When I look back on it, I stumbled on this particular little rig edge completely by accident. Actually ‘little’ isn’t really the best description; it went on to be (and still is) one of the most effective presentations I have ever used.
Winding the clock back, we arrive at autumn, around 2010. It was a time when the all slaying chod rig was at its peak and it seemed just about everyone was on it. I was fishing over at a tricky club water and had moved swims to take advantage of some showing fish. As quickly as I could, I tied white pop up to the rigs (Mark Bryant’s superb ‘Scent from Hell’, that I was fortunate enough to be onto well before launch) and sent a pair of choddies out to the zone of activity. A little later the rod tip pulled down viciously as a lovely, dark upper double common steamed off with the bait.
After the pictures were done and the fish released, I went down to the margin to retrieve the rig and tidy it back up for a recast. It was at that moment that I noticed something wasn’t quite right – the bait was lying flat on the leafy bottom – not popped up positively as it should have been. Flummoxed, I checked my bait tubs and realised that in my haste to get cast out, I’d tied on a slow sinker instead of a pop up. I was rather bemused that it had done the job on such a tiny hooklink, and assumed that it was simply a freak occurrence. In fact, to my detriment, I took the bait off, attached a pop-up, and cast it back out. I didn’t have another bite!
The event stayed in my mind and I reflected on how well the fish had been nailed. Was it a freak occurrence or was there something more to it? I filed it away and didn’t really give it much thought until the following spring. I’d had some work to do, fine tuning a chod bead product. The fit of the components was quite critical and I really needed to test them on a fishing trip where I could expect a few bites. There was a lake not too far away which was known to be fairly tricky, but with some good angling it was possible to get maybe two or three bites in a day. Most of the fish were double figure commons and were quite finicky but I aimed to circumnavigate their caution with a little prebaiting. I popped down to the lake that evening and spread about three kilos of boilies along a far margin that I intended to cast across to, the following morning.
I got to the lake pretty early, and luckily the swim was free. My rods were already clipped up and in fairly short order, I had a pair of rods committed to the zone, ‘standard’ rigs – one on a pop up and one on a bottom bait. What followed wasn’t quite what I expected as the fish rolled, fizzed and coloured up the area but refused to give me a single bite! After a couple of hours I realised that something a bit out of the ordinary was required and my mind went back to the chod rig with a bottom bait, from the previous year. Deciding that it could well upset the applecart, I quickly tied two up and sent them out to the zone.
What followed was pretty unprecedented – twelve fish in just a few short hours, topped by a very rare and lovely looking, upper twenty mirror which was also a lake record! The turn around was remarkable and the fact that only one other carp was caught from the lake that day, left me in no doubt that I was onto something…
As you can imagine, after that, the rig was on my rods most of the time. Almost all of my fishing was boilie angling, and the presentation suited me perfectly – it never, ever tangled, always sat perfectly on the bottom and proved really tricky for the fish to deal with. I have fiddled around with rigs an awful lot down the years and found some things really can be a game changer; this was one of them, no doubt about it.
They next time out I fished a very tricky, no publicity lake in the Colne Valley and managed two in a night where ten a year is good going. I knew I was onto something and used it on all my rods, every time I went fishing. That autumn I joined a new lake and managed a 37 on my first trip, following it up the next week with a lake record and then personal best, 47lb mirror. It seemed everywhere I went, it produced the goods, with various other trips producing significant and unusual numbers of good fish from pressured circuit waters.
THE TECHNICAL SIDE
During the evolution of the rig, I’d tweaked the materials and how to tie it. It started as quite literally a plain and simple chod rig, with a bait tied to a ring on the D. The only difference was that the bait sat hard on the bottom – usually one straight from the bag. As things evolved, and I got used to using it, I made a few small changes which I thought made subtle improvements. The first thing I swapped was the bristle chod filament for a slightly more yielding fluorocarbon. The reasons were twofold. Firstly, I often found myself casting repeatedly (usually to hit a small spot, or when persisting for that perfect drop) and the more I cast a rig tied with a heavy bait and chod mono, the more it needed smoothing, tweaking, stretching and tidying. It was unnecessarily time consuming and lacked the efficiency I needed.
A change to a stiff, thick fluorocarbon made a huge difference. Once set, it kept its shape permanently and regardless of how many casts I made, it always sat perfectly.
The next tweak I made was to ditch the little D and the ring for attaching the bait. Instead, after whipping on the hook (more of that in a moment), I trimmed off the tag end and then added a supple, braided hair which was tied to a tiny rig ring. This travelled neatly along the shank, being stopped by a little rubber hook bead just above the bend.
The method of attaching the hook to the fluoro is, in my view, vitally important. If you tie it with a knotless knot it does not sit correctly. It is absolutely vital that the hook sits flat on the bottom, and where the hook link exits the eye must also be perfectly flat. At the other end, I tie a small figure of 8 loop knot to a ring swivel. The total length from the bend of the hook to the end of the swivel should be 4 inches.
I do impart a slight curve to the rig using my thumb but it also works well perfectly straight. If the rig doesn’t look right after tying, treat it to a bit of steam and also steam the loop to the perfect shape, making sure the swivel is on the inside of the loop when applying tension, and not cutting into the loop as it is pressured against the rig tool.
Hook choice is personal but I tend to avoid those with down turned eyes. This just creates too acute a hooking angle. Most of the time I have chosen a hook with a straight eye (there aren’t many about!), or one with a very subtle out turn. I don’t want a really big out turn because I do like the hook to kick over, but only a little bit. It is vital the hook has a wide gape and personally, I always prefer a slightly beaked (in turned) point.
The last element of the technicalities to consider is the lead set up. There is no doubt that any short, stiff hookink is most effective when connected to a helicopter style set up. You absolutely do not want to be using a rig like this with a lead clip or, even worse, an inline lead set up. (Inlines can land nose first and this would cause a short, rigid link to stand up, awkwardly). With a helicopter, the short rig always lies neatly out to one side above the lead, and of course the bead can be adjusted, depending on what sort of bottom you are angling on. Generally I fish hard, clean drops and leave the bead about 2” above the lead. My preference is for a short leadcore leader but of course, these are not allowed everywhere. If I am restricted then I will happily fish it ‘naked’ style on a fluorocarbon or a good sinking monofilament. I also add a couple of small pieces of putty up the line, a few feet behind the lead.
On some venues, the rules dictate that you have to use a lead clip and if required, I adapt the rig to fish it slightly differently. There is no doubt that the short, stiff section attached to the hook, is the part that gives them the most problems. If I have to use a lead clip then I keep the stiff element of the rig and attach it to a coated, supple braid using an Albright knot. I aim for the stiff part to be 3” in length and tie it to a boom of about 5”, longer if in silt.
Some years ago, I had a really good session on Linear Manor Farm, taking a big number of fish over a two night session. The best fish was close to forty pounds and was backed up by numerous twenties and thirties, the highlight being a very rare, stunning thirty pound common. During the trip, my good friend, Ian Russell, dropped by for a tea and to help me net a fish or two. Being the keen minded, brilliant angler that he is, Ian took note of the rig I was using and went on to implement the stiff element into his own variation. He called it the ‘Flick Rig’ and as I am sure you know, it has caught him a huge amount of fish. Whether you prefer my short rotary version or Ian’s longer variant, they both work really well, are totally different to the mainstream, and have caught crazy amounts of fish. The Bottom Bait Chod – it arrived by accident but it is still on my rods, some ten years later!