Colin Mitchell, our popular weekly blogger, is back asking does size really matter? If you like this blog, click the social media share buttons.
ONE of the last things you do as you tackle up is select your hook.
So do you go down the safe, tried and tested route and match it to the size of the bait you are using?
Or do you think about the fish you are going to catch, the size of the specimen, its mouth and the chance each size of hook will give you of landing that fish?
Or when you are simply pleasure fishing for anything that swims do you tie on a size 14 or 16, the biggest selling sizes in most UK tackle shops?
Species and bait
My fishing brain has nearly always guided me along the lines of matching both species and bait at the same time as I pull a hook out of my box. On some venues I will instinctively know what size I am going to use, often because I have been to the venue on numerous occasions and just read the conditions.
Just recently I was out and fishing was hard. I had already scaled down to an 18 – often regarded as a small hook in warm weather in my books. But one of my former match fishing colleagues, who I rate highly, was down to a 22 just along the bank from me.
I was fishing double maggot – and he was on small pieces of worm. He caught more than me but in my defence I was hoping for bigger fish and willing to miss out on the smaller roach and perch.
At the same time four times World Champion Bob Nudd was fishing a big event in Ireland with four maggots on a size 10 to catch roach. Needles to say he did well (that man Nuddy would catch fish from an empty bucket!).
Now you could argue that Nuddy’s target fish were wild and so less hook shy. But would you put on a size 10 for roach? You might if you were fishing bread or trying to catch the bigger ones and avoid smaller fish. I’ve fished 10 and 12 hooks myself for roach and not just in Ireland.
Effects of thicker wire
Like most of my fishing life, I still believe that hook size is very important, even if you are fishing baits on a hair rig. The size of the hook has to fit easily into the fish’s mouth. It also has to be strong enough to land what you hook without bending open. But another key factor that some anglers forget is that the weight of the hook is very important.
Stronger hooks do, in most cases, have thicker wire and weigh more. That means they offer slightly more resistance to a fish sucking in a bait – and they also fall faster through the water, so could cost you bites on the drop.
You might think the difference is so minimal that it doesn’t matter. You would be wrong.
If you don’t believe me first think about how diameter of line affects bites and then experiment with hooks of different gauge wire (some of them now have their thickness marked on packets).
The general rule is to fish with as big a hook as you can so you can land anything you hook.But sometimes a smaller hook can actually work in your favour in that department.
Smaller hooks, bigger hold
A small hook with a good hold takes some getting out – just think about when you have had problems removing a small hook, even a barbless one.
The late, great Ivan Marks used to catch big bream on 20 and 22 hooks even when you could tempt them on much larger patterns. His theory then was that he got more bites but that those small hooks took some shifting by the fish once they were on your line. His results would suggest that you can’t argue with this theory!
But at the end of the day I think you would find it difficult to get a better guideline than use a hook that matches your bait.
A 22 or 20 for a single maggot; double maggot on an 18 or 20; a 4mm pellet on an 18 or 16; bit of worm on an 18 or 16; medium sized worm on a 16 or 14 – those are all good guidelines.
Don’t try to stick a lobworm on a 20 – it just won’t worm! Get a decent sized 12 at least – one of my mates uses a 10 or 8 and still gets fish!
Bread punch may be ok on an 18 or 20 but a piece of flake needs at least a 14, maybe even a 6 if it’s a big chunk for chub.
But a 6 isn’t good for bread flake if you are after roach with smaller mouths. Drop down to a sensible 14 or maybe a 12.
Don’t just look at size on a packet
We’ve already looked at how different patterns can be made from various gauge wires. But different manufacturers size hooks differently.
They maybe shouldn’t but it is a fact that size 16 in one make might be larger or smaller than a 16 from another company.
Use your eyes! Look at the hook and decide it is right for the fish you are after and the baits you are using.
Quite often nowadays I don’t even look at the size of the hook I am going to select – I have a range of a certain pattern in each of my hook boxes and just select the size that I reckon will be right on the day. I carry around three main hook boxes with barbless hooks, one with lightweight models, one medium and the other with real animal tamer hooks.
Each of those three boxes has sizes ranging from 20 or 22 up to size 10s. That gives me a selection of 24 hooks – plenty in my book to cover virtually every situation I will face. Bigger hooks and semi-barbed hooks in all sizes are kept separately in another box as they are rarely used.