Many anglers still approach zig-rig fishing like a man having to ask for directions – begrudgingly as a last resort.
But it’s ok to admit you’re lost when it comes to this tactic of presenting buoyant bait on long hooklinks close to the water’s surface.
Instead of chucking them aimlessly as single hookbaits with little confidence, it can really pay to bait up around them as you would your traditional rigs. Bait-Tech’s Ian Hirst is one angler who knows your loosefeed might have to change, but the principles don’t.
At Drayton Reservoir, an incredibly well-stocked water where zigging is deadly, depositing a ‘sloppy spod mix’ over the top of your suspended hookbaits can be the best tactic available all year round.
“If there are plenty of fish in the water and you keep the feed going in it’s going to result in more bites the more competitive they become,” says Ian from the concrete dam wall at the Northamptonshire reservoir.
Lonk hooklinks, tiny foam hookbaits and a watery groundbait mix might cloud your view, but the principle is the same as more traditional angling – give the fish some free food and conceal your hookbait among it.
What is crucial is the mix itself.
Ian uses Bait-Tech’s new Super Cloud Zig Mix to create a plume of attraction that doesn’t sink to the bottom.
He says: “If you’ve got something that will specifically cloud then use that, or make sure you use your mix really sloppy.
“There aren’t many companies that actually make a super cloudy mix, so it’s quite the opposite to a groundbait that’s going to sink down.”
The powdery mix is prepared with plenty of water and must be Spombed out to your spot. It can be messy, but certainly productive.
“It definitely helps to have something like a small trowel to fill the Spomb or you can end up with covered in the mix,” says Ian.
“And if it’s warm it’s important you keep it wet so it doesn’t dry out. There’s quite a lot of moisture in the mix, so it will take a while to dry out, but I always keep a bucket of water handy to top it up every half an hour or so.”
Getting the consistency right is a matter of trial and error but a gloopy slop is ideal, and you certainly don’t need to fill your Spomb to the brim. Dropping a small sample in the margins will soon show you how explosive these mixes can be.
The Super Cloud mix, which is flavoured with vanilla-like brasem for a sweet aroma, can be pepped up in many ways with liquids and other additives but Ian’s favourite trick is simple and effective.
“I’m fishing yellow zigs because they’re the ones that are doing the fish,” says the Mancunian, “So what I’m doing is grinding up one or two yellow pop-ups, in this case the 10mm Juice dumbbells, in a Krusher and adding it to the mix.
“What that gives you is various-sized bits of pop up that soak up some of the moisture in the mix. Therefore so some of them hang in the water and some will rise and then drop, so you’ve got a fairly active up-and-down mix.
“When it comes to hookbaits you can fish pop-ups, or foam, and you can dip them in liquids to make them stand out. If you fish a couple of different colours to begin with then see which one produces you can always change all your rods on to that.
“If you haven’t tried this type of fishing before, then come to a place like Drayton and see just how effective it can be. Like a lot of fishing, it’s all about confidence.”
How to create a sloppy zig mix
1) Ian starts by pouring part of the Super Cloud Zig Mix into a mix bowl
2) Give the mix a good covering of water
3) Give the mixture a good stir by hand or trowel so it absorbs the water
4) Adding more water is encouraged. This isn't called a sloppy mix for nothing
5) This is the gloopy consistency you're looking for
6) To really boost his mix, Ian takes a couple of fluoro pop-ups matching the colour of his hookbait...
7)...and grinds them in a Krusher...
8) ...before adding them to his mix each time he baits up