What to Look for in a Carp Fishing Hook


When I first began carp angling, I knew in order to land one of these powerful fish I would need a strong line and a good strong carp fishing hook. Little did I know how specialized some carp fishing hooks were. After much research, I knew exactly what to look for. 


What is the Best Carp Fishing Hook?

The best carp fishing hooks are #4 or #6 circle hooks. Some Europeans prefer #8 circle hooks for their smaller more indiscreet size. I find here in Canada, our wild natural carp aren’t used to being caught and do not shy away from larger hooks or terminal tackle.


While first researching Carp Fishing Hooks I found that many sites covered only a specific aspect or brand of hook. In the following article, I will go over, in greater detail, the basics and advanced features of what to look for in a proper carp fishing hook.

Carp Fishing Hooks

When choosing the proper carp fishing hook, the main factors to consider are:

  1. Carp Fishing Hook Terminology.
  2. Carp Fishing Hook Sizes.
  3. Brands of Carp Fishing Hooks.
  4. Carp Fishing Hook Sharpness – Why is it so important?
  5. Carp Fishing Hook Colour.
  6. Circle Hooks – What makes them better Carp Fishing Hooks?
  7. Barbed or Barbless Carp Fishing Hooks?

Carp Fishing Hook Terminology

A basic carp fishing hook has seven main attributes.

  1. Eye – Hook eyes can be either open or closed. I prefer closed hook eyes due to the fact that knots are unable to slip out of the closed hook eye. Open hook eyes are mainly for threading the loop onto lures. Another critical feature of hook eyes is they can be straight, turned down or turned up, these small features can help in hook sets with different setups.
  2. Shank – The shank is the straight portion of the hook between the eye and the bend. The shank is where barbs (which prevent minnows and worms from slipping off the shank) are located on bait holder hooks. Shanks can be either straight or curved depending on the style of hook you choose. The length of the shank can also affect how the hook performs.
  3. Bend – A bend in a hook is located between the shank and the barb or hook point. Bends can vary on different hooks depending on which situation the hook will be used in. I prefer circle hooks as they have a bend which brings the hook point around to direct it towards the eye of the hook. This increased bend helps the hook to turn when picked up by a fish resulting in a hook set in the lip of the fish the majority of the time.
  4. Barb – Hooks come in two forms, either barbed or barbless. Some locations have regulations that require the use of only barbless hooks to prevent injury to fish. Some carp fishing hooks now come in a micro barbed form. These are superior hooks for carp due to the fact that they penetrate easier with a smaller diameter barb and hold just as well as a large barb. They also do less damage to the fishes mouth.
  5. Point – Aptly named the point, hook points are located on the “point” or tip of the hook. Some key features of points on hooks are length, gauge and sharpness. Longer points will be thinner and sharper, they increase the chances of the hook grabbing hold but are also prone to breaking due to their long thin shape.
  6. Gap or Gape – Not really a part of the hook itself but the gape is the distance between the point and shank of the hook. Wider gape hooks are ideal for carp fishing as there is a greater chance of the hook taking hold when fished unattended.
  7. Bite – Is the portion of the hook from the point to the middle of the bend. Hooks with a longer bite have a harder time penetrating the fish’s mouth but once they do they are a lot harder to remove, resulting in more fish in the net. The bite of the hook is also where some hooks can differ greatly in design. The bite can be bent or offset slightly to create a spiralling action when a fish tries to spit the hook. The bite can be either kirbed, straight or reversed. Which is the most effective can be a debatable topic between anglers, in the end, it all comes down to personal experience and preference.

As you can see, there are many attributes to take into consideration when choosing a hook for carp fishing. Luckily there are many innovative carp manufacturers the tailor hooks specifically to carp fishing.


Carp Fishing Hook Sizes

When first starting out in carp angling hooks can have some complicated aspects, one aspect is sizing. There are two different ways hooks can be measured.

  1. One method is by the size (0-20), where the higher the number, the smaller the hook.
  2. The second method is 0/0 (pronounced – ought), where the higher the number, the larger the hook.

Hooks are measured by the gauge of wire or metal used to create them. Bigger hooks will have a larger diameter wire making them stronger and less likely to break or bend, but this also makes them easier for fish to detect.

