Here in part II we’ll explore some of the rigs that have proved effective here in North America and when and where you might want to use them. One of the advantages we have in North America is an abundance of carp catching opportunities which allows us to properly test different rigs. It should be no problem to fish two different rigs or slight variations of the same along side one another and make notes on which is proving more effective. If you pay close attention to which rigs produce more hook ups vs missed runs etc you should be able to figure out the best for that swim, bait or even a particular session.
The blowback rig comes in many forms and was originally created to outwit fish that had supposedly ‘seen it all’. The hair is tied to a micro rig ring that can slide along the hook shank or even a ‘D’ section of monofilament. The mechanics suggest that when the carp tries to eject the bait it simply slides up the shank or ‘D’ and then the bait movement helps the hook point to become embedded. The hair length is up to the angler but when the bait is tied tight to the rig ring it will help minimize the risk of the hair fouling the hook.
Hook Style: Curv style or Wide Gape
Hook Link Material: Various (Flourocarbon, Braid, Combi)
Bait: Bottom Baits, Balanced or Pop-Up Boilie or Plastic Maize / Corn
Benefits: Less risk of hair tangles and when bait ‘blown out’ helps set hook point.
Ease of Tying: **
Comments: Quite a simple rig and one that has proven effective in many locations and with a wide variety of baits. It is one of my favorite rigs to fish in Spring or early Summer before the weeds really start to grow. It can be fished with a variety of baits but I really like a critically balanced particle bait. A split shot or piece of tungsten putty a couple of inches up the hook length from the hook will help add some resistance to the hook point once its been picked up and make it more difficult for the carp to shake loose.
The ultra short hook length, springy material and aggressive hook angle make it very difficult for carp to eject. It was originally designed to present a popped up bait over bottom debris such as leaves etc. However it works equally well presented at the end of a regular hook length to present a bait over weed. Note the 45 degree angle of the hook point. You should aim to adjust any pop-up rig presentation to achieve this ‘claw’ like effect to optimize the angle of entry into the carp’s lower lip.
Hook Style: An out turned eye or specialist Choddy hook.
Hook Link Material: Stiff 20-30lb fluoro or any of the specialist Choddy materials.
Bait: Pop-Up Boilie or Other bait.
Ease of tying: * (Can prove ‘fiddly’ and getting the curve and mechanics right takes practice and patience). The modern choddy rig bins make it easy to steam and keep the curvature ready for use.
Comments: There is no doubt this is a deadly rig. In Fall or early Winter when leaves, small twigs and other debris litter the bottom the chod stands outs as a real winner. Carp always seem to have a hard time losing this rig once they’ve picked it up. A couple of top anglers also found success fishing bottom baits on the ‘chod’ - Give it a try!
Chod Rig Options:
#1 When mounted on a Helicopter rig it can slide up and down the weighted leader or leadcore which maintains tension and makes it difficult for the carp to eject. The range of movement can be adjusted using an upper rubber rig bead however make sure the bead can be pulled off the leader to prevent a carp being tethered to the lead in the event of a break-off.
#2 Fished at the end of a fluorocarbon hook length over weed. This is a near ‘invisible’ set up ideal for shallow, clear waters.
#3 Tied on the end of a regular stiff hook length material it creates a very effective pop-up rig.
Named after its creator Kenny Dorset. The hook is whipped on at such an aggressive angle that carp find it near impossible to eject when sucked in. Since the hair protrudes from directly beside the hook’s eye it moves the ‘balance’ point so transferring more weight toward the point. The outcome is that the hook point drops faster and more effectively into the carp’s lower lip and ensures a nice solid hold. It’s imperative to add the balance shot or weight to the hair in between the bait and the hook.
Hook Style: Curve style hooks
Hook Link Material: Soft or Coated braids work well.
Bait: Critically balanced & Pop-Up Boilie, Particles or Plastic Maize / Corn.
Benefits: Aggressive hook holds
Ease of tying: * * (you need to make sure the hair does not get pulled around when tightening the hook link material).
The KD can also be fished ‘Muzza’ style, an innovative variation created by Tom Dove. Here the bait is critically balanced in such a way that it sits ‘upside-down’ with the hair-stop resting on the bottom & the hair sticking upwards from the ‘bottom’ of the bait. In this picture a regular boilie has been partly drilled out (about halfway) and a piece of rig cork or foam inserted to ensure it sits ‘upside down’. This adds more effective ‘weight’ to the hook point further increasing its chances of catching in the lower lip.
