Rivers and Small Hooks

Zerkalo

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Having just ordered and received 100 size 16 Kamasan B520s it got me thinking about hook size.

Being a former canal angler I'm no stranger to using small hooks, 24s and so on in winter, and without a doubt it seemed necessary at the time.

On the other hand, I have been thinking that the majority of fish targeted on rivers, and probably canals too, have never seen a hook before and so at least on the places I fish for them, they aren't exactly hook shy.

I often read on rivers, more so in the past, that light lines and light hooks are the way to go with anglers using 22s to 0.08 for example.

Do you think this is necessary now as I have also read about trends of anglers fishing heavier than before, nowadays? Is it because the fish are less heavily fished for these days and so you can get away with heavier terminal tackle or are light lines and small hooks still necessary?
 

Freesolo82

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I always thought the hook size should match the bait your using which is why such small hooks are used on canals for squatt fishing for example, the other thing that dictates hook size is how aggressive you are with bringing in the fish, you can't swing in 4oz roach on a 22 and not have them come off.
I never worry if the fish can see the hook I worry if my bait matches the size hook I'm using.
 

Silverfisher

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In my experience there is rarely a need to drop below an 18 and 2lb hooklinks. In the first half of the season the fish are competing well enough for a bait thafs going past them that they don’t have time to worry about the hook and line too much and in the winter the rivers tend to be very coloured so there’s almost no way they can see much. As said above it’s more important for the hook and line to allow the bait to behave naturally as to thick line and a big hook will mess that up. Plus too thick and big and it’s visibility probably starts to have an effect at a point. You certainly don’t want to go too heavy. My dad doesn’t fish much these days so when he comes with me he tends to be a bit cautious and gets stuck in commercial mode so starts off often on 16 to 3lb and I massively out catch him on 18s to 2-2.5lb.

Properly waffly but in summary I dont think a 20 to 1.5lb gives much advantage over an 18 to 2.5lb but an 18 to 2.5lb gives a big advantage over 16 to 3.5lb if that makes sense. At least it seems to in my experience lol
 
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Zerkalo

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B520s come up a small size so a 16 in them is probably more like an 18 in say, most Drennan patterns, and I think good for either double or single maggot. I use 0.10 hooklengths which are 3.1lb and give me a good chance of getting decent Chub out of a snaggy swim, but fear going heavier than that on my new Acolyte.

I think it was Trent anglers of the past that used very light terminal tackle I have read about on here?
 

Silverfisher

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I think it was Trent anglers of the past that used very light terminal tackle I have read about on here?
I’m guessing here but I don’t think the really light hooks and line were ever really a feature in the warmer months I think it was more in the winter when in years gone by it was colder and drier so the rivers were clear and cold more often.
 

grey

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Depends on how you're fishing and what you're fishing for.

If you're working your bait in the flow, then you need the lightest hook and most supple (often lightest) hook length you can get away with. Any excess weight or stiffer line will usually have a negative effect on catch rate on a river. You might be able to fish heavier with static baits on a river without it affecting the end result so much.

I find hook size is dictated by bait, too small a hook will miss fish. So I try and save as much weight as I can by fishing the lightest gauge rather than the smallest hook. A spade end (as opposed to an eyed hook) will save you 25-30% weight on an 16.

I think the B520 is a great maggot/caster hook for rivers, or the B511 for other baits - stepping up to B611 for bigger fish (probably the best all-round river hook). The B711 is great if you're getting the chub too.
 

IanG1

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B520s come up a small size so a 16 in them is probably more like an 18 in say, most Drennan patterns, and I think good for either double or single maggot. I use 0.10 hooklengths which are 3.1lb and give me a good chance of getting decent Chub out of a snaggy swim, but fear going heavier than that on my new Acolyte.