Hook size can significantly affect how many fish are caught in any one session. The hook should be strong enough to hold up to the size and strength of fish, but you also want a hook that is small enough to go undetected. There is a fine line of balance between the two.

The weight of the hook can be another factor when choosing size depending on how you are presenting your bait. If you are using pop-up rigs and baits, you’ll want to pick a lighter hook that will allow your bait to float easier and waft into the fish’s mouth easier when taken. Just be careful not to pair small hooks with bigger baits, if the bait is significantly larger than the hook it could prevent the hook point from reaching its target and taking hold.

I went through a lot of trial and error before I figured out what size hooks worked best in my area.


Brands of Carp Fishing Hooks

There are a lot of different brands and manufacturers for Carp Fishing Hooks out there. Quite a few of the big players are located overseas. In the past, it was difficult for anglers in North America to order from these companies. As the carp angling community has grown, there have been more and more retailers ordering and stocking these brands such as:

  • Korda, Fox International, Nash, NGT, Gardner, PinPoint and Carp Spirit to name a few.

My favourite carp fishing hooks are Size #4 “Korda Krank X” Carp Fishing Hooks.

Garner Mugga Hooks in Size #4 or #6 are also a favourite among many top carp anglers.

To view more brands of carp fishing hooks be sure to Check out the Carp Fishing Hook Selection Over at Carpkit.

Nash and PinPoint have recently come together to create a new and exciting line of Carp specific hooks. Advanced factory sharpening paired with some new designs and advances in the shape of the bend and twist of the hook makes for easier hook sets and more fish on the bank.

These companies make premium hooks that come with a premium price tag. I think it is well worth it as a quality hook is worth the price, especially when a record fish is on the other end of the line.

If you’re unable to find these brands in local stores, there are still many great options. Companies like Gamakatsu, Eagle Claw, Berkley and Mustad all make decent hooks at a better price point which will land big carp.

Every one of the companies listed above makes a type of hook called a Circle Hook. 


Circle Hooks – Best Type of Hook For Carp Fishing

The circle hook is my main “go-to” hook for all my carp rigs. What makes it superior for carp fishing rigs is that it has a curved shank which sets the hook point in the fish’s mouth as it swims off with your bait.

The curved shank makes the tip of the hook point back towards the eye thus creating a natural turning action that prevents the need to set the hook. The weight of your sinker will cause enough pressure to set the hook in the side of the fish’s mouth.

Even if a carp tries to spit the circle hook, it will still turn on the majority of occasions and stick just on the inside of the fish’s mouth.

To remove circle hooks from carp, simply rotate the hook in a backwards circular motion the opposite of how it went in.


Carp Fishing Hook Sharpness – Why it is Important

When I first began angling, I never gave a second thought to sharpen a hook. I simply bought it from the store, opened the pack and started fishing with it.

Upon closer inspection of hooks when they’re first taken out of the package, one can see that they’re actually quite dull when compared to a hook that has been freshly sharpened.

Over time when fishing regularly with a hook, it doesn’t take long for the hook point to become dull. Everyday wear and tear on hooks include:

  • Rust – From being repeatedly exposed to air and water. Hooks tend to rust quicker after being sharpened as the sharpening process removes the outer layer of protective coating.
  • Snags – Every time a hook has been freed from a snag, the point should be inspected and most likely resharpened. It doesn’t take much to snap or dull the fine pinpoint of a freshly sharpened hook.
  • Rocks – If you’re fishing an area with abundant rocks be sure to inspect your hook points often. These locations will ruin the points of your hooks quicker than any other.
  • Fish – Even after catching a fish, the point of your hook may be dulled or damaged. Be sure to hone the hook to a sharp point after each fish.

With all the gear one can buy for carp angling a simple hook sharpening tool or kit can be one of the most rewarding for putting more fish on the bank.

Tips on How to Properly Sharpen You Fishing Hooks

First off, how do you tell if your carp fishing hook is sharp enough? Well, it should at least be a little hazardous to handle. If you don’t foul hook yourself or draw blood now and then, most likely your hooks aren’t sharp enough. A simple test is to drag the hook (slowly) across the open palm of your hand; if the hook is dull, it will slide across the smooth surface of your skin, if it is sharp it will turn and dig in slightly.

