The Secrets Out – Get on the ‘Ronnie’ by Lewis Read

There’s rigs and there are RIGS…

Some stand the test of time and work year after year, others are more transient in nature, with tangible benefits being a figment of a twisted mind, but not offering any genuine advantage in terms of catching carp!

This one however is very special, and it’s a rig that’s been used successfully on the quiet (TOP SECRET) for a few years now, successfully being deployed as a tool pivotal in catching some phenomenally big fish from a number of waters. But now the word is out…

The Ronnie Rig offers the benefits of a super consistent low pop up presentation, fished the height of a hook and the swivel, but without the issues of a naked hook eye that has the potential for snaring landing net meshes and the problems that potentially occur to the 360 style rig.

It offers all the advantages of the rig mechanics of the Hinged Stiff Rig, but without the issues related to trying to fish them low (which isn’t the optimum arrangement). Tied right those of us that have used it extensively have pure unadulterated confidence because hook pulls are almost nonexistent (I can’t remember pulling out of a single fish with the rig in this form).

Luckily, it’s amazingly simple to construct thanks to the use of a size 12 Covert Kwik-Lok Flexi Ring Swivel mounted on the eye of the hook, and when combined with one of our awesome Covert Dark Mugga Hooks offers a highly aggressive, fast reacting rig presentation that is ruthless!

It’s also extremely versatile! I always have a number of pre-prepared hook sections and tailor the hook link material to suit the lake bed or the lead arrangement. For instance a lead clip with a long supple skinned hooklink like Ultra Skin in silt, or a helicopter style arrangement and Subterfuge fluorocarbon boom on clean sand and gravel.

Personally, I think balancing it like a Hinged Stiff Rig works best, so the hook bait is slow sinking whatever hooklink you use in conjunction with the hook arrangement. Why? If you overbalance the hook by moulding Critical Mass putty around the shrink tube the hook has a tendency to lie over further and this inhibits the hook from twisting and turning as quickly as it could (the same with a HSR).

Mounting the swivel through the eye realistically means you need to use a ‘nice’ sized hook and the size 4 Covert Dark Mugga or Continental Mugga are both perfect for the job.

Some rigs work with some hooks better than others, and this is the one. The curved swept shank and the 20 degree in-turned eye of a Mugga compliment/enhance the mechanics  lining up the shrink tube naturally in a way that gives the optimum ‘twistiness’.

Variants of some rigs come and go, but this is a rig that we know will stand the test of time. Like all presentations it isn’t the panacea of all things riggy; but what it is, is the best low pop up rig that we have used. It does the job AMAZINGLY.

Lewis Baldwin July Blog 2016

When Coarse Angling Today magazine announced it would no longer be running as a publication I made a mental note not to allow the fact I no longer had magazine deadlines to meet to stop me from writing regularly. Prior to this I had been writing articles and blogs almost monthly for the best part of 4 years, maybe longer. Well 9 months has passed since that mental note was made and unfortunately my desire to put my angling into words has waned somewhat. It’s not been a conscious thing but when you have a busy life away from fishing the last thing I really wanted to be doing was sitting in front of a computer when I could be on the bank. With limited time available these days it made sense to fish rather than write when the opportunity arose.

All of my friends and those who know me from magazine articles and online blogs will know me as a river angler, predominantly targeting barbel and pike. Unfortunately for 3 months of the year we river anglers are still bound by an archaic rule which states we mustn’t fish running water. This means those of us that wish to carry on fishing must pursue a different avenue of our pastime. For me this means for a few months a year I choose to fish for carp. Most years I have a venue or two in mind for a spring campaign, which will satisfy my angling appetite until I can cast a line into running water. Well it’s safe to say my carping through 2016 has been nothing short of pants! I didn’t have a venue in mind, nothing planned and the extortionate cost of fishing carp day ticket waters meant that they were to be a one off as fishing them weekly would have seen me in serious trouble with her who must be obeyed!

I did have a very enjoyable few days at Linear Fisheries near Oxford in April with a friend. We fished the Hardwick side of Hardwick/Smiths and I managed a few nice carp to low twenties, however it seemed I missed the carp feeding frenzy by a few days as not long before my trip people were reporting catches of 20+ fish in a 2 day session. By the time I arrived the fish had spread out a bit so sport and bites were hard to come by. That said it was a new venue for me, I caught and enjoyed myself so can’t really ask much more than that.

