CherryCarp Rotary Club – Rigs – Part 1

Rotary Club - Rigs

In a world of confusion, chaos and hearsay, CherryCarp seek out The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth… in a series of simplifying our quest for catching carp. Separating the wheat from the chaff in today’s carp angling world we commence a brand new Rotary Club Journey by asking Martin Crackoff, Bill Phillips, Mark Walsingham, Ali Fisher and Bernie Loftus about their views on Rigs. 

ROTARY 1: Rigs – Un Complicating the Complicated!
It’s very apparent that when an angler asks the question in open forum “what rig would you recommend?” that he or she will receive a multitude of different and somewhat confusing answers.

Appreciating with new rigs, comes new products to be purchased, it can therefore be a mine field to the improving angler let alone the newcomer.

If we were to believe everything we are told, then a thousand different rigs would be required for a thousand different scenarios.

What’s your approach and thoughts on Rigs?

Martin Crackoff
I think that whilst there is a certain amount of information needed regards the water, and how the angler intends to fish the water, and this information will make your answers differ, the amount of rigs out there in the carp fishing world, are basically variations on a few very simple ideas. As an angler, I always concentrate on getting a good rig and bait in the right spot rather than waste time getting the perfect rig tied, and the perfect bait.

Rigs have been elevated to the level of importance they are in today’s carp fishing, simply because the angling media can’t think of anything else to write about. This makes people think that the rig is the ‘be-all’ and ‘end-all’ of fishing, and so more people start tying more unnecessary clutter to their hooks, and hey presto, another wonder rig is born. This of course is never going to be called out for what it is by the tackle firms… they love it, more junk being sold to the novice angler thanks to another “thinking angler” and his new rig.

Personally, when I arrive at a lake, there are two different scenarios, certainly not thousands… I start by finding out what the lake bed is like, and that tells me whether I want to fish on the bottom, (with a bottom bait) or if I want to fish a pop-up. That’s it, if it’s a bottom bait, I’ll fish a variation on the standard hair rig, either a super supple cotton hair, or a KD style rig. If I want to fish with a balanced pop-up, over soft silt, weed, detritus etc, it’s just a matter of how high I need the bait in order to fish it effectively, so the differences are again simple. Close to the bottom, and I’ll have a hinged type rig of the “control” type where the bait is held close to the hook, and if I need the bait higher up, so on detritus or longer weed, then I’ll just use a chod rig.

I have two basic theories on rigs, separation rigs, and “control” rigs… (Sorry that I keep using that term, but it’s what I call the type of rig where the last couple of inches act similar to the chod rig, where the hook is controlled by the bait and the rigs mechanics) Do I think all these new rigs are too hyped??? I’ll answer by saying my number one catching rig over the years has been the hair rig in its many variations. Separation rigs are something that appear not to have changed much over the years, but there are a few tweaks to be added, that can make it just as effective as any rig out there.

Over to you Bill

Bill Phillips
Cheers Martin, I believe we sing from a similar hymn sheet.

RIGS !!! Now there’s a buzz word that is often used to unnecessarily complicate the simple task of attaching bait to hook, line & maybe lead arrangement in order catch a carp. I tend to think of it as terminal tackle. The media hype around rigs, which is largely commercially driven, must totally confuse the new comer to our wonderful pastime of angling. Interestingly, one of the definitions of the word rig is ‘to arrange in a dishonest way’. Add to that ‘to sell more bits ‘ and it sounds like a fitting definition. In my opinion, over complicating rigs catches more anglers than carp.

The terminal tackle you use ‘rigs’ is of course an important part of the jigsaw, but not to the extent that seems to be believed nowadays. Rigs are far outweighed by watercraft, finding fish, stealth and carful presentation. The simplest rig carefully presented in the right place stands far more chance than the latest super rig in the wrong place.

My advice, particularly to those new to the game is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Truth be known, the knotless knot hair rig in its simplest form has probably accounted for as many carp as most of the fancy new wonder rigs all put together. I believe that the majority of consistently successful carp anglers use relatively simple hair rigs for most of their fishing. The versatility and variations with just a straight hair rig are huge, hook type ,hook size ,hook link material ,hook link length, hair length, lead size, fixed, running , stopped, drop off or combination. The permutations are huge before you even consider bottom, wafter or popup as bait. I’m not saying that you should never bother with any other type of rig but just think about the topography of the bottom and consider what you are trying to achieve. In more cases than not a simple hair rig presented thoughtfully in the right place will produce.

I do understand & fully accept that playing with rigs can be an addictive art form in its own right. There are anglers that enjoy rig development as much as the fishing, often very successfully. But I am not so sure that it gives any great edge. So often I do wonder if results are because of or in spite of. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with new rigs but certainly don’t think it’s the be all & end all.

