Use this in-depth guide to choose the best hooklink material for your carp fishing
Last updated: August 2023
It’s a hooklink jungle out there for carp anglers with so many materials and brands to choose from. However, let’s face it, at the end of the day, as long as they don’t break, all hooklinks will land you a carp. It is important to choose the right material for the right fishing situation though, so I’ll go through the main types of hooklinks available and what you can use them for as well as my personal favourites. My recommendations are based on my own fishing and running Beausoleil Carp and Cats for the last 10+ years. Let’s start with the basics.
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What is a hooklink?
A hooklink is the section of fishing line that goes between the mainline and the hook. It can be as short as 1” (for a PVA bag or chod rig) or as long as 12ft (for a fixed zig). In carp fishing, a swivel is used to join the mainline to the hooklink. In coarse fishing, this is sometimes done by a loop to loop connection (for example when float fishing). The lead is always above the hooklink. Hooklinks can be made from a large variety of materials such as monofilament, fluorocarbon, braids, superlines and coated braids. They can also be made up of 2 or more different types of materials to create combination (combi) rigs.
What hooklink material to use?
What hooklink material to use will depend on 3 main factors: what lead type you’re fishing with, what the lake bottom is like and what distance you’re casting. Having said that, in my opinion, in 90% of fishing situations the best material to use is what you use for your mainline. It will be strong enough and will be cheaper than buying dedicated hooklink. If you fish with 15lb mono as a mainline, then why not use that as your hooklink. Here are the main options to consider:
- If you’re fishing an inline lead, use braid (unless the lake bed is very flat). If you’re fishing a swivel lead, use mono, or a coated braid if you’re fishing a multi rig.
- If you’re fishing a very rocky bottom, I’d use heavy braid and if you’re over a soft bottom, go for mono (or braid) in a shorter length.
- If you’re casting a long way, go for mono. If you’re casting less than 60 yards, you can use braid with care.
What’s the best hooklink for PVA bags?
The best hooklink for fishing solid PVA bags is braid. There are lots to choose from but something in the 20 – 25lbs range will be fine. Thre’s no need to bother about rig camouflage or hooklink buoyancy when fishing a solid PVA bag. All you need is something supple and strong enough.
What’s the best hooklink for silt?
For fishing in silt, you can use mono or braid in shorter lengths. Think in terms of 4-6” rather than the 8-10” for a normal length rig. Again, no need to bother about rig camouflage or hooklink buoyancy when you’re fishing in silt. The silt provides all the cover you need. Judging silt depth and firmness is difficult but if you get it right, the fish will never see the rig or the lead but will be able to find your bait and snaffle it!
What’s the best hooklink material for the multi rig?
The only material to use for the multi rig is a soft or semi stiff coated braid because it is supple enough to allow you to form and maintain the D. You can use a pure braid also. Mono or fluorocarbon won’t work because they have memory and the D will close down which stops the ring from moving freely.
One of the great things about the multi rig is the fact that you can change the hook regularly without having to tie a new rig. This way you can re-use the hooklink material for many fish. I particularly like Nash’s Skinlink for this as it’s tougher and stronger than most coated braids out there. More on the Skinlink below.
Find out the damage the lakebed can cause on your hooklink in this video:
What is the best hooklink for carp fishing?
The best hooklink for carp fishing will be down to your material choice and the fishing situations mentioned above. The main types of hooklink materials to choose from are:
- Mono hooklink
- Braided hooklink
- Coated hooklink
- Fluorocarbon hooklink
- Leader material
- Stiff rig chod filament
Find out why Beausoleil is a fishing heaven for specimen anglers
1. Mono hooklink
Monofilament is the original hook link material. It’s simple, cheap and as long as you match it with a suitable hook and mount the bait correctly then it’s OK to use for 90% of your fishing. Typical breaking strains for carp fishing range from 8 to 30lbs.
The best mono hooklink to use IMO is Berkley Big Game. I’ve become a big fan of the Big Game over the last few years and I use it whenever I can. It’s banked me everything I’ve hooked from 10lbs to 100lbs and rarely lets me down, as long as I chose the right strength of the right situation
I use it as mainline and hooklink and it makes my fishing very simple. It’s not expensive, really strong and has excellent abrasion resistance.
When to use it
I used to only use mono for zig rigs and I liked the 8lbs Pro Clear by GLT. Now, I use Berkley Big Game on all my hooklinks and I’ve caught loads of big carp on simple mono D rigs. I use it in 0.38 (20lbs) for most of my fishing and 0.45 (25lbs) or even 0.55 (30lbs) when the going gets tough. You will probably need to tie a new hooklink after each capture but that’s no biggie.
When to avoid it
The only time I don’t use a mono hooklink is for solid PVA fishing (I use braid) or when I want to use a multi rig (I use coated braid). The other situation is if you’re faced with zebra mussels or rocks. These will slice and dice most things but you’ll stand a better chance with extra heavy braid.
2. Braided hooklink
Braid is another classic hook link material that many anglers are returning to now. I’ve been a massive braid fan for a number of years. It’s strong, abrasion resistant, knots well and can present a bait over any type of bottom.
A good choice of hooklink is the Nash Armourlink. I like the smooth exterior finish, it knots well and has good abrasion resistance. I prefer it to Korda’s Dark Matter as it can be blobbed after trimming for extra security and neatness. When you cut Dark Matter, it gradually frays with use and it doesn’t fill me with confidence.
