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Rigs - It's a Confidence Thing

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 19 December 2019 |

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In my last end tackle blog, I explained why I like small or running lead set ups which then prompted quite a lot of people to contact me asking my advice on other rig aspects. During the rapidly developing years of rig evolution in the early to mid ‘80’s I was really into rigs. Tweaking, testing and developing different ideas. I was rig mad and was convinced (still am) that some of the things we were doing back then, (we being Baz Varney and myself) gave us one hell of an edge on the waters we fished.


Baz was the only one I used to discuss rigs with.

Baz was the only one at the time I discussed rigs with. He had an incredibly tuned in mind and was very forward thinking back then coming up with some pretty amazing ideas and between us down the ‘Bass House’ our favourite drinking joint, we would fine tune them after eventually finding the right bits to actually make these rigs up. One rig in particular, we were looking for the right sort of tubing for the best part of a year. It was worth it though when we were finally able to put the rig into action.

These days I hardly give my rigs a second thought. I guess because over the years I have been able to separate the good from the useless so no longer feel the need to be swapping and changing things all the time. In fact in reality, I have only really used a couple of different rigs for just about all of my below the surface carping for over 15 years now. I rarely feel the need to alter what I do.

As I covered my lead set ups in the last blog this one is aimed at the actual hook link and all I need a hook link to do is allow the hook bait to react in a natural enough manner to encourage the carp to take the gamble of sucking the hook bait in. Once the hook bait is in the mouth, I want it to remain there as long as possible so use absolute minimum clutter around the hook. I don’t want them to feel too much, so never use tubing, swivels, rings or even long shank hooks, the less alien matter that enters the carp’s mouth, the better, in my opinion.

The real important thing for me though is that once it is in the mouth and the carp has realised it has made a mistake, then the bait has to separate from the hook on attempted rejection, hopefully leaving the heaviest part of the hook in the mouth. My separation is by use of very soft hair material and pretty long compared to what I see most others use.

combi conv

I like the hair length between the hook and the bait to be the same as the length of the bait

Generally speaking I like the hair gap between the hook and where it enters the bait to be around the same length as the actual bait. So, if I am using a 15 mm hook bait, my hair will be around 30 mm.

Rod tying/whipping thread is the best material I have ever used for my hairs, it sinks well, softens right up when wet and allows me to colour code my hook links to see straight away which is which on the rig board. For instance I usually use green for barbless rigs, brown for barbed and black for the odd times I am trying something different. I must admit though that I do use red a lot as well.

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The red hair here looks shorter than normal but I have a soft paste wrap around the bait which will break down.

So, basically I use home tied combi rigs almost all of the time. On firm and semi firm lake beds I use a combi in the normal manner with a semi stiff main section (I still want a bit of flexibility here) and a soft tag end which ideally for my set ups wants to be around the length of the hook shank. I see little point in using conventional combi rigs over soft silt or weed, unless you are sure you know how far in the silt/weed your lead is penetrating.

For silt and soft weed I use my reverse combi rig which is the other way around with the stiff section being at the hook end and the main section being soft. Again I choose to tie the materials together rather than use coated braids. This is a personal preference despite me seeing countless carp get caught on the much easier to use angler friendly coated braids. The stiff section close to the hook creates a totally safe long shank hook without the added weight and bulk of using a long shank hook. Plus whilst playing a fish, you are back to a normal shank hook. By picking your hook pattern carefully, you can create a nice aggressive bend if you so desire. This along with a soft hair gives most carp quite a few problems when it comes to spitting the hook out with the bait. I do use this rig over firm ground as well.

For a few years I had been totally sold on the size 8 PB Products Super Strong, even whilst fishing for the big carp overseas. I find they nick hold real easy and hardly ever budge once in.

Earlier this year I was wanting to experiment with some larger hooks thinking that the water I was on the larger fish were managing to eject my smaller hooks without them catching hold. So, at the Northern Angling Show I scoured the PB Products hook range because the Super Strong’s had been so reliable for me. I didn’t want to go too thick on the wire in the larger sizes so looked at different patterns and the Curved KD really caught my eye and were very soon putting what I think were bonus carp on the bank too. I think my local fish had started to get used to my normal set ups.

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One from this year on the Curved size 4

Since then I have continued to use the Curved KD in the smaller sizes too. I have landed carp to over 50 lb on the size 4’s this year and carp to 46 lb on the size 8’s. Never once have I worried about the hook or the hook hold. It is nice to be totally happy with your set ups. It took me a lot of years to get there.

Best fishes
Shaun Harrison

About the Author: Shaun Harrison

shaun profile pic

Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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