Another venue I had a few sessions on was a local park lake. A good friend had some stunning carp from this venue a few years ago and while it was far from easy the fish were worth the effort, or so I thought. This particular venue is the opposite of everything I look for in my angling. There are strict on and off times which miss both dawn and dusk, it’s busy and being a public park there are always people about. For someone who is quite anti-social when it comes to fishing and likes his own company, this venue would test my patience. My very first session saw me hook into two carp, I lost one and landed a stunning low 20lb mirror carp. I was over the moon with this fish and I hoped it would be the start of a good spring. Well as the weather got warmer the park got busier with both visitors and anglers. Coupled with the fact you couldn’t get on there before 8am and had to be off at 5:30pm I decided it wasn’t going to be for me as it was the exact opposite of a venue I would usually choose and while I suspected this might be the case on my first visit at least I gave it a go.

So where did that leave me? Day ticket lakes were off the agenda, local club lakes had far too many rules, regulations and were too busy. However, there was one option left and why I hadn’t bothered with it before escapes me, the canals! Living in the West Midlands I have fished the canals on and off for 10 years, they are free fishing and for the most part, you can come and go as you please and they are stuffed full of carp if you look in the right place. A good friend has eel fished the Midlands canal networks for the best part of 20 years and caught some very good carp on baits intended for eels, so after a chat we arranged to meet on a stretch of canal that was new to me but Nick assured me that plenty of carp resided in this area. Over the next few weeks I visited several times a week. Not always fishing but looking for fish and baiting up. Quite frankly the amount of carp present was obscene and when it was warm there were fish everywhere! You couldn’t walk 30 yards along the tow path without seeing a carp cruising around or bubbling up whilst it fed. I was keen to get started so for over a month I fished an overnighter every Saturday plus a 7-11 evening session once a week. My first few sessions went well and I caught a decent amount of carp, no monsters but I did have a lovely brace of commons for over 30lbs, with both rods going off almost simultaneously. The fishing was consistent but the big fish didn’t put in an appearance and gradually over time and as the weather continued to improve the fish started to disperse to the point I was no longer seeing a single carp on my visits. With several miles between locks the fish could have been anywhere and I strongly suspect they had moved off to a new area in readiness to spawn.

I’d had a thoroughly enjoyable few weeks fishing the canal and come next spring I know exactly where to head to for my fishing fix. We are now almost 4 weeks into the river season and I am yet to get off the mark on running water. In all honesty the rivers in my area have started slowly and the catch reports are very patchy with lots blanking. With my fishing currently far from setting the world alight I’m hoping things will soon come together and next time I write I’ll have some tales of barbel and maybe a river carp or two.

Until then tight lines and thanks for reading…

Swan Session – Ian Lewis

Due to work and family commitments, on average I get around 1 night every week to get out fishing, so being organised is a must. When I am at the lake being prepared to move onto fish, staying focused and on the ball is the only way to be consistent. As we all know carp fishing is often a puzzle that we piece together only through experience, observation and willingness to learn.

At the start of the ticket on my syndicate in April it was particularly busy and my night to angle is normally a Friday, so more often than not it’s a case of making the best of what’s left and looking for any opportunity’s. It was quite slow to start with and I was generally catching 1 or 2 every other trip. I started to get my mojo back a bit, you know the feeling where you start to connect with the lake and its surroundings and the confidence levels begin to rise as you start to believe in yourself and what you do whilst out on the bank. One particular day I had been working outside and I could feel a new weather front arriving and in my mind I already had an idea of where I needed to look when I arrived at the lake. After pulling into the car park, I went straight to an area I fancied and got up a tree and watched for a while. Out of the corner of my eye I could see fish fizzing like crazy, really going for it, so I slid down the tree in double quick time ran to the van got my gear and raced back round. Not wanting to spook them casting about too much I decided to fish just one rod in the area over just a handful of 15mm ABS Rock Lobster boilies fed individually. I wasn’t 100% sure what the bottom would be like, so I tied up a hinged stiff rig with an 8 inch boom using 25lb Ultra Skin, with 3-4 inch separation between buffer bead and safety bead. I added a piece of Rigwise Dissolving Foam around the size 4 Dark Covert Incizor to overcome any low lying weed that might be lying over the area where the fish were fizzing. I put on the waders walked out to the end of the treeline and flicked the rig as quietly as possible and as luck would have it I got the cast first time. The drop indicated that the rig had fallen into silk weed or low lying Canadian, but having allowed for this within my presentation, I wasn’t too worried. I sunk my line (GT-HD 18LB) then slackened off a little allowing it to lay over the weed and debris. I had only just clipped the lightweight Bug hanger onto my main line when I saw another sheet of bubbles rise right next to where I had cast. Minutes later I was just tidying my kit when the alarm started singing and rod tip was buckled round. I hit into it and straight away and it felt like a chunk and after a strong whole hearted battle a big mirror lay in the folds of the net. Whilst the fish was languishing in the net I quickly introduced a little more bait, again spread individually around the area to hope to keep them there. I readied my other rod with a fresh identical arrangement and repositioned into the zone.

