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There have always been two basic requirements for catching fish. In the old days it was a bent pin and a piece of string. Now it is high carbon hooks and advanced monofilament lines. Without doubt these are the two most important items of your fishing tackle.


Hook choice is a very personal thing, and each angler has his own favourite patterns for various reasons. If you are new to the game you may be asking yourself, which hook do you choose and why?

The choice seems endless and the hundreds of patterns can be confusing to say the least. My first carp were caught on Sundridge Barbless Specimen (size 10). Super specialists were a favourite through the 80's and early 90's. More recently we have had the Owner and Fox series hooks which I have used extensively. The Drennan Continental Boilie hooks are also popular.  


A pattern of hook that works well for one person can seem detrimental to another. Let me explain. One of the most reliable hooks available to us today is the Drennan Super Specialist and I have used them without complaint for well over a decade. No problem, that is, except for size six! Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing technically or mechanically wrong with a size six specialist. Other anglers love them and have caught some massive fish using them. But whenever I have hooked a carp on them it has usually fallen off shortly after! In fact one season I learnt the hard way dumbly soldiering on, accepting the losses. At the end of the summer I had had one of my best seasons but when I analysed my results I realised I could have almost doubled my tally if I had landed all the fish I had hooked.


As I mentioned, a few of the countries best anglers use Super Specialists for almost all their angling. Dave Lane is one of these. A couple of seasons ago I was watching Terry Hearn playing a mid-twenty carp. As I stood back and watched the view I noticed his rod, clearly outlined against the horizon, was barely bending at all. I realised he had not even struck the run, not in the accepted sense anyway. He had merely lifted into the fish and then proceeded to gently lead it in. I know for a fact he was using a size four Continental Boilie hook. As I watched I knew that if I had played the same fish on that hook in the same manner that it would have dropped off.


One of the ways of combating hook pulls is to use a pattern of hook which has a very sharp but beaked point. This sort of claw shape seems to work its way in very well and grip securely throughout protracted battles. However for the extra benefits of security and confidence, hooks of this type do have a drawback. Hooks with beaked points are definitely less effective at pricking cautiously feeding fish. I have always placed great faith in the amount of tench and bream I am catching. However by using hooks with sharp straight points, you will certainly improve the pricking capability of your rig and hopefully more carp.


Throughout my carp fishing I have always considered hooks for pop-ups and bottom baits to fall into two distinct groups. For pop-ups I have always favoured hooks with a short shank and a wide gape. With this sort of presentation you tend to hook the carp just inside the bottom lip and almost always in the bottom of the mouth not the top. This usually happens when the fish closes its mouth around the hook bait, as the hook is perfectly primed to prick the carp at an early stage after ingestion of the boilie.

Bottom bait presentation is usually quite different and requires the carp to level off and move away to tighten the hook link and then turn the hook point into the bottom of the mouth. For these types of rig I find a longer shanked hook and a turned down eye and straight point to be most effective.


To gain an initial hold not only must the hook point be as sharp as possible but also the barb should be fine and small. The further the hook penetrates during the first few seconds, then the less chance of the fish dropping off without registering any indication. Believe me this happens an awful lot if you use inadequate hooks and large barbs.

Check your hooks after each cast and change them every fish. Do everything you can to ensure your hook point is giving you and your rig peak performance.  


You will notice that, of the vast amount of hooks available that three different eye angles are prominent. For a very long time all English hooks and those on the continent features straight eyes in the conventional manner. The first hook patterns to use down turned eyes were in fact used for fly fishing. These were popularised in the 80's when certain patterns were used to produce the infamous bent hook rig. Although it was first though that the bending of the shank of the hook was responsible for the success of the rig it is now acknowledged that in fact it was the down turned eye that made the difference. Today, hooks which feature down turned eyes are commonly used for all manner of bottom rigs, and a knotless knot or hook aligner system is used to cause the hook to turn and catch hold.


Hooks featuring an out turned or reversed eye originated in Japan, the world leaders in hook design and technology. The idea was to create a hook with an in-line pull from the eye across to the point. If you look at the hook you can see it creates a mechanically strong shape. Certainly in my own experience I have found that hook pulls are minimised and this I believe is down to the hook design. In recent years down turned eyes have found popularity for a different reason - Stiff Rigs.

Tying a rig with an in-turned or straight beak with a stiff link would cause it to kick over to such a degree that the gape would be severely minimised. Using an out turned hook allowed the mono to exit from the hook eye at a much straighter angle. This allows the hook to stand at a prouder and more efficient angle.

Above you can see my favourite hook patterns and their characteristics. I hope I have demonstrated that the choice of hook you own must suit your type of fishing and the rigs you use.

This feature is taken from the Nov 1999 issue of Total Carp Magazine. For more information on the magazine and current subscription offers please click on the banner below

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