End tackle according to Terry Dempsey
Highly successful underground angler, Terry Dempsey reveals his thoughts on everything rig-related
We want to know exactly what he uses and most importantly why, because evidently, it really does work.
Terry, what are your main concerns when it comes to the type of rigs that you use?
“I guess my main concern with rigs is how exposed my hooklength is. I try and use something subtle which won’t look too out of place on the bottom. Often this is a soft braid or a fluorocarbon but sometimes I use mono hooklinks.”
What do you prefer: pop-ups or bottom baits?
“The way I normally like to fish, is to put out a lot of bait so I usually like my hookbait to match the rest of the free offerings in the area – i.e. on the deck, so a bottom bait. If the bottom is choddy and not clean though, I will also use a pop-up.”
Can you tell me what rigs you have out at the moment?
“It’s pretty clear out there where I’m fishing so I’ve got all four rods on the bottom baits. I’ve got two on double 14mm bottom baits and the other two with a single 14mm bottom bait tipped with a bit of plastic corn. The reason for this is I have been feeding the swim with boilies but have also been putting a bit of corn out as well. All four of the rigs are on nylon hooklengths and these are tied up using the 15lb brown Daiwa Sensor and Solar 101 hooks with a Knotless Knot. The rigs are about nine- or ten-inches long and fished helicopter style on a short length of leadcore; I then use around ten-feet of Solar’s Unleaded with the Taska Tungsten Beads on to get everything well pinned down.”
What type of spot are you looking for, I know you said it’s pretty clear in front of you, so is that what you look for or do you like a light covering of weed?
“I do like a clear spot but ideally with a bit of weed somewhere nearby to where I’m fishing. What I’m fishing on here isn’t gravel, it’s more like mud but regardless, there are perfectly hard spots, it’s just finding them.”
Do you ever present baits on lots of debris or are you only happy on the clear spots?
“Yes, without a doubt. There’s one lake I used to fish where my mates and I couldn’t ever find any spots; the lakebed was covered in this ‘candy floss’ style weed. To overcome the problem, we always used to use a small pop-up on a very long hooklink and caught really well.”
How concerned are you about hiding your end tackle? I see you’re using Taska’s Tungsten beads, I take it you
see this as a big edge?
“Anything that can keep your set-up pinned down, I see as a big edge! The beads are easier to use than the old split shot or putty and they won’t damage your main line.”
I know once you are confident a rig works you rarely see the need in changing it, but do you alter the rigs you already use depending on the time of year?
“Yes, I believe in scaling down a bit over winter. Bites are harder to come by and the water is gin clear so I like to be as stealthy as possible. I switch over to using mono hooklinks as they are nice and soft so they sit nicely on the lakebed and tend to naturally kick out away from the lead ensuring a nice presentation. I also normally drop my hook to a size eight.”
What are your thoughts on hooklink length: shorter the better or do you favour longer; what’s your thinking?
“I tend to play about with different length hooklinks. I’ve caught fish on two-inch ones with something similar to a Chod fished on the bottom and I’ve caught on hooklengths up to two-foot long. I tend to vary it, if I’m not catching I will always try shortening or lengthening them.”
In what situation do you use one as long as two-foot then? Also, what do you start with if you are approaching a new water?
“If I’m fishing a very silty lake for cautious fish I normally use a much longer hooklink than normal. I think this technique doesn’t get used anymore and it really does work. The fish can move the bait around and suck it in like a free offering as opposed to a bait tethered down into the silt on a short hooklink. I start with a basic six- or eight-inch hooklink and go from there.”
What about hooklink materials, I know you said you use nylon at the moment but what type are normally your favourite?
“I use a mixture to be honest, at the moment I’m using nylon, as long as they sink I love using braids and I’ve also caught a lot of fish on stiffer materials like Amnesia or fluorocarbon.”
What’s the biggest problem with not hooking fish and them getting away with it: is it the rig mechanics not working effectively or do you think some fish are just on guard or know it’s dangerous so they don’t take the bait in properly?
“I think the fish play a big part in it, that’s surely why some fish just don’t get caught whereas others do? I’ve seen fish on Wraysbury that love the bait, watched them eat it yet they don’t get caught!”
Everyone’s obsessed right now with lightening the hookbait. What are your thoughts on this, or going the other way and making the bait heavier?
“The whole reason we lightened hookbaits originally was to take the weight off the hook, we thought fish could feel the weight of the hook and hooklink when they sucked the bait in and it wouldn’t feel natural hence lightening our hookbaits. I now think making the baits too light when counter-balancing the hook can also work against you, as they will no longer act like normal bottom baits. A heavy bait has to be very hard for a fish to deal with so that’s also something I want to try out more. A Hair rig with a weighted bait could really help hook a fish and pull the hook home.”
What about double hookbaits?
“I normally have at least one rod on a double bait, I think they must be harder for the fish to deal with. I also think they work because out of pure greed; the fish can go for two baits as opposed to just one, in a quick mouthful. The added bonus of using a double bait like I often do or a heavy bait, is that it makes the lead and hookbait separate in the air, therefore ensuring you get good presentation and the rig doesn’t tangle.”
It’s become very ‘trendy’ of late to have a large counter-weight just below the hook to help flip it and pull the hook home. What are your thoughts on this?
“Yes, it definitely works, I don’t use it all the time but I have used it and caught on it in the past.”
What are your views on Hair length? Should we revert back to the old school way of super long, super supple Hairs?
“I think a key area to consider when deciding on your Hair is the lakebed you are fishing over. I wouldn’t want to be using a long Hair over a choddy bottom but if you can find really clear spots then long Hairs can be deadly. I also think you may well end up catching fish that don’t normally get caught.”
Can you talk us through the way that your baiting situation would change between the different rigs you use?
“If I’m fishing over particles for instance which involves tight baiting and lots of small food items, I will tend to use a really, really short hooklength. If I’m using just boilies, then I don’t think it matters quite so much. The fish are moving between baits and although everyone is using small Chods, I think a long hooklength will do a serious amount of damage. To be honest, just being a bit different from the norm is always a good start.”
Lastly, Terry, do all your rigs go out as they are or do you also incorporate the use of PVA, if so what do you do?
“I have used PVA in the past, I used to quite often fish with a two or three bait stringer and I caught loads of fish on it. At the moment my style of fishing doesn’t suit the need for PVA so I haven’t seen any advantage that I would get by using it. All of my baiting up is done by a throwing stick, catapult or rowing boat.”