Here’s a very interesting interview that should provide insight to anglers new and old.
Billy and Jamie are two very successful carp match anglers who also catch plenty of big carp when they are just fishing for fun.
KJ – Can you give me an insight into your thoughts on rigs, how important are they in your fishing?
Billy – We both have a small selection of fairly simply well proven rigs that we can rely on, the Fang Twister is perfect for bottom bait rigs, that hook really nails them, I might add a shrink tube kicker but that’s about it. The Fang X is perfect for pop ups, fishing off the lead or mid water baits. The Fangs are really sharp and very strong, we don’t mess around that much with rigs unless we are struggling to catch but even then we’ll only make small adjustments.
KJ What about hook link length do you vary that much?
Billy – I might vary it by a couple of inches but we both pretty much fish the same length regardless of the situation, with the right approach I think just about anything is fishable with the rigs we use. Seven to eight inches is the usual length. The only reason I’d go shorter would be to hit the distance when fishing at range. Using Missing Link coated braid and some rig putty, its easy to create simple effective rigs. Its all about fine tuning or making small changes rather than making major ones or over complicating things.
Other people we fish with can’t believe how paranoid we both are about steaming our rigs, one of the most important things in our kit is the kettle, not just for making tea but for steaming and straightening the rigs, using the sharpest hooks available is important but that’s just about it.
Jamie – The shrink tube on the eye really makes the hook turn and dig in, the hook holds with the Twister are awesome and totally reliable, I also like to secure the hair with blow back tube. That way if I’m fishing a baited spot and I wind in and find that the tube has been blown back onto the eye I know I’ve been done, I can then make a slight adjustment and start nailing the fish, that can be crucial in a match.
PVA is an important part of our fishing, I don’t think either of us would go fishing without a selection of bags and mesh. Nearly everyone uses PVA these days, its cheap and widely available so you might think that it won’t give you an advantage. But as with many tactics and methods many anglers don’t put much thought into how or when to use it, but used properly, PVA will give you an edge.
Billy – We use mesh and solid bags, small sticks are really effective for getting a quick bite. Solid bags can be useful for creating a different kind of presentation, if you trap some air in a solid bag or add some dissolving foam for example you can fine tune the way it lands. If the bag is suspended above the lead on a soft bottom or weed, as it starts to dissolve, the contents will be visible and readily available to a fish rather than lost in weed or silt.
This also helps to spread the bag filling around a bit rather than leaving it in a small pile which is how many anglers will be fishing them, so if you’re angling for pressured fish, solid bags can give you an advantage. You can also use the foam as a visual marker to bait up to, but you need to be organised and have your freebies and a throwing stick to hand so you can do this before the foam drifts off the mark.
If it’s a solid bag the rig and hook will be inside the bag, but with mesh bags we don’t just hook it on, we always pull the rig through the bag so the hook point is imbedded in the mix. That way, when I feel the lead down, that’s another important point, I know that the rig has landed properly and I’m fishing effectively. Rig foam can also be compressed in the stick at the hook end, again fine tuning the way it lands will make sure you are fishing effectively regardless of the lakebed conditions, the added buoyancy can also be used to kick the stick and hook bait away from the lead. I’m sure most anglers are aware of rig foam but I don’t see many using it.
Jamie – Also what you put in the bag is important, again many anglers will be using pretty much the same thing, pellets and ready made stick mixes and ground baits, that kind of thing. Being linked with Nash Bait gives us a real advantage, there are so many ‘ready to go’ products that really suit our style of angling and they really work. There’s also plenty of options to fine tune and make things a bit different to what others are getting up to.
KJ – You’ve both had some good results on zig rigs do you use them all through the year or at certain times.
Jamie – I personally think that carp don’t spend that much time on the bottom, when they are they are either laid up or feeding. When they’re moving around if you can find the exact level they are swimming at and present a bait at that depth you’ll have a much better chance of catching them. Time and time again we’ve found that fishing off the bottom gets us more bites.
Billy – Zig rigs are a brilliant tactic and so under used which is probably why we’ve had so much success with them. When we’re match fishing the zigs really come into their own, particularly when combined with the new Nash Sloppy Spod Mix, that stuff really pulls the fish in and gets the swim buzzing, the boilie Dips are also good for this. We’ve had some massive hits of fish with the Sloppy Spod mix.
Jamie – We’ve even had carp smashing into the spod to try and get the mix out of it and into the water, that’s how mad it gets and as Bill says zigs are just so under used.
KJ – What about zig hook baits?
Billy – I’m not a massive fan of foam, I’d much rather use a 10mm pop up, particularly in a match situation when we’re looking for a big hit. We’ll have 10mm boilies in our spod mix so it makes sense to have the same flavour bait, usually a trimmed down pop up as the hook bait.
Jamie – Personally I think the foam is good on hard waters, two small pieces of foam, black with yellow on the top works well, but on the easier runs waters you can’t beat the Nash Bait Air Ball pop ups, they’re so buoyant, they’re perfect for zig fishing, they stay popped up forever.
Although the sloppy spod mix is perfect for drawing the fish in, its important to have some proper food in there too, we add the ten millers and also boilie crumb for that reason and most of that will end up on the bottom ready for the night when the fish will drop down nearer the lakebed
Billy – What we are trying to do is cover all options, we’ll be bagging up in the day time on the zigs, but if the mid water action starts to dry up say during the evening, the rods will be already clipped up to the baited spots so all we need to do is bang out some bottom bait rigs and we’ll be catching again. While we’re doing this, anglers in other swims will probably start spodding and putting out boilies and driving the fish off but we’ll still be catching over our spots because of the lack of disturbance.
KJ – What about positioning those zig hook baits?
Jamie – You need the hook bait more or less level, you don’t want the fish coming up from below and bumping into or spooking on the line, you need it in their face, otherwise they can be difficult to hook, you need it at cruising level. I probably wouldn’t fish a zig less than two feet below the surface, you need to give the fish room to manoeuvre above the hook bait.
Billy – If you are new to Zig fishing you need to experiment, if you’re fishing in eight feet of water, start at six feet off the bottom and then try different depths until you catch. Many people just don’t give it enough time, they might cast out a zig and after ten minutes try another depth. But within half an hour or so they decide zigs don’t work and give it up. You have to spend time perfecting your tactics, if you fish them right, zigs will catch you plenty of carp.
Another mistake I’ve seen anglers make is if they catch a carp at say six feet, then on the next session if they’re in the same swim they will automatically fish the same depth again. But every session maybe every day even will be different, so you have to start again and find the right depth.
Jamie – We tend to fish heavy leads so with long hook links, effective lead release is important, a Diffusion Weed Safe Bolt Bead is perfect for this, it won’t tangle and with the lead gone, you will be in direct contact with the fish which makes it much easier to get under control. Its not a lazy anglers tactic but if you work at it, Zig fishing is an awesome way to catch carp
Zigs are brilliant in the winter and also at night, hardly anyone fishes zigs at night, that’s an awesome tactic that will catch you plenty of carp right now!
KJ. Well that’s given us plenty to think about – thanks for your time