Sunday, 7 July 2013

Kamasan B560 — The Best Roach Hook, Ever?

I don't know about you but I swear that if I'm not using the right tool for the job then I'll do the job badly. Hooks are general purpose tools of course and not designed for any specific species on the whole, but some seem to work so well with certain fish it's as if they were designed specifically for them.

The Kamasan B560 is such a tool and roach their fish.

I doubt if there's a better hook for roach on the market and doubt there was one ever made that worked as well. Others may not agree and have their own firm favourites but I cannot make a cast after roach nowadays if I haven't one tied to the end of my line and pretty much give up hope when the packet is empty.

Why are they so good? Well the B560 is quite a looker with its fine wire, gracefully shaped bend and long tapered incurved point and it's because of that shape that it's a 'sticky' hook that finds a hold on roach where others fail. Secondly, it's of a springy but not hard and brittle metal, so it will open out under pressure and that's a very good thing, believe it or not!

I'll explain. It won't open out under the strain of playing fish — I banked a carp that broke my rod but the hook was fine because the point was fully home and the straight shank took all the pressure. Just the other night a chub was teased upstream through thick beds of club rush, a ridiculously difficult fight that took nigh on twenty minutes to win where in open water it would have taken two or less, but the hook never failed.  

But, if the point isn't driven all the way to the bend it will open out. That means snagging on underwater sticks and logs you'll get your hook back intact, with an opened out gape of course, but because the metal is malleable it can be put back into shape with a pair of pliers, or even between the teeth.

You'd think that would weaken it wouldn't you? Well it might but not so much that it makes any difference where roach are concerned. I've never broken one yet but have saved myself a lot of pain when fishing in weir pools where such snags are always present where roach are found and will be encountered as a matter of course.

The fact that it's a spade end pattern might deter some from using it because of the fiddly and unreliable knot required. It's a perfectly strong knot when properly tied, astonishingly so in fact, but one false move and it's the weakest knot in the book, failing at silly strains. I use a Stonfo hook tyer to make the job easy but even with this handy gadget it can still fail to tie up properly if care and attention isn't taken with it. I take high magnification reading glasses to the bank for such fiddly work because my focus range has lengthened and lengthened as I've aged. Then I can see the knot and close up it's obvious when it's wrong.

Again, just the other night a chub was lost because of my failing to test the knot before use with a good hard pull to near breaking strain to set the knot and check its for weakness. The same fish was later banked on a carefully tied and tested knot and my lost hook retrieved! The lesson is that spade end knots are not to be trusted until they've been pre-tested to very near their limits.

I do think the knot also plays a crucial role in helping the hook find hold because the line comes off not on a rotating hinge as it does with an eyed hook but from a stiff link. Whatever the reason the hook is as I've already mentioned, 'sticky,' and since using them my hook-up rates with roach have soared, in fact when ledgering bread, a notoriously difficult method that can drive the roach angler insane with frustration when they're finicky and is never easy even when they're really having it, they've tripled.

They don't let go either and I cannot remember ever losing a roach once hooked, which is remarkable.

This hook is so reliable and trusted, a fact established over two season's use constant usage and comparison with those used beforehand, that if I'm not catching fish but am getting bites then there's no getting past the fact that on the day I'm just a terrible workman because there's no blaming the Kamasan B560 — the perfect tool for the job.


  1. The Mustad 90340 clique have put a contract out on you Jeff!

    1. I hope it's a ten grand job and not a couple of quid, EC...

      Wouldn't want to be sent to meet my maker one pleasant day down the down the cut whilst roaching only to get a bullet through the bonce for the price of a packet of ten!

  2. Nothing wrong with the 90340...other than them no longer being available...ggrrr!!! Size 23 for maggot, 16 for hemp/tares.

    Jeff, it's great when you find a hook you have confidence in; a very subjective topic, as you know. Build a stockpile while they are still in production would be my suggestion.

