Hooks start with a good hook it must be strong and ultra sharp my preferred pattern is the Korda wide gape barbed hook in size 4 or 6 or the Mustad ultra point carp-X2 in size 4 or 6 . Some anglers wonder why we don’t allow barbless hooks? Well for some time we did allow them and many of the carp that were caught and banked had just a tiny little hole left in its mouth where the hook just slipped out easily. Great you may think the least possible damage must be good for carp welfare? Well the story doesn’t end there because what we found was that some of the carp that were lost during the fight suffered horrific mouth damage. I thought long and hard about this and done some experiments with different hooks and a few fish off of the fishmongers slab and found some very interesting information. You can repeat my experiments yourself very easily with a carrot, “a carrot I hear you shout whilst laughing out loudly” yes with a carrot. What you do is take a carrot and push the barbless hook in to it then grasping the main shank of the hook with your finger and thumb pull the hook out and you will find it releases very easily. Now take a barbed hook and do the same thing, you find that there is much more resistance and a kind of little click as it releases. “So” I hear you say “the barb must cause more damage when being removed from a carps mouth?” yes it does but that little extra damage is limited to a tiny area providing you are careful about the hook removal. If you now take your barbless hook and once more insert it into the carrot then while pulling it out also pull it backwards to simulate the line pulling while playing a fish you will find that as it comes out the point suddenly acts like a scalpel (because of how sharp it is) and cuts through the flesh making a large gash. If you look at the profile of your barbless hook point then look at a scalpel blade from the sharp tip down the blade you find exactly the same profile, surgeons use scalpels for cutting flesh because it is the sharpest tool they can get. So for every carp lost while using barbless hooks there is the potential to cause massive damage that the angler is blissfully unaware of and never gets to see. If you look at the pictures of the carp with the mouth damage I can assure you that it was caused by barbless hooks. Crushed barbs work a very similar way to barbless. So it is understandable how one could initially believe barbless to be safer but the facts show different. Most modern strong hooks have a small barb and these are without doubt the best to use.
Having a sharp hook is vital if you want to turn more takes into banked fish, I always carry out this simple test. Take the hook between your finger and thumb and very lightly pull the point across your thumbnail if it scratches a cut easily it is sharp enough.
Please always have forceps ready to hand to assist in hook removal.