Experience: 28 years as a carp angler fishing a number of difficult venues
Favourite lake: Longfield Road Lake
All-time best bait…Essential B5
My number one rig is…Hinged stiff rig with 16mm pop up
Weirdest thing you’ve seen a carp do? Play head tennis with free baits before deciding they were safe.
Is there such a thing as ‘The Ultimate Rig’? If not, how far off do you think we are to finding it?
I don’t think there will ever be an ultimate rig, as carp will always get away with it at times, the very nature of how many fish feed in different ways dictates that. The chod is pretty close as it allows a great presentation, but every rig seems to have a certain life span before it loses some effectiveness by the fact of over use alone. That said I’m sure in the future new ideas will come out and someone will come up with something revolutionary, what and when I don’t know!
What rigs do you use and what are your main concerns (i.e. what are you hoping they’ll achieve) with each one?
I tend to stick to three main rigs, simply because I know they work. I use the chod rig when fishing in weed, the hinged stiff rig for clear areas or in silt, and a blow back rig made up of an aggressive curved hook like a Covert Mugga, with a Disruption hook link for bottom baits.
My main consideration is for rigs to have great hooking abilities, rather than finesse, and if they are picked up, that they hook the fish, and the hook stays in. These rigs are strong and can take the strain in snags or heavy weed, and are also all tangle free by being stiff in nature. Much of rig use is confidence and having a knowledge of how and why they work, rather than constantly trying new ones that may end up costing you fish.
What is your preference: pop-ups or bottom baits – and when do you use one over the other?
I prefer pop ups and use them 80% of the time. I think they are more selective for big fish, and they suit my rig choices the best. I also just have more confidence in fishing them. Most of my fishing is done on silty bottoms rather than gravel now, and as a result I feel a pop up gives me the most effective presentation over that type of bottom. They also have the advantage of being able to re set after being moved by birds or smaller fish. That said when fishing over really hard areas I’d go for a bottom bait, especially when stalking in the margins.
Do you ever present baits on lots debris or are you only happy on the clear spots?
I like fishing on or over areas of debris, fish like feeding over them and they are often larders of natural food. They also have the advantage of often being ignored by other anglers, and as such the fish have confidence in feeding on them. As long as I can present a bait in them in an acceptable way then I’m more than happy. The only exception to this are areas of heavy putrid smelling silt, ones that taint the bait colour and smell, as I’ve not had any success in this.
What are your thoughts on hooklink length and does that differ from rig-to-rig?
For bottom bait fishing I tend to stick to a length of about six inches, as this gives some movement to the rig, but not enough for the fish not to feel any resistance before the lead acts, and therefore drop it. I have had success using hook links of eighteen inches plus, but most recently have found that shortening the link has given me more substantial hook holds. I’ve cut my stiff link boom for pop ups to as short as three inches with excellent results, again something different to the norm that I am sure the fish find harder to deal with.
What about hooklink materials – braid, coated, stiff – what do you favour and which do you think the carp finds harder to deal with?
I prefer stiff coated materials such as Gardner Disruption, and in many cases I only strip the hair back, having the coated outer all the way through to the hook. Even when using mono I prefer stiff fluoro carbon such as Trip Wire or Mirage in 20lb. My opinion is that the stiffer the material the harder it is to eject, in a way it almost acts as an extension of the hook shank.
What are your views on Hair length?
I like long hairs of around 1.5 to 2 inches, but coupled with a shorter hook link. I don’t mind the bait having a decent degree of movement, it’s the rig that I like to be solid and give the hooking power. If the hair is longer the bait can be mouthed or moved and sucked in further which is always an advantage.
Let’s talk about hookbaits now. Do you use straight-out-of-the-bag or do you use critically-balanced hookbaits?
I generally use hook baits straight out of the bag as long as they are hard enough. If not I make them up with added egg albumin to give them a firmer rubbery texture that stay on regardless of small fish or duck attention. If I use critically balanced baits its only pop ups either B5 ones with cork dust or cork ball ones.
How about added attraction – do you glug/soak your hookbaits?
Enhanced hook baits are a massive edge. I often wrap my baits in paste which leak of high levels of attraction and break down over a period of time. I also add Essential GLM liquid to my baits, both hook baits and free baits whilst still frozen, drawing this added flavour in during defrosting. This also hardens the baits slightly and preserves their lifespan whilst out on the back. Being a natural ingredient too it can be used to any levels. These baits result in a big flat spot after being put out which gives them added pulling power.
What about double or even three hookbaits? The Greedy Pig Rig seems to have died a death in recent years.
I favour two bottom baits and again I think double baits work in a way that makes them more difficult to eject. They are a bigger target and work well at concealing the hook too. Even more so if they are an alternative shape like barrels, which are different to the standard round shape, and make ejecting them harder. I have used the greedy pig rig, and on one water I began using 3x 16mm baits to prevent pick-ups from smaller fish which worked well, but as you say it seems to have gone out of fashion lately.