Q: The consensus for bridle length here on the Great Barrier Reef has been to use as long a bridle as possible on the circle hook. However, it should not be so long that the baits could foul on the hooks — and not so short that it prevents the hooks from working as they were designed. The bridle anchoring point was also a consideration, since maximizing the gape allows the hook to work better as well. I am wondering what your experience has been. I noticed that Eagle Claw now produces circle hooks up to 20/0, and the shape looks like it may be superior to the traditional circle shape.
A: When using a bridle, the size of the circle hook is not too critical unless the hook is too small to fit around the marlin’s jaw hinge. The guys in Costa Rica and Guatemala catch a lot of blue marlin on small circle hooks (say, 7/0) rigged in ballyhoo (gar to you) when catching mainly sailfish.
When chunking for tuna, or in any other use of dead bait, hook size is also unimportant, if and only if the gape of the hook is not full of bait. If you put the hook itself (not a bridle) through the nose or eye of the bait, you should use a bigger hook so that the gape is not filled up with bait. This is one reason a lot of guys went back to using J hooks — they experienced poor hookup ratios because their hooks were filled with bait. Almost no one uses J hooks anymore — except for a few hard heads, none of whom keeps accurate records of bites and hookup ratios! They lose three in a row and change because “some” days the circle (or J!) hooks do not work as well. That’s just basic ignorance of statistics and the laws of probability.
I would not argue strongly against anything you are doing. Keep good records; you need lots of data to make decisions on which tackle or technique is superior. Three out of 10 is basically the same as 7 out of 10, statistically speaking. But 15 out of 50 is not the same as 35 out of 50, even though the comparative ratio is equal. If you are on the bad side of 30 out of 100, compared to 70 out of 100, you’d better be switching to what the other guy is doing!
And always compare apples to apples. If you count every fish where the leader touches the rod tip or the mate touches the leader as a released fish, you will do better than I do. I only count fish that are tagged or boated as caught. (Except in some tournaments whose rules allow the former — and our averages are quite a bit higher in those tournaments.)