I think it was Trent anglers of the past that used very light terminal tackle I have read about on here?
As you say the B520 is a small size 16 and an 18 in say a Drennan Carbon Match. It has been my go to hook for stick float and waggler fishing for ever and they are very strong for the guage of wire and the micro barb is ideal for thrashing dace and roach.
If you read about the Trent legends like Dean and Allerton etc they often fished 26's to old bayer perlon 12oz hooklengths which in todays money was probably 08 in modern lines. The fish were well fished for in them days with massive matches mid week and every weekend along vast stretches of the river so going this fine was perceived as an edge.
 

Simon R

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I think a lot depends on the actual river.
I fish a lot on the upper Yorkshire rivers which are generally fast flowing - the fish does not have a lot of time to decide if wants my hookbait before it's gone whizzing past - well hopefully not whizzing past 'cos I'll usually be holding the float back quite hard - but I don't consider the hooksize / line diameter to be the most important factor.

On the Trent in the days of Frank Barlow the use of 1.7lb BS mainline and hooklengths down to 12oz BS were commonplace with hook sizes down to 22. In those days the Trent was fished every day and the fish were pressurised and as a result finer lines and smaller hooks were required to get bites. It was mainly small fish too - roach and skimmers with odd small chub - so light lines were not an issue.

Simon
 

Zerkalo

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Some interesting insights here. I'm reading as I put off going to work so thank you.

When the small fish are about on the Stour I fish, they really haven't seen a hook before, so you catch them even on bunches of maggots on 14s and 12s when fishing for bigger fish. It is more like the river in this video. He fishes 0.10 to a size 16 like me.



I'm thinking my next session will be at Stourport on the Severn and although I think I will get away with 16s if it fishes alright, I can see how smaller hooks might be an edge in terms of presentation. Though again I don't think it is as highly pressured at the moment as some stretches on rivers have been in the past.
 

adriang

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I usually start on a 20 for most of my river fishing with maggots or caster. An 18 would be got bagging. I did use 16s for fishing tares in the summer, but I rarely use seafishing sized hooks!
 

pauln

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Sea fishing sized hooks were great for bread flake and cheese paste !
 

richox12

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Properly waffly but in summary I dont think a 20 to 1.5lb gives much advantage over an 18 to 2.5lb but an 18 to 2.5lb gives a big advantage over 16 to 3.5lb if that makes sense. At least it seems to in my experience lol
In my experience, and on the Thames summer & winter, the difference between using 0.10 to a 20 and 0.12 to an 18 is massive. The 0.12 would be chub fishing. 0.10 would be bagging and a normal starting combination for maggot would be a 22 to 0.08. In the past a Carbon Chub 22 to 1.1lb Bayer was a normal waggler hooklength for chub. And a 22 Carbon Chub is small by today's standards.

I still think smaller/finer hooks and lighter/thinner lines when fishing the float will get you more bites and quicker bites. But things do need to be balanced and durable/robust.
 

NoCarpPlease

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I always thought the hook size should match the bait your using which is why such small hooks are used on canals for squatt fishing for example, the other thing that dictates hook size is how aggressive you are with bringing in the fish, you can't swing in 4oz roach on a 22 and not have them come off.
I never worry if the fish can see the hook I worry if my bait matches the size hook I'm using.
as a generalisation - above quote is a good starting point.

Summer or winter, pressured venue or not - dropping hook size and hooklength diameter can make a huge difference to the number of hittable bites.
But - you have to balance out having strong enough gear to land the majority of fish that you hook.
Wire gauge (ie. weight) is just as important as size of course:
Generally for roach and dace I start on an 18 fine wire to 0.09 hooklength and go up or down from that depending on bites. In winter (when I'm using single maggot a lot more than in the summer - I'll perhaps start on a 20 more often.
But for chub fishing I'll most often be targetting fish in the 3 pound plus bracket in snaggy swims - so start on an 18 forged to 0.15 hooklength, dropping down if I can't get bites. IMO 0.10 is too light for decent size chub unless the swim is snag free ... although obviously have landed plenty on that sort of gear when fishing for roach and dace.

