The Hooks Page

I'm annoyed by most fish-hooks, because a lot of them are not very good.

They matter much, at least they ought. I have spent far too much fishing time seeking a good hook. My broadest conclusions are:

  1. For fresh water fishing, I now only use carbon steel hooks.
  2. If a (carbon steel) pattern reveals itself to be sharp, strong, with perfectly formed eyes and shape, and fishing with them only cements their reputation, immediately buy a lifetime’s supply. Because some twonk will almost certainly obsolete them for an inferior pattern to ‘generate more revenue’ or summat.
  3. Test the hook point every time the bait is changed.
  4. Throw every hook with the merest speck of rust in the (sharps) bin.
  5. Japanese manufactured fish-hooks seem to be better than most.
  6. It's strange how 50 good quality hooks for fly-tying are often cheaper than a packet of 10 aimed at the discerning coarse angler.

The 'icon' used on this page is a safety-pin hook. While on the Akrotiri peninsula, I learned how to make these from a survival handbook, which I read as an adjunct to the useful Scout Handbook. Lacking the funds for real hooks I annexed several small safety pins and made several such hooks, using a smooth concrete wall to sharpen them. I caught my first cuckoo wrasse and blennies with them. My first fish in fact. Anyhoo...

Jack Hilton Carp Hooks

Whetstone

Storage

Teflon

Currently Using...

Cutting Points

Hook-Related Diary Entries

should be an old quill floatProper Float...(and back to the top of the page) should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float should be an old quill floatAnother proper float

Fishing HooksJack Hilton Carp Hooks. I walked into Newbury tackle c.1985, asked for ‘carp hooks’ and bought those proffered. I didn’t know they were ‘Jack Hilton’ carp hooks then, but used them for my formative carp fishing without a moment’s thought, predominantly the size 6's and 8's. They were extravagantly barbed and were used, barbs flattened or broken off, until around 2005/6 when, running low, I bought some barbless of the same...

Jack Hilton HooksThe remaining stock of JH carp hooks, barbed, as they were in 'those days'.

...these were an unmitigated disaster, losing a series of carp after some part of a fight, the hooks simply coming away. Dreadfully disappointing; I tried a newer black nickel version from Partridge, which were equally ineffective, and when one slipped out of a big fish, I gave the remainder up as votive offerings.

I tentatively concluded that the barbless hooks (perhaps the result of not being made to accommodate a barb), had either a different temper or perhaps were just thinner with a longer point, and so were inclined to cut themselves out of a hook-hold as the leverage on the long shank changed during a fight (I wonder now if a cutting point might not have helped).

It’s possible that the cross-section of the barbed hooks' points was just thick enough to prevent the hook point ‘cutting’ its way out or that the barb simply held the hook in place. Certainly I lost no carp to hook pulls in this way in the course of many carp captures at Thatcham and several more at Milton Abbey (before my stocks ran out). Either way, that was that.

I switched to ESP Raptor G4 Barbless Hooks and the 'problem' vanished.

I have a soft spot for the original Japan black Jack Hiltons, as in principle they seemed right. I miss using them, and I keep the few remaining barbed hooks - these are well tempered.

'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p

Fishing HooksWhetstone.

I'm mildly amused by the array of magic hook-sharpening gadgets around. I personally think you need little more that a small double-sided whetstone (sometimes called a ‘pocket stone’) . These can be found in any proper hardware or tool-shop (and on the interweb). Don't oil it, use it dry, wet with water if you must. I carry a double-sided Draper, only 100mm × 25mm × 12mm which cost me barely a fiver.

The fine grit side is excellent for even size 16 hooks and the coarser grit is useful for keeping the VSSKVery Sharp Small Knife (Opinel No.7) and anything else that needs to be kept sharp. Scalpel blades, needles, my withering wits and so on.

The small double-sided whetstoneFine sideThe small double-sided whetstoneCoarse sideThe small double-sided whetstoneEdge view showing the two layers.
Another Crucian Carpcrucian...(and back to the top of the page) Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian Crucian Carpcrucian Another Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Crucian CarpCrucial crucian Another Crucian Carpcrucian Crucian CarpCarassius Carassius Crucian Carp againCrucial crucian

Fishing HooksHook Storage.

