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Rigs
04 Jul 2017
by Jason Hayward
Is the Knotless Knot rig really that good?
Jason Hayward gives as an in-depth analysis of modern carp rigs

This series of articles will take a look at some of the most popular modern-day rigs and question, pull apart, and look at the possible variables that can be applied to them to improve their effectiveness. This information should not be taken as ‘gospel’ but will hopefully help the angler to think about the application of the rig and apply it far more effectively to the situations they find themselves fishing in.

When it comes to any rig article, the writer cannot possibly know the exact fishing situation of everyone. Many writers today shy away from the technical side of carp fishing for fear of ridicule, as not all rigs are suited to all situations. You will no doubt have read such comments as, “I only use three rigs for all my carp fishing” or very dismissive comments such as, “Rigs don’t matter.” Really? I think deep down, we all know the answer to that. Carp are not clever, but they do, without doubt, learn by association, so if we all used just three rigs I don’t believe it would take very long for our results to suffer. Also, do these anglers only fish on three types of bottom or three types of fishing situations etc., etc.?

I do not believe rigs are the be-all-and-end-all of carp fishing, as they are far more important things that come into play before we have to “tinker” with our end tackle, but I have been in the situation numerous times now, where if I didn’t change, tinker, adapt or call it what you will, my presentation, then I wouldn’t have banked half as many fish.

So lets start at the very bottom of the pile, in as much as probably the most commonly used rig over country: the standard braided Knotless Knot rig.

The most basic

The Knotless Knot rig is a very, very effective rig in the right situation (but so can a bent pin be!) In reality, it is no more than a standard Hair rig, which has been around now for over 30 years! This demonstrates how effective the original Hair rig was, as it has probably caught more carp, worldwide than any other! I hate generalising, but I would hazard a guess that when this rig is used, it is more often than not used with a hook of around a size 8 and at a length of between five- to nine-inches with a lead of about 2 to 2.5oz. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!

The basics of this rig are very effective, after all, who am I to question the thousands of carp already banked using it, so before I tear it apart, lets look at the situations this rig will score in.

The + side

Firstly, although it shouldn’t be your main concern, the rig is very simple and easily tied up with the minimum of fuss and expense, as the rig has very few components. It is very adaptable from a bottom bait to a pop-up rig with just the addition of a simple weight in the form of a shot or tungsten putty, and can be used with any type of bait, be it particle or boilie. The rig is suited to a whole host of bottoms except for perhaps those areas with very tall weed. The braided material will allow the rig to move quite naturally. The suppleness of the Hair will help the bait move naturally and allow the hookbait to be sucked in very easily, and I’m sure the lovely supple materials out there are far harder detected in the carp’s mouth.

The hooklink exits the eye on the point side, so will turn nicely to an effective point down position should the carp picks up the bait and moves off. The rig can be used helicopter or pendant lead style and indeed with any type or weight of lead the angler wishes.

These are the rig’s positive sides and you will have to agree that when analysed in the cold light of day, they are pretty impressive! No wonder it has caught so many fish! However, there are a number of very important aspects that do need discussing if we are to improve upon the Knotless Knot rig’s effectiveness.

The - side

The simplicity of the rig to tie up etc., is without doubt one of the rig’s bonuses, however, I can’t help feeling that it is very often used for the angler’s benefit in the ease of use rather than its hooking potential. Carp anglers on the whole are a lazy old bunch and will often take the easy option.

As the rig has been around a long time, as is also widely used, the carp you angle for may have come across it numerous times before and consequently may have learned how to deal with it without getting hooked, let me explain. As we looked at in the positive aspects, the braided hooklength will allow the bait and hook to be picked up/sucked in very easily, but as is the case with ALL supple materials, carp can eject these very easily as the hook will turn around in the mouth and follow the bait bend first as it is ejected. The hook can sometimes catch a hold in an undetermined part of the carp’s mouth but will only really have any ‘mechanics’ to it, (the hooking turning) if the fish picks up the bait and moves off, or shakes its head from side-to-side.

Whilst the braided material’s suppleness has advantages, these can also lead to real problems in an angling situation. Firstly, a rig will always follow the decent through the water of the lead. It is a common fallacy to think that feathering the lead down on the cast or as it descends through the water will cause the hookbait to drop at the furthest possible, (depending on the length of the hook) from the lead. IT WON’T.

The hookbait will follow the descent of the lead or the leadcore etc. through the water and then drop to a point very close by. If the hooklink is heavy enough you may end up with it being in a ‘C’ shape, but it will not be in the nice subtle line like so many anglers imagine. Whilst this may not really be a problem, it has the effect of giving the carp far more hooklink to play with, and if they are not moving very far between sucking in food/blowing out debris, this rig will easily be ejected without any indication at all.

If the rig is picked up/ejected successfully, braided hooklinks have the horrible habit of the Hair wrapping itself around the main body of the hooklink just above the hook. If this happens, the rig is useless and ineffective, as it would now be impossible for a carp to be hooked on it, as the rig cannot re-set itself (a major consideration for me in rig design). Braids do have a habit of popping off the bottom as well, despite what some manufacturers claim and the suppleness of the braid can cause all manner of problems with tangles on the cast as well. Suddenly the rig doesn’t sound so appealing does it?

Tweaks and changes

Well, all is not lost! There are a number of things, mostly minor, but nonetheless significant that we can change/alter/add to make the rig more efficient.

Changing the hook to a larger size, can and will, always help in my opinion to prick more fish. If you don’t want to up the size of the hook in gape terms, then changing to a longer shank hook or adding a length of tubing, line-aligner style will no doubt help matters as all these changes will help the rig’s anti-ejection qualities. As this type of rig really depends on the fish moving, changing over to a curved shank hook can really help as well, indeed we are now in KD Rig territory. Adding a stiffer section above the hook will help as well in a reverse combi style will also hinder the Hair from wrapping around the hooklink above the hook as well, especially if the Hair is shortened a touch as well. The addition of a two bait set-up (with bottom baits) with a separation between the two baits is also very effective as well. The hook should always be sharpened to perfection as well.

If you have caught a few fish on this set-up and have noted the position of the hook in the carp’s mouth and it is slightly further back than you would ideally want or is in the softer, more vulnerable scissors part of the mouth then shortening down the hooklink by a couple of inches at a time will no doubt increase the chances of hooking the fish in the lip.

Always ensure some little shot or tungsten putty weights are added to soft braided line to ensure they lay down properly. Getting the hooklink to lay down away from the lead or line is something a little more difficult. You can add a little Stick or PVA bag, but this will hold the hookbait above the point where it all landed until the PVA melts, however, the way PVA melts will in effect only lower your rig down slowly to exactly the same place, which is great where there is bottom debris/soft silt but not for that kick effect we are looking for. Two things that can be done are to weight your hooklink in decreasing increments towards the hook. This will help it all drop down in little stages and push the hookbait away. The other thing to do is camo your end tackle up as much as possible and don’t worry about where the hookbait lands!

Don’t be afraid to tinker with your rigs, even if your experiments don’t always work in the long run, it will make you a far better angler.
Jason Hayward

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