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Rigs
14 Jan 2016
by Lewis Read
End tackle according to Lewis Read
The terminal tackle designer on where the carp jewellery journey is heading…

Lewis, what is your view on rigs right now: are we hitting the mark or are we a long way off?
“I really think that the minority of guys that are utterly and totally OCD about their hook points and hookbait placement are the ones that are nearest the mark. There are certain waters that seem to need an adapted approach that is a league up on others to attain consistent results. The word ‘accurate’ doesn’t fully relay the necessary fussiness of critical hookbait placement. Why? Having sat and pondered this question at length, it occurs to me that this is simply because the lakebed is simply rubbish for presenting hookbaits and freebies. It’s odd because mostly the bottom feels hard enough for a hookbait to drop down onto okay but most have a soupy layer of acidic silt that masks the bait and hides the hookbait.”

What are your main concerns when it comes to the type of rigs that you use?
“Have they tangled; will they present a hookbait in a way that makes them acceptable to a browsing carp; and will hook them.”

What do you prefer: pop-ups or bottom baits?
“I don’t honestly have a preference over which I use, though it would be fair to say that I balance my bottom baits as a means of gaining a little more control over the way the rig settles. Each type of presentation, pop-up and bottom bait has its place.”

Do you ever present baits on lots of debris or are you only happy on the clear spots?
“The stereotypical gravel spot is a dream if it has seen a steady trickle of bait or there are fish in the vicinity and I’m looking for a nice tidy spot to drop a rig. Otherwise it’s more about the fish and where they are showing us to put our baits. If I’m fishing over silt I wouldn’t want to thrash the water to a frothy foam trying to find a clear spot if there were fish about – where they feed is where I would want my hookbait. If it’s weedy then that’s when the ‘weedanoster’ comes out: minimum thrashing and hopefully a quick carp on the bank.

“Session fishing allows you the luxury of time to heal the damage caused by thrashing, in which case waiting until the fish have moved off means you can get your traps set for the next day – when they will hopefully return.”

Hinged Stiff Link and Choddy

How concerned are you about hiding your end tackle?
“I think that any angler would have to be a bit mental not to consider this as important! Of course sometimes it’s really difficult to hide everything away – for instance the main line, especially over weed and at range, then I would still be thinking about the last couple of rod lengths and the terminal tackle itself very carefully.

“We’re trying to catch fish that often know the score and will be unsettled if they notice tackle – for instance if your main line drops down onto a baited spot at an acute angle.”

What are your thoughts on hooklink length: shorter the better or do you favour longer; what’s your thinking?
“Just now I’m starting to go around and favour longer for any given situation. Logic dictates that if you are dropping your rig onto rock hard spots then all well and good – but if (like most people) you are using a marker rod and casting out relatively blind then the reality is that the spots will be considerably scruffier than you think they are. In this scenario a slightly longer hooklink can help to ensure more consistent hookbait presentation. The only time I would go totally the opposite is solid PVA bag fishing, when I use a very short Trickster Heavy hooklink.”

PVA set-up and a Chod Rig: two great presentations

Everyone’s obsessed right now with lightening the hookbait. What are your thoughts on this, or going the other way and making the bait heavier?
“For years I have been a firm believer in balancing the buoyancy of my hookbaits. In the early days it was all about confusing the carp so that when it sucked in the hookbait it would fly into its mouth and scare the living hell out of it. Nowadays I prefer to think in terms of hookbait presentation (wafting down gently onto the lakebed in a controlled way) and how you can get the bait to sit over the hook helping to hide it… and if it scares the living hell out of ‘em when they suck it in, all the better!”

What about double hookbaits?
“I have strangely/coincidentally been looking at double baits, as up until recently it was another area that I had personal misgivings, but you know the more you look at them the more sense they make in terms of ensuring consistent hookbait presentation (or more specifically, maintaining a good orientation between the hook and the hook baits). Think about it from that angle and all will come clear…”

Hook sharpness is everything

It’s become very ‘trendy’ of late to have a large counter-weight just below the hook to help flip it and pull the hook home. What are your thoughts on this?
“I don’t like it unless I’m lowering a hookbait on a spot (or I’m absolutely 100% certain that a spot is polished) as it adds in too many variables and too many ways it can go wrong. I’ve seen it used extremely successfully by some very good anglers, but as a ‘cast-in-the-pond’ rig? No, not feeling it at all.”

What are your views on Hair length? Should we revert back to the old school way of super long, super supple Hairs?
“I know my carping history and how long Hair rigs have worked on some venues with some anglers, but they are not for me either (yet). Perhaps one day that will change, but for the moment the necessity of having a longer hooklink to compensate for the increased separation between the hookbait and hooklink means I just can’t get my head round it (yet) and when I have tried them, standard rigs have always out-fished them by a massive margin.

“How long is long as well? Phil Thompson caught on Hairs measured in inches and not centimetres. To me a long Hair is where the hookbait is more than 5mm from the bend of the hook.”

How can you see the development of end tackle products progressing?
“Oh for a crystal ball…”

Lewis's biggest and best edge

“Be excruciatingly OCD about your hook points (and on some venues hookbait placement) as they need to be perfect to convert as many pick-ups into fish on the bank as possible. Find a rig that works and you have confidence in and learn to use the right tools to improve the hook point – it’s well worth the effort.”

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