Saturday, September 03, 2016

Size matters

What is it with hook sizes? The bane of my life these days is finding hooks of a pattern and size to do what I want. If tackle shops stocked a wider range of hooks it would be easy to pop in, look at what there was and select the exact hook I want. But they don't. That means ordering on-line. In turn that puts me at the whim of the hook manufacturers' sizing strategies.

I recently came a cross a commercial which has something in it I'd quite like to catch which has a maximum size 8, barbless, rule. So I ordered some size 8 barbless hooks, sight unseen, and when they arrived they turned out to be smaller than the size tens I use - more like a twelve. This was unusual because I get the feeling that hooks intended for use on commercial fisheries are larger for their stated size these days than hooks used to be in order to get round these daft rules.

It's been no better in my quest for catfish hooks. This search has been continuing among the sea fishing sections of various websites. I've bought hooks marketed for catfishing and been less than impressed. Some have been more like shark hooks in the wire gauge. In my limited experience of catching catfish they are a bit like barbel in that when a hook goes in it stays in, and if a hook goes in to the bend it's unlikely to open out. The same with pike and anything else really, there's no great need for extra thick wire. Thick enough, but not so thick as to make penetration difficult. Another pet hate of mine is rank barbs.

As the top photo shows I have got hold of a few patterns of hook to compare. The Eagle Wave (A below) and Penetrator  (E) are proven catfish hooks, although I'm not keen on the look of them! The others are sea fishing hooks. The Mustad 'Big Gun' (C) was bought years ago to tie pike flies on, but was too heavy. It looks almost perfect in shape and wire strength. The Tronix 'Big Dog' (B) is very similar but a little finer in the wire and with a neater barb. The Varivas 'Chinu' (D) has the perfect wire gauge and a neat barb, and is available in a wide range of sizes from 3/0 to 8 - whatever that will be like when I get some delivered! When it comes to ordering the sizing again becomes a lottery. The hooks below are sized: A - 1,  B - 1/0, C - 2, D- 1/0,  E - 1/0. It's nice that the sea hooks are a lot cheaper than those marketed for catfishing. Surprising, because when you do some internet digging it becomes apparent where the catfish hooks come from, and that their original purpose was sea fishing.

Of course price shouldn't be a major consideration when it comes to hooks. The hook and the line are the most important items of tackle which demand ultimate reliability. But those traces of Scots and Yorkshire blood in my veins mean I can't see any good reason to pay a fiver for a packet of hooks when two or three quid will get me some that do exactly the same job. If the Tronix hooks are up to the job they're only a pound for ten!

I'm also looking out for hooks to use for eels. I slipped up recently when I sold off the last of my stocks of Owner single hooks, only to discover that a couple of patterns were useful for eels. The C5-X makes a good worm hook for eels in an eight, and the size 1 C-4 might be handy for boilies or worms for catfish.

While involved in my hook odyssey I've come across some interesting monos and braids for hooklinks and mainline for various species. I hadn't realised that Amnesia is available in 6lb, for example. It's surprising what can cross over from one discipline to another if you forget the label that says 'sea' or 'game' (I've been looking at saltwater fly hooks) or whatever the marketing people think tackle should be used for. I realise that some anglers only buy stuff that is labelled for their kind of fishing, but that's their loss. I remember when I worked in a tackle shop one customer refused to buy a 3lb test rod because it was called a 'specimen' rod and not a 'pike' rod. I must have a word with some of my rods for catching the wrong species!

It's getting in to autumn now so my chances of more eels and catfish are likely to reduce as the month goes on. More catfish? Well, I have sneaked one out on the only session I've managed since I got the urge. That's how I know the Big Gun is a decent hook but with slightly too big a barb, and that my revised polyball leger rig works as well as its predecessor. If work hadn't been getting in the way I'd have had more cracks at cats instead of snatching short eel sessions recently. I might have to make time before it gets too cold. I'd forgotten how much fun catfishing is, and how cute catfish look. I want to try that suspended worm rig out for the cats now I know it catches eels and pike, and I have a new blank to play with. Sod it. If it's warm next week work can wait!