Fishing is all about the choices you make. There are many variables, but in carping one of the key decisions is whether to present your hookbait on the bottom or just above it.
All rigs can tangle or get caught on detritus as the lead plummets through the water, but the buoyancy of a pop-up bait is much more likely to suspend your hook away from such problems. The distance between the lakebed and the bait can be infinitely tweaked, but do wise carp find a ‘hovering boilie’ suspicous?
TO BLEND IN OR STAND OUT?
The problem with pop-ups is that every single one of them is attached to a hook. Your free offerings cannot be suspended off the bottom like the hookbait and some anglers believe this means they stand out like a sore thumb. Conversely, standing out like this can be an advantage as carp home in on an eye-catching offering.
EASE OF USE
The rigs used to present baits off the lakebed needn’t be dauntingly complicated, but they do require a bit of thought. The weight needed to anchor the bait (either with putty, a split shot or sinker) is a consideration, and popular rigs like the chod and hinged stiff rig require concentration and practice to make perfect.
A tub of pop-ups isn’t cheap, but who said all suspended rigs need to be made with boilies? Plastic baits like imitation corn are wonderful carp catchers and will last for session after session, fish after fish. Pop-up boilies are also generally much more durable than feed baits, meaning they can live in your rucksack for years.
The vast majority of loosefeed you introduce into the water will collect on the bottom, and with their tough lips and underslung mouths, carp are also used to foraging for natural grub down here. But rig-obstructing debris also gathers on the lakebed, so bottom baits are best suited to clear areas where you know nothing will foul your hook.
TO BLEND IN OR STAND OUT?
It’s far harder for a carp to differentiate between a free meal and a boilie attached to a rig if both baits look and act the same. Shop-bought pop-ups cannot, and often do not, attempt to match the sinking boilies you pluck from a bag. With a bottom bait, this potential problem is eliminated and the carp has a far harder choice to make.
EASE OF USE
Bottom-bait rigs are generally simple. We’re lucky to sit here in 2014 with access to the knowledge gained by the pioneering anglers of years gone by. We know that anything mounted on a hair rig is very capable of catching fish. Bottom-bait rigs can be tied in seconds with supple or stiff materials, but they all work.
It might be tempting to think popped-up baits are simple, and buoyant shop-bought boilies certainly are, but carp fishing isn’t all about these hardened spheres. If you want to fish tiger nuts, sweetcorn or pellets then presenting them on the bottom is by far and away the easiest way to do so quickly and effectively.
THE NEXT LEVEL: WAFTERS AND CRITICALLY BALANCED BAITS
What do you get if you cross a sinking bait with a buoyant one? A snowman.
No, we haven’t muddled up our Christmas-cracker jokes – one of the compromises between pop-ups and bottom baits is the snowman rig.
So called because, well, it looks like one, the snowman features a smaller pop-up mounted on top of a larger bottom bait. The result is a two-bait presentation that sits ‘upright’ on the lakebed, giving fish more chance to see it.
The buoyancy also counteracts the weight of the hook, theoretically fooling the fish into thinking the mouthful it has just picked up is not attached to anything. With a bit of tinkering, the two baits can be matched so that they fall gently through the water to rest on any bottom debris.