Comments: On hard, clean sandy or gravel bottoms the KD is a simply devastatingly effective bottom bait rig. It works really well with particle baits such as maize, tiger nuts and chick peas. When popped-up using a boilie or plastic bait it can be used over a variety of river or lake beds. Tied Combi Rig style it works very well with method or other mass particle style feeds around the hook bait.
There are many different styles of combi rig but what they share is the use of a ‘combination’ of different hook length materials. Usually a stiff material such as fluorocarbon connected to a supple braid. In the regular Combi rig the stiff section of hook length material acts like a boom to help ‘kick’ the hook length away from the lead or feeder to avoid tangles. Meanwhile the supple ‘flexi’ section allows the bait to behave naturally and be picked up easily from any direction. The beauty is that almost any style hook rig can be used (blow back, KD etc) to suit the bait and swim conditions. In the past making these rigs has required careful knot tying to connect the two materials together securely but the introduction of the ‘stripable’ coated hook lengths (Korda N-Trap etc) and mono-core braided materials (Rigmarole HydroLink etc) have made creating Combi rigs a breeze.
I also believe that the ‘stiff’ boom acts like a ‘spring’ and can make it more difficult for the carp to eject the hook.
Hook Style: Various
Hook Link Material: I like the strippable coated braids such as Korda N-Trap or the flouro core hollow braids like Hydrolink. They make creating the combination of stiffer and supple sections of a hook length a breeze.
Bait: Bottom baits, neutral balanced Pop-Up Boilie or Pop-Up Plastic Maize / Corn
Benefits: Fewer tangles and more natural presentation. Ideal for method or pack set-ups where the stiff section helps kick out the hook length to avoid tangles.
Ease of tying: ** (Not a difficult rig to tie but only gets ** as it is more time consuming than some).
Comments: The introduction of the modern hook link materials like Kordas N-Trap and Rigmarole Hydrolink have made tying these rigs much, much easier and more reliable. A couple of top anglers, including Shaun Harrison, have found the reverse combi to be highly effective when fishing for buffalo.
The Multi Rig
If I had to choose just one rig to fish with it would have to be the Multi-Rig. It was originally conceived by Mike Kavanagh but then popularized by Johnny Mac. Not only can it be adapted to a wide range of bottom and pop-up baits it is also incredibly simple to tie – just tie a loop, thread through the hook eye, add a ring and pass the loop over the hook point and voila! The rig ring (I prefer larger 4.5 or 5mm Ashima rings) on the loop creates a perfect blow back effect while the doubled over material between the hook eye and single hook length material creates a natural line aligner. The result is a hook position that is very aggressive and if you look at the shape of it in the water it actually hovers like a claw – thus making it extremely difficult to eject once sucked in. If the loop is pulled back tight to the hook eye and a hair tied off the ring it creates an effective KD rig. Not only is it practically tangle free (especially if you mount baits in PVA mesh as shown) it can also sit over the choddiest of lake beds. And best of all the hook can be changed in just a few seconds by simply un-looping & replacing with a new one.
Hook Style: Choddy or Curve shank
Hook Link Material: Any of the popular strippable coated hook length materials.
Bait: Balanced Pop-Up Boilie, Bottom Bait, Particles, Plastic etc
Conditions: Any and works especially well popped-up over lake bed debris and light weed.
Benefits: Easy to adjust bait position by moving the loop on the hook to create the most aggressive hook angle. Difficult for carp to eject.
Ease of Tying: *** (If you can tie a couple of loops then you are done! The rest is just basic assembly).
Comments: This rig has produced over 95% hook up success for me over the past 3 years. Single or double (snowman) boilie presentations have been incredibly effective when fished on 5-6″ hook lengths.
Frank Warwick’s “Go To” Rig
There have been a lot of variations on the original rig pioneered by Frank Warwick but like so many imitations they rarely live up to expectations. The key to its success remains the use of a long shank hook and two sections of shrink tubing (rather than silicone) that cater for two very different purposes. The first piece of shrink tubing is steamed over the eye of the hook and the hook length ideally pushed through a hole in the underside as shown or pulled into a small slit cut in the shrink tube. This ‘line aligner’ encourages the point to flip in the carp’s mouth, thus allowing it to catch hold in the bottom lip.