For me there are two groups of rigs, the stealth or the aggressive hooking type which seem to be most hyped nowadays. Largely because of the popularity of the aggressive hooking type rigs my personal favoured rig is one of stealth. The objective being for the bait to act as naturally as possible and not stand out like a sore thumb creating suspicion. Stalking at close quarters in clear water over the years has taught me that a carps natural instinct to sense danger are acute to say the least. A strong but light weight size 6ish hook tied direct to a sinking main line with a simple lump of bread flake stealthily presented to meandering carp can be the deadliest of rigs in such a situation.

As you may well have gathered my first port of call and favourite terminal set up is simple but influenced of course by what is out in front of me at the time. Under normal circumstances I will use as smaller hook as the bait and conditions permit attached to a supple 8″ to 10 “hook link with a lower breaking strain than that of the main line. A knotless knot with a longish hair of about 2 to3 inches, again this is dependent on the bait. I do like to add a ring to create a blow back function and a few pinches of putty to pin the link down. Then a 2 1/2 oz semi fixed drop off lead with a weak link to a run ring. Baits are very carefully balanced to rest gently on the bottom to mimic the freebies.

This simple set up can be made more aggressive with a bigger hook, shorter hair, very short 2″ or 3″ hook link and bigger lead. Or conversely, if the fish are very shy I will change to a light nylon hook link attaching the hook with a Palomar knot. A very light cotton hair attached to the hook by a rig ring with a small stop rubber just behind the bend to give a blow back effect. Presented with a light running lead completes a nice stealthy set up. Various permutations of the above have accounted for a considerable percentage of the carp I have caught from many different waters both at home and abroad.

As an example of how unnecessary it is to chase the dream of the perfect rig I will tell tails on a couple of my close old school friends. They both have in excess of 50 years, very productive under the radar, carp catching.

The first has never used or even tied a knotless knot, let alone any fancy complicated rig. He is still fishing in the same way as we all did at the start of the hair, threading the bait on to a length of cotton and tying it to the bend of the hook. Would you believe he has been out fishing some very high profile anglers on a rock hard circuit water for several years now. A couple of years back he had seven big forties from that water which was more than the rest of the syndicate had achieved put together.

The second only ever uses a simple knotless knot hair rig to 6″ to 8″ of coated braid with about 1/2″ stripped above the hook. Come rain or shine, big water or small, it’s all he ever uses. However, he is a proper Mr consistent carp catcher both in the UK and France. He is one of very few to have caught a back to back 80lb + mirror and common in little over a week.

The above examples are 100% testament that keeping it simple is not as detrimental as some might have you believe.

That’s enough of my waffle, over to you Mark to bring some sense back into things.

Mark Walsingham
Rigs in three words…. Keep it simple.

I have one rig that I’ve used for 90% of my fishing for the last five seasons. It’s a simple, short stiff D, long hair, figure of eight loop at the swivel and a light lead (1oz).

The thing is, I think many anglers get so embroiled in the mechanics of rigs that they overlook the most important thing in rig selection and that’s carp behaviour.

I’ll run through the thinking on the rig above as an illustration of what I mean.

The lakes I fish have all got a large head of silver fish and heavy weed, especially blanket weed. So I want a rig that won’t tangle if the silvers play around with the bait. The long hair helps with this because the silvers can move the bait without moving the hook.

The carp are all as spooky as hell, so I want minimum disturbance. Hence the light lead. I’ve also watched carp using a heavy lead as a fixed point to work out the hook once pricked. Terry Hearn once watched an Ashmead carp working the hook on a heavy lead for fifteen minutes before it finally ran… A light lead moves and the carp can’t use it in this way. The fishing is all close quarters so no long cast required.

Combination of a really sharp hook, stiff link, D and long hair means the hooking efficiency is good and bait separation excellent, so the hook goes in and no amount of blowing of the bait will dislodge it.

So simple and efficient. The key to success though, is the way you feed the fish. The rig is hopeless if carp are static and sucking and blowing at a bait – the short stuff link just doesn’t move naturally. But fish a wide scatter of bottom baits and a bottom bait on the hook, so the carp are moving between baits and picking them up individually and it’s deadly. More so if you feed steadily and get the fish competing and racing between baits.

So it’s not the rig in my view that matters most but understanding how the fish are feeding and why you are using it. Understanding gives confidence and that brings success. I’ll pass this to Ali for his thoughts..

Ali Fisher
Confidence is key. Find a rig you’re happy with and stick with it. The quickest way to ruin your confidence and affect your fishing negatively is to start messing with rigs. You’ll have the latest fad rig on and you’ll be sat there second guessing yourself. There is very little new in rigs since the invention of the hair.

