Plagued by that nagging feeling that the carp are ‘getting away with it’? Lee Crampton was, which is why he developed a rig that’s almost impossible for the fish to spit out…
As carp anglers, we like to believe we are always one step ahead of our quarry. If we end a session biteless, it’s normally attributed to the fish not being on the feed or us not being able to get into the ‘going area’.
However, I think we would all be surprised to learn just how often we ‘get done’ by the carp. By this I mean that the fish pick up the hookbait, but eject the rig and leave us none the wiser above the waterline.
This was the stage I got to about a year ago. My loosefeed was frequently getting cleared out, yet my hookbaits weren’t. The carp were ‘getting away with it’ big time.
As a result, I decided to try to develop a rig that I knew would give the carp minimal chance of shaking the hook out: I wanted something that would give them absolutely no wiggle room, if you like.
I started off by playing around with a rig without any form of hooklink, with the hook being attached directly to the inline lead on a drop-off set-up.
Initially I used this inside a solid PVA bag, and this proved to be a great presentation, but I found that the lead needed to be loaded into one side of the bag to make sure that the rig always sat correctly – and the right way up – on the bottom.
After a bit of experimentation, I discovered that if I fished the rig outside of a solid bag I could get it to sit the right way up every single time simply by adding a dissolving nugget on the hook prior to casting out.
This provided enough water resistance to make sure the rig flipped and parachuted down correctly, even in just a few feet of water.
Depending on how soft the lake bottom is, the lead just about disappears below the silt, providing an amazing presentation with a clear fluorocarbon leader whereby just the hook and hookbait sat proud on the bottom.
It’s a brilliant presentation, and so ‘aggressive’ that you quite literally couldn’t go near it without hooking yourself! Even the slightest of nudges, the hook instantly flipped around and took hold of anything that was around it.
The reason for this is the fact that there’s a solid and heavy anchor point at the base of the hook, against which the hook would pivot against. In effect, the hook was the only moving part of the rig.
Breaking with tradition
This got me thinking about standard rigs and wondering whether critically balancing our hookbaits on traditional rigs could be costing us valuable hook-ups.
To my mind, when a hookbait is effectively weightless, it flies around in the hope of eventually catching hold against something.
However, without some form of weight near the base of the hook to work against, how is it going to rotate, let alone have enough resistance to penetrate the skin of a carp’s mouth?
With standard wafter or critically balanced rig permutations, we rely on the fact that the hook is in the correct hooking position when the fish eventually feels the resistance of the lead weight.
However, the likelihood of a weightless/critically balanced hook being in the optimum hooking position is minimal, and there’s a far greater chance that it won’t be.
But it doesn’t stop there. You are also reliant on the hooklink material being at full stretch, so that the hook is able to use the resistance of the lead weight to penetrate the skin.
In my opinion, when using hooklinks of a typical length alongside critically balanced baits, the likelihood of the carp spitting out the hookbait, resistance-free, is quite high.
Even with minimal resistance to work against, the result could just be a carp that’s lightly hooked, meaning that with a few shakes of its head, hey presto, we’ve ‘been done’, again!
Adding an anchor point
Taking all of the above into account, it seemed completely logical to me that by providing a solid pivot point for the hook to work against not only ensures that it rotates fully and takes hold firmly inside the mouth, it also provides a solid resistance to help the hook to stay in position, therefore reducing the likelihood of it being spat out, resistance free.
The hook doesn’t need to be attached directly to a 3oz lead weight to achieve this though: it’s the principle that counts.
After all, most fishing situations preclude the use of such a rig (it only being suitable over firm lakebeds or light silt/silkweed).
Largely the same effect can be achieved simply by using a large blob of tungsten putty as an anchor point.
However, the concept does work best with an extremely buoyant hookbait, a curved longshank hook and an anchor point heavy enough to do the job.
I prefer a longshank hook because it guarantees you have that all-important curve, which is critical to ensuring it rotates freely.
Of course, the same effect can almost be achieved using super stiff hooklink materials, such as those used to make chod rigs, and bending a curve into them yourself prior to casting out.
However, I find that such materials just straighten out with a buoyant pop-up, and provide a rotating curved section that’s nowhere near as efficient or reliable as a curved longshank hook.
As with any concept, the proof is always in the pudding, but the early signs from my experiments are highly encouraging.
The first time I fished with the curved longshank/heavy anchor point set-up was on a social with my brother, where we fished a lake that had only produced one fish in over a week.
We fished for 48 hours, and I banked six fish to mid-20s. My brother was fishing the same distance as me, only 20 or so yards to my left, and had half the amount of runs on a standard balanced bait rig.
It’s a pattern that’s been repeated quite a few times since, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year produces.
Like I said before, the highly-buoyant hookbait is key, so the rig lends itself well to the use of plastic baits as well as pop-up boilies.
I’ve done particularly well using a foam ball onto which I’ve attached loads of grains of artificial hemp, fished over a PVA bag of real hemp.
I attach these by adding a PVA tape ‘tassel’ to the bags, which I use to tie tight the bag against the ring swivel. This takes the strain of the cast, no matter how far out you are fishing and how hard you need to blast it out.
Once it’s tied onto the swivel, I then carefully bury the hookpoint within bag, but as the bag is tied up against the ring swivel, the hook doesn’t pull into the bag on the cast, which is another great benefit that is easily overlooked: you know your hookpoint is free and not masked with bait, as it could have potentially pulled into on the cast.
When using a pop-up hookbait, I simply replace the hemp in the PVA bag with liquidised boilies or other finely-ground attractors such as stick mix or groundbait.
So, after my initial tests with my anchor point rigs, the results seem to be more hooked fish compared to other anglers on the same water.
Who knows…it might just be helping me to nail the ones that would have normally got away with it. It’s now time for me to step it up a gear and try it out on some tougher, big fish waters, and to see how it fares!