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The Sharp End

Forget seat boxes and poles, it’s hooks that really matter according to Richard Chave.

Log on to any of the well used online angling forums and there will always find threads starting: “What’s the stiffest pole?” or “What pole float do you use for this, that or the other?” About once a week someone will ask about seat boxes, and they will get loads of replies from people who have just spent £1,000 on the latest Rive and want to tell everyone about how good they are!

The latest poles, new floats and seat boxes are the things that look good, and people will always want to talk about them, but there is something that is probably more important to whether or not you have a successful day’s fishing, and that’s the humble hook! Today there are literally hundreds of quality patterns to choose from, so how do you make that choice from all the different packets on the shelves?

When I started match fishing it was much simpler, as finding a quality hook was vital. The things that we now take for granted now like chemical sharpening and high carbon steel were some way off – and before any of you think that I’m beginning to sound like I started my angling career with hooks crafted from bone I’d better state that I’m ‘only’ 45, so I’m talking about fishing in the late 70s and 80s!

Hooks from yesteryear weren’t as durable or kept their sharp points like they do now. Also, the barbs, for those who still use them, seemed to be a lot bigger back then.

I can remember in the early 80s when the ‘whisker barb’ hook was introduced. Sold under the Kamatsu brand (now called kamasan), for me it was a big breakthrough in hook design. And before long everyone I knew was using them. No longer did you suffer from dull points and bumped fish after an hour of catching, like you did with other hooks that were available at the time which were sold in little paper envelopes inside cardboard boxes! My maggots never burst when I threaded them over the tiny barb. And despite their fine wire they were strong enough for all the fish I would encounter. (Remember this was 1983 BC – before carp!)

For anyone wanting to try these old-fashioned wonder hooks, they are still available but are now called Kamasan B520s. So, do I still use them? No, I moved onto a pattern that I considered more durable, but with the same wire thickness. Now hooks were being made from high-carbon steel and the pattern I really liked were made by Katsuichi and were labelled SP110. I first saw these in about 1990/91 at the one of the national angling shows. They were being distributed by FLY and cost around £3.50 for 20, which considering all the competitors were the standard 99p for 10, made them a pricey alternative. At the show Ray Malle was helping out on the FLY stand, and handing out samples, so I got in line and was handed a packet. I was a little disappointed to find only one hook in it! Needless to say I visited the FLY stand a further 14 times throughout the day to build up a healthy stock!

After using them, they became my hook of choice for all my maggot, caster and worm fishing. Not just those 15 free ones – I even paid for extra packets! And for people who know about my ‘carefulness’ with money will see that as a proper endorsement of this hook!

At around the same time I felt that I also wanted a hook that was a little finer for squatt, pinkie and bread punch fishing and I turned to another cult hook of the era. The Gamakatsu 6315 was silver, round bend and finer wire than the Katsuichi, but equally as sharp. These two patterns of hook were my favourites of the time, and were all I used for 95 per cent of the fishing I did!

But do I still use them? Sadly, they are both no longer available. I still have one or two in my magnetic hook box, but this simple selection of just two patterns has been replaced with about 10! These include Green Gamakatsus, Drennan Polemaster Competitions, Kamasan B560s, original Image IM1s, Tubertini Series 2s, Drennan Super Carbon Maggots, Drennan Super Spades along with the new Drennan Wide Gape pattern, Kamasan B911s and Colmic 501s… amongst others!

This does show the quality and quantity of hooks available to the angler nowadays, which I said at the beginning of this piece can be mindboggling. So, before I get myself more confused I’d better log on to some of the forums to find out which seat boxes have the best trays to store them all in! I bet someone will say it’s a £1,000 Rive!

Richard Chave fishes for Garbolino Blackmore Vale and loves bagging up with silvers on his beloved canals and rivers in the southwest of England.

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