The Horton Rig was the brain child of Gardner Team member Lee Wagner, whilst fishing on the hallowed banks of the R.K Horton Kingsmead Complex. It is essentially a presentation tailored to catch the fish that are showing over an area that is both firm and relatively weed free – and is his own tweaked / bespoke balanced bottom bait presentation. This rig consists of a Covert Dark Mugga hook and an Ultra Skin hooklink – but as usual a component list never really relays the detail and benefits of a specific terminal arrangement.
In fact Lee believes that this rig is the ultimate (mechanically) effective presentation at his disposal to use in this scenario and came up with it after thinking about getting everything reacting as fast as it possibly can the instant the hookbait is sucked into the carps mouth. To this end Lee believes that the rig is best fished in conjunction with an inline lead as the full force of the lead comes into play as soon as the hook link tightens.
In fact to be more specific he prefers an inline drop off system incorporating a Gardner inline lead, as they are designed so that more of the weight is at the swivel end (the end closest to the fish) and this again helps transmit the full weight of the lead the second the hooklink tightens.
As he so eloquently says, ‘there’s no wasted movement, unlike a lead clip system where there can be 2-3 inches (half a second) of movement before the full weight of the lead comes into play’. In angling terms that’s plenty enough slack and time for a fish to realise what’s occurring, spit you out and move on! The fact that the lead arrangement is fished drop off style means there is also no way for the fish to use the weight of the lead, once the hooks set, to throw or shake the hook out.
The next critical detail is the whipping of the D on the “Horton rig”. Specifically, where this finishes opposite the barb is not a specific design feature that has come about by accident, as it’s been carefully tweaked by Lee over years of focused big fish angling to give the rig its optimum efficiency – so in that the millisecond after the fish sucks at the bait, the hooks already turning over before the baits even entered the fishes mouth.
The lightening fast reaction of the aggressive Mugga pattern is further enhanced by adding in the additional kicker – that pushes the rigs fulcrum point slightly further out (so the hook snares a couple of millimetres deeper) and the hook twists and flips even more aggressively.
Essentially, this combination of tried and tested tweaks means that the rig works superbly whether it’s being used for slow feeding winter fish, a sly rig wise pressured fish or a silt pig willing to hang itself. Whatever you’re angling for the presentation gives the best possible chance of converting pick-ups into takes.
Nothing is superfluous in terms of the complete terminal set up; and this ethos rings true right down to the mounting of the bait on a tidy Covert Hook Swivel; as including this small component allows the bait and rig to behave a little more naturally amongst feeding fish, as well as allowing the bait to hover directly over the hook, shielding it from view and settling in the “cocked” position which ensures no wasted movement if a fish does decide it wants to snack on the balanced hookbait.
As Lee would say, no detail is too small – and this cognitive/logical thought process in developing and fine tuning the Horton Rig in conjunction with long term observation that sets this particular rig apart from other presentations. It works superbly as it’s been fine tuned to perfection. A true fish catcher.