Gardner Tackle’s resident tactical expert LEWIS READ looks at the principal causes of poor hookholds, and some of the simple steps you can take to avoid them
THERE are few more galling feelings than losing a fish halfway through the fight or, worse still, at the net.
The initial shock soon gives way to anger and, once the offending rod has been retrieved from the bush it was thrown into, dejection takes over.
Some of these losses might be down to tackle breakages or unseen submerged obstacles but, in most cases, it’s a poor hookhold that’s to blame.
So, what are the main contributing causes of poor hookholds? Maintaining a ‘good’ presentation that is untangled is obviously a vital consideration, and simple things, like making sure the hair comes off the back of the shank untwisted, and that the hair, bait size and hooklink length are all in proportion with one another, are central to gaining secure hookholds.
Basic stuff, for sure, but these are the things that make rigs work or fail. Some anglers seem to suffer far more hookpulls than others, and the reasons are normally extremely varied…and easily fixable! If you’re one of those unlucky anglers, then hopefully I’ll be able to suggest a solution that will help to some degree.
Points and angles
Standard rig principles are well-known, but some aspects are so important that, if contravened, the consequences can be dismal bankside results.
The obvious starting point is the hook itself. Most of the time we rely on the hook to prick and penetrate quickly, with minimal resistance, but if yours is anything other than sticky sharp you will be completely undermining the potential of the terminal arrangement – it’s that simple.
This could lead to ‘unmissable runs’ being missed, or fish falling off a few seconds into the fight due to the hook not penetrating as it should.
Some anglers will say they bin the hook after every fish, but I take a more realistic view, and just test the point. If it’s not ‘sticky sharp’, I’ll either resharpen it (if I’m tight for time) or tie up a new rig.
There’s all sorts of ways of testing the hookpoint, but my preferred method is to put the point vertically on to your fingernail. If it slides at all, then it’s blunt and you’ll need to change the hook or give it some TLC.
There’s little use in honing your points to perfection if the pattern of hook you’re using isn’t suited for the rig or hookbait being used. If it has a shape that doesn’t create a positive angle of draw (so that the pressure on the hook pulls the point in alignment with the force), then it doesn’t matter how sharp the point is – it’s not going to be pulling in the right direction.
For example, if you’re fishing with a wide gape pattern with a straight point on a soft hooklink, it may pull across the skin rather than penetrate because the point is dragging at quite a severe angle – rather than being pulled at an angle that offers minimal resistance to going in. Conversely, the same pattern mounted on a stiff material that holds the hook at a sufficient angle to minimise this issue is far more likely to go in properly.
Why length matters…
The length of hooklink you use can also have a big bearing on hookholds, not least in the way it compensates for the presence of any detritus, weed or soft sediment which could impede penetration. If your hookbait and rig get buried in weed, then the rig simply may not work as intended. ‘Going longer’ ensures that the rig isn’t
“Xoxox oxx oxox x xoxoox xox x x xxoxox x xox oxox xo xox xox xox xox xoxo xoxo xxo xoxo xoxox oxo xox xox xoxoox oxo xooxxo xo BOTTOM RIGHT: A small PVA mesh bag of boilie crumb threaded down the hooklink will help the rig to settle on top of any weed...
ABOVE: Put the point vertically on to your fingernail. If it stays put, it’s sharp, if it slides at all under light pressure, sharpen it or bin it!