Do not ever keep hooks by sticking them into a handy cork, a piece of foam or a hat-band. They will rust.

Hooks for re-use (I never put a used hook back in the packet) are kept in a small soft plastic box with several compartments. I glued flat magnetic strips to the bottom, which were liberated from a hook-box designed for the purpose. Several small packets of deliquescent gel live in the compartments. It's kept firmly shut with its own catch and two broad silcone elastic bands.

The Hook-BoxThe hook-box, shut. The Hook-BoxThe hook-box, open.

The previous hook-box, source of the magnetic strips, was designed for hook keeping, but warped badly when exposed to sunlight and the catches broke, possibly the plastic brittle'd from the same exposure. Despite my best efforts to keep it working, by keeping it flat closed with wide rubber bands made from an inner tube, it leaked water (in) and occasionally small hooks (out). This cost me a number of obsolete and treasured ‘S3’ hooks, among others.

Suspect hooks (rust, rubbish or any collected on the bank) are put in a small screw-top container made from two plastic bottle caps. When this is edging towards capacity, I dispose of the contents by dropping them into a 'sharps bin'. Luckily most of the places I've ever worked have had these.

I have been known to take the needle-nosed out of the bag, twist the points off hooks, then fling them into the pool as a votive offering. This might have happened to two packets of 'Drennan Wide Gape Specialists' which were soft enough to have the points furled over by 4oz crucians, or it might not...

'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p

Fishing HooksTeflon

Some hooks have a Teflon (PTFE) coating. I'm not sure this bring anything to the party - although I concede the nice flat grey colour of a Teflon coated hook is considerably more utilitarian than a really shiny finish. Certainly the coating helps with rust-prevention, but preventing hooks from rusting is easy.

What's wrong with a nice Japan black finish though? Have you seen silt close up? Full of black bits it is.

I gather the notion is to improve hooking. It seems to me that the force resulting from friction between the hook point and the fish's flesh is basically negligible in comparison to the force applied when the hook is set, which is several magnitudes larger.

As long as the hook-point is sharp, especially if the point has a cutting point, I don’t see the lower coefficient of friction (µ) of the tiny area of Teflon involved making a tangible difference to hook-setting.

I suspect a bigger factor is the selling power of a sciencey sounding word on the hook packet.

A final point - many of the knots used to attach hooks are ‘friction knots’, i.e. relying on the accumulated friction of multiple turns of line around the hook-shank. E.g. the 'knotless', the ‘Uni-Snell’, the 'Domhoff' and so on. A lower coefficient of friction on the shank might make such knots less reliable, although this also might be intangible. This might explain why a dab of glue is de rigueur for some knots.

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Fishing HooksCurrently Using...

I still have and use a selection of ‘Korum’ S3 hooks, originally made by Owner. As far as I can tell they are ‘almost exactly like' the Owner Carp Taff CT5, which you can still get in sizes 8-2. Nice seamless eye make hook-knots stress free, but occasionally the shanks have a bump from the blob of solder used to made the 'seamless' eye, so these hooks tend to end up as votive offerings (Owner Taff CT4 pattern are also good, the curved shank CT3 seems fairly brutal in use) I like the two smallest S3 sizes a lot for general fishing, even if the ‘18’ is about the same size as a Kamasan Animal size 12...

...speaking of which, Kamasan Animal’s are still good, as are Kamasan B960’s, I keep a few of each. They’re stronger than they look and I’ve hard-held some decent tench on the 14’s (by-the-by, ‘Kamasan’ are a brand marketed by ‘Drennan’ and the internet suggests the hooks are manufactured by Daiichi, some might think this a good thing).

Korda Wide Gape ‘B’, ‘X’ and ‘XX’ are all good, made in Japan, like nearly all the best hooks. They don’t state they are carbon steel, but they hold their sharpness. Eyes could be neater. True of almost all hooks ever. I'm especially fond of the size 12 'B', it's a tough little hook. Currently, the 'X' & 'XX' are the only hooks I trust with the HSSREHexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment, which has a tendency to open up lesser hooks.

Korda Hybrid Longshank's are also in the bag, a useful strong hook.

Sasame Wormer are fine-wire hard tempered carbon steel and as sharp as a wasp sting. I keep a few packets for perching where there are no carp and dabbling in small streams. A speck of rust will cause them to snap, as will a large carp. But fine hooks in the right context for all that.

