Rigs and end tackle are without doubt one of the most confusing issues of modern carp fishing. Like bait, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different modifications that can be applied to help increase catch rate. Open any book or magazine dedicated to the European carp fishing styles and you can almost guarantee some type of rig article describing how such and such a rig caught every fish in th lake for Joe Bloggs. There is nothing wrong with this type of article as they can be very informative, but what you do need to be aware of is that the rigs used have been used successfully on the right venue, in the right place, at the right time and with the right bait. I cannot stress how important it is to remember this, and never to be lead into thinking that each new rig you see or hear about will be beneficial towards your fishing. If you are new to the European carp fishing style, then you should start with the very basic and progress at a gradual rate. If you do not, you risk confusing yourself, and this can be one of the hardest problems to solve. Many of the top anglers from Europe limit their choice of rigs to a mere handful, and instead prefer to place greater attention to fish location and bait selection.
A rig – The specialist equipment put on the end of a line to catch carp.
The hook link – A piece of material, which is attached between the hook and swivel.
When making the choice of which rig you are going to use for your carp fishing, the selection of hooks, leads, beads, swivels and hook link is vitally important. If you walk into any tackle store, which specialises in the modern carp gear, you will see an array of many different types and models. All are designed for different situations and all have their own advantages. As your experience grows you will be able to recognise when a change is needed. If you are a newcomer to this style of fishing, such decisions are not expected to be correct, and for this reason we will be helping you understand when and where to use different methods, in future articles. In the meantime, here’s a brief introduction into the components of the carp rig.
Hooks are probably the most detailed of all rig topics. Most tackle shops will possess anywhere between 1 and 100 different types of size and pattern (design), and because of this, the right hook can be a daunting affair. To help simplify things, carp hooks can be segregated into two different types. These are:- “general purpose” and “specific purpose” carp hooks.
General-purpose carp hooks are those, which are designed for universal situations whereas ‘specific purpose’ are those which are designed for use in in one situation only (e.g. Weed fishing, snag fishing etc.)
Both general purpose and specific purpose hooks are available in different sizes, in assorted patterns and styles ( e.g. In-turned or out turned eye’s, length of shanks, width of gape and position of the eye. All designs are aimed at assisting the rig and the way in which the hook bait acts when inside the mouth of the fish. In later issues will name specific hook types for each situation.
Hook links can be made from an array of different materials, and come in a variety of different breaking strains. Hook links can be classed under two headings.
1. Supple hook links
2. Stiff hook links
Supple hook links are very flexible and are made from braided materials. Stiff hook links are those, which are made from stiffer materials such as monofilament. Like hooks and leads, specific hook lengths are needed for specific situations, and incorrect selection can often be the difference between success of failure.
Here some of the more common hook links which you will find on the market.
Buoyant hook links
Buoyant hook links are possibly the most widely used link for carp today, and are designed for situations when the angler requires the hook link to be suspended off the lakebed. An example of this could be when debris is present which may interfere with the action of the link (e.g. when fishing over silt). Although most lines float, buoyant hook links usually refer to braided materials.
Sinking links offer a natural presentation by laying flat on the lake bed. However, they should only be used when there is little debris on the lakebed or the link may easily become inefficient. Sinking hook links are usually a lot thicker in diameter than buoyant or neutral braids, so always consider whether this will affect your fishing before selecting them for use.
Although supple links offer more of a natural presentation, the carp may easily eject them if they are accustomed to there use or become spooked for some reason and eject your bait. In this case, stiff links made from monofilament or other stiff material like amnesia may be the answer, as the stiffness of these links causes ejection problems for the carp, making it harder to eject the bait. The best way to attach a stiff link is to form a loop at the swivel end, as this gives the link more mobility and thus more chance of being inspected by the carp. Mono and amnesia are also very durable, so they are also a good choice for tackling snaggy regions.
Combi-links comprising of two or more different types of hook link make into one, have, in recent years, become very popular. By joining two different links together allows the angler to have the best of both worlds. An example could be a sinking / buoyant combination, whereby the first half of the link will sink and the other half will be buoyant. Such combinations may be the answer to a problem (e.g. finicky takes), or they may just offer something new to a situation. If this method has not yet been tried on your water then it is certainly worth a go.
A basic guide as when to use what and when.
Over silty areas - Buoyant link with a pop-up.
Over gravel - monofilament with a bottom bait.
In snaggy areas - monofilament.
Over clear sandy bottom - Sinking Link with a bottom bait.
Over light weed - Buoyant link with a pop-up
Over thick weed - Buoyant link with a critically balanced bait
Over fallen leaf matter in autumn - Buoyant link with pop-up
All pop-ups - Buoyant link
Bottom baits - monofilament or sinking link
For wily fish - a combination or combi link.
The last three items worth considering on the rig front for the moment involve swivels, beads and lead clips. These are fairly straight forward, but just to reiterate.
Swivels are used by the carp angler for the following reasons:
* To prevent twist in the terminal tackle
* To create a neat finish when joining two lines together
* To act as a junction stop for the lead.
Like hooks, swivels can be purchased in a number of different sizes, strengths and designs. Many anglers have there own personal favourites. You get what you pay for.
The use of beads by many anglers is limited to those fluorescent type which anglers think attract the fish, but beads have more practical uses which really do benefit the angler. They not only assist in the presentation of the rig, giving a tidy finish, but they are used to protect knots, to prevent the eye of the lead slipping over of getting caught up in the swivel heads and provide a shock absorption between rig components during casting.