors in mind, you can make an informed decision when choosing the best circle hooks for catfish fishing. Remember, a properly selected hook can significantly improve your catch rate and fishing experience.

Understanding Circle Hook Sizes and Styles

Facikono Circle Hooks Saltwater Catfish Bass Fishing Hooks, 180pcs Octopus Offset Fishing Hooks with 5pcs Power Clips

Catfish anglers widely use Circle hooks because they can hook fish securely without gut-hooking. Choosing the best circle hooks involves understanding different sizes and styles. Considering factors such as gap, hook point, and bait size.

Gap and Hook Point Considerations

One critical factor to consider when selecting a circle hook is the size of the gap. A wide gap in the hook ensures that the fish will be hooked in the corner of the mouth, which is particularly important for catch and release. 

Bigger catfish, like flathead catfish and big blue catfish, will require larger hook gaps, while smaller catfish, such as channel cats, may require smaller gaps.

Inline and offset circle hooks are two different styles of circle hooks. Inline circle hooks have a vertical alignment, while offset hooks are turned slightly inward. 

Both styles have their merits, but inline circle hooks are more popular with team catfish anglers because they tend to reduce the chances of gut-hooking fish.

The hook point is another crucial aspect to consider. The best catfish hooks have sharp, strong hook points that penetrate the fish’s mouth easily, ensuring a good hook set. Stainless steel and high carbon steel treble hooks are the materials of choice for their durability and strength.

Hook TypeDescription
Kahle HooksThese hooks have a unique design, with medium-sized gaps suitable for live bait and cut baits. A good choice for catching a variety of catfish species.
Octopus HooksA popular choice for catfish anglers using live bait, octopus hooks have short shanks and offset eyes. They provide a good hook set for both larger and smaller catfish.
J HooksTraditional J hooks are versatile and come in various sizes. Their standard hook design is suitable for different types of bait, but the hook set depends on the angler’s skill and timing.

Bait Size and Hook Selection

When choosing the right hook size for catfish fishing, anglers should consider the type and size of bait they plan to use. 

Larger baits, such as live bait or big cut baits, require larger hooks to accommodate the bait and maintain an effective catch rate. On the other hand, smaller baits like dough baits, dip baits, or stink baits require smaller hooks.

Catfish anglers must have a range of hook sizes available in their fishing gear. Appropriate sizes may change depending on the time of year, the size of the catfish targeted, and the bait being used. 

Knowing the right size and style of hooks for different situations increases the chances of a successful catfish fishing trip.

Catfish Species and Targeting Techniques

Understanding the different catfish species and their preferred techniques is crucial for success. There are three main species of catfish – channel catfish, flathead catfish, and blue catfish – each requiring different tactics and hook selection.

Targeting Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish isolated on white background

Channel catfish are the most common species and can be targeted using a wide range of baits, including punch baits, dough baits, and stink baits. Smaller hooks are preferred for smaller catfish, while larger hooks could be used for bigger catfish.

  • Best catfish hooks: Kahle hooks, J hooks, and inline circle hooks
  • Hook sizes: 4/0 to 8/0, depending on the size of the bait and catfish
  • Preferred bait: punch baits, dough baits, and stink baits

When targeting channel catfish specifically, the choice of hook size and type of bait play significant roles in ensuring a good hook set. Offset circle hooks and octopus hooks are also good choices for this species.

Targeting Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish in its natural habitat

Flathead catfish are known for their preference for live bait and their aggressive nature. Larger hooks are essential when targeting flathead catfish due to their large mouths.

  • Best catfish hooks: inline circle hooks, wide gap hooks, and big trebles
  • Hook sizes: 8/0 to 12/0, depending on the size of the bait and catfish
  • Preferred bait: live bait, such as bluegills or shad

Using the right hook size and type is critical when targeting flathead catfish, as they tend to engulf the bait entirely. The unique design of inline circle hooks reduces the risk of gut-hooking fish, making them one of the best choices for this species.

Related: Best Bait for Flathead Catfish

Targeting Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish in its natural habitat
Blue catfish. (2023, February 17). In Wikipedia.

Blue catfish are the largest of the three main species and prefer cut baits. Using the right hook and bait can significantly affect your catch rate when targeting blue catfish.

  • Best catfish hooks: inline circle hooks, J hooks, and stainless steel hooks
  • Hook sizes: 8/0 to 14/0, depending on the size of the bait and catfish
  • Preferred bait: cut baits, such as shad or herring

 Large gap and high carbon steel treble hooks are also suitable options for these big fish.

Choosing the Right Bait for Circle Hooks

Different baits work well with different hooks, so matching your bait to the best circle hooks for your target species is important.

Live bait is popular among catfish anglers, as it can effectively entice big catfish like flathead catfish. Inline circle or octopus hooks are good choices when using live bait, as their unique design and wide gap provide better hook sets. 

The right size of the hook will depend on the size of the bait and the species of fish you are targeting.

For channel catfish and smaller catfish, stink baits, punch baits, or dough baits are often more effective. Since these baits can be smaller, smaller circle hooks or J hooks can be used, ensuring a secure hook set in the corner of the fish’s mouth.

Chicken liver is another favorite bait among catfish anglers, known for attracting smaller and larger catfish. A short shank and offset eye are good choices when pairing a hook with chicken liver, allowing for a better presentation and more successful hook sets.

When considering the size of the hook, remember that larger hooks are better suited for big fish, while smaller hooks are appropriate for targeting smaller catfish. 

A good rule of thumb is to use larger hooks, like 8/0 or 10/0, for large gap browsers like big blue catfish and lean towards smaller hooks, such as 2/0 or 4/0, for medium-sized fish like channel cats.

