For some reason there is one aspect of carp fishing that seems to attract a disproportionate amount of attention and that is the subject of rigs. In my view, actually finding fish and presenting them with a well placed, good quality bait far outweighs any misplaced obsession with trying the latest rig design. I have absolute faith in Skretting pellets and the Wet Baits boilies that I use for the vast majority of my fishing, so I know that I can simply get on with my fishing, without continually swapping and changing bait. The same, is true of the rigs I use. I have around four basic rig designs that I deploy for 90% of my fishing. For margin fishing I normally use a short (4 to 6 inches), coated hook link, tied to a curved shank hook, on a 3oz in-line lead. My 'pop-up' rig is a form of stiff (Amnesia) rig, on a tri-lobed, in-line, 2.5oz lead (originally manufactured by Richworth, but now discontinued). This type of lead settles nicely over silt. For fishing over a firm substrate, I use a 7 inch 'combi-rig' on a lead clip, together with a curved shank hook. Finally, for fishing bottom baits over a silt covered bottom, I use my simplest and most common rig. It's just a 9 inch length of sinking braid, knotless knotted to a wide gape hook, with a clipped on 2.5oz square lead, and that's it. What's more, that minimalistic hook link arrangement has caught me more carp than any other rig in my armoury.
There is of course, one particular disadvantage to using a very basic braided rig, and that is it's potential for tangles. That's why, I invariably add a PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets to stabilise and straighten the rig in flight, (plus add a bit of extra attraction right where it matters). All the same, there are occasions when, despite my careful precautions, tangling occurs. Worst of all, is if the bait gets wrapped round the braid behind the hook. This causes the hook to be held in an upside down position, rendering it ineffective. If you had a look at my previous blog, you will know that I experienced exactly that scenario last week, but failed to remedy the situation (even when carp were clearly picking up the rig and not getting hooked). Consequently, I potentially lost three carp, due entirely to sheer laziness on my part. So this week I arrived at Wetlands on Monday morning, with modified braided rigs on three of my rods, hoping that I would get a chance to put them through their paces. The modification was no more than the addition of a 10mm length of shrink tubing to each hook shank. It extended to a point opposite the micro barb in one direction and to form a short right angled 'kicker' in the other.
As I pulled into peg 5, ready for a pre-fishing circuit of the lake (before making a definite peg choice), I immediately saw a carp crash out, directly in front of the distant snag bushes. Accordingly, I waited for a few minutes, but when nothing else occurred, I set off on my reconnoitre. An overnight frost had left a cold nip in the still air, but the early morning sun was beginning to filter through thin cloud, promising a much warmer day. I did wonder, if the advent of spring might encourage a few carp to venture into the shallower water of peg 7, but that end of the lake appeared lifeless and unruffled, as did pegs 1 and 2. I paused for a while in peg 3, to see if the deeper bowl area might once again be the carp magnet it had been a couple of weeks earlier, but this clearly wasn't the case. With nothing of any significance sighted in peg 4, I found myself back at 5, with nothing to draw me elsewhere. So that's where I settled.
Naturally, the first rod went straight out towards the snag bush where a previous show had materialised. In the absence of any further clues, I ended up putting my right hander out to the end of the peninsular and my left hander to the customary 40 yard spot in the direction of peg 3. Before long the promised spring-like day had arrived with aplomb, such that the thermals were soon discarded followed by both wooly jumpers. My hopes of an early bite faded into the afternoon and by 3.00 pm, I was pinning my aspirations on a dusk or overnight feeding spell. In the event, five minutes later, a screaming run erupted from my left hand rod, as my assailant attempted to put as much distance between me and it. When it did eventually change tack, it was by way of kiting rapidly towards the left hand mini islands. Fortunately, I quickly recognised what it was doing and managed to steer it sufficiently back towards me to avoid losing it round the back of them. From then onwards things calmed down a little and in due course I net a lively Common that turned the scales to 11lb 6oz.
I was enormously relieved to get off the mark and even more satisfied when 50 minutes later the right hand rod signaled a jittery take. Thankfully, I managed to draw it back to my side of the peninsula and out of immediate danger before my quarry woke up and realised its predicament. At that moment all hell let loose as it tore up and down the margins taking out both other rods in the process. In fact the recently re-positioned left hander was subjected to expert 'knit one, pearl one' treatment, such that I ended up having to net the carp together with a bunch of monofilament spaghetti. A fine plump Common of a respectable 14lb 8oz duly took the credit.
As you can imagine, it took me ages to untangle the lines and re-do all three rods, by which time any hint of a feeding spell was long gone. What's more the temperature plummeted overnight, which seemed to put a dampener on any further action. Nevertheless, I was well pleased to have caught a couple during the afternoon. The modified braided rigs undoubtedly worked OK, but a long term trial will be required to determine if the addition of the shrink tubing is a worthwhile, permanent investment. Meanwhile, spring is definitely on the way, with the prospect of some exceptional catches looming large. Bring it on!