Over the last few years it seems as if everyone has gone completely zig fishing mad, open up any magazine and you’ll probably find some kind of zig article or feature. Doing your own thing and not following the crowds often brings big rewards in carp fishing, but despite their growing popularity, zigs still allow the angler to develop and perfect his own specific approach. So ignore them at your peril!

Zig fishing - All the rage!

Zig fishing – All the rage!

 Zig rig fishing is something that has long been of tremendous interest to me. It’s a method that often produces fish when all else has failed. It works well in every season, plenty of big fish have and will continue to fall victim to Zig rigs. Like many things in carp fishing, confidence is the key and if you’ve only given zigs a half hearted try and just slung one out for an hour or two, you probably won’t have caught. So your confidence remains low and you go back to what you are used too. You then, may or may not catch using your ‘confidence’ method and if you do fail, it will be through no fault of your own. I mean, everyone else on the lake blanked so the fish just weren’t having it.

There may be an element of truth in them ‘not having it!’ We would be deluding ourselves if we think that carp spend most of their time feeding on the bottom. So much so that on many waters you can set your clock by bite time which is often a couple or three hours long in the morning. So what are the carp doing for the rest of the time? Anything but sitting on the bottom feeding it would seem. The more you think about it the more obvious it becomes why zig fishing often proves to be so devastating.

Riser Pellet - A great method for attracting mid water carp

Riser Pellet – A great method for attracting mid water carp


On many lakes you can be wasting your time sitting it out waiting for bites and this is the time I like to work the hardest, just when no-one else can be bothered. Stalking carp and working the zigs are two of the best ways of maximising the chances during periods of inactivity. By working the zig, I mean finding the depth that the fish are at, based on observations and experience, I would say that 2/3rds of the depth of the spot you are fishing is a good starting point. So in 9 feet of water a 6 foot hook link would be my starting point. I then add or remove 6 inches until I start getting bites.

Zig Line for Zig fishing

Zig Line for Zig fishing

Incidentally I had two out on zigs the other day very close to each other with identical hook baits, lead set up etc with the only significant difference being that one hooklength was 6 foot and the other 5 ft 6 inches. One produced a bite one didn’t, small changes can make a big difference. Obviously fish location is important, if they’re not there you won’t catch them. An effective way to establish if there are carp present is to fish for liners with your alarm sensitivity set as high as it can go and tight lines to aid indication. There will also be more subtle signs such as weed on the surface, if the weed is being ripped up, this is where the carp will be. You will often find groups of tuffties attracted to the activity too.

Polarising glasses are also an absolute must as they will enable you to see more effectively. I’ve seen this written many times but still so many anglers go fishing without them. 


Usually when feeding in the mid layers, carp won’t be gorging themselves in a frenzy like they can do over a man-made baited or naturally occurring spot, they are simply grazing taking in daphnia and other micro-organisms. I have also watched our carpy friends feeding on beetles and all other manner of crustaceans that reside in lily pads, sucking them from the bottom of the leaves.

Nash Bugs to Match the Hatch

Nash Bugs to Match the Hatch

Now, like most animals, carp are curious creatures, but I don’t think they actually think ‘hmm what’s that? Lets find out’. It’s got more to do with the carp’s instinct to inspect any potential food items and the only way they can do this is with their mouth.

Secondly, it’s not that unusual for a carp to encounter food in the mid to upper layers of water, so they will actively and instinctively search for it. This activity is often heightened by warm weather and a fresh hatching of some sort. These hatchings are often bug like in appearance and highly sought after by the carp. So it makes sense therefore to try and mimic these bugs as closely as possible. This is, I believe where the Nash Zig Bugs which have been purpose designed to trigger this natural response really come into their own.


 I have come to some interesting conclusions regarding the ‘optimum’ conditions for fishing with zigs and some are not quite as I expected! Take for instance an occasion I witnessed one winters night. The day had been fairly mild yet no carp were visible during daylight hours. Come nightfall, the full moon was shining brightly and the temperature had dropped considerably, but even so a few carp could be heard topping.

The fella next to me went on to land 4 carp that night fishing zigs 1ft under the surface not too long after the lake had thawed out from its annual winter freeze. What was more intriguing was the fact that he was using tiny pieces of black foam in the dark of night!! How could the carp see this? Then it struck me, the tiny piece of foam must have been silhouetted against the full moon!There’s a massive edge to be gained by fishing with zigs throughout the night, especially on those nights where the pressure system is high and the skies clear, if you haven’t already done so I strongly recommend you give it a try.