    I tend to have favourite patterns and sizes for certain applications that have stood the test of time:

    The Kamasan B511 is a superb fine wire hook for the pole and bread punch in particular. Mustad 90340s and the Kamasan B520 fill the range before moving onto the Drennan Carbon Chub and Drennan Super Spade for the heavier applications. However, they are discontinued, or discontinued in the sizes I use. I managed to stockpile a raft of them before the inevitable became unavailable. A more modern pattern that has impressed me so far is the Drennan Silverfish series which may suit the style/species you are targeting.

    I used to use a hooktyer to fasten spades, but used to lose chub in matches on the feeder, under conditions when one fish made a big difference to the result on some days. This led me to study the relative strengths of different knots etc, and as a result, I tie by hand and can manage 100% strength or very close indeed. Oddly, it is quicker and easier than using a tyer if you use the 'two ends' snell.


  3. You're right Ravey, hooks are a very subjective matter but it's interesting how it boils down to so few suitable candidates out of so many available patterns on the market for specific species, in the end. Enough anglers try and test, the right patterns emerge out of the collective trial and error and no species but roach are as particular when it comes to the correct ones, are they?

    It makes such an enormous difference to catch rates that it must be taken very seriously when one hook emerges as the best tool. Of course you have to really work at it to know the difference between one and another, but once it arrives, the rest are history.

    I've never used the 90340 and given their rarity as a discontinued line probably never will. The b560 is not exactly mid shelf material either and I have to look hard to find them in the shop, so perhaps it's going the same way?

    Stockpile while they're there is good advice. I might just buy two packets next time around!

    Three if the cash will stretch...

    And look into the Drennan range meanwhile.

  4. Funnily enough I have a pack of the B560s in size 16, but have yet to evaluate them. Unlike patterns from the same manufacturer, such as B711 and B911, they don't seem to stand out on the shelf. Perhaps when they are on the way out, you might be able to snap up a job lot on Ebay?

    Ultimately, there is almost too much choice out there, and you could drive yourself crackers (and destitute!) trying them all out. I have tried to rationalise my selection, and the reason I have stockpiled is to delay the effort in searching for a suitable alternative/replacement.

    I have been impressed with the B511 since they came out, but they are probably a little too fine for anything but pole fishing in the smaller sizes. I find they really 'stick' when using elastic, and the points last all day long. I remember catching in excess of 30lbs of redfins a couple of years ago on the same size 18...proper value for money. And yet, the heavier wire B611 is rubbish...going blunt just by putting maggots on...strange.

    There have been times on the Trent when the difference between using a size 22 and a 24 has been uncanny, but a change to the smaller hook brings more bites and fewer bumped or dropped roach. There have been other days when the shotting has had the same effect. Such an interesting species, the roach. Chub can be just as cautious as well at times, I have found on my river, although you have more chance of getting barbel these days, which I think is a shame.


    1. I think I've tried and tested most of the Kamasan range down the years, Ravey, but this is the one that's stuck out as effective the way I fish for roach. I hardly ever go very small though, unless trotting maggots or hemp but I haven't done much of that recently. I should though! hemp fishing is tremendous fun and very effective when they turn on to it.

      Last year I was guided on the River Itchen by a local lad, Simon Daley, who's an expert on that river with long rod trotting single maggot. He tied up the entire rig for me and the hook was tiny. A 22, which is fair enough, but the flow we were fishing was really powerful bank to bank, yet the hook never pulled out of roach or even fairly large chub. I saw him bank a 7lb chub on the Dorset Stour with the same tiny hook tied to a 1lb bottom.

      I'm pretty sure it was the B511.

      When I went up to a size 16 and double maggot catches crashed, single maggot hooked lengthwise, catches soared. Simon just sticks with what's best though! He out caught me five to one! Then again he fed a gallon of maggot and hemp, while I thought two pints would be enough. It wasn't!