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20 Nov 2017
by Ian Chillcott
Have rig advances made a difference?
This month Chilly asks: Do we catch carp in spite of the so-called rig advances, or because of them?

I suppose that everything starts to slow down and become just a little staid over the course of time. Carp fishing would be no different. In the main, I feel it’s because carp in many areas have become just about the easiest fish to catch. I know no one wants to even think like that, but I’m sorry… it’s true! The carp themselves are very efficient feeding machines, and can take advantage of just about any food source at any time of year, which in many respects is the reason for their own downfall.

The problem for them then, is us. We have created a monster of an industry around one particular species, a species that became popular because it was difficult to catch. Richard Walker, who wasn’t armed with a Hair rig, described in his 1953 book, Stillwater Angling, how the passing of a whole season, or even several, without a capture would cause no concern. Interesting, especially when you think of the general moaning that fishery owners get when a member or day ticket angler complains they haven’t caught a carp every five minutes!

Using rigs that work helps me to enjoy the whole carp fishing experience

It’s probably exactly the same in all walks of life, but as this is a carp fishing magazine, then I guess that is what I need to cover… is it not? Because catching a carp is not really a challenge in many situations, the people involved in it have to find more and more inventive ways of making it seem so, and for me the biggest, and probably the most insincere way, is to tell people that carp are intelligent. If you believed all you read about them you could well be forgiven for thinking that some of the country’s most sought-after carp have been to several of the finest educational institutions, writing books and lecturing on rig avoidance.

The construction of my Stiff Link Pop-Up rig has always been the same, only the materials have changed

Any animal, from aardvarks to zebras, will learn over the course of time that a certain situation is dangerous. It cannot spell dangerous or indeed say it, but its instinct, a very powerful tool, will alert the fish eventually, to varying degrees. Again, this isn’t intelligence but instinct, something that animals are armed with when born, and not something they have been taught by others.

And if you are still wondering just how intelligent carp are, then let me tell you the odd thing about what is supposedly the most intelligent animal on the planet… humans. We are more than capable, and in the billions too, of ruining our lives in many ways. Why would an intelligent animal stick needles in its arm, with probably the most harmful of chemicals, just to get a kick that life is more than capable of providing? We drink alcohol to such an extent that it can kill us, same with cigarettes, and, let’s be honest here, what bloody chance has a carp got? Especially when you consider that its intelligence is only one rung up the ladder from the worm you are sometimes trying to catch him with!

It was where the rig was cast, rather than the rig itself, that ensured I landed this recent beast

A carp’s ‘biblical’ brain capacity can only be measured by how much the writer wants, or more to the point, needs, to increase his status in the carp angling community. I don’t read much these days, not in magazine terms anyway, but when I do I invariably put the literature down and shake my head. Why do people have to create such unreal situations and scenarios? I’ll tell you why – because the article isn’t about teaching others something, oh no. It’s all about creating the impression that they are the greatest carp anglers that have ever lived, and of course, getting their over-inflated egos massaged as often as possible. What happened to the fun that it is supposed to be, what happened to sharing our time with nature and simply enjoying the great outdoors? For me that is the thing we should be relaying to the reader and I am sure we would then draw more people into this game of ours.

The greatest example of this will always be rigs. Rigs are something that I never really give a thought to any more, and haven’t for something like 25 years now. One of the silliest things I have seen of late, is the names that people give to the rig they claim to have invented. Probably the closest I ever came to watching someone invent and design a revolutionary set-up, was when fishing with Dave Lane back in the 1990s. He came up with the 360º Rig, and one of the first things Dave said about it was that it overcame the carp’s filtration system, not its perceived intelligence. Indeed, it is probably the only rig that Dave uses these days, and the only thing that has changed is the make and style of the hooks he uses.

My bottom bait rig in action

Yet we see people make the tiniest of changes and calling it something else. Trying to get credibility from it, when in fact they deserve nothing of the sort. The Stiff Link Pop-Up would be another great example. So many times of late I have seen people using what in essence is that rig, but want to call it something else. I use it, and most certainly set it up a little differently, but it is still a Stiff Link Pop-Up, and I want all the credit to go to those that came up with the concept in the first place (guys who would probably look at my efforts and laugh anyway!). It works for me on every water I have ever fished, and that will do for me.

The same can be said of my bottom bait rigs. Again, they haven’t changed, apart from the materials, in donkey’s years, and if that makes me an ass, then I can live with that. We really need to extol the virtues of putting our rigs in the right place, and getting the best from them, rather than trying to imprint our names on unimaginative and self-promotional drivel.

We catch carp in spite of, rather than because of, some of the bullsh*t we are fed about rigs. Find something that works, and only then can you get the best from it. It works for me.

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