The hook is often compared with the wheel, difficult to improve. Well compare today’s latest low profile alloy car wheel with the shieldshaped things on Boudica’s chariot and that just about sums up the leap from the Stone Age bone hook to today’s high-tech tempered carbon steel fish-holder. Alan Yates explains...
CHOOSING the size, pattern and type of hook hinges on many factors, including experience and knowledge. Many, especially novices, get it totally wrong basing their choices on what it looks like rather than what it has been designed to do.
In the old days, when hooks were made in Norway or Sheffield, they were sharpened mechanically and then tumbled in a vat of enamel paint to stop them rusting, which ironically dulled the points. Now hooks are coated chemically to prevent corrosion so the point isn’t physically altered and stays as sharp as when it was made.
The second breakthrough came when lightweight, finer and stronger hook wires became available for hook making.
Small eyes make baiting easier
The working parts of a hook
Prime parts of a hook include the eye, which can be replaced by the spade end because it does less damage to small, soft baits like marine worms. Modern hooks also have far smaller eyes than the old styles of the past.
The barb is there primarily to prevent the hook falling out and although coarse anglers have proved at long range it’s not always necessary, in the sea it still has a place. Micro barbs are far more fish friendly for catch and release and it is a positive fact that barbless hooks are sharper because of the uniform decrease in the point’s diameter.
The hook’s coating can be in a range of materials and colours, these can be utilized to suit the bait. Black for lug, silver for sandeels, gold colour for rag, choice is also down to personal preference.
Shank length dictates what type of bait can be used, long shank, for example, are easier to thread worms on and easier to remove from flat fish.
The gape of the hook, between point and shank, is what determines the hook’s size and although this is generally uniform it is not precise or exact between patterns or manufacturers.
Hooks are primarily chosen by size and by the job they are expected to do. Small hooks, for example, are not very effective pushed in a large bait, although quite small hooks are capable of holding large fish. But that’s down to the tough wire, tempering and sharpening processes.
Smaller hooks are also much more fish friendly.
Buy hooks because of their reputation, sharpness, strength and reliability.
Alan’s top hook choice
There’s no such thing as the perfect hook, but the nearest I guess is the Aberdeen, but it must be chemically etched in a strong wire and come out of a packet with a reputable name on it.!
Hooks are cheap and in the harsh sea environment blunt quickly. Never use a hook twice, although larger patterns over 6/0 can be re-sharpened. Not only is placing a used hook back among new hooks the way to trigger corrosion, you can bet it won’t be as sharp as a new one.
Striking home the hook
Boat anglers enjoy greater success in terms of striking a hook home because they lift the hook into the top jaw of the fish, while from the shore the hook is often pulled out or even levered sideways away from the fish’s mouth.
Tide helps hook a fish when it takes the bait because any momentary halt in forward motion causes the hook to dig in.
A majority of novice sea anglers lose fish through striking too early. The decision to strike should be made solely on conservation or rod safety grounds. Striking as early as possible is more fish friendly than fish bag filling.