 If you’ve got bottom baits and zigs in place at night you’ll have everything covered. Interestingly, air pressure seems to have a massive effect on where the carp spend most if their time. Just as high air pressure brings clear skies by night, the same is true for daytime also, a bright sunny day will often result in carp being visible on or just below the surface, the chances are there will be natural food present too which means a zig hook bait presented at just the right depth will be hard to resist.

Soaking your Zigs in concentrates may make them more attractive

Soaking your Zigs in concentrates may make them more attractive


Now I’m not suggesting that Nash Zig Bugs are the only way to catch using a zig as other baits have worked for me and will continue to do so. In fact, my own zig rig fishing has evolved somewhat and I have caught on all manner of baits. Initially, I tried cut down pop-ups with little success probably due to my lack of confidence and for a while zig rig fishing took a back seat. My first significant capture on a zig turned out to be on a piece of unflavoured cork and from there my confidence started to grow. With my new found confidence and also somewhat inspired by Jerry Hammond’s results on the Bugs, I took a look at some trout flies and although they did look good for a bite, I’m not sure they were up to the job and I would have been extremely lucky to land a carp with one!

Foam, superglue and a sharp knife were my next port of call. Using the much stronger Fang hooks I managed to make up some ‘bug’ type hook baits that looked really good although sticking my fingers together several times in the process was a bit of a pain!  They did bring some success, so when I first got a look at Nash Tackle’s ‘ready to go’ Zig Bugs I knew I was onto a winner.

Home made Zigs

Home made Zigs


In the short time I’ve been using them I have caught well on the Zig Bugs and they have comprehensively out fished my other alternatives. I’m not sure if Zig Bugs fool the carp into thinking it’s actually a live food item but they definitely trigger that all important response to investigate, often when a more conventional bait fails to do so. Remember the only way carp can do that is by sucking the potential food item in and with that tiny slice of luck that’s required with all captures it will be job!


  • Go light: When you have found the fish, it’s a good idea to use a light lead to avoid spooking the carp too much when you cast out. This also applies to the zig hooklink material you are using. Generally speaking, you want the lowest diameter you can get away with as this will bring you more bites. I’ve been well impressed with the new Zig Flo line from Nash, its strength in relation to diameter is unbeatable.
  • Glug your Bug: Nash Crustacean extract is an absolute winner for glugging zig and surface baits. But be prepared to experiment, Strawberry Oil Palatant is another favorite of mine, I’ve also found Lobster Oil to be another effective one.
  • Drop the lead: Nash weed safety bolt-beads and tail rubbers will ensure that you ditch the lead on the take leaving you in full control of the fish, this is vitally important.
  • Tight lines: I fish with my rod ‘loaded’. That is, the line is pulled as tight as possible without moving the lead. Obviously, a lighter lead produces less disturbance, I find a 2oz pear to be a perfect compromise
  • Cloud it up: Don’t over look the Nash Spod Cloud and Riser Pellets which have been purpose designed for zig fishing. Some anglers seem to think these only works on commercial or well stocked venues which is a big mistake. Spod Cloud suspends masses of tiny particles right where the fish are cruising and looking for food.
  • Developing your own unique mix will give you an edge, also adding a few sinking food items will ensure you have the bottom baited if the fish suddenly switch their attentions to the lakebed
  • Useful additions to the mix are milk and ground Weetabix and your hook bait glug which will add further pulling power.
  • Small changes make a big difference, for instance, you may find that one day, the carp will happily take a bug with a fleck of yellow, another time white or orange will provoke a response so when you are angling for that first bite be prepared to swap things around until the carp respond
A night time capture on Zigs

A night time capture on Zigs

 I hope you’ve found my observations and experiences of some use – if you are new to zig fishing, remember don’t follow the crowds and just copy what you’ve read here and elsewhere. Use the ideas as a starting point and from there you can develop your own unique approach – good luck.

Products are available @ Big Carp Tackle by following the links below:

Zig Bugs : http://www.bigcarptackle.com/store/product.php?productid=20093&cat=0&page=5

Zig Line: http://www.bigcarptackle.com/store/product.php?productid=20094&cat=0&page=4

Fang Twisters (home made zigs): http://www.bigcarptackle.com/store/product.php?productid=18506&cat=0&page=4

Fang X’s: http://www.bigcarptackle.com/store/product.php?productid=18504&cat=0&page=5

Rig Foam: http://www.bigcarptackle.com/store/product.php?productid=18506&cat=0&page=4