Rig Talk

Essex short session ace Rob Theobald introduces some simple common sense to the rig debate.

In a state of confusion about which rig and where? Are you convinced other anglers have got something better than you? I think too much choice and too much different information is actually costing people carp these days, because all it does is lead to confusion. There are outside influences everywhere, on websites, in DVDs and of course in magazines, but I think there are other things than rigs that we’re better focusing on that can increase success rate. The problem is that some of the really important things like watercraft are a lot less easy to describe and show than a rig sequence.

Have you noticed how many top anglers have such conflicting views about rigs? If you’re constantly looking for a better rig then consider that all of today’s top anglers have favourite rigs, yet they can’t agree amongst themselves and they all still catch what they are after. What does that tell you?

Confidence rigs

A lot of my fishing consists of short sessions, so I need confidence rigs, and I don’t mean long hooklinks; I mean rigs I am absolutely confident will get me a take when I’m on carp. There are a few key ingredients for me to have confidence in a rig. Firstly it needs to be able to reset itself when disturbed, secondly it has to be completely tangle free, and lastly it must have good hooking mechanics. Ask yourself whether you can hand on heart say all those things about the rigs you use.

The dissolving outer skin of a Cultured bait centres attraction around the rig
I overweight my combi-rigs with Cling-On putty
Chods are not for nods – used correctly they are a great starting point

Because I fish short sessions I’m no fan of a marker float. I want to catch what I can as quickly as I can, not set traps for the following day, because I won’t be there. It also means that I do a large percentage of my fishing with pop-ups because of the presentation benefits of keeping the hook off the bottom when casting to areas where you can’t be absolutely sure what the bottom is like.

My go-to rig where I’m either looking to cast to showing fish or casting into an area where I’m unsure of the bottom is the good old chod rig. Some people still call it a nod rig, but being able to present a bait confidently anywhere can be worth so many carp over a season. If they are set up correctly and tailored to the situation, chods are deadly.

I often start a session using chods to guarantee I’m fishing effectively, and being able to get a rod out amongst fish has earned me a lot of quick bites. It also means I get an idea of the lake bed through the drop of the lead, though if it tells me the area is choddy or weedy I know I’m still presenting a bait well and don’t need to recast. Carp on most fisheries are so well fished for that you might get away with one cast with a light lead, but by the time you recast a couple of times or more you’ve cost yourself a chance.

With a KD rig on the bottom only the hair is stripped back
If it’s not a chod rig, it’s one or the other of these – simple choices make confident fishing easier
I use the reverse combi-rig when I’m more confident about the nature of the bottom

With chods I want the bait to slowly sink and settle on top of whatever it rests on. The depth of the debris I’m fishing over will determine the distance I set the bottom bead from the lead; the deeper the silt or weedier the swim the further up the line the bottom bead is moved from the lead. If you’re guessing, be generous with the stops back up the line for your first few casts; you can always shorten the distance for subsequent casts. I like to leave a one or two-foot gap between the top and bottom beads rather than the huge distances some people use, as I think the sooner the rig hits the bead and comes into contact with the lead the better.

Another little thing I like to do when fishing a naked chod is to place a few blobs of Cling-On putty on the line to help get it down and help the chod sit more naturally. Before anyone raises any fish welfare issues, a small slug of putty very easily slides up and down wet line under the slightest pressure.

Boom time

Although I’m always happy to start with chods, I tend to use the slightly more subtle reverse combi-rig when I’m more sure of the nature of the bottom. It doesn’t have to be a squeaky clean lake bed to fish this rig because again the pop-up always ensures the hook point is sitting up and ready to stab an interested carp. A massive number of my fish have been caught on this rig and I fish it in pretty much most situations. I like to use a semi-stiff Combilink coated braid boom section, with the chod or hooking section of the rig I fish as close to the bottom as possible whilst still keeping the hook above any debris. This way it doesn’t look too obviously popped up, but keeps it far enough away from the bottom so the hook point can’t easily become masked. I like to have a steady curve in the chod section which increases the effective gape of the hook, and use a fairly large hook, often a size 5 or 6. Again I think this improves the hooking potential of the rig.

Balancing act

When I do present baits on the bottom I normally opt for a balanced hookbait, and a slight variation on the successful KD rig just keeps on catching them. Again I use Combilink rather than an uncoated braid, which is so prone to tangles it’s not worth the risk. I whip it straight through so that only the hair is stripped back, making three turns up from the eye before moving the hair out the way and continuing to whip it up the shank, so that only the hair is supple. Tying a KD this way not only improves its anti-tangle properties, but I think also gives it more aggressive hooking.

I’m a fan of boilie fishing rather than titbit fishing, so I also want to be confident the rig is presenting a bait well and not tangling without having to add a cobweb bag or stick each cast. A few blobs of putty on the hooklink help pin it down and it’s good to go. Combined with a 15mm TG Active or Key Cultured hookbait, it’s super simple and very effective with the balanced core bait that remains on the hair when the Culture skin has broken down after a few hours.

Big, dark and scaly – just how we like them!

What I’ve become convinced of is that the ‘best’ rigs are ones you are confident in and allow you to get on with the rest of the job. Having that confidence in your rigs leads to much more simplistic fishing because it means the rigs are never something to worry about. How many people can actually say that when they are changing the rigs they cast out each week?

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