ANGLER'S MAIL provides brilliant advice and tips. Here Colin Davidson, part of the magazine's Carp Crew, looks closely at carp fishing hair rigs. The hair rig remains the biggest advancement carp angling has ever seen, but we’ve changed how we use it...
1. When you’re floater fishing, the refusals or near misses you get tend to be split firmly into two categories – the first being carp shying away from the hook bait when they are still anything from a couple of feet to a few inches away, where they have either seen the hook or don’t like the way it is behaving or sitting.
But you also regularly see carp mouth a bait and absolutely instantly spit it. A carp can’t see the bait when it takes it, so their sense of taste and touch are telling them the hook is there.
They are either tasting or feeling it or both. Keep that firmly in mind.
2. Separating the hook from the bait has to be a good thing, and on bottom bait rigs my hairs are up to two inches between hook and base of bait.
It’s a principle, by taking the dangerous object away from the bait a carp has nothing to feel or taste when it picks up the hook bait and is much more likely to take it back into the mouth confidently like all the free boilies it has picked up.
It’s a confidence trick, the only important bit of the rig is the fact that the hook is separated from the bait.
The lead, trace material, hook – they almost become irrelevant because the carp is committed to eating the bait because it treats it is safe.
3. So why are presentations like the chod rig with no hair so effective?
With a pop-up the hook is held up above the lake bed and is in a position to take hold in a carp’s mouth as soon as it commits to taking the bait into the mouth.
Rigs like the chod where the curve of the stiff link material behind the hook combined with rings and even micro swivels allows the hook to spin very freely underneath the bait.
Where the hair was designed as a confidence trick, rigs like this are mugging rigs with the bait and the hook made effectively the same thing, you can’t have one without the other.
4. I prefer a supple hair to give maximum separation between any bait fished on the bottom and the hook. I’m not convinced you need to use light mono or dedicated fine hair materials to construct a hair rig, and suspect it is the absence of the hook rather than detecting the material itself that makes the difference. I also find lighter hairs are more troublesome snapping and damaging hook baits. The fine smooth core of many coated braids works fine for me as a hair. Only when you start getting to the really heavy 25-35 lb link materials do I worry that the hair is a bit thick and obvious.
5. I’ve known people who have caught stacks of carp on stiff hairs and even very long, stiff hairs whipped from fluorocarbon and heavy mono – which again suggests it is distancing the hook from the bait that is the winning formula.
I can’t fish stiff hairs like fluorocarbon confidently because there’s a strong possibility the hook can be sitting awkwardly when the rig lands and could be turned point up, suspended off bottom and all sorts.
I know it works for some but I can’t see why I’d want to risk that.
6. Hair exit points continue to cause debate, although the carp world has almost universally settled on the hair leaving the hook at the top of the point so the hook is encouraged to turn fast as the link is tightened.
But the KD rig with the hair exiting just above the eye catches bundles as well.
I still can’t say I’ve noticed any massive difference in results one way or the other, and catch plenty on KD style rigs when bag fishing, and plenty on boilie presentations with the hair leaving close to the point trapped by some rig tube.
7. One significant problem is the potential for longer hairs to tangle. I love long hairs for catching carp, I don’t like the fact they take a bit more attention to ensure they don’t twist back around behind the hook and leave you with a duff presentation.
A KD rig will always be pulled back into a PVA bag or have the hair trapped to the hook shank with a dissolving nugget of foam.
A presentation with the hair trapped above the point is extremely tangle proof even without a bag or stick, and therefore easier to use.
8. One of the more recent developments and really useful to have in your box are the extenda style hair stops.
They are available from numbers of manufacturers, and allow you to lengthen your hair instantly by using a longer hair stop pulled down into the hook bait. Even just for the flexibility of changing size and shape of your hook bait without needing a different rig with a slightly longer hair they are invaluable.
You can go from presenting one bottom bait to a snowman by adding a medium or large extenda stop and retain the same hair length.
9. Another neat little hair related rig bit is the Fox Anti Bore Bait Inserts. Based around the same principle as a pole tip bush, they are trimmed to suit your hook bait and pushed inside the bait to stop the hair material coming out the base of a boilie on the retrieve.
I’ve not used them but they are a clever idea. A dedicated drill to produce the hole required to slide them into a bait would be a welcome addition I’m sure.
ANGLER’S MAIL MAGAZINE is the one to read each week for cutting-edge advice and insight into the carp scene.
CAUGHT A BIG FISH? Email pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org – you could star in the weekly magazine!