For as long as I can remember my angling has always been kept simple, especially with regards to my rigs. I always have two rigs in my armoury, one for pop-up presentations and one for bottom/balanced bait presentations. I’ve spent years fishing with a blow-back rig for my bottom baits, although I favour using it the old-fashioned way, with a small piece of shrink tube, instead of a rig ring like most do nowadays. It seemed that the blow-back rig advanced and went up a level with the ring being brought into play and everyone was using it. However, I’m a strong believer in the age-old saying that if it’s not broken, then why should you fix it in the first place?
The tubing version definitely wasn’t broken in my eyes and so I kept on doing what I was doing to the same effect. To me the tubing was always my favoured version as it gave an indication if it had been picked up and consequently spat back out by a carp, therefore I was in the know of any missed opportunities. I had this happen to me during my early days on Cleverley Mere and from then on, I wanted to know exactly what was going on beneath the depths of my chosen water. That particular day on the Mere I was in the Little Bay swim, watching the water like a hawk, and there weren’t any signs of bird life or anything diving on my baits. This could have only meant that it was one of two things, a tench or a carp, either way, it was a fish and from that moment on, that was all I needed to know.
Having little things like this to go on can give you the chance to tweak your rig to suit the nature of the water or the approach at the time, whether that’s shortening or lengthening the hair, or in fact the whole hooklink itself. Some situations suit shorter hooklinks than others and also bait application can play a part in dictating the length I would use. A good example of this would be whilst fishing in the edge, or stalking, my ideal hooklink for such an activity would be around three to four inches, coupled with a heavy lead and preferably on a drop-off inline set-up. I’d also opt for a big size 4 RM-Tec beaked point hook and the RM-Tec Stiff-coated braid in 35lb. The reason for this is that when fishing in close you can usually see what you’re doing and most of the time you can lower the rig in. If I had to cast and I wanted to use the stiff-coated braid I would most definitely change to a helicopter set-up.
One school boy error, that’s just popped up in my head as I type this, is a situation I got myself into on Kingsmead 1 a few years back. I was fishing blow-back snowman rigs with soft-coated hooklinks of around seven inches (my preferred length over a spread of boilies when fishing in open water). I was feeding a group of fish down to my left and one of them was a very large fish, the Upfront Common. At the time it probably weighed somewhere in the region of 43lb. I kept feeding crumbed Cell onto the spot and watched it feed. It did so with total confidence. I couldn’t contain myself any longer and without thoroughly thinking my game plan through I quickly reeled one of my rods in and lowered it onto the spot once all the fish had left. A short while later they returned, once again the common was in tow! I watched the common pick my rig up, which, in hindsight, was far too long, about five or six times before finally sitting on top of my rig and feeding around it. It was at this point that I realised I had messed up. If I had only taken my time and done what I mentioned previously about the short, stiff rigs, then I would most probably have had one of the best commons on the Horton Complex in my photo album today. Oh well, the damage had been well and truly done now and the day was destined to come back to haunt me. Just like it has today!
As for my favoured pop-up rig, well, I’ve always been an avid chod fan. I would fish them over any bottom on a helicopter set-up, whether it’s weed, silt, clay or gravel, not just over the designated ‘chod’. I think three years spent on the Essex Manor had a big part to play in the chod approach. It seemed that a yellow Pineapple Juice pop-up on the shelf over a tonne of Hybrid, or Cell, produced the best results. Obviously, spending three years doing that style of angling was always going to give me a certain level of confidence in the rig.
These days though, my angling has changed quite a bit and with it, so too has my pop-up presentation. I’m never one to jump on the latest craze or new fancy rig, but, I hold my hands up to this one. Yes, it is of course, the Ronnie rig! I decided to give the Ronnie a trial a couple of years ago and I haven’t looked back since. My dear old choddy seems to have vanished from my armoury from that day onwards. I’ve vowed to bring it back into play this year though, as it’s accounted for a lot of big fish and it seems that I’m not the only person who’s forgotten about it these days.
A lot of people have variations on rigs and tweak them as time goes by but I’ve never been into that, maybe I’m not that technically advanced yet, or maybe I just haven’t found a reason to? I claim the latter to be fair, as the results speak for themselves. I usually fish mine on the RM-Tec soft-coated braid, about six inches in length, with a size 4 RM-Tec curved shank hook. Using this on the helicopter set-up suits my style of angling the best. I can still use it as I would the chod rig and cast it wherever I want, within reason. Especially in the spring before the weed growth really takes over.
Using pop-ups has been my favoured approach for the last couple of years now and that’s due to the time I spent on Kingsmead Island lake while boat fishing. This style of angling really opened my eyes to the devastating results that pop-ups can bring about. I would drop my rigs on clear spots in the weed with the use of my boat and bait up according to what I thought was good enough for a bite. I would use the blow-back tube rig and the Ronnie on there and every time I had a bite on the blow-back Cell bottom bait I noticed that most of my bait had been eaten from the area when I went back out to drop a fresh rig. Yet, when I had a bite from the pop-up spot most of my free offerings were still there. Sometimes I never even had to top the spot up with any free offerings. The pop-ups were almost taken straight away, as soon as a carp entered the area. This activity was in part responsible for the change in my approach and I found myself having great success on there just fishing with pop-ups.
Obviously, all waters vary and some things work better than others, depending where you are and what type of carp you’re targeting. One thing I do know though, my rigs won’t be changing for a long time yet. I have all the confidence I need in my tackle, bait and set-up.
All that’s left to do now is put that last foot in the right place and at the right time.