Curves In All The Wrong Places

Curves In All The Wrong Places

Martyn White | Thursday, 27 May 2021

I lost an enormous carp last week. Enormous. It would easily have been my PB had I landed it, but I didn't. It's hard not to feel bad when things like that happen, but the questions that come of it can be useful or the answers can be at least.

I had been a pretty slow day, I started fishing some bouldery pockets below a dam looking for bass but only picked up one little guy and saw nothing else but carp for hours. Eventually I decided to switch over and start targeting the carp. I should have done it earlier than I did, but sometimes I can be too stubborn for my own good. Anyway it didn't take too long to get an eat which even though the fish wasn't very big, was a bit of a day saver. Then I came round a bend where the riffle between the pools dumps into a deep pocket with a concrete diversion and tetrapods turning the river and creating a big slack backwater behind the eddy. There were about 12 fish, all big, and the biggest, well over 35lb was closest to me near the edge of the riffle and feeding well. The shot was criminally easy and the fish ate the fly eagerly on the first attempt, milled about in a circle for a few minutes before realising it was hooked and heading downstream. I followed and fought the fish for a good five minutes before it started trying to get into the tetrapods. I was desperately trying to hold the fish out of them when the hook pulled. Upsetting.

My first thought was that I had pulled too hard that's something I can live with because if I hadn't and the fish made the tetrapods there would have been no hope of landing it. But I kept going over it in my mind and I think that the real reason for loosing the fish was the curved hook. I've long been suspicious of curved hooks, and I felt like I might be losing more fish when using them. I usually keep a diary of my fishing, I don't always include lost fish so it's hard to be precise, but I can extrapolate a bit from what I do have, which seems to confirm my suspicions. I know a lot of carp flies that I see out there are tied on scud hooks, but they usually seem to have barbs. I never intentionally fish barbed hooks, I once forgot to debarb one and it was incredibly difficult to remove from the carp's leathery lip - never again. And anyway,for most flies in most situations there's no advantage in using a shrimp, scud, buzzer style hook from a fish fooling point of view- no matter how aesthetically pleasing the shape is to us. 

I know there's no way to know for sure, but I have a feeling that a straight hook would have given me a better chance of stopping that fish. Maybe it would still have escaped me, but the doubt made me check my notes and convinced me that the curved hooks need to be phased out of my carp box in short order.