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Rods - Reels and Lines - Rigs and Leads

Canadian Carp ClubRIGS AND LEADS
By Jeff Vaughan

It seems I start each one of these posts with a caveat, I guess this is because I fish in Canada in a totally different way to how I fish in Europe. I do everything for a reason, but guess knowing so many carp purists back in the UK I know people will read this and think I am either a “Noddy” or plain taking the piss. I will simply tell it as it is. What I do and why I do it. The only thing I can say in my defence is most of our visitors from Europe start off fishing European style, and most have adopted all or most of my recommendations before they go home as a result of loosing so many fish on their normal rigs.


In England everyone has their favourite leads. Different shapes, colours and types. In Canada I use only the above basic leads and these are in the grey colour as shown. In fairness I did order green, but the supplier is apparently colour blind. I honestly do not think out here the colour makes any difference at all. As you can see we stock the two basic lead types; swivel leads and inline leads. In the main this is a matter of personal choice and makes little real difference. I fish almost always with a swivel lead, the main reason being I can change lead types and weights very easily, if I do hook bottom, I can often loose only the lead and not everything and as my rods are always left “made up” I like to unclip the lead when not in use so it cannot bang into the carbon blank.

A great many of my customers use inline leads and I especially recommend them to people who are less experienced, as they are very easy to use. I “feel” I can cast a swivel lead further than an inline lead (although I can give no logic to this claim) and some people say inline leads are prone to tangling in very deep water. I must say I rarely ever see an inline tangle which is why I recommend them. I stock all leads in 2.5oz. 3 oz. 3.5oz. and 4.5oz. I stock the lighter weights for those who do not have a “proper” carp rod. I almost always recommend fishing fixed “bolt” rigs and 2.5 oz is close to the minimum to make a bolt rig work and 3oz and above is better. Personally I use 3.5 or 4.5oz leads almost exclusively

GRIPPER leads: As the name implies both types of gripper leads, are flattened to give the widest possible surface area for the weight, they are also covered in “pimples” to help them grip the bottom. The shape is obviously not very aerodynamic so they will not cast as far as conventional leads. I use grippers in all flowing water swims. I had the swivel gripper intentionally made with a hole in the middle for two reasons. Firstly it again increases the surface area so helps hold bottom better, but it will also work like a method feeder with ground bait moulded to it, They are also very quick and easy to tie PVA bags or mesh too.

BOMB/INLINE TORPEDO. These leads are obviously more aerodynamic than the Grippers, and most of the weight is forward in the tip. They will cast much better than the Grippers but not hold bottom as well. To be fair there are few swims at Long Sault where these leads will not hold bottom but I will religiously fish bombs/torpedo’s in still or almost still water and Grippers in the flow.

DISTANCE leads: As you can see these are the jet fighters of the lead world. They are shaped like, and cast like a bullet. The down side being they will roll easily on the bottom in a reasonable flow of water. I have some distance leads in my bag, but rarely use them. The difference between distances achieved between the bomb and the true distance lead would make zero difference to 99.9% of my fishing. I prefer the bomb because I “feel” it gives more resistance to the carp on the take and therefore sets the hook better on a bolt rig.


The above photograph shows the three basic rigs I use at Long Sault. I will break these down into components as follows

TUBING; I would recommend always using some form of anti tangle tubing for three reasons. Firstly the tubing will stop most instances of the hook length coming back up the line and tangling up. The thicker, more rigid and slippery tubing tends to make the hook length “slide off” the tubing rather than catch as it would with a bare mainline. The basic rule to achieve this effect is for the tube length to be at least as long as the hook length and preferably 2 inches longer. Secondly and perhaps most important, when the fish is hooked and powering off the tubing will be the main part in contact with the fishes fins and back. We use a lot of braid in Canada, and this can easily cut into the fish, or split its dorsal fin. The tubing helps prevent this. Thirdly, for much of the time you are fishing amongst rocks covered in very sharp mussels. The tubing gives protection around the lead area which is the most likely part to be in contact with the bottom. Tubing will cut down on the number of cut offs.

