NAME: Paul Hatton.

EXPERIENCE: I cut my teeth on hard waters such as Redesmere in Cheshire but I simply enjoy catching good looking carp, they don’t have to be huge. I have fished lots of different waters in the twenty years I’ve been carping, I am now confident in my approach and I can adapt to any fishing situation in order to get fish on the mat. I like to put baits in places that are overlooked or out of reach for most people, thinking outside the box works well for me.


ALL-TIME BEST BAIT… The ‘Hot Squid’ pop-up recipe that I developed.

MY NUMBER ONE RIG IS… The hinged stiff rig.

WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE SEEN A CARP DO? Years ago a friend of mine slept through a drop back and he woke in the morning to find his bobbin on the floor. He picked up the rod and started to wind and it turned out that a twenty plus fish was sat under a bush right next to his rods! He proceeded to play the fish and land it the lucky sod, it picked his rig up from a spot that was around eighty yards out!

How much attention do you pay to the overall rig mechanics, for example the Hair and separation between hook and bait?
I am a little OCD when it comes to my rigs! I like to test my rigs underwater to see if they behave as intended. The palm tests simply don’t compare and it’s no hassle to do it in the margins or in a bucket of water, this is as accurate as you can get.

Short or long hooklinks, these tend to be quite uniform, but do you ever use hooklinks of say twelve-inches or more, and if so why or why not?
If I am fishing with boilie bottom baits my rigs are always around twelve inches or a little more. I tend to spread the freebies with a stick; this makes the baited area less obvious but it also makes the fish move between each boilie which makes them easier to hook. I’ll use a long uncoated hooklink so that the fish will right itself and be on it’s way to the next freebie before the hook pricks. Using a hooklink like Trickster Heavy is great for this, the carp cannot feel the rig until it’s too late and I seem to get great hook holds too.

Paul's favourite rig - the hinged stiff rig.

Hook sharpening has become extremely in-vogue, but do you sharpen your hooks or use them as they come straight from the packet?
I always sharpen my hooks. The coating added when they are manufactured makes them blend in better on the lakebed but a little needs to be removed to get the sharpest of hooks that not only pricks better, but penetrates more easily. More attention is required on the bigger sizes but they can all be improved slightly in my opinion.

If you sharpen your hooks explain why and to what degree, if not, why don’t you think it is an edge?
I think it’s a huge edge! On smaller hooks I merely take the coating off but on bigger hooks I like to strip lots of metal away. The two hooks I use the most are the size 6 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip and the size 5 Covert Chod, I like to remove about a third of the metal between the bend and the points on these. The trick is to remove it without touching the point at all until you have taken enough off, do the point last. I use a file then just finish off with the Point Doctor which is more gentle to give the best finish. A quick dip in some Vaseline will keep moisture of the exposed metal and prevent rusting. All this creates a hook that will prick and penetrate more positively, it’s probably like using a lead that’s twice the size and I’m sure it makes rigs more difficult to get rid of!

Do you think hook size makes a difference to a rigs efficiency? Do you like large or small, or opt for the national favourite that seems to be a size 6?
I tend to match my hook sizes to the baits I’m using. Generally it’s a 6 for bottom baits and a 5 for my popup rigs. I have experimented with much smaller hooks on my bottom bait rigs, they’re obviously lighter in weight and I think they’re harder to get rid of too but as I often fish very weedy waters, I need the security from a bigger and stronger hook. In the winter and early spring I fish with size 12 Covert Mugga’s on my zigs, they’re superb with tiny pieces of foam.

Gardner-Covert-Chod-Hook-up-close.jpg”title=”The two hooks I use the most are the size 6 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip and the size 5 Covert Chod.” alt=”The two hooks I use the most are the size 6 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip and the size 5 Covert Chod.” width=”776″ height=”596″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-13397″ />

What size lead do you use? Again, do you think there are benefits from very light leads or extra heavy leads of 5oz and over?
For chod rig fishing I’ll go as light as possible but for any other rig I like to do the opposite. I use at least four ounces but mainly five, if I can place a bait in the margin it may have eight ounces attached to the clip! Why? Simply because nobody does it! Everyone seems to chuck out a standard three ounce lead, surely the fish get used to it. A bigger lead than average with a sharper hook than most would use makes a huge difference!

How conscious are you of a carp’s ability to suss the lead, and what, if any measures do you take to get the lead to blend in as close to the lakebed?
This is the draw back when using big leads! They can stand out a little and as they are wider, they usually stick up a bit off the lakebed. I tend to use flat pears mostly as these look much better on the bottom I think. I always try to use a colour that matches what I’m fishing on, it may not make much difference but I’d rather be sure that I’ve done what I can to get the best possible presentation.

Running leads seem to have died a death and yet they can offer improved bite indication and also knock a carp off kilter, do you ever use them and when?
I don’t use running rigs much at all as the bigger than average lead approach seems to work really well for me, don’t fix what isn’t broken and all that! I sometimes use running leads when I’m using maggots in the winter to allow better bite indication from pests. I have been playing around with a running swim feeder rig which works really well too.

This carp was fooled with the help of a 30lb Mirage fluorocarbon leader.

There are numerous leadcores, lead-frees and anti-tangle tubings available but do you stick with one type or at times do you opt for one over the others in certain situations, and if so why?
I use leadcore for my chod fishing but this year I’ve started to use fluorocarbon with my lead clips. 30lb Mirage makes a great leader material that will disappear on any lakebed, it saves me swapping from green leadcore to brown or black or whatever. I like to stay mobile and at times I may fish three different swims during a session, I only need to think about the rig and lead that is attached as the leader never really changes. If I was fishing at extreme range I would opt for a helicopter on a short leadcore leader instead of the fluoro and clip.

If you critically balance your hookbait, how do this and what do you dictate as what is critical?
Interesting one this.. In my eyes critically balanced doesn’t mean sinking very slowly, it means sinking at the rate you want it to! I don’t want my hookbaits sinking so slowly that they will waft around when a perch swims past, I would rather compare it to a freebie in the margins and either match it so the hook weighs nothing or go just a little lighter. A hookbait that lifts up off the bottom and waves around while fish are feeding nearby is way too light, wary Carp will spook off it without a doubt as it’s not natural and I’ve seen this happen. Sometimes I like to tip my bottom bait with plastic or a small popup, but mainly I’ll fish a hookbait that is the exact buoyancy that is required and I make these myself. They’ll look just like a freebie and behave very similar once a hook is attached.
This stunning mirror fell to Paul's favourite chod rig presentation.