No matter where you choose to fish this month, you can guarantee that your target species will come close to the bank in search of food now that the temperatures have risen sharply.
When this happens, the pole is an unbeatable item of tackle but the sort of rig you use with it will dictate whether you get just a few bites or have a session that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Paying careful attention to your terminal tackle and bait choices is vital if you want to make the most of your time on the bank, as is getting the subtle details such asshotting and float patterns spot on.
We reveal the five most deadly spring pole rigs that are almost certain to help you and your friends put more fish in the net.
The Worm Rig
GOOD FOR: Putting together big mixed bags of quality bream and tench on stillwaters.
TACKLE: Use a rugby ball-shaped float with 5lb mainline, a 4lb hooklength and size 14 or 16 hook.
HOOKBAIT: Half or a full worm will appeal to both species at this time of year.
The Maggot Rig
GOOD FOR: Quality roach that will only feed if the hookbait looks natural.
TACKLE: Keep it light with 3lb mainline, a 2lb hooklength and a size 18 or 20 hook.
HOOKBAIT: Red maggots will keep the bites coming. Alternate between single and double.
The Pellet Rig
GOOD FOR: Catching F1s and carp in open water swims on commercials.
TACKLE: A narrow float will help you spot every bite. Use 5lb mainline to a 4lb hooklength and a size 16 hook.
HOOKBAIT: Start with a 4mm expander, switching to a banded pellet if small fish show.
The Margin Rig
GOOD FOR: Catching the biggest carp and F1s in the lake, especially late in the session.
TACKLE: Don’t risk getting bust by a big carp and use 6lb mainline to a 5lb hooklength. A strong float with a thick tip is a must.
HOOKBAIT: Corn is unbeatable in the margins.
The Meat Rig
GOOD FOR: Fishing in open water for carp, F1s, big bream and tench on commercials.
TACKLE: A balanced rig helps catch all species. Use 5lb mainline, 4lb hooklength to a size 16 hook.
HOOKBAIT: A 6mm cube of meat will catch all species that are stocked in the fishery.
A waggler is the most versatile float of all, capable of catching fish from rivers, canals, commercials and massive natural lakes.
But within the waggler family there are groups of floats that have very definite roles to perform. These include the pellet waggler for distance fishingup in the water, and see- through plastic floats for use on gin clear waters.
At this time of year, when the weather can change drastically from one day to the next, being adaptable is the key to catching.
To make sense of the types of waggler, how the rig should be set up and the best baits and feeds to use, try these rigs that will cover just about every base over the next few weeks…
Insert waggler rig for silver fish
Fish can be caught on commercials at a range of depths in spring, so if there was one versatile float to pick it’d have to be the insert waggler. This rig is a simple to make waggler set-up for tackling a typical lake swim up to 8ft deep.
Waggler rig for tench
There are few more evocative sights in fishing than a float poised next to a patch of lilies, ringed by the tell-tale pinhead bubbles of feeding tench. This rig allows you to fish what’s known as the ‘lift’ method, using a large shot on the lakebed.
Pellet waggler rig
The pellet waggler rig is all the rage right now but how do you fish it? Well setting the pellet waggler up is easy to do and a brilliant option in May and June when the weather starts to warm up.
The helicopter feeder has become a mainstay for a great many anglers fishing for species as diverse as specimen roach, tench and carp.
This rig has two main advantages. It is very tangle-proof, especially when higher diameter line is used for the hooklength and also an effective bolt rig, meaning that most bites will be very positive.
Coupled with a maggot feeder, this is an excellent set-up for big roach. With a larger oval maggot feeder, it lends itself well to fishing for tench. The hooklength should be as short as possible, generally around 3in-6in, which can be quite tricky to tie, but persevere, because the resulting rig is well worth the effort.
The hooklength should be stopped just above the feeder, although not so close that the hook can accidently foul the feeder on the cast. As a general rule, the closer the hooklength is to the feeder the more bites you will get.
This is the ideal rig to tie if you plan to fish a ‘sleeper’ rod while float fishing, because generally the bites are unmissable. For this reason, it pays to use a reel with a freespool facility that can give line when a fish bolts away.