The photographs show three rigs. The top two using rigid hard plastic tubing, and the bottom one using the more conventional soft silicon tube. All three rigs can be used with either soft or hard tube. In England I use only the soft tubing, although I used to use the hard stuff “back in the day” as my partner Bob Sloan invented it (along with the monkey climber and the stiff rig……a bit of useless information for you) I often tell Brits fishing Canada “think the UK carp scene 20 years back” The fish are not at all rig shy so cheap and easy is the best way.

Mostly we are fishing 65lb or more commonly 80Lb braid. It is so much quicker and easier to thread the rigid tube than the soft tubing. Soft tubing is also slightly more prone to tangling. Personally I use the soft tubing, but only because it looks better (I am supposed to be a professional after all) However I always have the rigid tube in the bag and if I get cut off whilst fishing I will immediately change to the rigid to get back in the water fast.

I have repeated many times, if you have a shoal of fish in front of you it is about speed, the faster you get back in the more you will catch before they move. The fish do not know the difference between hard and soft. I usually recommend to my visitors to use the hard stuff simply because it is cheaper and easier for them. This year I have ordered the plastic in two lengths 12 inch and 14 inch and have ordered 1.5 mm inside diameter silicon in two meter lengths to cut to whatever size you like. Generally I use about 14 to 18 inches of soft, sometimes longer if fishing over very rocky areas ( to avoid cut offs) Another thing everyone should buy is a stainless steel stringer. These are lengths of twisted stainless wire like a giant 3 feet long baiting needle it makes threading your tubing so much easier. I sell them in the shop for around $5.00 they are worth their weight in gold. Another tip with tubing out here is to trim your tail rubbers down a little. The tubing we use is thicker than the standard (because we use thicker lines) normal tail rubbers are too small at the end to fit easily over the tube. Trim back the end a little and the hole gets bigger.

LEAD ATTACHMENT: The Inline rig is self explanatory; you then have the rigid tube with the built in wire lead clip and the safety rig. This is one of those funny ones. Visitors to my shop know I do not really recommend safety clips, Yet I often use them myself!! The reason I do not recommend them is because used properly you will loose a lead on almost every fish (this is what they are designed to do.) This is OK back in England when you are getting 4 fish in 24 hours. It gets bloody expensive over here. When I use the safety clip I use tight tail rubbers and really push them hard over the sleeve. Once you have done this it is no longer a safety clip, so you may as well use something cheaper anyway! In essence it makes very little difference how you attach the lead to the rig, as long as you are not causing damage to the mainline, making a rig that tangles easily or creating a “Tether Rig” which can lead to the damage or death of a fish.

You will notice all three of these rigs are fixed Bolt rigs. I almost never fish anything else in Canada. If you fish running leads or very light leads you will hook maybe 6 out of 10 runs. If you use a good bolt rig you will hook 9 out of 10. So the only reason to not use a bolt is if this leads to a lot more runs. This almost never happens here. I always have the “makings” of a running rig in my bag. If I am getting a lot of twitches or short aborted runs I will try a running rig. I think I did this once last year. Normally you get one or two “taps” and then the reel is screaming and the fish hooked.

I mentioned above a TETHER rig. It is important I explain this. If I did not care about the fish I would simply use a three way swivel, the hook length and mainline tied to two of the swivel eyes and the lead clipped onto the third. This is a great rig in every way, but it is a Tether rig. If for any reason the mainline breaks or gets cut off the lead and hook is firmly embedded in the fish. With such a rig it is easy for the fish to become “Tethered” whereby the lead gets caught in some e rocks or weed and the fish is stuck hard. If the hook is in firmly the fish cannot escape and will either rip itself to pieces or die. ALL the rigs above are ANTI THETHER rigs. On all of the above rigs the swivel is the correct size to push tightly, but not too tightly into the lead, silicon rubber or safety clip. If the main line breaks and the fish gets the lead caught it will be able to pull the swivel out of the rig and free itself from the lead. A fish will loose a hook fairly quickly (particularly a barbless hook.) This is many times harder trailing a lead. As an added precaution, I normally fish lighter hook lengths than the mainline, so any direct break will happen at the knot between the hook length and the swivel. However at Long Sault and I suspect many other places in Canada there are a lot of Zebra mussels so it is quite common to be cut off above the lead. Please make sure you are fishing anti tether rigs.

