Choosing the right hook size is vital to creating a balanced carp rig which will help you catch more carp. Go into any tackle shop and you will see hundreds of packets; various sizes and patterns, which begs the question; what size hook for carp?
In truth, choosing the right carp hook is not a one-size-fits-all. Each carp hook size and style suits itself to different hookbaits, size of fish and tactic.
Typically speaking, for UK carp fishing, most anglers tend to use anything between size 10 and 4. Let’s look at how you go about choosing the right hook pattern for your carp fishing.
How to choose the right carp hook size
There are a number of factors that come into play when choosing the best hook size for carp. It’s a case of weighing up the differences and prioritising which one suits your style of carp fishing. Here are a few things to think of.
The size of your hook bait is probably the number one consideration when it comes to choosing what size hook for carp. Your hook size needs to be in proportion with your bait. Too small and you can miss a hookhold, too large and it can stand out like a sore thumb.
For example, for an 18mm boilie, you would probably be best using a size 4 hook. On the other hand, a size 4 would look completely out of place with a 10mm boilie. Its all relevance with a bit of personal preference thrown in!
The size of the carp that you’ll be fishing for should also be taken into account when choosing a hook size. Whilst even small carp have large mouths, typically speaking the larger the carp, the larger your hook can be.
That’s not to say that you can’t land a 50lb carp on a size 10 hook, it’s just that your chances of landing it with a larger size 4 will increase.
Certain fishing situations will dictate when you need to use a larger or smaller hook.
For example, if you’re fishing close to snags ‘hit and hold’ style, you may want a larger hook which you can apply a bit more pressure to when coaxing fish towards your carp landing net.
On the other hand, if you’re fishing on the surface where your rig is in full view, opting for a smaller hook might be the best approach.
The type of bait that you use will also come into play when choosing hook size. When using carp pop ups for example, you may want to use something a little smaller that doesn’t stand out so much when popped up.
You also might want to take into account the weight of the hook. They usually get heavier the larger they are. This poses a problem if you want to fish wafters or pop ups off the lake bed.
Some heavier hook patterns simple don’t give that natural rig presentation, especially when paired with a small wafter hook bait.
To counteract this, you can add further buoyancy to your hookbaits using foam or cork and a drill bit. Just make sure you test your rigs in the edge first to make sure you achieve your desired presentation.
Have a think about the fish that you’re going for and their potential feeding habits. Are you fishing a runs water like Drayton Reservoir where the fish are ravenous, or are you stalking one carp in the margins of a gin-clear gravel pit?
In the first scenario where there is competitive feeding going on, you might be able to get away with trialing certain rigs and larger hooks. On the other hand, in a situation where there is little competition for food, or the carp are coming across rig shy, then scaling down your rig components may be worthwhile.
How to choose the right carp hook pattern
There are lots of types of carp hooks available, each suiting themselves to different carp rigs and angling situations.
However, it all boils down to personal preference and having confidence in what you are using. Here are some of the typical hook patterns that are available on the market.
A classic short-shank carp hook, suited for most of your carp fishing needs. Wide gapes provide excellent hook holds and therefore remain to be one of the most popular hook patterns on the market.
This hook pattern is also incredibly versatile too. It’s shape lends it perfectly to both bottom bait or pop up fishing, and overall it creates a neat rig presentation.
You can even extend the shank too with the use of a line aligner or shrink tube to improve your hooking abilities.
A hook pattern that has fallen out of favour in recent years. As the name suggests, it benefits from a long shank which can improve the hook’s ability to flip and catch hold in the carp’s mouth.
The long shank is one of the best hook for blow back rig, providing plenty of shank for the bait to move up and down via a rig ring.
Curved shanks are probably the most popular hook pattern on the market right now. This hook pattern benefits from a curved shank which one in place, is very hard for a carp to eject.
The sheer popularity of this rig stems from the ronnie rig where it is a key component for a pop up presentation. It’s curved shank provides an excellent pop up presentation, with the hook sitting at the perfect angle for a carp to approach it.
Chod hooks are a similar length and size to wide gapes. There is one key difference though, and that is the inclusion of an out-turned eye.
The out-turned eye is specifically designed to make this hook pattern suitable with stiff hooklink material such as Korda Boom or Amnesia. If you were to use this type of hooklink material with any other hook pattern, you can potentially close off the hookable area due to the stiffness of the hooklink.
Chod hooks can be deadly in the right scenarios, such as fishing chod rigs or stiff-hinged rigs.
Carp Fishing Hook Types & Rig Applications
|Hook Pattern||Applicable Rig or Fishing Scenario|
|Wide Gape||– Bottom bait rigs|
– Basic pop up rigs
– When a solid hook hold is required (using a beaked point)
– Surface fishing
– Zig rig fishing
|Long Shank||– Bottom bait rigs|
– Blow back rigs
|Curved Shank||– Ronnie rig|
– Spinner rig
– 360 rig
– Blow back rig
|Chod Hooks||– Chod rigs|
– Multi rigs
– Stiff hinged rigs
Carp Hook FAQ
What size hook for an 18mm boilie?
As you’ve probably realised now, much of choosing the right size hook is down to personal preference. There are some general rules of thumb that you can take into account though, which are especially helpful if you are carp fishing for beginners.
When tying your rigs, add your boilie on at the same time to get a sense for how it’s balanced alongside the hook.
You will find that 15mm boilies are very well balanced with size 8 hooks. On the other hand, larger 18-20mm baits look much better alongside size 6 or size 4 hooks. It’s also worth carrying a selection of sizes and patterns in your tackle box.
Barbless or barbed?
More often than not, your venue will dictate whether you need to use barbed or barbless. Again, this comes down to personal preference.
Read more into this topic and you will find varying opinions on whether barbed hooks or barbless are good for carp.
Some people believe barbed hooks move less in the fishes mouth, therefore causing less damage. Others, such as Kevin Nash, believe that barbless is better, due to them being easier to remove when unhooking.
Truth be told, there is minimal quantifiable data to suggest either way. So I’ll leave it with you to make your own assumptions!
What size hook for carp in summer?
The time of year shouldn’t really affect your choice of hook size. Some people do like to scale things down in the winter months when carp are trickier to catch, but overall it is not a major consideration.
The only time you may scale you hook size down in the summer is when surface fishing for carp or using smaller hook baits on zig rigs.
In summary, there is no best size hook for carp. When choosing a hook size, talk into account the many factors we’ve talked about in this article and make sure that you construct a well balanced rig. – A rig that works well both for you chosen hookbait, fishing scenario and presentation.
Above all else, find something that you have confidence in. The best carp hook is the one that you have most confidence in!
About the writer
I’m Rob, Carp Squad’s main contributor. I’ve been carp fishing on and off for 15 years, but the bug is well and truly back at the moment. Hopefully the articles I write on here help you put more carp on the bank!