Even hooks that are sharpened during the manufacturing process will still be coated afterwards. The thin coating will make the hook points invariably duller. The manufacturers leave the coating on the point during shipment and storage to prevent the point from corroding. A quick sharpen will remove the protective layer making it razor sharp for use.

Steps to sharpen your carp fishing hooks:

  1. I start by filing the inside of the hook point, the portion that points towards the barb and shank. I file it flat across.
  2. I then sharpen the outside portion of the point with two different strokes. This creates a triangular point, much like the point of a dagger.

Triangulating the point makes the hook penetrate much more efficiently. Just compare it to the point of a dagger versus a pencil, the bladed edges penetrate much easier rather than a rounded pencil-like shape. The bladed edges cut as they penetrate making the hook set much smoother.

How often should you sharpen your hook? There are many aspects of angling that can result in the dulling of your carp fishing hooks. It really depends on the situation and conditions that I’m faced with while angling as to how often I sharpen my hooks.

  • If I’m tournament fishing and every fish caught is crucial to success, I will inspect my hook point every time I reel in. It only takes a few seconds to hone the hook point.
  • When I’m facing very rocky locations, I will tend to keep a closer eye on my hook sharpness rather than when I’m fishing weedy or silty situations.
  • Before the first cast of the day, I will always hone my hook point. Even when hooks are stored properly they can still become dull over time due to the corrosive nature of the materials they’re made out of.

No matter if you sharpen your hook after each cast or once per session it will definitely help you put more fish on the bank than just relying upon the hooks to be sharp right out of the packet.


Carp Fishing Hook Colour

Another factor I never really took into consideration until I began fishing for carp is hook colours. When you go to the local tackle store, the primary hook colours are Silver, Gold and Black. Once you start to research Carp Fishing Hooks and delve deeper into the myriad of brands and types, you begin to notice there are many different colour options available.

Carp have a very keen sense of sight and are able to see the larger hooks, that are required to fight these big fish, quite easily. Special Carp Fishing Hooks come in different colours to help them blend in with underwater features.

  • Dark Green – To blend in with aquatic vegetation in high weed areas.
  • Brown – Excellent for silty, sandy or muddy areas.
  • Black/Grey – Good for gravel or rocky bottoms.
  • Yellow – Some anglers have been known to paint their hooks yellow, to comouflage them better, when using corn as bait.

In my experience, I tend to stick with a darker carp fishing hook. The only colour I stay away from is silver. Unlike other predatory fish species that are attracted to the bright flashy colours of their prey, the same glinting hook can spook carp.


Barbed or Barbless Carp Fishing Hooks

Carp fishing hooks can come in barbed or barbless forms. I have even seen a specific mini-barbed version of carp hooks.

Barbed or barbless hooks are mainly a personal preference in most locations, although there are certain areas or tournaments that require the use of barbless hooks by law to prevent injury to the fish.

Barbed hooks once set in the fish’s mouth are much harder to dislodge increasing the amount of fish successfully landed. They have a small barb on the point to prevent the tip of the hook from slipping backwards. Pliers are required to remove the hook once the fish is landed.

The cons to barbed hooks are:

  • They are harder to get free if they become snagged.
  • They are harder to remove if you somehow foul hook yourself. Sometimes it is required to push the hook fully through a finger instead of tearing it out against the barb.
  • Barbed hooks can cause greater damage to a fish’s mouth when removed.
  • The Barb can quickly become entangled and tear equipment such as nets, slings and keep sacks.
  • It takes more force to set a barbed hook than a barbless hook.

The cons to barbless hooks are:

  • Easier for fish to spit the hook out.
  • Do not hold the bait on the shank as well.
  • Have smaller and thinner tips allowing the point to break or dull quicker. 

These days I opt for micro barbed hooks. They penetrate a lot easier, are easier to remove and have a superior hook hold in the fish’s mouth.


Overall it will require some trial and error to find which hook works best for you. To help narrow down the search, I would suggest a size 4 to 8 circle hook for carp in general.

N.Cutler

Author and Admin of Improved Carp Angling. Passionate Carp Angler and Online Content Creator. Find out more information in my Author Biography at Author Bio.

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