Fishing as light as you can get away with is good advice to follow, but it does lead to the question ‘how light is too light?’
Achieving balance in your rigs is important, not only to getting more bites, but also to landing what you hook.
If the hook is too small, the hooklength too light or your pole elastic too strong, it’ll never be right, and you’ll end up wanting to put the rod or pole over your knee after losing fish after fish!
As a rule of thumb, I tend to fish the next diameter of line down from my mainline for hooklengths on the pole. I then pick the hook pattern relevant to the size of fish I’m looking to catch and how snaggy the swim is. Dropping down a diameter or hook size can get a bite when the going is slow, but to my mind, if you’ve made the right choice to begin with, you’ll never have to consider doing this mid-session.
Pole on the deck
I’ll rarely go below 0.17mm N-Gauge for hooklengths when bottom fishing. For F1s, or in winter, that’s 0.11m Pure Fluorocarbon, or 0.14mm in summer. Mainlines are the next diameter up. Hooks need to relate to line diameter – for F1s, an F1 Pellet, for carp, a Super LWG.
Silverfish set ups
A carp may always come along, so my set-up for roach and skimmers is 0.13mm mainline to an 0.11m hooklength. Blue Hydro elastic is ideal, very soft and stretchy, while hooks should be on the light side – an F1 Maggot, perhaps switching to an F1 Pellet when I’m catching quickly.
For feeder fishing a 0.17mm N-Gauge hooklength brings positive bites. For F1s at venues like Packington Somers, I’ll drop to 0.15mm as F1s don’t fight as hard as carp. Hooks are dictated by my bait, so for wafters, it’s a QM1, whereas for dead maggots I’ll use a Kaizen or Super LWG pattern.
When fishing shallow I don’t fish light. Mainline isn’t too important and again, I’ll use the next diameter up from my hooklength, which is 0.15mm for smaller carp or 0.17mm for big fish. Only F1s require a lighter approach with 0.11m or 0.12mm line if there aren’t many there and they’re being a bit cagey.