Try A Big Zig This Spring
Avid Carper Mat Woods gives his opinions on how the finer details make a huge difference when Zig rig fishing...
I love looking out the window in the morning and knowing it's a day for Zigs. It's a great method for every venue, especially those with decent water clarity and a decent average depth, but even then there are venues that buck that trend – such is the effectiveness of the presentation. I love looking out at three rods with the BoBBins pinging tight, waiting for one of the rod tips to pull up and the BoBBin to fly off!
First off, you need a line you can depend upon. There are plenty out there and those in the know are usually chucking a bit of Preston Innovations Reflo Power Line, Drennan Double Strength or Genesis around. These are specially developed match lines that are proven in strength and durability.
I used to be a steadfast Double Strength user, until I discovered Reflo lines. Power Line and Precision Power are amazing.
One thing I have always worried about is the line being one vertical strand. It's easy to see when float fishing how changing diameters suddenly brings bites but it's not always possible to drop down too far when carp fishing, as carp are so big and the venues all demanding on your end tackle.
I had been developing a line for our coarse brand, Korum, that was two-tone. The barbel lads loved it, as it was clear and transparent green in colour, breaking up the outline. I knew it was going to be good for Zigs so robbed the samples back and got on with it. It was based on a Reflo line from Preston Innovations, so it had the right pedigree. I took the executive decision to make this into a dedicated Avid Carp Zig Line. Now, it's the only line I will ever use for Zigs.
It's my opinion for Zig line you need something that doesn't kink very easily, something that knots smoothly, without kinking, and something that is quite round in profile, so it doesn't twist up every time you reel it in. I also believe that a lower stretch is better, as the knotless knot won't twist and burr the line on the eye of the hook. This has all of those features, but also has an outline that changes. Underwater, the difference is massive.
I am so confident with Zigs that I have six fully loaded Korum Maxi Rig Boards in my garage and all are filled with very different Zig rigs.
Two are filled with my early spring favourites. A size 8 Korum Specimen hook, with a little Avid Zig Grub over the eye. Usually tied with 0.23mm line at around 15ft, so I can trim them down to suit wherever I may visit. That's 36 Zigs in total, which soon disappears if you either are or are not catching a few. Once a Zig has been trimmed down it's usually ruined. Once a Zig has caught a fish, it's not worth risking chucking it back out again – not with such light line.
Another of my boards is filled with rigs tied with a size 6 Korum Specimen Hook, with a little Avid Zig Grub over the eye. The Mono will be 0.26mm line, same length. This is for when the carp start getting a bit funny about Zigs. I've found the larger hook doesn't decrease the number of bites, but it does increase the number of carp landed. When you are expecting to catch 30-40lb fish on Zigs, as I am, you don't really want to lose whatever is on the end. I am 100% certain the increased gape increases your chances of landing the carp. I've had nightmares with every size 10 on the planet and find you have to compromise so much to use them it's not worth it. If I was fishing for smaller carp, then it would be a different story, but I'm not. I'm talking about hooking and landing carp that are PB breakers, because the big girls still eat Zigs you know – far more than the catch reports people send to Carp-Talk will have you believe.
In my final board is the real 'riot gear' as I call it. A size 6 Avid WGP hook and 0.30mm line. The beaked point and stronger line means I can hook and land fish from very weedy swims and continue using Zigs when many anglers have given up. I prefer a straight point, but when you're pulling hard and giving no inch or quarter, beaked is definitely the one.
At the swivel end I like to use a Quick-change swivel and use a figure-of-eight loop knot to connect the Zig, so I can get the lengths absolutely cock-on. Over this I must have an Anti-Tangle Sleeve – it makes such a difference to how the Zig lands in the water and prevents it wrapping back around the main line. At the swivel end it's a Zig Clip and tailrubber pushed on lightly. To maximise the effectiveness of the lead releasing on the take, I bend the arm of the Zig Clip wide open and then secure it with the tailrubber. I also use at least a 4.5oz lead. No smaller, there's no point. With so much line between you and the hook, the heavier lead reduces the margin for the carp to simply let the hook fall from their mouth.
I don't use any PVA foam to prevent tangles as I find it increases them due to the rig 'helicoptering' through the air, and I also never, ever feather the cast. Feathering just causes the Zig to wrap back upwards around your main line, it's better to stop the whole thing dead, like if you were clipped up, and let it fall on a tight line. It's loads better and you see two plops, usually. Make sure you look for this, so many anglers chuck out a tangled Zig and when they reel it in, it just untangles itself and they never know what's happened!
As for hookbaits, it's really simple. Black, in my experience, is best. Thin slithers early in the year when the flies are hatching, and big black Zig-Lite barrels when the snails start bobbing around mid-water. If things get hard, switch to the black/white Zig-Lites, as I'm sure the fish only see the darker half, so think it's a much smaller bait, or totally white as they may only see the outline or shadow.
On many waters the other colours work, I'm sure, due to a carp's naturally inquisitive nature. The more fish there are, usually the more chances you have of catching on a bright colour.
I also find that unflavoured Zigs are better than flavoured ones. I know some lads do really well pepping them up with sweeteners, but I'm not so sure myself. I have used the new LAVA from Sonubaits a bit and caught a few on a well stocked water – if there are lots of carp around, then attractors are good. If there aren't loads of fish, then unflavoured is the one. However, I'm willing to be proved wrong though – that's the great thing about carp fishing and especially Zigs, every day's a school day!