Right, last month we took apart and the most basic of all rigs: the standard Knotless Knot rig on a simple braided material. This month, lets have a take apart, analyse, and look at what can go wrong with another hugely popular rig, the Stiff Hinged Rig. This rig has been around a good few years now, after first being developed by Terry Hearn and Nigel Sharp.
The + side
This rig is one of the best for presenting a pop-up. It presents the boilie in an upright position clear of most weed or debris that is on the lakebed. On the whole, the rig is best fished with a fairly large hook and has the ability to turn in the mouth and most fish are securely hooked in the bottom lip, if the rig is used in the right situation. The rig is generally considered to be one of those that re-set, although I will elaborate on that later.
The Stiff Hinge also has great inherent anti-tangle properties and when the right material is used for the boom section and the rig is normally successfully deployed away from the lead at the furthest point possible depending on the length of the boom.
The rig can be used for fishing in a whole manner of situations as well as when angling for small carp as well the whackers, with a slight increase/decrease in tackle sizes and strengths. All-in-all the Stiff Hinged Link sounds great, which really it is! But (bet you knew that was coming!) there is no rig that is suitable for all angling situations, so…
The - side
In reality, the Stiff Hinged Rig is one of the few ‘go-anywhere-rigs’ so it is quite hard to dissect, but the whole point of this series of articles is to get the reader thinking hard about the plusses and minuses of each rig, so dissect I will!
As with most rigs that are generally known to the ‘public’ that incorporate the very stiff materials at the hook end, such as Korda’s Mouthtrap, ESP’s Bristle Filament and Fox’s Rigidity, the bait has to be a pop-up. Whilst this cannot actually be pigeon holed as a downside, there are situations where a pop-up is not the ideal presentation. The pop-ups cannot be any old pop-up either! In respect that due to the weight of the generally used bigger hooks, the pop-ups must be extremely buoyant to keep the bait/hook in the upright plane.
Another aspect is if the rig is being placed where the angler isn’t sure of the nature of the bottom, the rig ideally needs to be fished on a helicopter style arrangement, which again isn’t always preferable, especially in situations where the lead has to be dumped quickly and easily.
Depending on the materials used and the nature of the way it’s set-up, as in the buoyant/weighted parts of the rig, this can cause the boom section to land and sit very awkwardly and as I have witnessed for myself, this doesn’t always happen when the rig is dropped and viewed in the shallow margins of the lake.
In the test tanks or whilst fiddly around with this rig in your hand, it normally appears that the rig turns very efficiently but in some angling situations and you will have to take my word for this, it doesn’t!
Tweaks and changes
Firstly, there is no real excuse for not having a REALLY buoyant pop-up these days. I haven’t seen pop-ups from every manufacturer but I know from the bitter experience of parting with my hard-earned cash that some companies pop ups, well… just don’t! Not for long enough anyway. If your bait of choice doesn’t come with pop-ups that are constantly fighting to get to the surface, then you MUST make your own corkballers from sieved base mix or use a ‘belt and braces’ method of drilling out a section from your standard pop-up and insert a section of cork. Both methods keep my pop-ups buoyant for days, although when I’m after an alternative hookbait I sometimes use a pop-up from the Proper Job Pop-Ups range as these are the most buoyant pop-ups on the market today.
There seems to be a trend at the moment where everyone is using the shortest possible stiff hooklink section possible. This trend has obviously come about in an effort to try and mimic a bottom bait whilst still retaining the mechanics of the Stiff Hinge/Chod Rig. Now whilst I can see the reasoning, the very fact that the hook section is so short now means the putty/weight needed to sink the pop-up actually gets in the way (so to speak) of some of the mechanics of how the rig works.
The original Stiff Hinge was used with a fairly long hook section compared to some of the rigs I see in the mags now, but this acted with sort of a ‘long claw’ effect, and coupled with a gentle curve is one of the most effective hooking set-ups in carp angling today. However, when you set about trying to shorten that curve down to about an inch or so, a lot of those ‘mechanics’ are lost. I can’t help think that a lot of these tin curved section are actually moving away from the very simple and effective principals that made this rig so successful in the first place. The short sections must be easier for a big carp to eject as well, as I’m sure they are turning over and coming out bend first on ejection as we discussed in last month’s issue. Just as some carp have a very under slung mouth and are consequently harder to hook, some carp have cavernous orifices that you could fit an apple in. Remember that when shortening down stiff materials or designing any rig.
Another reason I don’t like the tiny short sections is I believe carp eject our rigs a lot of the time, not because they sense they are dangerous but because they just don’t ‘feel’ right, in a way as when we are eating, we know when there is a foreign object in our food. On these tiny stiff rigs, the putty (which is usually a fair sized blob) used to hold down the pop-up must enter the mouth far earlier as it is sucked in, and is therefore detected earlier and spat out in the blink of an eye, even before the mechanics of the rig have had the millisecond of time they need to work.
The choices of stiff materials out there that can be used for the boom section are extremely varied. The stiffer the materials are, then they are naturally thicker in diameter and consequently far more obvious. A balance has to be struck here between stiffness and flexibility. You want it stiff, but really need to know the nature of the lakebed you are fishing on, so I can’t really be of much help in what you decide. My choice is usually 15 or 20lb Korda IQ2, this gives me a good balance between the two properties I’m looking for.
Be very mindful of the fact that because you are using a stiff boom you assume everything will be laid out nice and flat… because it might not be! Let me explain.
When a rig falls through the water the hookbait will follow the lead’s path. When the lead hits the bottom the stiff link will hold it all up so to speak, but the second heaviest part of the rig will be the next part to descend (the rig putty). Now although we are using a stiff section it still has some flexibility so therefore could end up in an arc-shape sticking off the bottom. The way I remedy this is to place a piece of dissolvable rig foam around the putty as well as piece around the hook. This helps counterbalance the rig’s weight and therefore help ‘kick out’ the boom section. This problem doesn’t occur so much with hookbaits that have been critically-balanced.
My preference is for a gentle curve on the stiff section and not the fashionable almost half circle. The reason for this is unless you are angling on a very hard bottom, the part of the rig that allows it to turn is always on the lakebed. If this is hindered in anyway by debris, the mechanics go out the window. I love fishing on silkweed, but this type of weed really does have the habit of clogging everything up. Imagine the amount of force that is needed to turn a rig around? It must be so very little, but conversely, imagine how little it takes to stop the rig spinning like we imagine? So make sure you use large, rounded loops as these can help keep the rig’s turning effectively.
I do wish one of the tackle companies would manufacture a metal ring to ring configuration as this would help enormously and we could do away with the ring swivels that we currently use as although these are good, a loop-to-loop set-up moves so freely and we could then use very small, inconspicuous knots as well.
A great rig, use with confidence, but as always a little thought goes a long way.