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Alex Grice Columnists

Are Zig Rigs Cheating?

Alex Grice goes through whether he considers the use of Zig Rigs as cheating, or if they are an effective method for fooling the rarer carp in the cooler months...

I have always had a love-hate relationship with Zig fishing, which I think is down mainly to the number of fish I have lost over the years whilst using the method. Like many other anglers, I know full well just how effective Zigs can be, certainly at times of the year when big hatches occur, and also during periods of warmth through the spring when it can seem almost impossible to tempt bites off the bottom. I have said to myself some years, that I would just like to fish Zigs out and out, all year, and in all types of weather, just to see how my catch rate is affected, and whether you could out-fish a baiting approach simply by presenting slivers of foam suspended in the layers, all of the time. 

I do strongly believe that Zigs are hard to beat in the spring. Take this year, for example. We have had some very cold nights and warm days, coupled with cold, northerly winds during a large proportion of the early spring period. One of the waters I have been fishing is a fair-sized pit of around 40-acres, with depths averaging 12 to 15ft in places, and in general, it has been slow going from the off. Since switching to Zigs and refining the depth, I have been getting bites consistently, usually in the window between 6 and 10 a.m.


Something interesting occurred recently, when I woke up to a blanket of thick, cold fog. The previous day had been warm, and as a result, I had set my Zigs to be fished in the top five feet of the water column, leaving them undisturbed into the night. There was a heavy drop in temperatures overnight, the fog came in, and by the morning, it was Baltic, at around zero degrees Celsius. Despite the freezing cold air temperature, I had three bites in quick succession, fishing three-feet under the surface in around 10ft of water. This really played with my head, to be honest, as I certainly thought that the freezing fog would have pushed them down. Much to my amazement, however, those bites came relatively close to the surface, considering the depth of water. Weirdly, they are the only bites I have ever had in fog in nearly 20 years of carping, so it was certainly food for thought for future sessions. 


Scott’s point on Zigs being deemed as cheating is something I always hear from the older generation of anglers. Whether this is because they did not use Zigs from an early age, I do not know. But for me, I think grasping the use of the Zig and doing so effectively is something of an art in itself. I would certainly not describe a successful Zig angler as a cheat, but I know few who would! 

One of my gripes with Zig fishing is when fish become foul-hooked, quite often in the pecs as they glide past the suspended foam. If this suddenly becomes a regular occurrence, I do think that it is in our best interest, as anglers, to leave them out.


Still on the subject, a while ago, I experienced something a little strange whilst fishing adjustable Zigs. I had a take on my middle rod, lifted into it as the fish kited right towards my other adjustable Zig positioned at a similar depth. Moments later, the line began to tick away on my right-hand rod. After a weird fight, it transpired that the fish had been hooked twice in the bottom lip, on both my middle, and my right-hand Zig hookbaits which had been sitting side by side. I was baffled, and I guess I will never really know what actually happened, but when speaking to a close friend, I found out that he had exactly the same thing happen to him, a year or so previously. 

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