Winter Refinements: The Gamma Rig
Neat, tidy, sits ultra low, nails 'em and lands 'em every time
Winter for me is usually about two things, either a super-charged pop-up fished as a single or over a light scattering of bait, or the maggots.
With maggots being banned on a lot of venues these days I’ve opted to talk you through my refined pop-up rig that Scotty K coined the ‘Gamma Rig’ that I’ve been using for years as an alternative to the bigger, higher and more obvious classic ‘Hinge’ type rigs I use. Whilst the ‘Ronnie’ or ‘Spinner’ has captured the limelight and been hailed as the new gold standard in low pop-up rigs, I’m still a massive fan of tying a combi the old fashioned way to create something with that little bit more subtlety, and if I’m honest, after a season playing around with the Spinners on easier waters, the jury is still out for me on their hooked-landed fish ratio which is definitely dubious at times. The Gamma Rig is an outstanding hooker and holds 99.9% of the time, reliability for me is essential for the slower, big fish angling so this is what I usually reach for in the colder months as my go-to pop-up rig. If I only get one bite a trip, or a winter, I need to know that it is going to end up in the net, simple as that. That said, I would also fish it side-by-side against any other pop-up rig out there and believe it would more than hold its own, whether that was on a difficult big fish water, or a heavily stocked and pressured day ticket.
One spring back when I was testing the rig I landed somewhere in the region of thirty Sandhurst carp without a single hook pull over the course of a few weeks’ fishing, during a spell when lots of other guys were complaining about losing fish on a regular basis. Each and every one was nailed, with mega consistent hook-holds, and for me, that is king.
Originally I designed it to be used with ultra-buoyant 12mm pop-ups as a more refined alternative to the Hinges which just didn’t sit or look right with the smaller hookbaits, whereas the Gamma, dependant on what components and hook size you choose, sits beautifully well with the smaller pop-ups as well as larger ones.
Because of the stiffness in the boom section, I always use the rig with my traditional leadcore set-up, which now comprises of the 45lb Thinking Anglers Olive Camo Leadcore, the Bead and Stop system and more often than not, the new breakaway lead system we are testing currently. I don’t favour big lengths of leadcore these days, often just going for a foot or two, with a few big lumps of putty on the fluorocarbon main line up above it.
When it comes to the components, I use the new ultra smooth TA PTFE coated Double Ring Swivels to give maximum flexibility at the terminal end and dependant on situation, the Gardner Invisilink for the boom in 25 or 30lb as the original Gamma material we previously used is no longer available. I like a six- to eight-inch boom section; not too long as the physically slower and more laboured feeding during the winter means I want the lead hit as soon as possible.
Korda’s Supernatural braid gives me a beautifully soft hinge section when tied with an ultra short Albright Knot and if you make sure you tie the knot tight, you can keep the pop-up just a few millimetres off the deck. A short piece of shrink tubing covers the knot and keeps that aligned, and the ever-faithful Thinking Anglers Hook Ring Swivels give the hookbait the absolute maximum in flexibility as opposed to using a ring, or just a swivel on the hook. The extra degree of separation undoubtedly helps create secure hook-holds in my experience.
The rig works with a few different hook patterns, either a straight eye/straight shank pattern, with a gentle tweak to the shrink tubing will create the angle required to flip and turn the hook, or my favoured pattern as detailed here is a curved shank, this being one of the new TA test hooks we’ve been using this year. Not only do they hold incredibly well, the angle also seems to work especially nicely with this arrangement.
Nice and low
All in, the Gamma Rig is a beautifully adaptable presentation, allowing you to refine it down to maybe a 20lb boom section and a size 8 with a 12mm pop-up, or beef it up with a 30lb boom and a size 4 for more demanding situations. Fished either as a single hookbait rig for casting around at shows, or over a light scattering of bait, it is an ultra effective hooker and lander of carp and one of my all-time favourites.
How to tie Gaz’s Gamma Rig
2. Take your braid of choice and either tie the hook on using a Knotless Knot (trim the end and blob with a lighter) or a Five-Turn Grinner Knot.
3. Using the Albright Knot, join the braided hook section to your fluorocarbon boom section. The key is to tie this supple section really, really short.
4. Now position a piece of shrink tubing over the eye, shrink, and gently curve the end.
5. At the other end of the rig, tie on a Double Ring Swivel using a Four-Turn Grinner Knot and steam to straighten.
6. Attach your chosen hookbait using the floss blobbing method, add your putty to balance, and it’s set to be cast out.