We weighed the mirror and pictured her at weight of 36lb 1oz, almost 5lbs down on winter weight, but I wasn’t too disappointed as it was one of the other remaining big mirrors off the wish list plus she had spawned successfully. No sooner after I’d returned the mirror I was away again only this time it was an ancient looking 21lb mirror that had skin like sandpaper and tiny little fins with a dark blue colouration. I repeated the process and topped the swim up with more boilies, but the fish had backed off a little so I had to wait a couple of hours before I was away again – this time with a new PB Common of 36lb, which marginally beat my former best.

I stayed the night but nothing else was forthcoming. Since that session things have really started to go well with many more fish under my belt, which I’m sure I’ll write about in my next catch reports. Tight lines.

The Birth of The “Hinged Stiff Rig”

On the whole, my angling has always been epitomised by a slow Darwinian like progression of understanding – from rigs and baits to a very basic conceptual understanding of what (sometimes) works and why. The fact of the matter is that there have few leaps in that slow development but one that stands out is the evolution of the ‘Hinged Stiff Rig’.

I suppose that the truth of the matter is simply that if there is an aspect of angling that I don’t find unfeasibly impossible to come to terms with its rig mechanics – and specifically understanding the fundamental requirements needed to tie up rig’s that are mechanically effective – that reacts quickly and presents a bait nicely. God knows why, but it’s always seemed quite straight forward, whereas understanding the bizarre habits of our quarry seems nigh on impossible! Weird bloody animals.

My moment – an epiphany as such – occurred a long long time ago. So long ago in fact that I felt compelled to check that my memory hadn’t skewed and twisted the moment that went some way to revolutionising mine (and many other anglers since) carp fishing. The moment was the fateful evening that Terry (the Tench) and I sat on the old grey velour sofa in my front room, and from our concerted brainstorming on how to improve a rig we had been shown resulted in the classic – came the much copied and subtly adjusted hinged stiff rig.

I would never claim it was my idea alone! Hell no. It was actually the evolution of a concept we had both been shown and had recognised as having unbelievable potential, despite being imperfect. We had seen/been shown a rig that seasoned big fish angler Alan Welch had been having real success with it on a really tricky ‘non publicity’ water. Now Alan is a hugely talented angler anyway, but the black amnesia rig really seemed to be making a difference to his results as it was radically different from anything else.

The first time I remember seeing their rig was in the Dug Out swim on the Car Park lake – another mutual friend and confident of Alan’s (named Andy Kidd) was using it and I remember looking at it thinking it was amazing. It left an enormous impression I can tell you… In fact Andy had caught one of the big’uns called ‘Whitescale’ from Silvermere the previous winter using it – and the two of them had caught a rake of fish from Gold Valley that winter when they first used it.

It was a hinged stiff rig, but the mounting of the hookbait seemed to sit awkwardly on a hair (it may have been a stiff hair formed from the amnesia). In hindsight this may simply have been because it was a ‘used’ rig that he had just reeled in – but the blatent feeling was that it looked like it could be tidier. The hook sat at a slight angle and it almost looked as if it would inhibit the hooking potential of the finished rig. Of course it didn’t as they had caught on it, but we’d always had the mind set, rightly or wrongly that ‘tidy and straight’ is best for good consistent hook bait presentation. In essence, the bare bones of the final (classic) hinged stiff rig were there – a boom section with a loop and a rig ring to which we had added a hook – but the key was how to mount that hook bait in a manner that enhanced the rigs potential rather than inhibit it.