How to tie
Cut off 20cm of Power line. This hooklength should not be too fine to avoid tangles
Tie on the eyed hook using a through-the-eye whipping knot with 12 turns, for a great angle
Thread a Rig Sleeve on to the other end of the hooklength, tapered end towards the hook
Tie on a Micro Rig Swivel using a twice-through-the-eye four-turn grinner knot
Thread a soft Line Stop on to the mainline, which should be at least 6lb to avoid breakages
Thread on the hooklength swivel, followed by a second Line Stop leaving a 5mm gap
Thread another Rig Sleeve on to the mainline. Tie on swimfeeder using a four-turn grinner
Slide the stops and hooklength into position so that the hook rests just above the feeder
Knowing a few basic knots is a vital part of any angler's skills so we have come up with the top 5 essential knots that you will need to know on the bank-side. Knowing these five knots will really help you expand your angling arsenal.
Double 6ins of line and pass it through the hook eye like this.
Tie a single overhand knot in the loop.
Pass the hook or swivel through the loop.
Moisten and pull tight, ensuring the line is neat.
Once the knot is tight, trim the tag end.
Make a loop of line long enough to work with but not so long that you have to cut lots away when trimming off.
Create a simple overhand loop and pass the end of the line through it.
Make sure you pass the end of the loop twice through, like this.
Draw the loop tight and trim off the loose end. Wet the knot with a little saliva before tightening.
Lay the two lengths of line to be connected alongside each other.
Form a loop in both lines, giving you plenty of line to work with.
Pass the two free tags of the lines four times through the loop, like this.
Moisten and tighten carefully, making sure the knot tightens neatly. Trim tag ends to suit your rig.
The knotless knot
Tie a bait band or loop for your hair rig at one end of the line. The two-turn grinner shown above is best for fishing with a pellet band.
Pass the opposite end of the line through the back of the hook’s eye and out the front. A small piece of rig tubing on the shank will keep the hair straight.
Take the loose end and make several wraps around the hook shank. WInd the end over the shank and poke through the eye.
While holding the loop end in its desired position, pull the free end tight while working the wraps up to the eye of the hook through the back of the eye.
Pull the end of the line to tighten the knot fully.
If you can’t decide whether to use a bottom bait or a pop-up rig, then why not try a snowman instead... it’s the best of both worlds!
In essence, it’s a standard boilie threaded on to a hair rig, with a smaller pop-up threaded on after it. Once on the bottom, the pop-up stands proud, acting like a beacon to any passing carp. Such a bait arrangement allows you to mix and match your baits. For example, you could use a dull, fishy-flavoured bottom boilie, with a bright, fruity pop-up.
Snowman rigs are highly versatile and can be used with any lead set-up, and with just about any length or type of hooklink.
How to tie
Strip back about 6ins of the outer layer from the coated braid. Form a small overhand loop in the end.
Secure a small metal rig ring loosely in place with an overhand knot, just below the hair loop.
Set the rig ring about 1.5ins from end of the loop, then secure firmly with a second granny knot.
Position the rig ring opposite the hook’s barb, then attach the hook using a knotless knot.
At this point you can add a hook aligner over the eye of the hook. This will help with hook-ups.
Finally, add a few small ‘mouse droppings’ of tungsten putty to the hooklink to nail it to the deck.
After the pike, perch and zander have spawned they will be ready to go on a feeding spree. so here are my top five lures that i use when going after perch and zander in spring.
Shad (Berkley Ripple Shad 5cm and 7cm)
The Ripple Shad has a thick paddle tail, and ribs running along the body, which produce lots of vibration when the lure is retrieved – ideal for fishing in coloured canals.
Plastic worm (Berkley Floating Mice Tail)
A plastic worm that works well on a drop shot rig, nose-hooked on a size 6-8 hook. Brown is a great all-round colour, but brighter pink and white lures are great in coloured water.
Crankbait (Berkley Frenzy Flicker Shad Suspending 5cm)
This crankbait dives to around 5ft, great for fishing shallow canals. It covers lots of water quickly, searching out fish, and an internal rattle adds to the enticing action.
Shad (Berkley Powerbait Shrug Minnow 1.5ins)
Rigged on a 1.5g or 2.5g jighead, I use this tiny shad for smaller perch and zander, but it works for big fish too. Orange Glow is a great colour but Cherry Red is a close second.
Twitchtail (Berkley Twitchtail Minnow)
Available in many colours, this is my favourite soft bait for rigging on a drop shot rig to target big perch, but is also great for zander. I like to nose-hook these on a size 2 Owner Mosquito drop shot hook.
Method feeders are a staple among match anglers and, with a few tweaks, can also be used to target big carp, tench and bream.
The only changes you need to make to turn it into a rig capable of landing any carp that swims are to strengthen the component parts and increase the size of the hookbait and loosefeed.
The Method is perfect for ‘runs waters’ or for targeting carp in pressured venues that have seen it all when it comes to rigs.
