ESP Cryogen hooks are now available in a barbless version. Marc Coulson gives his verdict…
RRP: £4.25 for a pack of 10 | www.esp-carpgear.com
The unique process used in manufacturing the Cryogens involves extreme heating and extended cooling of the steel, resulting in a super-strong (up to 30 per cent stronger, in fact) and durable hook, which has then been finished in ESP’s own ‘Tufflon’ coating.
Forget sharpening these bad boys as the steel is so tough you’ll soon get bored of making very little progress with any file.
It’s a good job, then, that they are wickedly sharp straight from the packet and require absolutely no touching up.
Crucially, thanks to the aforementioned cryogenic tempering, the sharp points are maintained through multiple captures.
After finding favour with many top anglers, including very many who are not on ESP’s books, ESP has not been able to make these hooks quickly enough to satisfy demand.
Thankfully, however, they’ve now got round to producing a barbless version in three of the most popular and versatile patterns, much to the delight of day-ticket anglers who are more often than not subject to barbless-only rules.
First up, and in eye-catching packaging, the barbless Gripper is a classic wide-gape pattern with an in-turned eye and beaked point.
Personally, if faced with a barbless rule, I would always reach for something with this beaked point as it offers far more security than a straight-point hook. You’ll lose far fewer fish on one of these than most other patterns.
The second pattern to be given the barbless treatment is the hugely popular Stiff Rigger, the ideal hook for use with chod rigs and a hinged stiff rig.
The outturned eye also lends itself to use with monofilaments and fluorocarbons, preventing any line damage that can sometimes be caused by an in-turned eye.
Finally, and with fans of the Ronnie rig (yawn) in mind, the superb Curve Shanx features exactly that, a progressively curved shank which seamlessly forms an eye at the same angle.
This is a great pattern for a bottom-bait and wafter rig too, with the shape of the bend often negating the need for any shrink tubing or kicker.