The choice of hooklink materials may seem bewilderingly expansive – but each specific product type has evolved to offer us a means of ultimately controlling the presentation that we achieve. By that I simply mean ensuring a tangle-free, clean presentation so the fish can suck in the hookbait unhindered and the hook point remains exposed. So, the first step to deciding the hooklinks length is to consider the nature of the lakebed and the lead arrangement you prefer. It is easy to preach how anglers should tailor lead arrangements to different venues and even different swims, but the reality is we all have a preference, and it is probably easier to adjust the length of the hooklink to compensate, most of the time…

It’s mostly all common sense anyway. So, if the lake has a thick layer of soft silt, then a relatively short hooklink, say less than 10 inches long, mounted onto a lead clip arrangement could easily be entirely buried down in the sediment, and whilst many fish have been caught using this method it can be a bit hit and miss as success relies upon the fish digging the bait out. The issue of rigs burying into deep sediment is also exacerbated using big leads – the weight of which will settle down through silt over a period of time.

The single benefit of allowing your rig to go down into the silt is it is almost impossible for feeding fish to inspect a hookbait. How can they, when they’re ‘gills deep’, sucking in mouthfuls of filth – consequently it can be a credible method when fishing for big fish on pressured venues…

However, most of the time having your terminal and hookbait buried would inevitably increase the time it will take for a fish to find the hookbait, so we tend to actively search out relatively firm/clean spots to fish conventional rigs on. If you are using this classic carp fishing approach, then you will be able to shorten hooklinks to optimise the reaction speed of the rig, but you need to be certain that the lakebed is good enough. That learning/investigatory process takes time and will inevitably create a degree of disturbance in the swim as you lead or marker the area, which is all well and good if you are building up knowledge of a regular venue but would often be catastrophic in terms of consistent angling success – especially on short sessions. Choosing a more versatile, longer hooklink or, dare I suggest, a Chod rig if you’re boilie fishing, combined with the smallest possible lead possible, will nick you bites that ‘foaming’ the swim upon arrival would invariably fail to get.

As a rule of thumb, a long supple skinned or mono hooklink on a lead clip will present adequately in most circumstances – especially if you combine this with a small stringer or PVA parcel of goodies, as the PVA’d freebies slow the descent of the rig through the water column, significantly reducing the depth that the terminal will embed into the lakebed. By ‘long’, we are realistically talking an absolute minimum of 12-inch hooklinks (that’s 20cm kids!) and I would suggest 14 inches as a good starting point. With longer hooklinks and lead clip arrangements, I would suggest using a Long Anti-Tangle Sleeve, as this will help maintain better, more consistent presentation by avoiding tangles, especially if you couple the lead clip with tubing.

As a rule of thumb, a long supple skinned or mono hooklink on a lead clip will present adequately in most circumstances – especially if you combine this with a small stringer or PVA parcel of goodies, as the PVA’d freebies slow the descent of the rig through the water column, significantly reducing the depth that the terminal will embed into the lakebed. By ‘long’, we are realistically talking an absolute minimum of 12-inch hooklinks (that’s 20cm kids!) and I would suggest 14 inches as a good starting point. With longer hooklinks and lead clip arrangements, I would suggest using a Long Anti-Tangle Sleeve, as this will help maintain better, more consistent presentation by avoiding tangles, especially if you couple the lead clip with tubing.

Alternative lead arrangements, like ‘helicopters’ (paternosters) will allow you to present stiffer/shorter rigs successfully over weed or silt simply by adjusting the distance from the lead up to the stop that sets the range of movement of the hooklink swivel. This makes this arrangement extremely popular with anglers that fish a variety of waters. One thing I would stress is to be mindful of wrapping tangles when using soft hooklinks on heli-rigs. It is well worth watching the rig in flight and recasting if you are not sure the rig flew out cleanly. If range allows, attaching a small PVA bag or stringer will alleviate this but, just as with a lead clip you’ll need to feather the cast otherwise the sudden impact of the PVA bag hitting the water surface can be pretty catastrophic – either moving the top stop on a heli, or ejecting the lead on a lead clip.

Alternative lead arrangements, like ‘helicopters’ (paternosters) will allow you to present stiffer/shorter rigs successfully over weed or silt simply by adjusting the distance from the lead up to the stop that sets the range of movement of the hooklink swivel. This makes this arrangement extremely popular with anglers that fish a variety of waters. One thing I would stress is to be mindful of wrapping tangles when using soft hooklinks on heli-rigs. It is well worth watching the rig in flight and recasting if you are not sure the rig flew out cleanly. If range allows, attaching a small PVA bag or stringer will alleviate this but, just as with a lead clip you’ll need to feather the cast otherwise the sudden impact of the PVA bag hitting the water surface can be pretty catastrophic – either moving the top stop on a heli, or ejecting the lead on a lead clip.

