Ian Gem­son shows how zig rigs have trans­formed his fish­ing on the sur­face

Zig rigs aren’t just for fish­ing baits at mid-wa­ter. As Chub’s Ian Gem­son proves they can trans­form your sur­face fish­ing re­sults this sum­mer

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Inside This Month - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

AS SOON as the bright hot sun hits the wa­ter, carp will start drift­ing around on the sur­face like bal­loons on a breeze. As a pro­fes­sional carp angling tu­tor, Ian Gem­son has no­ticed over the years that a lot of an­glers are un­sure of the cor­rect way to tar­get them in this sit­u­a­tion. They ei­ther fish on the deck in the hope that the odd carp will drop down to feed at some point, or give sur­face fish­ing a go. “Some­thing I see time and time again when it comes to sur­face fish­ing, is that an­glers feed a few dog bis­cuits and, as soon as a carp ten­ta­tively slurps down a cou­ple of mix­ers, they crash a con­troller float on top of its head,” said the owner of Smart Carp­ing. “This in­evitably leads to any carp present scat­ter­ing in all direc­tions!” Of course, as the sum­mer pro­gresses, carp will soon wise-up to stan­dard floater fish­ing tac­tics and be­come wary when­ever a con­troller float is in the swim. To over­come this prob­lem with sur­face fish­ing, Ian has turned to zig rigs. But rather than pre­sent­ing the hook­bait mid-depth in the tra­di­tional way, he uses them ‘overdepth’ so that the hook­bait sits on the sur­face and is an­chored in the baited area. We joined him at a very wet Thorpe Lea Fish­ery (www.thor­pe­leafish­ery.co.uk) for the day, where he took us through the finer points of his ap­proach.

An­chor­ing the hook­bait

A prob­lem en­coun­tered by many when sur­face fish­ing, Ian in­cluded, is sur­face tow drag­ging the con­troller float and hook­bait out of the baited area. Once carp no­tice this bait mov­ing dif­fer­ently to the freebies, they will im­me­di­ately re­ject it. Af­ter try­ing sink­ing lines and mend­ing the main­line etc, the so­lu­tion of an overdepth zig came to him in a ‘eureka’ mo­ment. “As long as you have carp on the sur­face that are will­ing to feed, the overdepth zig is deadly,” said Ian. “The hook­bait is still able to drift around nat­u­rally, but as the rig is an­chored to the bot­tom it can only drift so far. There is also the ad­di­tional ben­e­fit that there is no sur­face con­troller to spook the fish.”

Set­ting up your rigs

Zigs work best with light lines and small hooks. Lighter carp rods of 2lb-2.5lb, or even barbel rods, are there­fore ideal and will pre­vent hook-pulls or break­ages. Ian favours the use of a pre-stretched mono main­line, 12lb Berkley Tri­lene in this case, which pro­vides a more di­rect con­tact than stan­dard mono. With no leader be­ing used, the next piece in the chain is an anti-tan­gle sleeve. This stops the hook­link, tied from 8lb Tri­lene, com­ing off the quick-change swivel, as well as help­ing the hook­link to ‘kick away’ from the lead.

Ac­cu­rate plumb­ing of the swim is es­sen­tial with this tac­tic to en­sure that the hook­link is the cor­rect length to fish the hook­bait ‘overdepth’. Don’t rely on guess­work! “I like to use size 8-12 Korda Mixa hooks, depend­ing upon the size of hook­bait I’m us­ing,” ex­plained Ian. “These are tied knot­less knot style with a soft la­tex bait band tied in a small loop in the hair. The loop en­ables the band move­ment so I can use a range of dif­fer­ent baits on the hook, ei­ther by band­ing them or pulling the band into them.” One ma­jor as­pect of the tac­tic is to squeeze the eye of the swivel that at­taches the main­line to the hook­link. This means that when the safety clip is at­tached, it is no longer semi-fixed, but be­comes a run­ning rig that en­ables the lead to slide down the main­line on the take to pre­vent the carp from us­ing the lead’s weight to throw the hook. “It also gives much bet­ter bite in­di­ca­tion which can be a prob­lem when fish­ing zigs at range,” added Ian.

Make a sur­face spod mix

Nearly ev­ery an­gler uses dog bis­cuits and then casts out a pop-up boilie on the hook. This can work, but hav­ing a dif­fer­ent shape, taste, colour and buoy­ancy to the freebies, it makes it in­cred­i­bly easy for the carp to iden­tify hook­bait. To over­come this, Ian makes up a spod mix con­tain­ing a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes of float­ing baits, just like he would if fish­ing on the bot­tom. “I’ll use dog bis­cuits, cat bis­cuits, marsh­mal­lows and a range of ex­pander pel­lets,” said the Pure Fish­ing and Kord­abacked an­gler as he poured a se­lec­tion into his green bucket. “Mixed in a ra­tio of two thirds small items (6mm or less) to one third large, means the big­ger baits don’t swamp the mix. Plus, once the dog bis­cuits be­come wa­ter­logged, they swell to twice their orig­i­nal size.” To fin­ish the mix, he gave the baits a coat­ing of hemp oil. “The ad­van­tage of us­ing oil is three­fold. First, it makes the loose­feed float

for longer. Se­condly, it cre­ates a flat spot on the wa­ter which makes spot­ting takes eas­ier, and fi­nally it gives the loose­feed added flavour to draw in fish from fur­ther away.

How to fish sur­face zigs

When sur­face fish­ing there is no magic time to cast. The one dis­ci­pline Ian rec­om­mends is to build the swim slowly and sit on your hands un­til the fish are tak­ing baits con­fi­dently and ag­gres­sively. Get­ting it right can see the fish feed­ing for hours. “The The skill is feed­ing enough to get them ex­cited but not too much to fill them up. I will also over­cast the swim – Spomb­ing loose­feed to the area I mea­sured out ex­actly us­ing marker sticks – be­fore slowly pulling the rig back to the line mark­ers tied on to my main­line. This en­sures the rig is sit­ting bang in the mid­dle of my loose­feed ev­ery time. “It also means the com­mo­tion of cast­ing oc­curs be­yond the feed­ing fish and doesn’t spook them. And, as there is no PVA or feeder to con­tend with, I am able to move the rig with­out ru­in­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion. “Too many an­glers fish on the bot­tom, re­gard­less of the pre­vail­ing con­di­tions. If you put a bait in front of a carp the only way it can test it is to mouth it. Then you’ve got them!” Ian thinks in three di­men­sions, not just putting a PVA bag or feeder on the deck and hop­ing for the bestbest.

Fool wary sur­face feefeed­ding carp

Fish­ing the lead clip as a run­ning rig pre­vents carp us­ing the weight of the lead to throw the hook

Light lines and smaller hook sizes are the or­der of the day when it comes to overdepth zigs

Use a marker float to ac­cu­rately plumb the depth to fish the ‘overdepth’ zig cor­rectly

Left: The swivel on the main­line is squeezed so the safety clip is free run­ning

Be­low: Ac­cu­racy is vi­tal so Ian uses dis­tance sticks to mea­sure the cast

Big, wary carp are fooled by the ‘overdepth’ rig

Ian Spombs out loose­feed on a par­tic­u­larly wet day!

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