Striper Fishermen Request Circle Hook Exemption for Tube and Worm Rigs

Fishermen are seeking a circle hook exemption when fishing for striped bass with tube-and-worm rigs and leadhead jigs.

Fishermen are seeking a circle hook exemption when fishing for striped bass with tube-and-worm rigs and leadhead jigs.

Above: An angler holds a striped bass caught on a tube-and-worm rig.

A coalition of charter fishing boat associations and recreational fishing groups has asked the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for an exemption from new regulations requiring the use of in-line circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with natural bait. Specifically, they are seeking an exemption from the requirement for the trolling of tube-and-worm rigs and leadhead jigs.

The striped bass circle hook regulation was enacted in 2021 as part of Amendment VI to the Striped Bass Management Plan, which was developed in response to a stock assessment that determined striped bass were overfished. The use of in-line circle hooks when fishing with natural bait has been shown to reduce the post-release mortality of striped bass by reducing incidences of gut-hooking. However, the tube-and-worm rig, which consists of a long latex or rubber tube with a single J-hook protruding from the end that is baited with a large seaworm and is trolled slowly behind a moving vessel, rarely results in the gut-hooking of striped bass. Furthermore, a circle hook used with trolled a tube or jig will not effectively catch fish because circle hooks are not designed for this.

In a letter addressed to Mr. David Borden, Chairman of the ASMFC Striped Bass Board, the coalition supports the circle hook requirement, but proposes “…a very specific coast-wide exemption that allows the use of the tube-and-worm rig with a J-hook when trolling and using natural bait,” and further requests “…that jigs (lead-head style, dressed with natural or synthetic hair) also be exempted from the circle hook requirement, as long as the jig has a single fixed hook protruding from the end portion where bait may be attached.”

Download the entire letter here (pdf).

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23 on “Striper Fishermen Request Circle Hook Exemption for Tube and Worm Rigs

  1. Mike Izbicki

    My understanding of natural baits was live baits?? This means anything you fish for stripers with artificial needs circle hooks???

  2. Paul Phillips

    Should definitely be an exemption for tube and worm and bucktails/pork rind. Rigged eels and eel skin plugs too. The chance of gut hooking fish using these methods is remote.

    1. APEX

      Paul, I respectfully disagree. I have been using circle hooks with live or fresh eels since 1995 and have no difficulty getting solid hookups. A 2/0 inline circle hook through the eel’s head is actually superior to anything else I have used. Feel the tap tap tap, loosen the drag, wait for 10 or 20 ft of line to spool out, tighten the drag and hold on. Anyone who fishes with eels knows to wait for the turn before setting the hook. Once a bass latches onto an eel, they are not going to give it up unless you jerk it out of their mouth. or they feel significant resistance from your drag. With a circle hook, it slides along the side of their mouth until it finds the corner and sinks in. Try to set the hook and you are going to lose that fish. It is all about technique. Don’t fear the circle, learn how to use it.

  3. Cape

    Wt. This is stupid debate. Circle hook on tube and worm. My god…
    Just make striped bass a game fish. Problem solved. Morons…
    Some one always looking for more control and money to line their pockets.

  4. Matt Whritenour

    After a year of fishing circle hooks, my experience has been that they kill more fish than other hooks, especially when fishing live eels. The circle hook seems to be more easily swallowed by the fish resulting in more fish hooked deep down the throat. It is nearly impossible to remove a deep circle hook without injuring the fish because you have to rotate the hook almost 360 degrees to get it out. My trusty hook puller does not work with a circle hook. You can argue that I do not know how to fish the circle hook, but I put in many hours trying to find a way to hook the fish in the mouth and it has not happened yet. Am I the only one?

    1. Logic

      I have found the same thing Matt but anytime I bring it about circle hooks it falls on deaf ears. When circle hooks work the way they are supposed too then they are great but I’ve had way too many stripers gut hooked on circle hooks.

    2. Karl

      If you are gut hooking you do not know how to use circle hooks, it’s an art to know when. Small baits like eels you drag should be locked up

  5. Logic

    Please don’t forget the fisherman that use the spinner and worm rig. Have never gut hooked a striper using this rig.

  6. Ludwig Baldwin

    I make my own tube n worm rigs with surgical tubing. Been using circle hooks for many years. I see no difference. For one summer I ran them together as an experiment and saw similar results. I don’t have an answer for jig heads however.

  7. Brad Shepard

    I tend to agree, I fish a lot of eels and theu swallow them it’s a problem! Cutting the line is all that works for me

  8. Fishy Joe

    What prevents someone from using non-regulation circle hooks and “targeting bluefish”?