A LONG ANTI-TANGLE SLEEVE WILL HELP MAINTAIN A BETTER, MORE CONSISTENT PRESENTATION.

A LONG ANTI-TANGLE SLEEVE WILL HELP MAINTAIN A BETTER, MORE CONSISTENT PRESENTATION.

There are some situations when an ultra-short hooklink of 4-inches or less will be devastating, say dropping rigs on big leads onto spots in the edge or in solid PVA bags. However, if we are considering this in the context of a casting conventional rigs scenario. If you are casting blind, feeling the lead down and setting traps in zones of carp activity I would generally suggest erring on the side of caution and thinking primarily about presentation, rather than worrying about going as short as possible. In my experience, an educated pub chuck with a versatile presentation will invariably win you opportunist bites, and catching carp is the name of the game we play.

There’s also the question of fish sizes and their effect on rig mechanics. There is a strong logical argument for the idea that it’s advantageous to use slightly longer rigs if you’re fishing a big fish water. However, on balance I think that a well-presented rig is the key factor and a more realistic way of creating a more effective hooking mechanism for the gaping big mouth on a leviathan sized carp would be to increase hook size or slightly increase the length of hair to create more separation – but that is a big topic in itself.

What also has a large bearing on hooklink length is feeding behaviour. On some of the more mature gravel pit or estate lake venues I have fished, the fish regularly feed on natural food sources by rolling on a spot and then feeding on suspended food items that they have displaced from the sediment – in other words classic bloodworm feeding. In this scenario a small balanced hookbait on a long hooklink can be particularly effective as the approach works with the carps’ natural feeding patterns and as such creates a chink in their metaphorical armour.

One final note, related to feeding behaviour, is the link between baiting patterns / application and hooklink length. The basic rule of thumb is that if you’re fishing over a bed of particles, chops or small pellet, the fish will naturally move their heads slowly whilst grazing across an even spread of bait. In these circumstances a short rig will react more aggressively in comparison to a longer one and the most important consideration is the need for the hookbait to be presented impeccably amongst the freebies. Conversely, a spread of bait (normally boilies) encourages the carp to snuffle about more actively, moving from one freebie to the next, naturally making the option of a longer hooklink more viable as the baiting regime encourages a feeding behaviour that will allow longer rigs to remain extremely effective.

There are some situations when an ultra-short hooklink of 4-inches or less will be devastating, say dropping rigs on big leads onto spots in the edge or in solid PVA bags. However, if we are considering this in the context of a casting conventional rigs scenario. If you are casting blind, feeling the lead down and setting traps in zones of carp activity I would generally suggest erring on the side of caution and thinking primarily about presentation, rather than worrying about going as short as possible. In my experience, an educated pub chuck with a versatile presentation will invariably win you opportunist bites, and catching carp is the name of the game we play.

There’s also the question of fish sizes and their effect on rig mechanics. There is a strong logical argument for the idea that it’s advantageous to use slightly longer rigs if you’re fishing a big fish water. However, on balance I think that a well-presented rig is the key factor and a more realistic way of creating a more effective hooking mechanism for the gaping big mouth on a leviathan sized carp would be to increase hook size or slightly increase the length of hair to create more separation – but that is a big topic in itself.

What also has a large bearing on hooklink length is feeding behaviour. On some of the more mature gravel pit or estate lake venues I have fished, the fish regularly feed on natural food sources by rolling on a spot and then feeding on suspended food items that they have displaced from the sediment – in other words classic bloodworm feeding. In this scenario a small balanced hookbait on a long hooklink can be particularly effective as the approach works with the carps’ natural feeding patterns and as such creates a chink in their metaphorical armour.

One final note, related to feeding behaviour, is the link between baiting patterns / application and hooklink length. The basic rule of thumb is that if you’re fishing over a bed of particles, chops or small pellet, the fish will naturally move their heads slowly whilst grazing across an even spread of bait. In these circumstances a short rig will react more aggressively in comparison to a longer one and the most important consideration is the need for the hookbait to be presented impeccably amongst the freebies. Conversely, a spread of bait (normally boilies) encourages the carp to snuffle about more actively, moving from one freebie to the next, naturally making the option of a longer hooklink more viable as the baiting regime encourages a feeding behaviour that will allow longer rigs to remain extremely effective.

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