The vast majority of my fishing is done over particle and naturals and I have two rigs I use 99% of the time. One is a stiff rig compromising of a chod hook tied using strong fluorocarbon with a tight D near the eye and a small rig ring. I use this arrangement when fishing maggots. I tend to use a large ball of live maggots and having them up near the eye keeps the hook point free, it also stops them getting caught on the point during casting etc. It’s an incredibly effective rig.

The other rig I use is for bottom baits like corn/boilie/nuts etc. It’s often referred to in the mags as the claw rig. The rig is tied so that the hair exits the hook directly below the point and it’s held in place with two small pieces of silicone tubing. The distance of separation between the bait and the hook varies depending on bait size but usually it’s around a 1/4 of an inch to 1/2 an inch. The mechanics behind it being that the bait being where it is in relation to the point makes the point heavy and keeps it down in the carps mouth increasing the likelihood of pricking the mouth.

The other 1% of the time I use zigs. I have 100% confidence in these rigs which allows me to concentrate on what really matters and that’s location. One of the best anglers I know still side hooks his baits and he catches more than his fair share. Including some of the best history fish this country has to offer. Food for thought there.

I feel most modern rigs are purely to catch the angler rather than the fish. I mean there is only so many ways you can mount a bait on a hook. I see people pulling the hook over their hand and getting all excited when it flips over. I sometimes wonder if they have ever had the pleasure of watching a fish pick a rig up.

In order for it to work like it does on their hand the fish would have to back off tightening the hook link, which in reality never happens or at least I’ve never seen it. They inhale it and either get pricked immediately and bolt/stay on the spot trying to ditch it or spit it out and either carry on feeding or leave the area.

Having something you are confident in is key. The quickest way to ruin your confidence and affect your angling negatively is to chop and change. If you’re catching regularly why change! Yet I see so many people constantly chopping and changing when the latest all singing all dancing rig comes out.

What about you Bernie?

Bernie Loftus
Thanks Ali, Rigs, keep it simple is the often quoted saying and this is precisely what I do.

I’ve used the same carrier for more than twenty years on every single lake I’ve fished, it’s no big deal but I like the anti-tangle properties of the helicopter/rotary rig and the way it presents the nitty gritty part of the rig which is second to none. If there is a problem with silt or light weed, it’s just a simple matter of pushing the back stop up the lead core, to the estimated depth of the silt. Lead core fly line is sometimes frowned upon by some but I’ve had no issues. Rules permitting I use a length of about four feet, but because I do not use any quick change clips, every rig change shortens this length by two or three inches. The waters I fish don’t really need a speed fishing approach and the little clips are just another complication that could, (I know they probably will not, but there is still a chance they could) cause a problem. All I have on the lead core is a short length of silicone tube as the stop, two plastic beads with the ring swivel in between and a sleeve that covers the knot and the loop on the lead.

I usually cut the swivels off my shop bought leads as it has no function when covered by the sleeve. I’ve just bought loads of leads with no swivels to save the waste, I also managed to convince the chap who made them that I didn’t want any “camouflage” plastic coating. These plastic coatings might look nice and carpy but divers have proved they are anything but camouflaged and are much easier for them to find than uncoated leads. When the rules dictate that lead core leader can’t be used I use just three inches as a buffer for the swivel, no way would I want the swivel directly on the main line because it WILL damage the line during the battle with a fish and for me this is unacceptable.

Like the carrier, the most important thing to me is the anti-tangle qualities of a rig. I’ve already mentioned my faith in sweet corn and it is my go to bait until I find a problem with nuisance fish. Small light baits are more inclined to fly back and tangle around the leader. Short stiff hook links and short hairs are the only real option. This means hook and bait move as one as the fish picks it up, I’ve never found this to be an issue when fish are feeding confidently over lots of bait. I used the same pictured rig with 14mm boilies on the last lake that I had to use boilies exclusively on. Confidently feeding fish is the key and I was feeding 3k of bait three days a week it achieve this.

I’ll happily use this rig anywhere and have very rarely found the need for different rigs for different lakes, it’s just a matter of finding the right spots.

2 thoughts on “CherryCarp Rotary Club – Rigs – Part 1

  1. Tarby
    carpmaduk says:

    What a great insight from real people with no nonsense or sponsorship, the key words to any fishing (Keep it simple) really enjoyed the article.
    Thanks guys look forward to the next one.
    Steve Davis

  2. Tarby
    Brian Woodrow says:

    Very interesting read, the one thing i had noticed was they say KEEP IT SIMPLE.
    Rigs nowadays are complicating to the new comers, and designed to catch the angler.

Leave a Reply