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Rigs
09 Oct 2017
by Jon McAllister
Suit your rigs to your bait
Little edges to keep your catch-rates rising

EUREKA MOMENTS IN FISHING ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN SO AS WYCHWOOD’S BIG FISH MAESTRO JON MCALLISTER EXPLAINS, IT’S OFTEN A CASE OF USING LITTLE EDGES TO KEEP YOUR CATCH-RATES RISING…

I’ve been fortunate to have my fair share of mini-revelations when I’ve noticed something that could help me catch more carp. But the thing is, they don’t happen every day and in between thinking that I’ve re-invented the wheel, as an angler I have to really look hard at the things I’ve seen over the years and break it down to find a hidden edge that will catch me another fish. Here’s an insight into my way of thinking…

Suit rigs to bait

Primarily I’m a boilie angler and I’m known for that (along with the Multi Rig) but I know that at certain times of the year I have to step away from boilies. It’s an observation based upon looking at other anglers and their catch-rates and how they deal with species like tench, a particular problem on many clear, weedy gravel pits.

Spring is when tench become ravenous and quick to attack carp anglers’ bait and they love boilies. On some waters you’ll get more takes (or aborted takes) from tench than you’ll get from carp and when you’re rowing baits out for perfect presentation, you have to find a way around this. I’m not generally a particle user, I just don’t like small particles, but I don’t mind using tiger nuts when I’m feeding small handfuls, say up to 50 baits maximum. During that transition period in April and May when the water is still a bit cool I feel fishmeal-based boilies just don’t work that well – probably down to the fishmeals requiring warmer water to work properly in attracting fish – and this is when tigers play a part in my fishing. It’s not a totally tench-proof way of fishing but I think it minimises the chances of getting pick-ups, primarily just targeting carp. I still like to fish a boilie on the hook over tigers because I like the mechanics of the Multi Rig with a boilie - it doesn’t work as well with other baits in my opinion.

There seems to be this train of thought with carp fishing that ‘nuisance’ species like tench and bream are really finicky feeders but in my experience I don’t think that’s true. I actually believe that tench are better at picking up and dropping rigs than carp are. I tend to fish crudely anyway: big hooks, heavy-duty rig materials, big leads and I seem to avoid tench. Maybe there’s something in that?

Is it better to stick with a trusted rig and just change a bait or is it better to make a wholesale change? From a personal point of view, I think that there are no hard and fast rules. I’ve often just ‘tweaked’ my bait approach, such as using tigers instead of boilies, but I’ve also totally changed rigs in the past but often that’s been due to my existing rig not working. I can remember a time on Nutsey and my mate from Southampton, Scott Day, put me onto a rig that was basically a Reverse Combi Link rig and that worked really well on there. You could watch carp come in onto the rig and they didn’t know how to deal with it. When Scott first started to use the rig he was chasing a big fish and he was doing really well on New Grange (I was on Mainline Cell and not doing as well as him) and I knew that fish meant a lot to him so I held off changing what I was doing as I didn’t want to nick the glory from his hard work. Anyway, once he’d had the fish I changed to the rig and it worked for me.

Back then we used it on an in-line set-up but recently, during my campaign on Stoneacres, I’ve adapted it for use with a lead clip. I’ve been cleaned out a few times on my usual Multi Rig and it’s frustrated me because I know I’ve been on fish. I was on the phone to Sean Leveret talking about it and he said, “Can you remember that rig from Nutsey?” and as chances had it, I had that rig half-tied in my hand at the time. Looking back on the effectiveness of that rig it’s a bit mad that I’ve not really given it much thought recently but it has had a massive impact on my current fishing campaign; I’ve caught three fish in pretty quick succession and it’s definitely made a big difference in a similar way to when I used it at Nutsey.

I think this time round it’s not just the rig, it’s the bait as well; if I’d have been putting out boilies I think I may have caught the odd tench but I think they would have cleared out the feed. One instance is when I was in a different swim, I put the baits on likely spots but the carp weren’t very active and not many had been caught on the bottom up to that point (I’d caught two on Zigs). I was using my ever-faithful mono hooklink with a dry roasted peanut on. After one night I went back out in the boat and all the freebies had gone from the spot but the hookbait was still there. I didn’t know if it was tench or carp but I’d had carp in the area so I thought it better to go back onto a Multi Rig with a boilie and a few tiger nuts for feed.

However, I persisted with a pop-up and these fish are ultra-cute, very heavily pressured, and I knew that after no return on that rig it was right to go that one step further and change the rig and fish a weighted pop-up that sat close to the deck on this Reverse Combi Link rig. Three fish hooked and landed speaks volumes for the decision to change.

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