There are of course dozens of other rigs you can use. For example I used Helicopter rigs for several years, as I like these back in the UK. The helicopter rig has the lead tied directly to the mainline and the hook length tied to a swivel. The swivel is on the mainline, in such a way that it can revolve 360 degrees around the line (Hence the name helicopter) There are various gadgets to make a Heli rig and I have several such items in the shop. The reason I went off Heli rigs is the same reason all my rigs end up simplified. The fish here fight so hard and the action so fast you quickly break or buggar any rig or item of tackle that has a weakness. In the case of a Heli rig the pull of the fish, by the nature of the set up is at a slight angle, and therefore not a direct, straight line pull. Over the course of several fish, eventually this unnatural angle of pull weakens or breaks the rig. Normally Heli rigs have a form of thin tube on which the swivel with the hook link revolves. This is held in place with two fixed beads. No matter what brand I have tried, the tubing will fairly quickly crack and break. You can see all the rigs I am suggesting are straight line rigs. Logic dictates this must be the strongest way to fish. If someone knows better I am always happy to learn.

Before I leave rigs, some small tips re casting. There is nothing worse than casting and fishing for 30 minutes or an hour without action only to bring in a tangled rig. (Except fishing with a tangled rig in England or France where the bait may have been out for 6 hours) Two simple things will ensure very few or zero tangles. Where possible cast a little harder than you need to hit your spot, and get used to slowing down the lead (called feathering) before it hit the water. What this does is allow the bait to catch up and pass the heavier lead before it hits the water. It only takes a little practice to lightly “cup” the spool with your hand, sufficiently to slow down the line leaving the spool but not stop it. You will see all good carp anglers doing this without even being conscious of it any more. The second tip, again where possible is to try to let the lead and rig sink under some pressure. Once you get used to feathering the cast your line will automatically be in a nice straight line to your rig. If you tighten down immediately the bait hits the water and wind slowly you again will straighten out the bait and avoid tangles. Letting it sink under pressure is more important in deep water. If you want you can also use soluble rig foam on the hook. The very buoyant nature of the foam helps straighten the hook link on the drop avoiding tangles I do not want to make a big thing of rig tangles, with simple rigs such as the ones I have shown tangles are fairly rare. Personally I also use a stiffish hook length which again cuts down the possibility of tangles.


The above photographs show some close ups of three hair rigs based on the simple knotless knot. The first photo is straight off the wall of my UK shop and is an ESP rig. This is the standard hair rig we all know and love. The two L/S (Long Sault) rigs are what I use and, as always;) I have modified the basic rig to suit Canada.

The first comparison to make is the position of the knot used to form the loop of the hair Normally we tie the knots to produce a very small loop; this knot can therefore be hidden inside the boilie and is very neat. I tie my loops much larger so the knot sits behind the bait, not inside it. The reason I do this is because we use a lot of maize/corn out here and the standard method of the knot going inside the bait tends to split the corn and you have to change baits more often. As I have said before I fish mainly boilies, but still tie my own rigs this way as it makes no difference to my boilie fishing but a huge difference if I switch to maize.

