Going in Circles over Whiting

King George whiting are one of the most highly sought after species in Western Port. Known for their delicious tasting flesh and fighting capabilities, whiting can prove difficult to catch at times.

Traditionally, whiting anglers use small long shank hooks enabling them to strike when the bite is detected which aids in setting the hook right the first time. Striking at whiting when using long shank hooks is vital to secure a solid hook-up.

Those who use long shanks usually fish for them using nibble tip rods. Nibble tips have an extremely sensitive tip which allows the angler to see the smallest of bites before striking. Fishing rods without sensitive tips can somewhat prevent anglers from seeing the smallest of bites and before you know it, you check your bait only to find it has been stolen.

The development and improvement of fishing tackle continues to evolve and when it comes to hooks, they have had a major re-development in recent times. New technology has enabled hooks to be refined so much that speciality hooks have entered the market place. Some as such that medical engineers have been consulted to aid in the development to create hooks with surgical point so that penetration is imminent immediately when the bait is taken.

Circle hooks, although they have been around since the dawn of time have also taken a slight transformation with many versions now available. Despite their different appearance between models they all work in the same manner. When it comes to whiting, circle hooks are well regarded as the go to hook in many fishing applications.

Where the long shank hook once inhabited the tackle box, has quickly been replaced by the newly redesigned circle hook.

Every day, more anglers are turning to circles because of their success for both hooking and keeping fish on the hook providing they are fished in the correct manner. It is a fact that circle hooks will improve the anglers hook up rate to 98%.


A circle hook is a term that has been applied to a range of designs. Circle hook models have a point that mildly turns inward toward the shank, a true circle hook snags nothing at all even if placed in your pocket, this is also the same when entered into a fishes mouth.

Many hook manufactures make some version of a hook resembling a circle. Each has their unique trait that they consider to be the best.

While each angler has their favourite hook brand, Mustad’s Demon circle is one such model that easily into a fish’s mouth with very little ease and without the assistance from an angler. This particular model is not too thick in gauge and very small in size making them an ideal whiting hook.

Still, many other manufactures have some sort of circle design but it is the Mustad Demon which is leading above all others.


Baiting circle hooks can prove a challenging task especially when using harder baits. While most whiting anglers twist on the humble pipi, bass yabby, pilchard fillet and small crab can require a little more attention.

When baiting circles with harder baits, take your time to gently thread them on the hook. Bass yabbies are best when used as live baits, so neatly tuck the hook into the tail enabling the hook point to protrude through the top; this also applies to threading on small crabs. Pilchard fillets are much simpler; they can be threaded on with a more weaving method so the fillet is worked right to the eye of the hook.

This will keep it on the hook so when a whiting eats it they won’t just suck it off. Pipi and mussel baits are the easiest to thread on, they can be twisted and wrapped around the entire hook leaving a small amount of hook point exposed for a cleaner hook up. However, with any bait being used; always ensure that you leave as much of the hooks point protruding out of the bait as possible to enable a solid hook set.


Whiting are a schooling fish and for those who religiously use long shanks will agree with this following sentence.

Quite often, you might attract a school of whiting to your location whether your using berley or not. Occasionally you’ll hook a fish only to loose it shortly after the hook-up and after a few minutes find that the fish have gone off the bite. This can be for a few reasons, either the tide has approached the slack tide or more commonly, the dropped fish has swum back to the school and spooked them off.

I have found that if you loose a fish mid water, the school stays around but if you loose it within the first few seconds of the hook-up the school is spooked and you have to make a move to find them again.

When using circles, once the fish is hooked it has a much less chance of getting free providing you keep a tight line, eliminating all possibility of it swimming back to the school spooking them. Circle hooks still require anglers to keep a tight line when fighting the fish so the hook doesn’t roll out if any slack line is given.

This is also the reason why circle hooks are best fished using a paternoster rig or running sinker rig where the line is always kept tight.


Though you wouldn’t think so, circle hooks have a specific way to be used to maximise the hook up rate. Anglers wanting to try circles need to be aware that they are best used in conjunction with braided fishing lines.

Monofilament lines have too much stretch, disallowing the hook to be set correctly. If you do use a monofilament line you will need to set a very high drag on the reel to enable the hook to set itself. Still, you will find best success when using braided lines as they have no stretch and enable the hook to be set the instant the bait is completely swallowed.

The fish then turns its head to swim off and the hook is pulled toward the mouth. As it does so, the hook rotates around and the point enters the side of the mouth protruding through the skin. The angler can then see the rod tip quiver and begin to fight the fish to the boat, not giving the fish any slack.

If there is any slack given, the hook can roll out and you’ll lose your fish, but if you battle the fish to the surface with a tight line you’ll soon boat more fish than you’ll loose.

On the other hand, over the past few decades, we have been taught to strike when noticing a bite. Though this might work when using conventional suicide, bait holder or long shank hooks, circles require a combination of braided lines and a set drag to do all the work. I can guarantee that for those who strike at a fish while using circles, will actually pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth 99% of the time.

This is because they haven’t let the fish turn enabling the hook to rotate around pinning the fish’s mouth.


Of course despite their high success rate, circle still have a time and place to be used. Not all the time when fishing for whiting will a circle hook work and to understand this, you have to know what and how the fish are feeding on any given day.

On days where it is sunny and you might be fishing in 2-3 meters of water, whiting can be quite shy. When they are, they tend to bite quite tentatively. In this situation,though it may sound a little complicated, the concept of fishing circles is simple, keep a tight line, sit back, relax and watch your rod load.

Jarrod Day

About Jarrod Day

As a young boy, fishing from the Portsea and Sorrento piers along the Mornington Peninsula coastline was a regular occurrence during the school holidays. My love for fishing grew and many years later now find it much more than a hobby, but a lifestyle. My website has been developed with fishing and photography in mind. Take a look around, I hope you enjoy it. www.jarrodday.com/


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