The Right Choices

The Right Choices

Martyn White | Thursday, 15 December 2022

Recently a few folk asked me why I choose certain hooks over the ones listed in pattern books for my carp flies, so I thought I'd do a page here with the answer too.

The main reason is pretty simple, many of the flies you'll find listed in the few books on carp fly fishing or articles are on hooks that are suitable for small to medium fish in lakes, but will almost certainly let you down if you need to stick it to a big fish in a river. There are other factors like the hooking mechanics or how the shape suits the pattern or affects the way it fishes. But strength is the primary concern. Over the last few years I've really narrowed down the selection of hooks I use; a short boilie hook, a long curved boilie hook, the Kamasam B175, Kamasan B200 and occasionally a Gammy SL45 although I'm not super keen on it. I used to use the Tiemco 2457 heavy grub too, but I've phased them out after becoming convinced that I lose more fish hooked on grub hooks.

The boilie hooks are obviously strong enough, they're designed for carp bait anglers so have to be able to take the pressure that can be applied with a 3lb test-curve rod and, possibly, PE mainline. I usually use the owner C series, but I'm not so worried about brands-any of the popular carp hooks will do. The short shank models are for hybrids, headstands, worms, eggs and any smallish nymph with a compact body. The longer hump shanked hook is a replacement for the inexplicably popular TMC 200R(which is far too weak) so fies like Barry's carp fly. I also use it for my anti-eject flies, but more on them at a later date.

The B175 is the heavy wire wet fly hook from Kamasan, although it too used to be sold as a carp hook. It lost popularity with the bait anglers in the 90s when PE braid came into common use because it wasn't quite strong enough fo the bait anglers, not a problem for us though as we're not using 3lb rods and braid- even pointing the rod at the fish and locking up there's so much more stretch in our sytem that we just can't put the same pressure on the hook. I use it a lot for standard carp patterns like the carp carrot, I also use it for all my carp dries. It's never let me down- not something I can say about other "normal" fly hook brands. I replace any standard shank hook with it and 1-2x long nymph hooks on several patterns. When replacing a nymph hook I just go up a size to get the shank length, which gives the added advantage of increasing the gape which means better hooking. The B200 is the deepwater nymph model, if there's a stronger long shank fly hook in this size range, I don't know about it. Anything where the length matters and the B175 either doesn't exist big enough or just doesn't fit the pattern like a clouser crayfish is where I use this. The only fly I use the SL45 for is the backstabber, although I'm moving more and more to the B175 for this too I've seen the SL45 break on carp although it's never happened to me.

It's taken me about 14 years to get to this point and at least 10 of them I was fishing almost exclusievly for carp, so let's say an average of 80 days a year over the whole period, it's a lot of testing! I'm now reasonably happy that I can cover pretty much any carp fishing situation without having to worry about a hook failure, there are still plenty of other things that can go wong though!