I used to do the get a bite jerk and set but now I use circle hooks.
I have't deep hooked one since, they sometimes rip loose from the skin on the side of the mouth if you muscle them too much. The hook up rate for me is pretty good, 90 %. Just watch the pole go down and usually they are hooked.
There are alot of guys that know more than I do. Mr. fish ohio can answer to more detail as well as the others on here. They are the supreme cat guys. lol
Hope this helped, but I am sure alot of info is headed your way.
Circle hooks are the way to avoid gut hooked fish. They were developed for saltwater fishing. Takes some trial & error to get the hang of them. If you try to "set the hook" you will rip it from their mouth. You have to be patient, let them run some, lift the rod & swing it gently. The hook normally slips to the corner of the mouth of the fish, in the skin area. Sometimes it will be inside the jaw, but that's the exception. If you get a big fish on (over 30#) you want to back off the drag some so it won't tear the rubbery lips. Here's an exception to the rule.
Usually it's right in the corner of their mouth.
Here's one in a nice bluecat ( on the same day too) The net has the hook turned, but you get the general idea. Gamakatsu 8/0 is the right size for all your catfishing needs. You wouldn't think the small fish would get the hook, but they do.
If you're in a current situation, the fish takes the bait & runs upstream, so you don't even know you've got a hit until it's swallowed the bait. That's one plus with the circles, it will slide out to their lips, maybe even all the way out & you hook water !! I'm fishing from a boat usually from 35-65' deep, so it's a different ballgame if you're on the bank in a snag area. Depending upon conditions, one hook will be better than the other. I carry a good supply of both with me at all times.
I've actually caught several fish I didn't know were there until I checked my baits, I do that frequently. Saw it on show with Doug Stange, he said to check your baits ever 5 minutes as they might roll under a rock or something. What I do is just crank it up a turn or two, every 5-10 minutes, then after about 3 times, check the bait. The current will degrade it banging against the rocks, and small fish will chew it up too. Sometimes when I reel them in, they are under or upstream of the boat with a fish on !
Hope we can have that happen for you Jack !! It's a kick !
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