Long hook lengths. For as long as I can remember this has been one of my favourite means of catching carp. Now I’m not talking about zig fishing, I’m talking about actual long hook lengths for bottom bait rigs and pop up presentations. Rigs that are simply much longer than what is considered the norm.
I really like to use hooklinks that are fourteen to sixteen inches in length, and sometimes even longer! This all started a long time ago, before I had even got onto the Elstow complex. I was fishing a lake called Gingerbread, using a combi type presentation tied with fourteen inches of monofilament and the final inch or so with braid. This was my standard rig and it caught me the majority of my carp whilst I angled on that lake.
There was one session that really stands out vividly in my memory on that lake I actually used three foot braided hook lengths with a critically balanced pop ups in order to present the hook bait delicately on top of some weed that was two and a half feet high. I’d found a fairly big group of carp that were feeding on something (maybe spod mix from the previous angler) and I went on to catch five pretty big carp that session – and it taught me a valuable lesson, not to be scared of trying something a tad different.
When I got onto Elstow Pit Two on the Bedfordshire complex I carried on with the long combi-link presentation with a boilie focused approach and I was lucky enough to bank quite a few of this relatively low stocked lakes residents, including bracing ‘The Mother’ at 49lbs and ‘Scaley’ at 37lb 10oz in January!
A couple of years later I found myself finally fishing on Pit One. Naturally, I still carried on with my long rigs on this lake as I had huge confidence in them, even though I was using lots of particles mixed with whole and crushed up boilies in my mix. One well know angler walked into my swim one evening, whilst I had my rods leaning up against my bivvy, and after a bit of a chat he started to walk away before turning to me and saying “You’re not really going to cast those out are you?”. I had a little chuckle to myself. I was up early the next morning doing battle with a carp called ‘Dark Cloud’, once I had him in the net I had to walk down to the angler that had been in my swim that evening to get him to do some pictures.
I fished that lake hard for three years and never once did I feel the need to shorten my rigs, which were between fourteen and sixteen inches long. It certainly did not affect the amount of carp I caught!
During my time fishing on these lakes there was always weed present and the longer hook lengths allowed me to fish with a high degree of confidence, knowing that my favoured pop up presentation was reasonably well presented (even when my rig hadn’t quite hit exactly the right spot).
Looking back now, I’m convinced that the longer rig lulled the carp into a false sense of security when they picked the bait up, as they couldn’t feel any immediate initial resistance from the lead – at least until they moved quite a way across the spot it was feeding on, resulting in some absolutely screaming runs.
I’m also of the opinion that having the lead to close the baited rig (on short length rigs) can actually spook the carp!
When I eventually ventured down to Wellington Country Park in Berkshire, I once again carried on with the long hook length theme and on my very first session managed to land a forty pound plus common along with a mid-thirty pound mirror.
Things were going to change massively on that lake, as the weed got really bad and it was with considerable reluctance that I had to totally change my style of fishing for a while, as the disturbance trying to find clear areas with a marker set up or leading around would spook the carp. So for a few seasons it was chod rigs and hinged stiff rigs for the majority of the anglers fishing on the lake.
About two and a half years ago a weed clearing boat was brought in to try and clear some of the weed. This was followed the next summer by a huge algae bloom which wiped the lake bed clear of ninety nine per cent of the weed.
This has allowed me and other anglers on the syndicate to start using normal lead clip set ups – and this also means that I have been able to utilise my long hook length presentation again – which I’m certain has helped me land some absolute clonking carp during the intervening time period.
The longer rigs offer extremely consistent hook bait presentation over all types of lake bed; laying out nicely on hard spots and being less likely to be buried (being pulled down into the silt) if the lead lands in softer sediment.
Over the last couple of years I have moved away from the comb-links that I used on Gingerbread and Elstow. Right now I favour a tangle resistant setup that I have been tying up that incorporates 20lb Trick-Link or 16lb Mirage mono with a size four Covert Dark Mugga and either a small swivel or a medium rig ring to mount the hook bait onto. The majority of these rigs have been over twelve inches long and some of the hook holds on the carp I’ve been catching have been unreal – and on quite a few occasions I have struggled to remove the hooks as they have been fully buried. You know you have it right when the hook holds are this good!
It’s an amazingly effective arrangement as the combination of a Mugga hook with the Trick-Link means that the hook link exits the inside of the eye at a really aggressive angle. It gives the carp something that they really struggle to deal with and I’m sure that, coupled with a long hook length, has helped me land some truly fantastic carp over the past eighteen months or so.