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Matt’s step by step guide of how to make the best river rig and lead set up for large wild carp.

Fishing for carp on the river has made me rethink my rig setup completely. When I first started fishing the rivers in France, I was shocked by the number of times I suffered cut-offs of mainline and hooklink.

I knew I needed to develop something that would cope with anything.

best rig for catching river carp

The problem when you start to use very heavy materials for the hooklink is that they don’t lend themselves to the standard knotless knot arrangement in which you form the hair from the tag end of  the hooklink. My favourite heavy snag braid/leader is Kryston’s Quicksilver in 45lb. It’s fantastic stuff with incredible abrasion resistance but it is thick!  If you are to make a standard knotless knotted rig with it, you’ll find that it impairs the way in which the bait behaves and it doesn’t flip and turn in the hand anywhere near as effectively as Kryston’s  Super Nova does.

I’ve spent the last two years developing this rig, and last year I banked my first 30lb+ river carp which was a real milestone for me.

This is what the finished rig setup looks like: carp rig and lead setup for the river

To achieve this setup, I use two line materials for the rig: one strong, one supple.

● The supple material (Kryston’s Super Nova in 15lb) is used for the hair only and gives total freedom of movement to the bait.

● The strong material (Kryston’s Quicksilver in 45lb) is what keeps me connected to hugely powerful river carp in a snaggy river.

Having banked over 30 river carp over the last two years, this rig has never let me down!

This rig is perfect for fishing any water where there is a risk of being cut off and I use it in combination with 3m of Quicksilver leader. Use of such strong materials for carp fishing is not to be undertaken lightly as in the wrong hands they can pose a risk to the carp. Used correctly in the right situations by experienced anglers there should be no problem.

I hope you enjoy the video and if you have any questions about it then do feel free to ask.

How to tie my river carp rig

The materials I use to tie it are:
● Kryston Super Nova in 15lb
● Kryston Quicksilver in 45lb
● Korda hooks size 4 wide gape X
● Quick link clip


Step 1: The first step is to take your 15lb Super Nova, thread it through the hook and tie a loop in it using an overhand  knot.

The loop needs to be the length of half of the diameter of the bait plus the length of a 15mm snowman pop up. For me, that loop should be about 25mm long (with the bottom bait in the middle of the knot).


Step 2: Next, take your bottom bait, and thread it on the hair. Take your popup and put it on the loop too. Take your hair stop, clip it through the loop, and pull it into the popup.

Then, set the hair length and tie a standard knotless knot, whipping away from the joint in the eye 6 or so turns. Cut your line about 1 1/2 inch long and wet it before you put it back through the eye.

What you have now is what looks to be the most simple, shortest rig in the world. But it’s all going to change in a minute.


Step 3: Next, I do a whipping Domhoff knot with the Quicksilver hooklink over the top of the knotless knot. Cut the hooklink 4′ longer than you need (I normally fish with an 8 to 10’’ rig).


Step 4: Tie the hooklink to the clip with a four turn double grinner knot. The clip will make it easy to take on and off the lead system. Always wet the knot with saliva before tightening down slowly.


Step 5: To fully tighten both knots, take your hook puller and something to hook the hook onto (a Swiss army knife works well) and then pull REALLY hard! Don’t slip and don’t pull so hard that you open out the hook!


Step 6: Then, trim off the Quicksilver and the Super Nova and then blob those two with a lighter which stops them from fraying as well.

What are the mechanics behind this rig?

The reason I tie the rig like this is that, on the river, there are all sorts of snags or branches covered in zebra mussels, rocks, and you want to fish with a very strong hooklink. The only hooklink that hasn’t failed for me is the Quicksilver in 45lbs but it is a little stiff and impairs bait movement if used for the hair.

With this setup I get the best of both worlds by using a combination of soft hair and strong hooklink and the rig mechanics are much better:

● If you lay the rig in your hand, you’ll see that the supple hair doesn’t interfere with the movement of the rig at all.

● And if you pull on the hooklink, the hook kicks over straightaway and jabs me in the palm. I’ve tried tying this rig with the 45lb Quicksilver as the hair and the rig doesn’t work as well in that it doesn’t turn over so readily. You need the supple hair to make it work.

river carp rig mechanics


River rig lead set up

The lead setup is just as important as tying the rig. The components I use for my river rig lead setup are:

● 4.5oz gripper lead. It looks big but if you’re fishing at 80 yards range on a big river, you want your bait anchored and not drifting along the bottom.

● Avid flat clips. I highly recommend using the Avid flat clips. They are suppler. I’ve tried other brands but the legs can break off. With these clips, if you get a lead trapped in rocks or in branches and you pull hard enough, you can bend the leg of the clip open, pop it out of the silicon tail rubber, drop the lead and you’ll get your rig back without breaking the leg of the clip.

● Avid tail rubbers.

● Quick link clip and silicon sleeve.

To avoid cut offs, I use a length of leader material and again the Kryston Quicksilver works for me.

I connect the leader to the mainline using a leader knot such as the Albright knot or the Mahin knot. The strength of this knot is very important and different materials need to be joined using different knots. My advice would be to experiment with various knots using the materials you intend to use and test them. This is the only way to be sure how strong the knot will actually be.

Once you’ve connected the leader to your mainline pass the leader through the tail rubber, then through the clip. Clip on the lead and put the tail rubber over the clip (after wetting it). Tie the leader to an avid flat clip link with a double grinner knot. Fully tighten and test the knot (I test every knot!). Here, I use a rig puller and an old file handle with the leader wrapped round at least 6 times.

how-to-tighten-and-test-a leader knot for carp fishing

Take a silicon sleeve and put it over the quick link of the hooklink. Attach the rig on the quick change clip. Slide up the silicon sleeve over the quick link to prevent it from unclipping itself. Pull the link loop into the clip.


So there you are. The rig is now safely attached to the lead clip set up.

On the take, the link will pop out of the lead clip and will then behave like a running rig. This is better for bite indication and it also means I don’t lose the lead on every take!

Now all you need is a load of bait and you can go a catch yourself a big river carp!

Good luck!

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