I’m not fussed that the Dark Matter sinks better than the Armourlink. If I’m being really paranoid then I’ll add some putty (Dark Matter is the best rig putty IMO!). I prefer the Armourlink to the old Supernova as the super fine fibres can snag easily (if you have rough hands, you’d hate Supernova!).
Why does braid work?
Braided rigs are very flexible, offering virtually no resistance to the carp that picks up the braid. They also allow the hook and bait to separate properly and this results in great hook holds in the middle of the bottom lip.
How to stop the tangles
Braid is more likely to tangle when casting. You have to stop the forward travel of the lead in flight before it hits the water. A few nuggets of PVA, a 3 bait stringer or small mesh bag will help to stop tangles if you don’t land the rig correctly.
The best braided hooklink for river fishing or targeting big catfish
As the catfish at Beausoleil got more powerful, I had to look to stronger grades of hooklink than the Supernova. For my river carping, I use Spiderwire Stealth Smooth braid in 90lbs (0.35). I tried it at Beausoleil and it works a treat. It’s a great line and the strongest I’ve ever tested. It can survive a 2hr fight with a monster catfish but still be delicate enough to get a pickup from a wily carp of any size. If you’re worried that it’s a neutral buoyancy material then don’t be. I’ve caught loads on it without a single blob of putty.
Side by side, the Spiderwire looks very similar to Korda’s 35lb Dark Matter or Nash’s Armourlink. The big difference is that I can buy a bulk 275m spool for the same money as 2 x 20m spools of carp branded hooklink. Don’t be tempted to buy Spiderwire in a weaker grade though. The 35lb version looks more like cheese wire and could be very bad for the carp’s mouth. The heavier garde is safer because it’s thicker.
I’ve been making carp and catfish rigs for Beausoleil anglers with the Spiderwire hooklink since 2018 and I’ve not found anything better that combines strength and suppleness.
3. Coated braid hooklink
According to the carp fishing press, unless you’re using some sort of coated braid you’re obviously some kind of noddy! I’ve used many types over the years and was never really happy with any of them. What brought me back to coated braids was one rig. The multi rig.
I’ve tried lots of different coated braids. My favourite is the Nash Skinlink. Its kevlar core means it’s virtually indestructible even in the 25lb version and I’ve landed multiple massive cats on the same hooklink without issue.
The only downside is the price. At £9.99 for 10m, it’s a bit pricey but if you use it for the multi rig and change the hook, then you can re-use the same hooklink time and time again.
The Skinlink is a little thicker perhaps than other coated braids but the 25lb version can be threaded through most size 4 out turned eyed hooks (with the help of some bait floss). I haven’t tried the 15lb or 20lb version but I’m sure that for most situations they will be more than adequate and easier to thread.
Why use coated braids
I only use coated braid if I fish the multi rig which is a great rig if you don’t have much time to do rig prep and you want to be able to change the hook quickly. It’s also one of the easiest rigs to tie. I once fished for 30 winter nights with only six multi rig hooklinks. I’ve made a video of the multi rig here.
When to avoid it
You don’t actually need expensive coated hooklink to catch most carp (it might help you bank a massive catfish though). For many situations good old mono is all you need.
4. Fluorocarbon hooklink
Fluorocarbon hook links have been around for a while now and certainly offer some different properties but I don’t use them anymore. I’ve tried products like Korda IQ2 and Rig Marole’s CAM H20. They are stiffer than most other materials but they haven’t caught me more carp and for me, they are not worth the money. I’m much happier now using mono.
5. Leader material
I used to use Kryston Quicksilver as a leader and a heavy duty hooklink. The trouble was the price and availability. In certain situations it still wasn’t up to the task so it was time to look for an alternative.
Now, if I want to fish a leader, my first choice is the Big Game or Sunset Amnesia. If I’m looking for distance, then 25lb Big Game is a good option. If I need extra abrasion resistance, the thicker 30lb Amnesia in 0.57mm comes into play. Both are inexpensive and readily available.
If you really need a super heavy duty leader then look at some of the heavier grades of Powerpro. Available in strengths up to 165lb (0.56).
How to fish with a leader material:
When fishing a leader of any size I would always use barbless hooks and make sure to dump the lead on the take. I hate doing this but it’s the safest way to fish. I’d hate to think that a carp has to tow around 10m of leader (even with the lead) for any length of time.
6. Stiff rig chod filament
I’m not a fan of the traditional chod rig. I have used the hinged stiff rig but to be honest, I don’t find the rig necessary to catch carp regularly. They are hard work to maintain, difficult to tie and they certainly don’t catch me more than a simple mono rig. If you’re really into this sort of thing then check out ESP Stiff Rig Bristle Filament. It’s strong, reliable and easy to curve.
I hope that this guide gives you some insight into the different hook link materials and in what situations to use them. For most carp fishing situations, I don’t think you need to bother with expensive dedicated hooklinks, just use your mono.
Every year, I catch countless carp on simple mono rigs or braided rigs and that’s why they’re my number one choice unless I’m tackling the wilds of the river Mayenne when I use kevlar cored coated braids or extra heavy braid.
Any questions or comments, let me know in the comments below.