The zig rig is a relatively new player in carp fishing. Zig fishing is fishing off the bottom midwater or just below the surface.
The first time I ever fished for Carp, I suspended some floating cake using a curtain ring; we would let line out until the bait reached the surface, then we would pull it just under to keep it away from birds.
During the 1980s, I had a friend named Larry, and he was the first angler I knew who used a zig rig as we know it today. This was long before the name zig developed. Larry would fish with two mixers on a hair midwater using a running lead set up. I fished with him several times before I tried using it myself.
Once I started using the rig, I quickly realised how deadly it could be. Carp like to eat midwater, but with the amount of fly hatches going on throughout the year, carp have become accustomed to eating at all depths.
What Depth Should A Zig Rig Be?
The angler who uses a zig rig will work out what depths the fish are sitting at and fish accordingly. A zig rig is basically a floating hook bait suspended on a long hook link. To tie a zig rig, it’s important to have a reasonably light nylon hook link; anything between 8lb and 12lb will be sufficient. The depth of the swim is key when choosing the length of the hook link.
For instance, if the swim is averaging 8 feet deep, then a 9-foot hook link will be too long, and the bait will float. Many anglers will start by trying different depths to see where the Carp sit. Personally, I would use one at 4 feet, one at 6 feet, and one just below the surface at 7 1/2 feet. So, in 8 feet of water, most of the water column will be covered.
The key is to keep changing the depths – until bingo!
Because of the long hook link, I generally use a lead clip setup. This helps when playing the carp, which can be difficult on a long hook link, with the lead swinging around loosening the hook hold.
The only time I’d use a running lead would be if the swim was shallow enough for a 2-foot hook link. Also, it would have to be a relatively small lead to stop the swinging. So, with the lead clip and swivel in place, it’s just a case of tying on the long hook link.
At the business end, I like to tie a no knot rig; this allows me to tie a very short hair rig enabling the bait to sit tight to the hook. Having the bait tight to the hook disguises it, helping with the hooking process.
Some anglers I know use a plastic aligner which are available in most tackle shops nowadays. These aligners sit perfectly on the rig, disguising the hook and sets the bait nicely in position.
What Bait Do You Use On A Zig Rig?
There are several baits I use when zig fishing. Initially, we would use floating baits such as mixers, crusts, or boilies with polystyrene inside to keep the bait afloat. These baits will catch carp from everywhere, especially when the fish are accustomed to eating floating baits. Over the past decade or so, there has been a shift, as many anglers are noticing carp are eating bugs and flies which hatch from the lakebed silt.
With this in mind, they make hookbaits that replicate the flies and bugs. The main type is with the use of black foam. Back foam accounts for 1000s of big carp catches from very tough lakes. The fish see the foam shaped like a bug as food coming off the bottom of the lake and snatch at it. You can also use foam in other colours such as yellow, white, and red.
When To Use A Zig Rig?
Many anglers who use Urban Bait soak the foam in our range of flavours and sprays. With this added attraction, they have been able to pull in hungry carp. The takes when using a zig can be twitchy, as the carp has such a long hook link to play with, so beware. Zigs can be used all year round. Many lakes that have no winter form on the bottom have good form on zigs, so zigging has become a winter specialist tactic. However, spring and summer are still the best to get out there with a zig.