Sliding your bait onto the hook is another essential technique. This can be done with live bait or cut baits, but it is especially important when using soft plastics or other baits that may require the hook to be embedded. Doing so will help keep the bait in place during your fishing session.

Advantages of Circle Hooks for Catfish

Circle hooks have become popular among catfish anglers due to their unique design and effectiveness. These catfish hooks have several advantages compared to traditional J-hooks or Kahle hooks.

One major advantage of circle hooks for catfish is their ability to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. This greatly reduces the risk of gut-hooking fish, making catch and release more humane and increasing the survival rate of released catfish.

Another benefit of circle hooks is their versatility in accommodating different types of bait. Inline and offset circle hooks work well with live bait, dip baits, punch baits, and cut baits. 

This versatility allows catfish anglers to choose the best circle hooks for their preferred type of bait and target species, such as flathead catfish, channel catfish, or larger blue catfish.

Circle hooks also offer an improved catch rate due to their unique design. When a catfish bites down on the bait, the wide gap and hook point automatically slide to the corner of the fish’s mouth as the angler applies pressure to the fishing line

This results in a good hook set and increases the chances of landing both smaller catfish and bigger catfish.

The key to success with circle hooks is to allow the catfish to take the bait and hook themselves rather than attempting to set the hook by yanking the fishing line.

Many catfish anglers prefer a rod holder and bait clicker to provide the necessary tension on the line and allow the fish to find the correct hook position.

Fishing Guide: Best Catfish Punch Baits: 7 Effective Stink Baits For Results

Alternatives to Circle Hooks

Fishing tackle on the end of a fishing pole

While circle hooks are often recommended for catfish anglers, several alternatives benefit specific fishing situations. Some of the best catfish hooks to consider include J-hooks, Kahle hooks, and treble hooks.

As the name suggests, J-hooks have a J-shaped design with a sharp point at the end. They can be a good choice for catfish fishing when a quicker hook set is desired. 

J-hooks effectively secure to the fish’s mouth, specifically in the corner, making them suitable for handling larger catfish species such as flathead catfish. J-hooks come in various sizes, ensuring you can select the right size hook for your target fish species.

Best forFeaturesTip
J-hooksQuick hook set, variety of sizesSelect the right size according to the size of the bait and catfish species

Kahle hooks are another alternative recognized by their wide gap and unique design, which positions the hook point towards the center. These hooks are a great choice for catfish anglers who prefer live bait, as the wide gap allows for better hooking while reducing the risk of injuring the bait. 

Kahle hooks can secure a range of catfish species, from channel catfish to larger flathead catfish. Like J-hooks, the variety in sizes will enable you to choose the right hook based on the bait size and catfish species.

Best forFeaturesTip
Kahle hooksWide gap, good for live baitUse an appropriately-sized hook according to the bait size to avoid injury to live bait

Treble hooks consist of three hooks attached at a single eye, creating a larger hook surface. They are commonly used by catfish anglers who prefer dough or punch baits.

Treble hooks can be effective in targeting a range of catfish species, from smaller channel cats to big blue catfish. However, treble hooks may increase the risk of gut-hooking fish, so pay attention to hook sets and use high-carbon steel treble hooks to ensure a good hookset.

Best forFeaturesTip
Treble hooksThree hooks in one, excellent for dough baits and punch baitsOpt for high carbon steel treble hooks to improve hooksets and avoid gut-hooking

Essential Catfish Tackle and Gear

Angler holding a pliers in a catfishes lip with a cooler, fishing net and rod nearby

The right equipment can make all the difference when hunting for catfish. 

Choosing the right type of hook is crucial. J hooks, Kahle hooks, and octopus hooks are good options for certain situations, but for the best catch rate and least damage to the fish, inline circle hooks are considered the best catfish hooks. 

They prevent gut-hooking fish while improving catch rates. Some great brands for circle hooks include Team Catfish and Whisker Seeker Pro Staffer, which offer a range of sizes for targeting different fish species.

Fishing Rods

Now let’s talk rods. The type and size of the catfish rod will depend on the size and species of the target fish. Longer, heavier rods are necessary for catching large fish, while shorter, lighter rods work well for smaller catfish. 

A good choice for an all-around catfish rod is a medium-heavy or heavy-action rod that can handle the weight of the fish and the type of bait being used.

Fishing Line

Fishing line is another crucial element of your catfish gear. Braided and monofilament lines are popular for catfish anglers due to their durability and strength. 

Select a fishing line that can handle the weight of your target fish and the type of environment where you’ll be fishing. Line weights between 20-50 lbs are suitable for most catfishing situations.

Lastly, don’t forget the practical items – a rod holder and a bait clicker. A rod holder helps maintain stability while waiting for a bite, and a bait clicker alerts you with a sound when a fish takes the bait. 

Both are essential tools for the serious catfish angler and can make your fishing experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Seasonal Factors and Catch Rates

Time of year plays a significant role in catch rates for catfish anglers. During certain seasons, catfish are more active, making it an ideal time for fishing. 

Summertime tends to be the most productive time for catfish fishing, as the fish are more active and feeding. Flathead catfish and channel catfish are more likely to be caught during this time of year. 

Species of fish targeted also depend on the time of year, with big baits being more applicable during summer nights when big catfish are feeding. 

On the other hand, during the colder months, smaller baits have proven to be more successful in catching fish, as catfish turn to more easily accessible food sources.

Conclusion –  Best Circle Hooks for Big Catfish

Catfish put up a big fight when trying to reel them in, so you must have the right hook so that you don’t lose your prized trophy. Now that you know what the best hooks are available and how to use them correctly, I know you will take in some monster cats!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below; we love hearing from our readers. Until next time Happy Catfishing!

Cory is a content writer-editor and founder of Tackle Box Talk. Favorite Quote: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

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