Martin Locke shares his views on the most important aspect of tackle you own, your hooks.
The subject of hooks, or more precisely hook patterns, is often a topic of debate among anglers. I guess this is partly down to the sheer choice that’s available nowadays and partly because anglers will look for different properties in a hook to suit their style of fishing or situation.
As with all things in carp fishing, confidence is key, and settling on a hook that you have confidence in is of vital importance. Since 2009 I have only used one hook pattern, the Solar Stronghold 101, because I designed this to be, in my mind at least, the ultimate hook. As such it ticks every box for me whether fishing home or abroad. The Stronghold 101 came about because I needed a hook that didn’t compromise on strength or sharpness, initially for some serious snag fishing I was doing at the time, and I started work on a new pattern. It was late 2009 when the first samples landed on my desk and from day one the thought of them letting me down never even crossed my mind.
Even so, it took a further three years of tweaks, tests and adjustments to perfect them before I was happy to release them to the public, by which time they epitomized the ultimate carp hook and had helped me land a, then, world record in 2010.
This hook incorporates the best bits from a number of patterns, the result being a hook that’ll cover almost any situation and suit almost any rig. The straight, needle-sharp point is a particular feature that I rate in a hook, because a beaked point works to reduce the gape of the hook and therefore reduce that initial ‘pricking’ ability. The straight eye works on a similar basis in that, when used with stiff, thick or strong materials, which is often the case when snag fishing or targeting very large carp, the straight point prevents the hook link material from kicking over too far, which again reduces the hook’s gape.
A straight eye also gives the angler using lighter materials the option of kicking the eye over slightly by using a small piece of shrink tube if needed, which is not something I do, but is something that many anglers favour. Therefore, a straight eye provides a more versatile hook in my mind.
The shape of the Stronghold 101’s shank, being swept, works on a number of levels, both aiding hooking and helping to prevent hook pulls when playing a fish. This pattern got its name from the fact I managed to land 101 carp on it before losing a single one to a hook pull, so the name is a testament to the hook’s reliability.
The final attribute for this pattern is the unique, Mute Camo finish. It’s an edge that took a long time to perfect, but it comes with two major benefits. The first is that it’s dull and non reflective, ensuring that these hooks all but disappear over any lakebed and won’t glint or shine, even in shallow, clear water. The second is that it’s tough, really tough. Not only does this make them virtually indestructible, but it protects the point and ensures that it remains sticky sharp for capture after capture.
Written by Martin Locke