Selecting the correct hook for carp fishing can be extremely daunting for new and even experienced anglers’ with the massive selection available in tackle shops today.
Hooks come in various sizes, shapes, eye or spade varieties, gapes and even different point lengths. Selecting the correct type of hook for your fishing session can have a massive effect on your catch rates and help you avoid losing fish.
Considering all tackle manufacturers claim to provide the best hooks it can be very difficult to ensure you are actually using the best hook for the way you are fishing.
Don’t worry though, in this post I’m going to provide an in-depth look into the basics of carp fishing hooks and also a look into the best hooks for carp fishing and what fishing situations they are best used within.
I know it might not sound like the most exciting topic but believe me this information could really improve your fishing sessions so don’t leave just yet.
Carp Fishing Hook Breakdown
Before I start getting into the detail of carp fishing hooks you’ll need a quick explanation of each part of the fishing hook so you fully understand the terminology.
The “eye” style fishing hooks provide a hole or “eye” for you to feed your line through for tying hooks into rigs. These come in two different styles “in-turned” or “out-turned”.
The hook in the picture above features an in-turned eye as the eye is angled towards the point of the hook. In-turned eye hooks are most commonly used for braided hook link materials.
Out-turned eye hooks are then more suited towards stiff monofilament hook links that are wider in diameter so the eye needs to be larger. These hooks are most commonly used in Chod Rigs.
Instead of an eye some fishhooks may come with in the “spade” variety. This required a different knot for attaching your hook and is most commonly used by match anglers’.
When targeting large fish it is best to opt for eyed hooks as they are know to be stronger and more reliable under heavy tension from large carp.
Gap or Gape
The “Gap” or more commonly referred to as the “Gape” is the distance between the “shank” of the hook and the point. Hooks usually come in wide-gape but never really “small gape”. Wide Gape hooks means that the distance between the barb and shank is longer than usual.
I’ll let you know when these hooks are used for further through the post.
Unsurprisingly the point is the sharp part at the end of the hook that is used to penetrate the mouth of the carp. Even these come in different’t types which are usually;
- Straight points which are usually used for weedy swims as they are less likely to snag on weeds and other debris.
- Long points are best used for hooking into the older and more developed carp that have far firmer mouths than juveniles.
- Beaked points are best used when fishing over gravel bottoms as they withstand the abrasion from the gravel far better which will keep your hooks sharper for longer.
The shank is the length from the eye to the start of the hooks curve. Short shanks are thought to be better when fishing baits that are hair rigged close to the back of the hook. On the other hand, long shanks are preferred by carp anglers’ looking to increase the hooking angle of their rig.
Wide Gape Hooks
The wide gape hook is probably the most common and versatile of all the hook types. They have an in-turned eye that is best used with soft mono or braid.
The in-turned eye helps the hook turn when tied with a knotless knot style hair rig which allows for various bait presentations.
These hooks work great when paired with bottom baits such as boilies and pop up rigs but they can also be used for surface baits such as bread.
They have a high strength to size ration and the larger gape improves the chances of keep the fish hooked once the mouth has been penetrated.
Long Shank Hooks
This style of carp fishing hooks lend themself perfectly to any bottom baits.
These hooks have a shank nearly twice the length of your average wide gape hook and turn over very quickly when a fish become intrigues with your hook bait.
It is common for a small piece of tube to be fixed on the in-turned eye to aid this hook turning speed so fish are hooked more easily.
Double boilies or even maggot clips or rings work extremely well with this hook.
Curved Shank Hooks
These hooks were most widely used for fly-fishing but have since made their way into the carp fishing world over the years.
The main benefit of these curved shank hooks is once the fish is hooked it can find it very difficult to spit the hook.
Stiff Rigger Hooks
This hook has an out-turned eye and is perfect to use with stiff fluorocarbons.
These hooks are perfect to use for your chod rig.
Barbed or Barbless Hooks
Barbed hooks have an overlapping point to stop the hook from sliding back out once something is penetrated and then obviously barbless hooks don’t have this.
A lot of venues enforce that only barbless hooks can be used for the safety of their fish. Barbless hooks are far easier to remove from the carps mouth and cause minimal damage compared to barbed hooks.
Ofcourse this also has its downsides. Barbless hooks are far more likely to pull from the carps mouth when playing the fish so many anglers’ still stick with barbed hooks when they get the opportunity.
As soon as carp are hooked their primary instincts come to life and they move and twist around during the fight in an attempt to spit the hook.
Carp will often dart towards cover and weed beds which they use to create an angle and slack line which can cause the hook to pull out fairly easily if you are using barbless hooks.
On the other hand though, if the hooked carp reaches the weedbed when it is hooked with a barbed hook the chances of the hook dislodging is very slim.
This may look great from an anglers’ perspective but this can also result in some serious damage to the carp. If the carp is lodged deep in the weeds the angler will pull extremely hard to try to dislodge the fish which will put massive amounts of pressure on the fish which can cause damage to the mouth.
Also, even if the line has snapped the fish will not be able to expel a barbed hook so this could result in serious issues for the fish if a safe rig has not been used and the fish is swimming around with a lead attached.
To fully decide if barbed or barbless are the best hooks for carp fishing we must take a look at both sides of the argument.
On the other hand, many anglers’ believe that barbed hooks are safer due to not moving in the carp’s mouth during the fight. This is thought to reduce the chance of tearing but to be honest I don’t know if i fully agree with this.
I have consistently used barbless hooks and very rarely have I seen any small tears due to the hook.
Personally I believe that barbless hooks are by far the safest option but if the option is available to you then that is completely up to you what you believe to be the best.
Once you have purchased the best hooks for carp fishing it is essential that you look after them properly to keep them in prime condition for many fishing sessions.
The main issue that you’ll find with heavily used fishing hooks is that they start to become blunt. This can have a detrimental effect your fishing as they can struggle to hook carp when they are investigating your bait.
This will give the fish too much time to spit you hook and swim away from the area.
Sharpening your hooks is an extremely easy task that should be doing before ever session if you are really serious about catching some carp.
You’ll need a few simple tools to get yourself started but they’re really not expensive at all. The kit below should do just fine;
This kit will allow you to easily hold any size of hook so you can confidently sharpen the point using the file.
You can test the point into the skin on your finger to get a proper feel of how sharp your hook is which will give you a good gauge of how much sharpening you need to do.
You should be extremely careful not to over sharpen the hook as this will take away a lot of the strength in the hook and can even break off the point.
When you’ve finished with your hooks try to keep them in a box or even in the original packet so they don’t move around too much.
You might sometimes find a small spot of rust or corrosion on the tip of your hook if it has been left in a packet for a few weeks.
You should not worry about this and a quick touch from the file should take off this surface rust.
How to Unhook Carp Correctly
Its all good buying the best hooks to penetrate the carps mouth without any damage but you will also need to learn how to remove the hook from the carp quickly and easily without causing any damage.
More often than not, removing a barbless hook should be extremely easy.
By simple applying some pressure on the eye of the hook towards the point with your thumb you will be able to roll the hook out of the carps mouth following the curve of the point.
As most carp rigs are self hook such as the method feeder rig the fish should always be hooked in the upper or lower section of its mouth.
In the odd occasion that the hook has been swallowed slightly further a good set of forceps should do the trick in reach into the carps mouth to grasp the shank of the hook.
The following video below should give you all the information you need on carp care when the fish is out of the water.
I’ve even written a post on how to handle carp correctly if you are interested.