The old-fashioned view that you need to scale down hook sizes in winter isn’t necessarily true. In many instances, going in the opposite direction and fishing what seems like a big hook can catch you more fish.
If you’re in a scenario that involves you scratching around for just the odd bite, then yes, by all means drop down your hook size and line diameter, but if bites are going to be steady and regular I see no point at all. The fish are there, they’re feeding and, believe me, they don’t know the difference between one size of hook and the next.
As an example, most of my winter carp work on the feeder uses a size 10 or 12 hook while, on the pole, that’d be a size 16. I’m a firm believer that if the fish are in front of you, it really doesn’t matter. What’s more important is to use the right type of hook.
By that, I mean one that’s got a thin wire gauge and a wide enough gape to take the baits you want to use with ease.
Case for big hooks
If I’m catching silvers regularly, the difference between a size 16 and 18 hook is minimal, and why go smaller? With carp on the feeder, a size 10 QM1 may seem massive, but it’s difficult for a fish to spit out, and so I catch more fish. If the fish aren’t there, then hook size is irrelevant!
Light in the wire
Fishing the pole with pellets involves a lot of lifting and dropping of the rig. Do this with a hook that’s too thick in the wire and it won’t look right. The Super LWG is my main winter hook. Modern hooks are far better than those of 20 years ago, and a light wire doesn’t now mean a brittle hook.
Hooks for big baits
Big baits require a hook that can accommodate them while leaving enough hookpoint on show on the strike. Unless you’re fishing a single maggot or pinkie, a wide gape pattern is the answer. It won’t affect your presentation in any way, and you stand a better chance of hooking more bites.
Eyed vs spade end
In winter I use eyed rather than spade end hooks on the pole for banding hard pellets, but don’t fall into the trap of using the same eyed hook for winter fishing as you did in summer. It still needs to be light in the gauge of wire – the Super LWG eyed being a perfect example of this.