The L/S rig with a knot, I claim no credit for, it was shown to me by Gary Bayes of Nash Tackle and is I think a great tip. BEFORE you start your knotless knot, tie a simple overhand loop (half hitch) as close as you can to your loop for the hair. Put the point of the hook through this half hitch, position the knot where you want it and tighten down BUT DO NOT TIGHTEN FULLY. You must then pinch the knot on the hook with your fingers to stop it moving, put the end of the hook length without the hair, up through the eye of the hook and tie as normal. This extra knot does several things. Like all my fishing is a very quick, cheap and easy way to achieve what I want. The small knot on the line acts in a similar way to shrink tube, where you can align the position so that the hair leaves the shank of the hook closer to the hook point, which can aid fish hooking. It also acts in a similar way as a blow back rig, traditionally these are made with small stainless rings in pace of the half hitch, and are fiddly to tie, but work well. By not tightening the half hitch fully, when the fish tries to blow out the bait the knot will slide up the shank of the hook giving the fish less leverage to eject the bait. I personally, have a thing about the angle a regular hook hangs when using pop ups or critically balanced baits. This rig stays in a nice straight line with these baits and gives me more confidence. I fish this hook rig 95% of the time now, but only started last year (2007.) Before that I happily used the standard L/S rig for years.

I have mentioned hook link materials else where but I would like to again make some points. I strongly recommend 50 lb Fire line for hook length material. When I tell good carp guys this, I can see in their reaction they think I am an animal. Look at the above photos, the shop bought rig is tied to 20 lb uncoated braid, mine are tied to 50 lb fire line. Bearing in mind that 99% of the fish out here have a never seen a hook, do you think the extra thickness makes a difference? If you use coated braids like Snake Skin or Snake Bite, it is even thicker than the fire line!! I started out using 25lb coated hook lengths like the Kryston stuff, because that is what I was used to. I had problems. On a good day here you can expect over 20 to 30 fish, these will be between 17 lb and 39 lb on average and most of them plus 20`s. They also fight like mad. What happens to your tackle is the first 5 or 6 fish take all the strength out of it: The stretch has gone, the line, rigs have been dragged amongst the rocks, your knots have been jammed tighter and tighter etc. A 25 lb hook length is fine to catch even a 60 or a 70 lb carp, BUT NOT AFTER IT HAS BEEN KNACKERED BY A RAPID SUCCESSION OF BATTLES.

A few tips when tying a knotless knot: When you start your winding down the shank first check the position where the wire bent to form the eye meets the shank, and wind your line so the first turn is against the smooth side i.e. NOT where the wire meets the shank. Next, do not be afraid to put plenty of turns down the shank, in theory the closer the point where the hair leaves the shank is to the point of the hook the better the hooking potential ( the added knot solves this of course) Lastly something I see a lot of. When you pass the line through the eye of the hook for the final part of the knot, the line should come out towards the point NOT away from it (see photos) You will note the hooks shown are barbed hooks, I prefer to use these with the barbs crushed down ( just squeeze down the barb with pliers or forceps) , I prefer this to a totally barbless hook, as it leaves a tiny micro barb, is fish friendly and easy to use. Lastly once fishing, get fanatical about checking the point of the hooks, it is amazing how often the point will get “turned” or damaged on the rocks. I check my hook every single cast, and have a sharpening stone or a new rig at hand all the time.

LEAD CORE: I would like to mention briefly lead core and back leads. In my opinion in MOST swims at Long Sault the very worse thing you can do is use lead core or back leads (I too use these when I am in the UK.) The reason I say this is that the bottom is covered in rocks which in turn are covered in very sharp zebra mussels. Most of the time I am keeping my rods as high as possible, and as much line as possible off of the bottom. The fish here are not spooky with line, and also very curiously we do not get many line bites. However lead core and to a lesser extent back leads do have a place in Canada. In the early spring when the fish at Long Sault are in the shallow weedy bays I use lead core. The bottom is crushed shells and fairly flat, the water only 3 to 4 feet deep and lots of fish are moving around, so I like my line as close to the bottom as possible. I am sure elsewhere in Canada lead core and back leads also have a place, but not in most of the swims we fish

So that is my rig bit. No mention of Chod rigs, Swimmer rigs, Zig rigs etc, etc, etc. If you want to know how to make or use other rigs ask me and I will tell you, but my honest advice is the good old KISS system…. Keep It Simple, Stupid!!

Rods - Reels and Lines - Rigs and Leads