Forget fancy rigs, getting back to basics is where we need to be!
Test what you’ve tied
- Test every knot properly using a leather glove and knot puller (see Fig1.)
- Test the buoyancy of the baits in a bucket of water
- Test rig turn over with baits on using the palm test
In fact test every aspect that is critical to how the rig functions. Do you really want to cast out a balanced snowman rig that’s actually a 10” zig with weak blood knots and a hair that is coming out the point side of the hook?
Make sure it’s safe
Despite all the great information available on rigs, from time to time, every bailiff in the land comes across a horror show of a death rig. It’s not tricky; never setup anything that would prevent the lead from separating from the mainline and the hook link in the event of a mainline failure.
Use double baits
See Fig 2. Double baits are harder to eject because it makes the bait and hook combination longer. It also increases the attraction by releasing twice as much smell into the water, the extra weight of two baits help the rig turn over and land better when cast without PVA bags or stringers. Oh and few anglers fish with multiple baits! See article Matt’s Beausoleil rig part 1 for more information.
Sharpen your hooks
See Fig 3. It makes a huge difference! Since adopting this method a couple of years ago, my hook to land ratio has gone from 80% to 95%. It’s also vital to re-check the hook before every cast (you’ve only got to hit a stone on the retrieve, the point is gone). Hook sharpening will also save you money, as you won’t necessarily need a new rig each fish. See blog article: How to create you own ultra sharp hooks for my full step by step guide.
Use thick string
See Fig 4. Personally, 25lb is the minimum I would use anywhere, scaling down to 15lb is not going to get you that extra bite but might cost you a really good fish! The increased thickness of the braid helps prevent mouth damage, improves abrasion resistance; it also sinks better. For a dedicated catfish rig, change up to 45lb.
Learn to land the rig
See Fig 5. If your current casting technique simply involves firing a lead into the water then this tip is definitely for you. If you cast out and don’t trap the line to land the lead on the water or hit the clip just before the lead hits the water, there is a chance that the rig is tangled (a supple braided rig will end up in a real mess on the bottom). Coated braids are more forgiving and were developed to help prevent such problems but relying on them in all situations is risky. The problem is what happens on the bottom. A coated braid will never sit as well as a supple rig and will therefore be easier for Mr. Carp to detect. Correctly cast supple braided rigs, pinned down with a little putty will land and sit nicely over virtually anything and reset perfectly if they are picked up and dropped. See Fig 6.
Minimise rig components
Everything you add is potentially another source of a tangle or failure. Figure 7 shows a design of clip that I’ve seen fail and lose multiple fish (sorry KN, but it’s true). Quick changes clips for example, do you actually need one? Obviously they are essential for PVA sticks but the stick method has been done to death by every carper in the land. Or is it because you intend to chop and change rigs? Personally, I have no intention of changing rigs during a session unless a hook or hook link is sufficiently damaged in which case I cut it off and tie on a new one.