Kamatsu K-016’s (‘EasyGrip’) are a nice red-flashed fine-wire hook perfect for worming for perches and although a bit thicker in the wire than the preceding, I’m cautious about fishing carp-infested waters with them, but otherwise fine hooks.

An honourable mention for Mustard Carp X1 & X4's which I bought on a whim from a counter-top glory box. They're a bit shiny, but strong carbon-steel hooks, so are kept in the bag and I've used the odd one.

Some of the others I've used and liked for one reason or another are:

I'm torn between naming and shaming poor hooks and avoiding mentioning their names. Eh. Another entry, another time.

A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

Fishing HooksCutting Points.

Firstly, I refer the reader to Chapter 11 of ‘Carp and the Carp Angler’ by George Sharman. It’s an interesting chapter in many respects, but specifically for the description of ‘cutting points’ on hooks.

There is much to commend this idea in principle – Figure 21 shows a chisel-like cutting-edge hook point, which might not be practical for smaller hooks and fish (I’ve always assumed this diagram slightly exaggerates the edge to illustrate the principle). I've noted that when fishing for small crucians with a ‘good’ new hook, the hook sticks inside the fish's mouth which does the job, mostly, but can come loose with a little slack line. Which is fine.

I suspiciously test hook-points every time they are re-baited and if not completely convinced, I carefully hone a cutting point with a fine stone. This will nab the same fish, but with the hook-point though the lip and out.

Hone the hook-point in this way: the hook-bend is clamped in a pair of artery forceps. With the fine grit side, holding the stone lightly, run it up one side of the point a couple of times. Repeat on the other side of the hook. Take care not to touch the hook’s eye or the line (if line is attached keep a finger-tip in the way). Once both sides are honed, repeat with a couple more strokes on the point from the ‘front’ of the hook, that is from the outside of the bend. The goal is to create a point with a tiny cutting edge and then remove the front of this ‘edge’ leaving a triangular cutting point.

I assume this works as I’ve never examined such a point using a loupe, but on far larger hooks it seems to be what is intended. It certainly seems to work. I really need to get into the habit of starting my fishing with a re-honed hook...

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Fishing HooksHook-Related Diary Entries. Mostly Grumbling, Obviously. The psychology of negative events is instructive. It takes several positive events to balance or cancel out a single negative one ('negativity bias'). In this way bad experiences with (say) fish-hooks, loom larger in one's mind than the good; that is, the hook that 'just never fails' takes longer to generate a good impression.

For those that care, the ratio of positive events to negative required to balance out ill-effects, is in the region of three or four to one. If you’ve ever had a rubbish manager, you’ll know this. If you’ve managed others and ever wondered "Why are people so sensitive?", it’s probably because you've been a twat.

Fishing Hooks202027th July 2020. Rubbish Hooks.

One of the petty annoyances in life is faulty or substandard goods. Even more annoying, is when you eventually think, "Perhaps I'll raise this with the manufacturer..." and just get asked to return the goods for inspection. Put yourself in the place of the complainant; they've made a reasonable complaint, the response is to give them work to do with an additional cost. At best this is unthinking and at worst, simply a 'buzz off'.

Not for the first time, I've checked a hook after use and found the point furled over. Some hooks do this, others do not. I've never had a Kamasan Animal or Sasame Wormer do this (for example). I recently bought some 'Korum Xpert Specialist Hooks' in 16s and 14s as I rather liked the look of them. I tried a '16', first time out the hook point furled on the first fish (a tench). I resorted, not for the first time, to clamping the hook in the Spenser-Wells and honing the point back to true. Inevitably this results in a slightly shorter point which may not penetrate as well. I tried another from the same packet, which lasted two small crucians, then on a second trip I tried two size 14s, with similar results. How annoying is this?

It's almost as if someone somewhere is cutting corners on the hooks' steel or their treatment. What is wrong with good carbon steel, properly hardened? Too much to ask? I wrote to Korum. They responded at least, but as noted above the response was 'more work for me' plus the postage cost (about half the cost of packet of hooks). I don't think so.

'Sharps bin' it is.

Will I buy Korum hooks again? Norfolk Enchants.

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