Q: After hearing about the obvious conservation and hookup advantages of circle hooks, I decided that I want to use them when fishing for blue marlin with live bait. I plan on trying them out in Mauritius in December.
Up until now my standard setup consisted of a 14/0 Mustad 7731 J-hook bridled to a skipjack tuna and fished on 80-pound Dacron. (I usually use about100 feet of mono as a top shot as well.) I-ve caught several blue marlin ranging from 200 to 600 pounds using this configuration, but I'm not sure what size circle hook I should use. I've read that you have caught several granders using a 20/0 Mustad circle hook, but will this hook size be suitable for smaller marlin as well? Also, when setting the hook on circles, is it really enough just to reel the line tight, or should you have the skipper push the boat forward to help?
Moving the boat is OK, but be careful not to go too fast and start with moderate drag if using heavy tackle. The best guys here in Australia use between 16 and 22 pounds and increase drag only if necessary for a really big fish.
If you power away from a fish too soon or too fast, however, you'll run the risk of pulling the bait -- and the circle hook -- right out of the fish's mouth.