  9. Louis LaRusso

    The truth of the matter fish management is just trying something so they don’t have to close strip bass fishing like the 1980’s Moratorium

  10. Robert Aiello

    No. I agree 100%. I have gut hooked more fish with circles than j hooks and they are impossible to remove

  11. Logic

    Karl, could you get anymore arrogant? Wow! We don’t know how to fish circle hooks and you know this how?

  12. John

    Circle hooks are useless for drifting live eels,Never deep hooked a striper drifting eels.Circle hooks can help if your bait fishing and not holding your rod or in sand spike on a beach,My experience with redfish in Florida that you kill more fish with a circle hook because they swallow , harder than a J hook to remove,A minimum size may be needed .To many schoolies are being killed or injured when lifted into party boats ,piers or bridges.common sense will improve survival rates on released fish.

  13. LeRoy

    clearly the answer is to ban possession and make striped bass purely a protected game fish. shut down the commercial guys too. farm raised is going to put them out of business anyway. there is plenty else to eat and no need for us to show off by displaying the day’s catch. either you had a good day or you didn’t. who cares whether anyone else believes you? If we really want to get serious about protecting the sport, perhaps it is worth considering an artificial lures and flies only regulation as many states do in their best trout streams and rivers. as sportsman, we have to decide whether we want to have better fishing, or occasional opportunities to show of our catch.

  14. Mike B

    I’d say the circle hook is a little less lethal but a lot of that is because you also lose more fish with it. I wish you could just keep one gut hooked fish regardless of size and have that count as your one keeper. Worst feeling is throwing back a 27 inch bleeder

  15. Chuck

    I have never tried circle hooks but I can say using j hooks with live eels from beach I have never gut hooked a striper and I definitely catch my share,but then again I don’t drop my rod count to ten like a lot of people do I feel that tap tap and I set the hook …stripers usually hit head first so no need to let them run for a minute by the time you feel that tap it’s usually in their mouth not their gut…..

  16. Fred Lilienkamp

    Circle Hooks are great – if you know how to fish them. You have to be patient. Set your drag very loose so the bass picks up the bait and feels no resistance. Your line will move out with the bass and you have to wait. Absolutely no setting of the hook. As you see the line being pulled off the reel, slowly tighten your drag a little bit at a time until you feel it is at the right place. Then start reeling in. The bass will wake up and the fight is on! It is my opinion that the bass may or may not swallow the bait. If the bass does swallow the bait, I feel this method will pull the bait out of the bass’s stomach and slide up her throat then the circle hook lodges in her lip because of the design of the circle hook. If a J hook was used in a similar scenario, indeed the J hook would lodge in the basses stomach and then you have a gut hooked fish. I have used circle hooks for 20 years now and have never gut-hooked a bass with one. I caught my biggest bass while drifting an eel on a circle hook. When the fish came in (finally-it was quite the battle), the circle hook was in the fish’s lip. However, the hook had worn a large hole in its lip. If I had had not reeled in the fish slow and steady I probably would have lost it. Before I used circle hooks for bait and eels, I did gut hook many bass unfortunately with J hooks. Some were under the limit and it was a shame to see them injured when they swam away, knowing they would die eventually. Note that if you are just starting with circle hooks, it may take some time – possibly years, to develop the right technique to fish them effectively. It takes a lot more patience. The method is quite different than fishing with J hooks and a hard hook set. Those days are now over. Fishermen have to adapt just like wild animals have to. As for the tube and worm- I have never, NEVER, seen any fish – bass or blue get gut hooked by a tube and worm. They follow the worm and when they sense a slowing down of the troll, suck in the worm. Lip hook every time. You think a fish will swallow 18 inches of plastic tube down it’s throat? Please……….So putting a circle hook on a tube and worm is just redundant and hardly worth it. No one sells tubes with circle hooks on them anyways.

  17. Clark

    Also, how do they expect people to fish with circule hooks on a jig head? If I am fishing a Soft plastics on jig heads how am I supposed to use a circle hook? I’m not gonna use one of those massive ronz jig heads and I don’t even know of any companies that make jig heads with circle hooks. Also, what’s the point? I catch my fair share of bass and very few take the soft plastics so hard that they swallow they get gut hooked and if they did with a circle hook, it would be even harder to remove than just a standard one.

    1. Fishy Joe

      Also could get swing-hook jigs/bucktails and swap the hooks.

  18. john beyea

    last year we boated 174 stripers out of that we head 4 keepers a lot of just under the limit and one 43 in. all on tube and worm every fish was hooked in the lip all the friends i know say the same. i don`t these law makers some times i wonder if they have ever spent any time catching stripers and how do they come up with these stupid laws has any of them done any research on this matter be for coming up with this stupidity and who is policing these laws we have never ben checked in two years on the water maybe they should spend there time enforcing old laws not making new ones !!!!!!

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