Anybody who’s been fishing with me, or read any of my articles over the years, will know I put a huge emphasis on keeping things simple.
I tend to use the same rigs for most of my fishing, regardless of where I’m fishing and what size carp I’m targeting.
When it comes to rigs, I believe it’s imperative that you use a presentation that flips and turns quickly in the carp’s mouth. I know lots of anglers don’t believe in the palm test, but I think it’s absolutely invaluable for testing the effectiveness of a rig. Now I know that your hand doesn’t exactly resemble a carp’s mouth, but it is a great way of testing whether a hook will flip quickly or not.
Over the years, I’ve tried a whole host of different rigs and presentations, but it’s my trusty longshank rig that I find myself using time and time again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is one of the most effective rigs for flipping, when I drag it across the palm of my hand. It’s important to mention that, when testing the effectiveness of a rig, you must always pull it across the palm of your hand. I see lots of anglers pulling the rig over their finger, which is pointless because the rig will always flip in this situation.
It’s all well and good testing a rig for flipping across your hand once it’s tied but what actually makes it turn in the first place? Well, there isn’t one individual factor that determines whether a hook flips in the carp’s mouth or not. I’ve found there are a variety of different ways you can tweak a rig to ensure that it performs effectively when picked up by a fish.
As some of you may be aware, I spend a lot of time on the bank with anglers doing tutorials. When it comes to rigs, I have one huge bit of advice: I always tell anglers to go long with the length of their Hairs. I’m certain that rigs with a long Hair flip quicker and work more effectively than those with a shorter one. I believe for a rig to work effectively, there must be a degree of separation between the hook and the hookbait. When using a longer Hair, the hook has a lot more flexibility, therefore there’s more chance of it turning and catching hold in the carp’s mouth. I’ve tried a variety of different lengths over the years but I usually find a Hair that’s about one-inch long to be most effective.
When it comes to hooks, I’ve tried all sorts of different patterns over the years, but I find myself going for longshank varieties time and time again. If we think about it, lots of anglers extend the shank of short-shank hooks using shrink tubing to improve how quickly the hook flips. Personally, I don’t like using long, curved pieces of shrink tubing because I believe they reduce the gape of the hook and make the rigs less effective. Rather than opting for a long piece of tubing and a hook with a short shank, I’d much prefer to use a hook with a longer shank and a smaller piece of tubing.
When it comes to shrink tubing, I usually opt for a sliver that’s about 1cm in length. Rather than just having the hooklink coming straight out of the tubing, I will always tie the rig line-aligner style. To some anglers this may look like it makes little difference but when you pull it across your palm it flips much quicker than the conventional way. The fact that the hooklink exits the tubing at a more pronounced angle means that it flips and turns brilliantly, but the hooklink doesn’t affect the gape of the hook. Although it can be a bit fiddly at times, this small tweak can make a massive difference to your results and I’m sure it has put me more carp on the bank.
With so many anglers these days using coated braids, I try to use suppler varieties where possible. Not only do these confuse wary carp, they also give your rigs a lot more movement and allow them to move more freely in the carp’s mouth. Don’t get me wrong, coated braids are brilliant, but I think that out-and-out flip and turn rigs are much more effective when tied on a supple braid. I’ve tried a variety of hooklinks with my favourite longshank rig, but I’ve found the hook holds are a lot better when the rig has been tied with a supple hooklink.
I’ve been playing around with the Avid Line Droppers and I have to say the results have been incredible. I used to over-shot my rigs many moons ago but, as time progressed, I started doing it less and less. When the Line Droppers were shown to me, it reminded me of how I used to fish with a split shot or large piece of putty on my hooklink. When a weight is added to a hooklink, the hook will flip a lot quicker when the carp picks it up. As soon as the fish picks up the hookbait, the weight means the hook drops into the bottom of the carp’s mouth and catches hold in the bottom lip. In the past I’ve used small split shots but I’ve found the Small Line Droppers are brilliant. They can be added and removed in seconds, do not damage your hooklink and really make the difference when targeting pressured carp.
If I had to give anglers one bit of advice for making their rigs flip, I would tell them to try and make them as flexible as possible. If you use a stiff rig, it’s not going to flip and catch hold in the carp’s mouth. If you use a rig that’s flexible with plenty of movement, there’s much more chance of it turning and catching hold where it counts. Next time you’re about to cast out, try pulling your rig across the palm of your hand. Although this test isn’t set in stone, it’s a great way of getting an idea how your rig will perform when it’s picked up.
How to create a line-aligner
How different shrink tubing lengths affect your set-up
1 Very aggressive angles of shrink tubing tend to hook the carp nearer to the outside of the mouth – right on the edge of the lip at times
2 Longshank patterns of hooks with a shorter bit of shrink tubing, turn and grab hold quicker than a longer piece
3 A line-aligner, whether it’s created with a long or short length of shrink tubing, does turn fractionally quicker
4 Long extensions of the hook, almost with a curve like a Chod rig, grabs almost instantly
5 Bear in mind that all of these tests have been doing using bottom baits and that Ian only believes the Palm Test to be a measure of rigs used with sinking baits
6 A pop-up rig is a totally different animal