What carp hook to use in what situation is a crucial part of the fishing jigsaw, but add in the huge array of manufacturers and it can become a headache.
But fear not. Drawing on his wealth of knowledge and experience, Marc Coulson has picked his favourite hook patterns from seven different tackle companies to cover all bases.
GARDNER TACKLE COVERT MUGGAS | RRP: £4.25
Verdict: It’s like they were made for Ronnie rigs
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you can’t have escaped the Ronnie rig and subsequent variations since it was ‘outed’ by Gardner’s Lewis Read.
The rig, which is similar in nature to the 360 but made with different components, spins to present the hookpoint as soon as a fish makes even the slightest contact.
As such, it benefits from using a curved-shank pattern of hook, the perfect example of which is the Mugga.
Used by the original ‘inventor’ of the Ronnie, it works perfectly with a quick-change swivel. It’s the ideal pattern and, although the hook was out long before the rig, it’s like they were produced with the Ronnie in mind.
Gardner’s Muggas are also renowned for their sharpness – no need to get the vice and files out with these, and the new Covert finish is also in keeping with modern trends.
I’m a huge fan of the 360 rig, so only use the Ronnie on a few occasions, but when doing so these are the first hook I turn to.
KODEX MGP GENOMIC CHOD HOOKS | RRP: £3.50
Verdict: Good open-water hook and great value
I was sent samples of these hooks, in plain packaging, just prior to launch – and they’ve retained a place in my tackle box ever since.
My supply has since dwindled to just a handful, which I reckon is a good sign as I’ve obviously liked using them and, fortunately, I managed to pick up another couple of packs recently.
I’ll make a quick confession and say that I am a fan of ready-tied chod rigs, such is the quality of the modern versions, but when I’ve needed to tie up a chod from scratch I’ve used the Genomic on several occasions.
I’d rate them as medium to strong and the sharpness is consistent, albeit I touch mine up anyway, and the beaked point is definitely to my liking.
I hate losing fish so have tended towards a beaked point in a chod pattern. I think maybe a straight point pricks more fish, or pricks fish more easily, but a beaked point is more secure when playing fish, especially on a rig which I seem to have lost more fish when using it than any other.
FOX EDGES MEDIUM CURVES | RRP: £4.50
Verdict: The ideal hook for my 360 rigs
As a huge fan of the 360 pop-up rig I was gutted when JRC discontinued its Connect terminal tackle range, as the hook of the same name was the perfect pattern for the presentation.
Since then I have searched for a suitable replacement, which Fox has finally produced in this pattern.
The eye doesn’t quite line up with the point, as the JRC one did, but it’s mighty close and certainly more like it than any others that I’ve tried.
Fox has made all of the new Edges hooks from a slightly heavier wire compared to the previous Armapoints, which I really like as it offers that all-important security in the fight.
They’re also extremely prickly and do not need sharpening. Tom Maker and Lee Morris each said to me recently that if you need to sharpen hooks then you’re using the wrong brand!
If you’re a hook sharpener and you haven’t tried the Edges range yet then you should.
NASH FANG TWISTERS | RRP: £5.49
Verdict: Great bottom-bait pattern with options to tie all manner of rigs
Very different to anything before it, when the Fang Twister was launched a few years ago it was met with raised eyebrows.
Those in the know, however, immediately recognised it as a pattern that had lots of potential and would be extremely versatile.
That’s exactly how it has proved and I’ve carried some Twisters in my tackle box ever since.
I’ve seen others use them for pop-up presentations but for me this is a bottom-bait pattern and a bloody good one at that.
There’s no need to add any tubing or kicker as the angle of the eye lends itself perfectly to using with a standard knotless knot, making it both versatile and easy to use.
The smaller sizes are particularly good and on the occasions that I use maggots, a size 10 Twister blow-back rig is my first choice and the resulting hook holds have often been unbelievable.
In the very early days I had a couple of size 6s open up on me while fishing a venue where the fish were notorious for having hard mouths, but have never had any issues since.
ESP CRYOGEN CURVE SHANX | RRP: £3.95
Verdict: Versatile, sharp and extremely reliable
More years ago than I care to remember, Kamasan launched a curve-shanked pattern which was the precursor to the modern hooks of a similar design, in the carp market at least.
Prior to that we had to rely on one or two nymph patterns from the fly market if we wanted anything close to this.
Latterly, ESP’s Curve Shanx took on the Kamasan’s mantle and, more recently, it features in the brilliant Cryogen range.
Essentially, the cryogenic process of extreme heat and cold tempering results in a wire which is up to 30 per cent stronger than a traditional wire of the same gauge.
The only downside is that they are so strong that sharpening them is difficult at best. It’s a good job, then, that they’re very sharp from the packet.
The swept shank and eye create a pattern that doesn’t need any tubing or sleeves, but can be used with just a standard knotless knot.
Most firms have a pattern similar to the Curve Shanx these days, such is the quality and success it boasts.
SOLAR STRONGHOLD 101s | RRP: £5.99
Verdict: Great bottom-bait pattern and extremely durable
Another hook which I got to try out before its release (friends in high places, and all that) and which I was immediately impressed with.
I used to use a similar pattern in Fox’s Kuro range but the 101’s launch, and the fact that the Kuros have since been discontinued, saw this become my go-to bottom-bait hook.
I often incorporate a hook sleeve to extend the shank in a safe manner and the hook hold this creates have been phenomenal on occasions.
Rightly, I think, most hook manufacturers are these days placing strength at the top of their list of priorities and these certainly fit that bill, as the name suggests.
In testing, Solar claims that 101 consecutive carp were landed before Martin Locke had to change his hook, hence the rest of the name.
While this might seem an inordinately high number, they are certainly durable enough it would seem.
KORDA WIDE GAPE | RRP: £4.25
Verdict: A go-anywhere pattern, my particular favourite in barbless
I’m pretty sure that, over the last decade, if you asked a host of top anglers which hook they’d choose if only allowed one, most would choose Korda’s Wide Gape.
Based on the cult Maruta Kinryu hook and a pattern which many manufacturers have since mimicked, Wide Gapes remain a faithful companion to some of the biggest names in carp fishing including many who are not Korda sponsored (ssshhh!).
While I do not use them particularly often I would never go fishing without some size 6s and 8s in my tackle box as they are just so versatile and I’ve never had one let me down.
If I ever visit a barbless-hooks-only water I will reach for a packet of size 8 Wide Gape Bs.
They too are extremely versatile and the beaked-point pattern seem to land more carp than any other barbless pattern I have ever used.