When it comes to a new range of hook like the Competition Heavyweight Barbless Hooks – I am fortunate to be in a position where I can take them on board and give feedback where neccessary. Of late, I have been reviewing these new hooks from Fulling Mill, and boy are they good…
I have used many of the other Fulling Mill barbless hooks with great success, particularly the heavyweight champ hooks for lures and nymphs and short shank special in the smaller sizes for nymphs and dries. However, I do still feel that there is room for a standard heavy wire hook for general use for lake fishing.
My first impressions were that these hooks were exactly what I had been looking for my stillwater fishing. For years anglers have been looking for a barbless version of the standard Fulling Mill competition heavyweight hook which, along with the Kamasan B175, is the standard hook for the vast majority of stillwater patterns. Despite the wide availability of barbless hooks many anglers still prefer de-barbed versions of these standard hooks above the barbless alternatives currently available.
The hooks have a very consistent finish and are strong wire, therefore I see no issues with them straightening even when bullying large fish on strong tippets. They also feature a straight extended straight point which has excellent fish holding properties, without being too long.
I have experimented with various the Competition Heavyweight barbless hooks for my stillwater fishing and whilst I have had some excellent results with some hooks I have not found a hook that I feel confident using in the full range of sizes. This combined with the fact that some of the specialist barbless hooks have a tendency to rust quite quickly has meant that I have never been totally satisfied that I have been using the best hooks possible.
The Competition Heavyweight barbless hooks are available in both Bronze and Black nickel finish which gives the angler a chance to match the hook to the pattern. Whilst I do prefer the bronze for the majority of patterns the black nickel is well suited to darker patterns such as black lures and nymphs.
There has been some debate regarding whether ‘up-turned’ hook points are the best option for stillwater patterns. In my opinion the answer depends both on the size of fish and how the fly is being being fished.
I find that straight points are better for larger fish as they usually hold better due to the wider ‘hooking gape’ and therefore they are better for our stocked rainbows which are typically in the 2- 3lb bracket… or bigger.
I also prefer the straight point when retrieving my flies, particularly lures. I believe that the up-turned point is masked if the fish it following the fly the fly from behind and you are essentially pulling the fly out of the fishes mouth. As a result the fish is often lightly hooked if it does not fully commit to taking the fly or does not turn away as it takes. I believe that this is why anglers often get better results with de-barbed standard hooks compared to more modern up turned points when fish are ‘nipping’ at retrieved flies and lures.
I do, however, also believe that this is reversed when fishing static or river fishing, as in both situations the angler is setting the hook into the fish and in this situation the fish holding properties of in turned points are an advantage, particularly on finer wire hooks and smaller fish.
Early indications of these hooks has been very positive and I have manged a few sessions using nymphs , wets and lures an all have produced very positive results. When boat fishing I can say with confidence that the results were just as good, if not better, that my boat partner who was fishing barbed versions. Based on this I have no hesitation in recommending them to stillwater anglers.
Moving forward I plan to continue to use these hooks, and I think that they will form a large part of my stillwater selection. They complement the other barbless hooks in the fulling mill range and are, in opinion, by far the most suitable for fishing barbless on our stocked stillwater fisheries. Moving forward I would also like to see a medium wire version of this hook which I feel would be more suitable for lighter weight nymphs and also dries.
View the Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight Barbless Hooks here.