Terry had shown me the Domhoff whipping knot that worked really nicely with the out turned eye of the Boilie hooks that seemed to sit really nicely with the thick monofilament and we both sat there looking at a hook section… In hindsight this was THE moment.

We agreed that a D on the back of the shank would naturally position the hook bait nicely on the back of the shank and Tel tied a version that was virtually IT. The only thing was that it required gluing to keep the D in position. It was really really nice and simply looked the absolute nuts! Then I remembered a nylon ‘swimmer rig’ I’d used to use when I fished on the Diana pond many years earlier, a rig that had a loop through the eye that was secured in place by melting the mono – and as I reached for the lighter we both had exactly the same idea.

When we put the baited rig in the sink in my little kitchen I vividly remember us laughing like kids, and Tel pointing at it saying “look at it – just look at it!”.

As it settled gently onto the bottom of the basin we quickly decided it wasn’t simply a rig; it acted more like a trap poised ready to instantly snare or nail any carp that was daft enough to suck the hookbait in. The way it sat – the way it reacted when touched. We both KNEW emphatically that it was absolutely right from the start. It was just too perfect. It was going to work.

Most readers will by now realise that Terry is without a shadow of doubt one of the very best anglers there is – and not just carp – and with the new version of the rig in hand he started using it on the Car Park straight away. In fact I asked him to correct my hazy recollection of his first trips and he said “from the off I caught a tench from the Beach Swim on the car park. I remember it well because for some strange reason I slept on the floor, must have forgotten to pack my bed as was when I was lodging at Pat and Bernie’s. I caught Heather on it a week or two later, on a work night.”

It sounds so matter of fact now doesn’t – it most certainly wasn’t – it was absolutely extraordinary! Just to be involved was an amazingly exciting and the rig was improved slightly with the development of specialist stiff filaments and hooks (with Terry’s input at ESP).

After the addition of a swivel at the base of the hook section that genuinely enhanced the way that the curved end section could twist and react better and a few other small changes the rig has really remained largely unchanged. After all, whether the hooklink is tied with a short boom or a long boom, or the boom tied with a soft material or a stiff a one. They all rely on the ‘perfect’ hook section that the two of us came up with all those years ago – and whilst there are several pivotal moments in my angling life that I feel very proud of this is probably the one where I feel we did something extraordinary that has helped thousands of anglers catch more.

The general behaviour of the rig and its mechanics are just about as good as they get, and it really hasn’t been surpassed as a pop up rig. If the carp are willing to take a bait that’s fished a few inches off of the deck then this is the rig that many anglers rely on. It consistently offers superb hook bait presentation that resets perfectly even after it’s been sampled – which essentially means that the next time a carp sucks the hookbait in you still have as much chance of catching it as the first time! Different boom materials suit different lead arrangements – and as a general rule hinged stiff rigs that incorporate a soft or skinned hooklinks work best with lead clips. That’s why we used this type of material on our new pre-tied Hinged Rigs here at Gardner Tackle.

Alternatively, with monofilament booms sections I’d always say that a helicopter style lead arrangement is perfect. It allows a different pivot point at the lead end of the hook link that means it will settle nicely over a wider range of lake beds despite the slightly stiffer material.

That’s about it really – just make sure that your hookbaits are buoyant enough to hold the hook section upright and that the balanced rig sinks at just right rate (not to fast and not to slow) and that the lead touches down cleanly when you cast. That way you’ll have a great presentation that is as good today as it’s ever been.

Boom Section

Hook Section

Or view another version here

Gardner Tackle has been manufacturing quality carp fishing and specialist fishing tackle for over 35 years. As one of the original carp tackle companies we have been at the head of carp angling innovation and design. We are still a family run business and the ethos of producing ground-breaking carp fishing tackle that is high quality and reliable has never been diluted. Every member of the company lives and breathes all things carp fishing related. From the moment we wake (and even while we sleep!) carp and their capture are at the forefront of our minds. This translates itself into the continual development and refining of our carp focused product ranges. And with a dedicated carp fishing team, that includes some of the most well respected carp anglers in the country, you can be sure that each product has been tested to the extreme and meets the exacting standards that we strive for.