The second, smaller section of shrink tubing, is placed over the hair and then over the bend of the hook. This not only keeps the hook bait in place but more importantly prevents the hair from wrapping around the shank on the cast. As an additional benefit it also acts as an ‘indicator’. So if a fish has sucked in the hook bait and blown it out without getting hooked, the silicone will have slid up the shank towards the eye and you’ll know you’ve been ‘done’! Frank Warwick uses this rig for 80% of his carp fishing so there is no doubt it is effective!
Hook Style: Long Shank
Hook Link Material: N-Trap or other quality hook length materials
Bait: Any including Pop-Ups, Regular or Neutral buoyancy (wafter) Boilies.
Conditions: Almost any.
Benefits: Reliable hook holds, tangle free and indicates if bait has been ‘done’.
Ease of Tying: ** (Not a difficult rig to tie but does take a little bit longer than some).
Comments: I have to admit to getting this rig all wrong for a couple of years… and suffered the consequences of some frustrating hook pulls as a result. When I sat down with Frank and he pointed out where I was going wrong (I was using regular length shank hooks and silicone sleeve on the hook bend instead of shrink tube) it all started to make sense. It certainly tops the list for reliability – especially with bigger baits. If you use a Delkim alarm the vibro sensitivity for detecting almost any activity at the sharp end means you can check those few beeps to see if you’ve been done and adjust accordingly!
The 360 Rig
A devastatingly effective rig for pop-up presentations. It is also simple and quick to put together. No matter what direction the carp approaches the bait the hook can simply spin around to get a solid purchase in the bottom lip. The rubber hook beads also allow critical positioning of the bait to achieve an aggressive hook angle together with a nice blow back effect. There has been some discussion about the 360 rig and potential damage to a carps mouth. One criticism is that the rig can somehow go through a carps lips twice closing them shut and secondly that the hook eye can get caught more easily in the landing net and result in mouth tears if the carp thrashes around. I’ve never experienced this myself and have found nothing in writing to substantiate the rumors. One issue to bear in mind is that the hook eye can force the swivel eye to ‘open up’ after playing a couple of fish. I now add a small rig ring to sit between the hook and swivel eye to prevent this happening.
Hook Style: Curve Shank or Long Curve Shank
Hook Link Material: Fluorocarbon or any coated braid material
Bait: Balanced or Pop-Up Boilie (or two Snowman style) or Plastic Maize / Corn
Benefits: Fluoro hook link is very difficult to see and the stiffness prevents tangles
Ease of Tying: ***
Comments: I really like the fact that I can tie this rig with a range of hook link materials to suit the nature of the swim I’m fishing. It has worked really well for me on rocky lake beds with a snowman pop-up presentation that the carp seem able to find and inhale with ease.
The Zig Rig
After many years this rig has finally caught on in Europe but is still overlooked here in North America. A real shame as it can prove even more effective over here since the carp depend so much more on natural food! While carp often feed on the bottom there are many times when they are either cruising or feeding somewhere between the bottom and the surface. At such times they are usually focused on a natural ‘hatch’ of insect larvae or water snails. However presenting a natural bait ‘mid water’ is sometimes difficult to achieve reliably. Happily carp can usually be fooled with a simple imitation created from a piece of foam or buoyant ‘fly’ (Zig Bug) creation tied on a fluorocarbon hook length. Casting a long hook link length of several feet can prove awkward and I now prefer to use one of the commercially available adjustable rig set-ups. This set up uses running rig and a ‘float’ to which a 3-6′ fluorocarbon hook length is attached. Once cast into position it is relatively easy to wind the float down to the lead weight and then give out line until the required depth is achieved. Slow sinking particles etc can be spombed or catapulted over the area to attract carp into the area.
Hook Style: Size 12 – 8 Wide Gape
Hook Link Material: Fluorocarbon in 6 – 12lb test
Bait: Imitation of natural bait. A small piece of foam or a ‘zig bug’ mounted on a short hair.
Benefits: Carp focused on natural hatches or cruising mid water or just below the surface can be targeted.
Ease of Tying: ***
Comments: Years ago I used to fish zig bugs just below the surface over weed beds fly fishing or using a controller style float with varying degrees of success. Now with the modern adjustable rigs it is really quite simple to adjust to almost any depth and range. If you’ve not tried fishing a Zig then make the coming season the time to give it a try… I promise you won’t be disappointed and don’t forget clear, moon lit nights can be a real winner!
So that’s it for Part II…
In Part III we’ll get down to the real nitty gritty of tying rigs and more importantly how to make those key adjustments to fine tune the rig for maximum effect…
Catching the biggest and wariest carp!