How to tie the hooklink
Tie on a curved shank hook. We’ve used a palomar knot here, but a grinner is also fine to use.
Thread a micro rig swivelover the point and down the shank, followed by a small hook bead.
Position the hook bead and then attach the bait to the swivel using bait floss or a small bait band.
Tie a swivel to the other end. Make sure it is a snug fit in the base of the frame of the Method feeder.
How to load the method feeder
Put your chosen ingredients into a bait tub. Dampen the comtents and make sure they bind together well.
Place your hookbait in the fat end of the supplied mould and bury it with your Method mix.
Firmly press the feeder into the mould, with the hooklink positioned as shown above.
Remove the frame from the mould. Some frames have push-button releases. You’re ready to cast out!
As the temperatures begin to rise this clever set-up will enable you to change the depth of your hookbait and search the water column for carp
Carp can spend much of their time up in the water column, especially in spring when the surface layers are warmed by the strengthening sun.
You could fish the margins or on top of gravel bars to present a bottom bait at the same depth as the carp, but in deeper venues a zig rig that presents a buoyant bait in mid-water can be much better. While this tactic is most often used on prolific venues, it has also accounted for some very large carp in recent years.
The adjustable zig not only works in any depth of water, but enables the height of the bait to be instantly adjusted, simply by retrieving or releasing line to reset the float height. The float also creates a bolt-effect, making bites easier to hit with fewer opportunities missed. You can also use the float to quickly gauge the depth of the swim. Try starting with the zig bait at half depth. If this produces no bites, then let the bait rise closer to the surface until you find the carp.
How to tie
Tie a size 10 Nash Fang Gaper hook to a one-metre length of 10lb Zig Line using a simple ten-turn knotless knot
Thread a Zig Aligner on to the hook so that the banded section sits opposite the point of the hook like this
Stretch the band on the Zig Aligner and insert zig foam. Place the black foam on the bottom so it’s easier for carp to see it from below
Tie a Ring Swivel to the other end of the hooklength using a twice-through-the-eye, four-turn grinner knot
Thread the metal ring and Zig Float on to the mainline. The metal ring ensures that the float will rise even when fished in weed
Tie the Ring Swivel to the end of the mainline using a four-turn grinner knot and pull into the hole on the top of the Zig Float
Semi-fixed bolt rigs have become common in modern angling techniques, not just for those targeting carp, but for anglers chasing many other species too.
When a fish moves off with the hookbait, with the lead semi-fixed in place, it soon comes up against the full resistance of the weight and either hooks itself or bolts away giving unmissable bites.
Although originally developed for carp fishing, the rig is just as useful for tench and bream in stillwaters, and barbel and chub in rivers. Various baits can be used, from boilies and pellets to worms and maggots. The key, though, is to ensure that the hookpoint is exposed so that there is the greatest chance of it pricking the fish.
In the event of a line breakage, it is essential that the lead should be able to slide free from the rest of the rig to avoid tethering a fish that has been hooked. To do this, a lead safety clip should be used with the tail rubber lightly pushed on to the clip so that the lead can come free with the minimum of effort. Follow these simple steps below and you will create the perfect safe bolt rig set-up.
Thread a tail rubber and safety lead clip on to your mainline. Ensure it will slide off easily
Tie a rig swivel to the end of the mainline using a four-turn grinner knot or palomar knot
Pull the lead clip over the swivel and use the supplied pin to hold the clip on to the swivel
Attach the lead to the clip and lightly push on the tail rubber. Test that the lead ejects easily
Attach your hook using a knotless knot. The hooklink should be weaker than the mainline
Tie the end of the hooklength to the rig swivel using a four-turn grinner knot
When going after tench there are many tactics that can be used, for instance when you are on a larger gravel pit it is a feeder approach that often scores. This is thanks to its characteristic of placing bait close to the hookbait even when fishing towards distant gravel bars and other features.
While the feeder is brilliant for tench, it often has to be rigged-up with a short hooklength stopped close to the feeder to prove successful for tench. This is because tench tend to sift through food and detritus while hardly moving. Use a long hooklength and the hookbait is likely to be expelled before a bite is registered!
Maggots, casters and worms are all brilliant tench baits because they mimic the fish’s natural diet, and this rig can be used with all three of these baits. To make the hookbait stand out, it pays to pop-up the bait. This can be easily achieved using a slither of rig foam attached to the hair, with the bait fished on the hook. Follow the steps below to learn how to tie this brilliant rig...
As presentations go, solid PVA bags offer a number of advantages that few other set-ups can rival.
