Often in the shop and on the bank, the subject of rigs comes up. Often, I am asked about the rigs that I prefer. So here are my choices, with a rough guide to why and when I use each. This is a much debated subject and one that is personal to each individual. Hopefully, if nothing else, this will get you thinking about the rigs you use and why you use them. Over the years, I have narrowed my choice down to the four rigs below, plus variations on each. A couple are my “go to rigs” and the others I fall back on in certain circumstances, hopefully all of which will become clear, maybe even to me ha-ha.
The first thing I will say is that the most important aspect of any rig, in my opinion, is a sharp hook. It would be nice to think that we all tie new rigs every time we go, but let’s get real, if you got a life – or a job where you can get away with it, and indeed a wife who lets you get away with, it rarely happens. So that in mind, sharpen your hook before the first cast, which takes about thirty seconds. Then, after a fish, or if you are fishing over gravel, then each time you bring your rig in. Dragging you rig over gravel will blunt you hook. Three firm (but not hard) consistent movements, in the direction of the point is all it takes. A good hook sharpener is not much more than the price of a packet of hooks.
The first is a Blo-Bak (blow back) system. (see photo 1) This is my first choice for most venues and can be fished on a Run-Rig (running lead (see photo2)) or drop-off (lead drop system (see photo3)). I only ever use the drop off lead system on weedy venues or ones that have submerged debris, twigs, branches etc. In my view, no point in filling the lake up with leads if there is no need to. The concept behind the Run-Rig is to allow the fish to pick up the bait without any resistance and then as it turns, the lead comes into play and sets the hook. If you have ever fished on the surface, you will know that you must allow this fish to turn side on before you strike. The Run-Rig does the same thing. Okay, the idea of the Blo-Bak is to reduce the chance of the fish using the boilie as a pivot to dislodge the hook from its mouth. You will see from the illustration that when a fish blows the boilie from its mouth the silicone will slide along the hook and actually push the hook deeper. On a rig where the hair is fixed, the fish can blow the bait and dislodge the hook simultaneously. Even under pressure, the fish can still blow the boilie from its mouth, and in my experience, this rig significantly reduces the rig and hook been blown out.
The next rig is my Trigga-Rig (see photo4). This is for fishing pop up baits on hook shy venues and particularly over weed. The length it is fished off the bottom will be determined by two things, where the fish want to feed and how deep the weed is. Over silk weed and fished just above it, this rig will nail the fish every time. As you can see from the illustration, a slot must be cut into the pop-up, ideally with a sharp blade. You then push the shank of the hook into the slot, thereby hiding most of the hook, leaving just the point sticking out. As the fish grabs the bait, the bait dislodges from the hook and sets the hook home. For a long cast use PVA string to hold bait in position. As you can see from the illustration, I use coated braid, stripping away the amount you want up in the water (similar to a stiff hinge rig) and enough tungsten putty to keep the remainder of the rig firmly on the bottom. This rig can be used above or below the lead depending on how you want to fish. When used below the lead, then a hook length of around 6-8 inches is ideal. If used on a heli rig, then around 3-4 inches of flurocarbon (similar to a chod) is good. Often, when I fish it below the lead, I semi-fix my in-line-lead, which helps to set the hook quickly. Semi-fixing is achieved by pushing the lead just over a size 8 swivel.
Now we have the Pop-up-Curve. This is a simple system that I came up with for big, hard to catch Tench. It works as well for them as it does for easily spooked carp. The idea is that on a conventional pop-up the line sits straight up in the water and will scare the fish. In addition, as the fish approaches the bait, if the hook moves forward it will naturally arc the bait lower than their mouth and result in the fish missing the hook altogether. On this set up (see photo5) by combining flurocarbon, with staggered tungsten putty (see illustration) the hook will move forward, rather than down and result in more positive takes.
Lastly, we have the Heli-Rig (photo6). This rig is ideal for fishing over weed or tight up against a weed bed. In addition, in works well when fishing half way down a shelf. Over weed, the benefits are fairly obvious, especially when combined with Flurocarbon and a pop-up on the trigga-rig hook system. Fished very close to a weed bed, you can, with practice, cast the lead into the weed, allowing the hook bait to sit just shy of the weed. Either a pop-up on a short hook-length (3-4 inches of flurocarbon) or a bottom bait on a slightly longer hook-length of braid, or your preferred hook-length material, works well fished in open water close to weed. If there is a shelf that slopes away from you, this is, in my opinion, the best place to fish. Firstly, the fish don’t have to go tails-up to get at your bait, because they can swim straight up to it. Secondly, they patrol along shelves looking for feed and your bait, if presented correctly, will be in their eye-line. Thirdly, and most importantly, once they take your bait, their first movement will be to the side, setting the hook very quickly. In the ideal world, each time you strike the fish will be side onto you, with this system they always will be.
I do hope some of this helps and ideally gets you thinking about your rigs and how they work for you. Off on holiday in a couple of days, so see you all around the 18th December. I may venture back over Henham Lodge on Monday 22nd for an overnighter, if I can wrangle it with the family. SteveD