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Long or short carp rigs?

When you’re tying a rig, there are several factors to consider before deciding on the length of your hooklink. There are various different schools of thought on this and there are also several ways to measure the length of your rig or hooklink, so it can all get rather confusing. If you get your rig length wrong though, your rig won’t work as intended and you’ll miss chances.

The video above covers all the factors you need to consider when choosing the length of your rig such as the type of rig material, the type of lake bottom, the type of lead, how you apply bait over your rig and the shape and size of carp you’re targeting. I also go through how to fish with different rig lengths.

rig length for carp fishing

For me, there are 3 types of rig lengths:

  • Short rigs: 4 to 5’’ or 10 to 12cms
  • Medium rigs: 8 to 10’’ or 20 to 25cms
  • Long rigs: longer than 10’’ or 25cms

Here’s the transcript of the video.

In this video I’m going to talk to you about rig length. There are various different schools of thought on this and there are all sorts of parameters that can play a role when choosing how long a rig should be for different fishing situations.

How to measure rig length?

One of the most confusing things about rig length is that every angler measures it a bit differently. It doesn’t really matter how you measure it of course as long as you’re consistent. You can measure a rig from the eye of the hook to the base of the lead or you can measure it from the bottom of the bait to the base of the lead which will make it longer. With inline leads, I talk in terms of the distance between the eye of the hook to the base of the lead.

When to use short rigs?

short rig length

If I want to create a short rig of 4’’ to 5’’ or 10 to 12 cms, I normally always use braid. It would have to be very special circumstances for me to use a mono or a coated material.

A short braided rig is perfect for when you’re solid PVA bag fishing. The other time I’d use a short braided rig is if I know that the fish are feeding heavily in the silt and I just want to drop a rig on a spot with some bait and I don’t mind if the lead actually sinks a bit into the silt. It might seem counterintuitive to have a short rig fished in the silt but actually it works really well. The fish are very happy to bury their head into the silt looking for food so a supple braided rig will work, even if it’s buried, as long as you’ve got some attraction around the spot either in the form of a PVA bag or a grubbing mix that you spread over the top.

Another situation in which I’d use a short supple rig like this would be dropping from a bait boat. It’s any situation where you’re creating a tight pile of bait over the rig. Spooning rigs out would be another example that would be very suitable. The fish aren’t going to be moving very far between food items, they’re going to be coming in, they’re going to be moving fairly close to the deck and they’re not going to be picking up individual baits and then up-ending. They’re going to be moving around and a shorter rig will just give you more chance at getting that pickup.

The type of carp you’re fishing for

The other factor to consider for your hooklink length is what size and shape of carp you are targeting.

When I first came to France, I was used to fishing with very short rigs, about two and a half inches. What I found was that I regularly got done by the fish. I’d have a flurry of beeps, wind in and nothing there. So what I did to solve this problem is I just added a couple of inches to the length of the rig and I started converting those short flurries of beeps into a proper take.

Carp come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and different size and shape of carp will feed a little bit differently.

If you imagine a big deep bodied mirror, its mouth has to go from 10 to 21 inches high to get to the bottom of the lake and pick up a bait. If I fish a short little braided rig, the carp has to tilt and angle down, move up, move across, tilt down again etc. If the carp comes across a little rig, his mouth is still going to be angled downwards and what I’ve found for deep bodied fish is that if the rig is too short and it hits them while the mouth is angled down like that, they find it easier to eject the rig. If you’ve got a tight baiting scenario then you’ve got much more chance with a fish like that but certainly not over a spread of baits.

If you’re fishing for commons, the body, even on a decent sized common, is a lot slimmer and the mouth is going to sit much closer to the deck therefore he hasn’t got to angle down as far. A short supple braided rig for smaller slim bodied fish is going to work really well, their mouth is going to be in a horizontal position when it hits that rig and when the mouth is flat they’re going to find it much harder to eject that rig.

If you’re fishing a water and you’re catching regularly enough but you don’t seem to be getting amongst the better fish, the one thing I would say is that I would add an extra couple of inches onto your rigs.

The best rig length for me is a rig of 8 to 10’’ or 20 to 25cms

two rig lengths

If I tie a short braided rig with an inline lead and then I tie another rig, slightly longer, with a swivel lead on a lead clip, there might only be 30mm difference in the finished rig length but because the leads are different, and you don’t get the full effect of the swivel lead until it’s fully upright, it makes a big difference to the effective length of the rig and to the mechanics of the rig.

The choice of lead system has a massive role to play when the hook is going to get in the carp’s mouth and it’s really important to factor this into the equation.

It’s no good saying well I’m just going to make all my rigs at a certain length and then I’m going to fish it with an inline rig and then I’m going to fish a swivel rig and it’s going to work the same, it’s not, it’s going to be completely different.

A medium length rig for me is between eight and ten inches, from the eye of the hook to the tip of the lead, and that’s the length I choose for 90% of my fishing. For me it’s a good all-round length, it works with a little PVA bag or stick, it works over a spread of baits and I even find it works when I’m fishing over a bed of bait so I have a lot of confidence in rigs of this length and it’s just the length that I end up choosing most of the time.

three hooklink lengths

Rigs longer than 10’’ or 25cms

I fish long rigs in specific situations, like when I’m fishing large French public waters or when I’m fishing the river, and I’d typically use a big four and a half ounce hex distance lead. I also use long rigs when I’m targeting the catfish but I’d use something like Armourlink for its abrasion resistance rather than mono.

The difference I get between tying a medium rig and a long rig is about five centimetres so, it’s not a lot, but again if you hold them up side by side, the overall result is a considerably longer rig when you consider the full weight and size of a distance lead.

In terms of baiting approach for a long rig, I’ve done a lot of single bait fishing especially on the big public reservoirs and the reason I do that is that the fish are out at range and I need to cast it a very long way and I just can’t get bait out that far. I think a long rig works very well in this situation because I’m just looking for a passing fish, it’s just going to come down, find that bait, pick up the rig and he’s done.

If the situation allows and I can put a spread of baits over this rig then I would do that and it works great but I’m not talking about fishing it over a spod mix, I’m talking about throw and stick style, big wide spread of bait. I might be baiting an area 50 meters wide so the carp are coming in, they’re moving many metres between baits and a big rig like this is going to work a treat.

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