I do use fine wire 22s when fishing for perch on low, clear rivers as they can be quite tackle shy, along with winter fishing using pinkies (for roach or dace).
 

Silverfisher

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In my experience, and on the Thames summer & winter, the difference between using 0.10 to a 20 and 0.12 to an 18 is massive. The 0.12 would be chub fishing. 0.10 would be bagging and a normal starting combination for maggot would be a 22 to 0.08. In the past a Carbon Chub 22 to 1.1lb Bayer was a normal waggler hooklength for chub. And a 22 Carbon Chub is small by today's standards.

I still think smaller/finer hooks and lighter/thinner lines when fishing the float will get you more bites and quicker bites. But things do need to be balanced and durable/robust.
I’ve found it dropping down by 0.01-0.02 possibly makes a differences at times but never a dramatic enough difference for me to be sure. Like sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but I’ve never had it completely change a session. Is an interesting point though and one I think I’ll experiment with more next season to get a proper idea of how it works ??
 

ravey

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I have to confess that I’m a fan of small hooks and fine lines. I’ll often use a size 22 or even a 24 on the Trent for the roach if using maggot. There have been times when changing from a 12 to a 24 has made a noticeable difference in terms of quantity and quality of the fish caught. If I’m wading, it is better to pick the fish out rather than risk swinging them, and is less faffing about than netting. Just my experience. For hemp and Tares, I’ll use a 16 to 0.10 or a B511 to 0.08 if using the pole
 

Sam Vimes

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Assuming my own default setting of float fishing maggots or casters, it depends on the river (or part of the river) in question. I fish quite differently on the upper reaches of the Dales rivers than I will lower down on the same rivers. Fishing a slow lowland river would be quite different again. The species targeted is also going to make a difference. The smallest hooks I can ever recall fishing were 24s, scratching around in a winter match. I doubt I've used smaller than an 18 on the river in a good five years. In an attempt to avoid minnows I have been using steadily bigger hooks in the last few years. This summer I've used (big) size 12s quite regularly. Though it's difficult to be sure, It's not seeming to have a significant impact on catches. I wouldn't be going down the same road if I were fishing a steadier lowland river.
 

IanG1

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I have to confess that I’m a fan of small hooks and fine lines. I’ll often use a size 22 or even a 24 on the Trent for the roach if using maggot. There have been times when changing from a 12 to a 24 has made a noticeable difference in terms of quantity and quality of the fish caught. If I’m wading, it is better to pick the fish out rather than risk swinging them, and is less faffing about than netting. Just my experience. For hemp and Tares, I’ll use a 16 to 0.10 or a B511 to 0.08 if using the pole
Sorry mate, I forgot to quote you as a Trent legend in my original post.......;-)
 

alsur

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I fish 18 to 0.14 don't feel it slows catch rate that much the river is fairly snaggy and there is a good chance of 3lb chub that will need to be bullied away from snags and odd small Barbel. When it gets harder I might scale down just to get bites.
 

mickthechippy

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your rivers must be totally different to the one i fish most often, a clear running medium paced chalk stream

my set up will be far heavier and with bigger hooks than 0.8 and 24's !

if im after roach dace or chub, its not unknown for a starting rig to be a 16, 14 or even a 12 depending on baits used and I rarely, if not ever go below a 2lb hooklength

presentation is more the key, as is noted above, if your after shoal fish and trotting through, the quarry tend not to get a great look at the offering, especally if its in the flow with loose feed, the way you work the float in the current gets me more bites than scaling down ever has
 

Zerkalo

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I want to fish heavier for Chub when they're there but don't want to push my Acolyte too much. I think they fight less hard on the float than the feeder so have had good catches on 0.12 in a snaggy peg. Though it's not as heavy as I'd like. I fish 4lb Maxima hooklengths on the feeder for Chub in the same peg.

I think @HALTON DANGLER has had good catches of Chub and fishes 1.7lb Bayer Perlon, correct me if I'm wrong. :) (y)
 
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