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by Gareth Watkins
Now I think everyone will agree that the most important part of any carp fishing set up is the last few inches in the water, ie your rig and end tackle.
Yes a powerful long distance rod, hi-tec bait boat or top of the range food bait boilies all have their role to play in putting more fish on the bank, but get the last few inches wrong and all the rest counts for nothing!!!
With the inception of the hair-rig, carping took a huge leap forward in terms of hooking efficiency. All of a sudden it became easy. I remember in the early 80’s catching unheard of (for the time) numbers of fish. This was a time when you normally didn’t catch many and only the top boys like Rod Hutchinson and Kevin Maddocks produced the goods regularly. Their developments and people like them evened things up, and gave us a chance to catch carp. The Rig became all important. A rig needs to be strong, reliable, tangle proof, abrasion resistant, and above all mechanically effective to allow you to hook the carp.
So what are the main types of hooklink material on the market?
* Coated Braids: There are a number on the market by companies such as Kryston, Fox, Korda etc.. I personally have used Snakebite in both 15lb and 25lb breaking strains and find it fits the bill on all of the above. I find that it offers a perfect balance between a braid and a stiff rig, made from nylon or fluorocarbon. My favourite way of using it is combi-rig style, pealing back an inch or so around the hook to allow more mobility of the latter. There the variations are endless.
* Braids: So what have I got against braid? Well for years I was convinced by friends, articles etc.. that I should be using braid. It went against the way I had been fishing with nylon hooklinks up until that time. But braid offered a more discrete presentation, its suppleness meant a carp couldn’t feel it ..right?…
But I had all sorts of issues, notably with it tangling terribly. I can remember always feeling unsure if I was sitting behind a tangled rig and a rod that was effectively not fishing. And it happened regularly enough for me to really lose confidence in braided links.
* Nylons & Fluorocarbon: It was on one trip in the early 90’s out of shear frustration I tied up a nylon rig and cast it out.. Well not a single tangle all weekend.. To top it all I landed 22 fish and 20 of them fell to the nylon rig. At one point I even placed two rods in close proximity to see which got the most action. Time and again it was the nylon rig. My analysis of the situation was that the carp had a harder time ejecting the stiffer nylon rig, where as the braid, when it wasn’t tangled was being sucked in and blown out with out giving a full blown run.
Convinced I was onto something I reiterated the test on another runs type water outside Paris with the same results… a hands down victory for the nylon.
The Dawn of the modern Hooklink: As time went on these newer materials started to appear and offered both the tangle free, anti-ejection properties as well as the ease of combi-link presentation. I know my friend Shaun Harrison of Quest Baits prefers to tie his own combi-link, but I have not found that I can tie his knot sufficiently well to feel confident using it on a really big fish water.
So in answer to the above if I was pressed to choose just one hooklink material it would be, without hesitation one of the modern coated braids, for all the reasons of ease of use, strength and versatility.