Bending Offset Circle Hooks

Anglers can bend their offset circle hooks to be legal, but is it a good idea?

With the new striped bass circle hook regulations. Many of us have a collection of circle hooks that are not legal now for targeting striped bass.
So what do we do with all these offset circle hooks? Working for a tackle manufacturer, DS Custom Tackle has about twenty thousand offset circle hooks of all sizes. Easy enough to just sell to an area that can still use them. But what does the average angler do? Circle hooks are expensive for some brands. Especially retail.

offset circle hooks, striped bass regulations, delaware surf fishing, bending circle hooks
6/0 octopus circle hook. It has a slight bend and the barb is slightly off. These hooks fool people thinking they are nonoffset when they are not.

I know you can bend a hook, that is easy, especially on smaller cheaper hooks. The questions are will the hooks hold up after the adjustment? Will it be legal per DNREC and other states? First I asked DNREC and then MD DNR. Both stated about the same. So long as the hook is by definition a nonoffset circle hook then it will be legal.
Per DNREC … “The following words and terms, when used in this regulation, have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
“Circle hook” means a hook where the point is pointed perpendicularly back towards the shank.
“Non-offset” means the hook point and barb being in the same plane as the hook shank.

What this means is you could literally make a circle hook out of a coat hanger, so long as it is made per the new regulation. We started bending hooks, big ones.

offset circle hooks, striped bass regulations, delaware surf fishing, bending circle hooks
8/0 octo circle hook in the vise. Just put it in below the bend in the hook shaft.

Bending the smaller hooks it is easy. Just use a vise and small pliers. Then bend the shaft. The vise keeps you from sinking that small hook into your finger, don’t ask. First I figured just compress the hook in the vise. Might as well try to compress a spring, it doesn’t work. Use pliers with the vise. Hold the hook just below the shaft bend with the vise. Then grab the entire shaft with the pliers and bend the hook slowly with pressure in the right direction.
Make sure you use fabric or tape on the pliers, to protect the hook’s coating. I stripped a few with unprotected pliers. The hard part is bending the barb straight back, but it can be done. The hook isn’t pretty, but it will work. The coating at the bard will most likely come off too .
The bigger hooks are more of a challenge. Bending them can actually cause them to snap. Bend them slowly with pressure. A hard “pull” will snap the shaft.

The barb is the next bend. That was easy enough to grab with needle nose pliers on the small hooks, but they don’t have the strength to make a good bend on the bigger hooks. I broke two barbs trying to force it. Out came the channel locks. It is harder to grab that barb with the channel locks, but it worked very well. Use the end of the pliers not the side.
Now I have a nonoffset circle hook that is legal per specifications, but a few look like they went through a meat grinder. I suggest practicing on one hook, knowing you will destroy it to a degree. The hooks will work they just don’t look too pretty. I am sure the fish won’t care.

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offset circle hooks, striped bass regulations, delaware surf fishing, bending circle hooks
The now nonoffset bent hook and barb

Bending hooks to fish with works. I have a buddy that uses cheap hooks when he fishes the bulkheads. When he snags, he can pull it out, and just bends the hook back into “shape”. Dude catches fish all day on one hook.
Bending the hooks was easy enough once I got the hang of it. Next we are going to test the strength on the BFG 2500 and let you now how that went. For now you can bend your hooks, or buy new ones. I suggest the DS Custom Tackle surf rig. One of the few rigs, if not only, you can find locally right now in Delaware that is legal for targeting striped bass.

Circle hook guide from DNREC in the 2021 Delaware Fishing Guide

Delaware Circle Hook Regulations Guide, striped bass
Delaware Circle Hook Regulations Guide

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