Firstly, because the rig is safely packed inside the bag, they can be fished over pretty much any lakebed type and you can be confident your hookbait will be presented effectively. There’s no need to worry about the hook becoming masked by any weed or detritus as it falls through the water. This makes it perfect for casting towards showing fish when you’re unsure of what the lakebed is like.
A short hooklink in conjunction with an inline lead offers unrivalled hooking potential as fish come into contact with the weight of the lead much quicker. Cast out on it’s own, this set-up could easily bury into silt but, as it’s placed inside the bag, this isn’t a problem.
Tying up a few bags prior to your session means you can have all three rods fishing in no time at all and, once the bag melts, you’re left with an irresistible mouthful of bait around your hookbait.
How to make a solid PVA bag
How to tie: A supple braid hookline for solid PVA bags
This subtle but clever variation on the typical hair rig enables you to fish more effectively with soft baits such as worms
Legering with worms, especially the more delicate lobworms, can be tricky if you need to fish at range with a heavy weight. Sometimes the worm can be smashed off the hook as it hits the water, or the worm may wriggle free or even mask the point.
All of these problems can severely reduce your catches, so a solution that holds the bait better and lessens the risk of bites being missed is important, especially for specialist anglers.
Normal hair rigs are great at hooking fish, but with soft baits, such as worms, they are less effective as often the bait is lost. This led to this variation on the normal hair rig which incorporates two small discs of foam to cushion the bait on the cast. A Quick Stop is used instead of a normal boilie stop, so there is no chance of the stop being lost when a worm tries to wriggle free.
Another advantage is that this rig works just as well with barbless hooks, as you are not reliant upon the barb to hold the bait in place. This makes it ideal for many commercial fisheries. So, if you are intending to leger worms for carp, tench, bream or perch then give this rig a try to see how effective it can be.
how to tie
Gardner tackle's Lewis Rhead walks us through the rig of the moment and how to tie it...
There are rigs and then there is the "Ronnie rig". Some rigs stand the test of time and work year after year. Others are more transient in nature, their tangible benefits are the figment of a twisted mind, and they don’t offer any real advantage in terms of catching carp or being easy to tie!
This one, however, is very special. It’s a rig that’s been used successfully on the quiet for a few years now, being deployed as a tool pivotal in catching some phenomenal big carp from a number of waters. But now the word is out and everyone want's to know how to tie this amazing rig
The Ronnie rig is easy to tie and offers the benefits of a super-consistent low pop-up presentation, fished the height of a hook and a swivel of off the lakebed, but without the issues of a naked hook eye that has the potential to snag in landing-net meshes (one of the main problems associated with the original 360-style rigs).
It offers all the advantages and awesome rig mechanics of the hinged stiff rig, but without the need to trying to fish it low to the lakebed, which isn’t the optimum arrangement. When it’s tied right, those of us that have used it extensively have pure unadulterated confidence in it because hook-pulls are almost non-existent. I can’t remember pulling out of a single fish with the Ronnie rig.
Luckily, it’s amazingly simple to construct thanks to the use of a size 12 Covert Kwik-Lok Flexi Ring Swivel mounted on the eye of the hook. That, combined with a Gardner Mugga hook, offers a highly aggressive, fast-reacting presentation that is ruthless in the extreme!
It’s also extremely versatile. I always have a number of pre-prepared hook sections ready to go, and I tailor the hooklink material to suit the lakebed or the lead arrangement.
That could mean a lead clip with a long, supple, skinned hooklink such as Ultra Skin in silt, or a helicopter-style arrangement and a Subterfuge fluorocarbon boom on clean sand and gravel.
Personally, I think balancing it like a hinged stiff rig works best – so the hookbait is slow to sink. Why? If you overbalance the hook by moulding putty around the shrink tube, the hook has a tendency to lie over further and this inhibits it from twisting and turning as quickly as it could (the same drawback you get with a hinged stiff rig).
Realistically, mounting the swivel through the eye means you need to use a ‘nice’ sized hook, and the size 4 Mugga or Continental Mugga are both perfect. You know, some rigs work with some hooks better than others, and this is the one. The Mugga’s curved swept shank and 20-degree inturned eye complement and enhance the mechanics, lining up the shrink tube naturally in a way that gives maximum ‘twistiness’.
Variants of some rigs come and go, but the Ronnie rig is one that I know will stand the test of time. Like all presentations, it isn’t the panacea of all things riggy, but what it is is the best low pop-up rig that I have used.
Now it's time to show you how to tie this amazing rig so you can go out and use it for yourself!