Making rigs isn’t the most exciting part of fishing, but fail to pay attention to every aspect of your set-up and you’ll pay the price on the bank.
Most anglers make sure that their rigs include an appropriate float shape, line strength and hook size, but they often give little thought to other elements that are equally important.
One area of your approach that may see very little effort put into it is creating the perfect hair rig.
It would be easy to think that how you present something so small and seemingly insignificant could matter so much, but top matchman Andy Quarmby knows all too well that such a mind-set can prove very costly.
Attention to detail
A lot of Andy’s match fishing success has been achieved at venues where hair-rigged baits score heavily, and through trial and error he has realised that the slightest variation can make a big difference.
“People think that every hair rig is the same, but the way it is tied can be changed every time to suit the scenario,” explained Andy.
“I have them tied up long, short, with bait bands or bait spikes. Each way has its uses, and your success or failure is often determined by making the right choice on the day.”
The Middy-backed rod believes every angler should get busy tying up a range of hair rigs. Here he reveals his five favourites that will help you keep the fish coming on stillwaters...
FIVE TOP HAIR RIGS
1 Triple corn
Many anglers may think this is what I would use in winter when casting around on the bomb, but it is actually one of my favourites for fishing down the margins. I like to tie the hair rig
long, so that it holds the three grains of corn and also leaves a slight gap between the bend of the hook and the nearest kernel.
A big and bright hookbait is important in the edge, but if you hook three grains of corn directly you are guaranteed to mask the point unless you use an overgunned hook size.
My favourite type of hook is a Middy KM3 in either size 14 or 16, with a 0.20mm hooklength that will easily cope with fish well into double figures.
2 Double 8mm pellet
If you think a bait band can only get one bait in it, then it is time to think again.
On heavily pressured venues where the fish have seen every trick in the book, a couple of 8mm pellets presented tightly together is an unusual offering that can fool even the wiliest carp.
Just make sure the hair rig is long enough, so that none of the pellets get in the way of the hook itself.
3 Hooked band
When I am fishing on the bottom for a wide variety of species, I prefer to hook the band directly. This allows me to use a hard pellet and stops me getting pestered by small silverfish. The bait is presented in a similar manner to if it was directly hooked, and a 4mm or 6mm bait offered like this will help you catch a real mixed bag of carp, F1s, bream and tench.
4 Short hair
When shallow fishing for F1s I go the opposite way, using a very short hair with a band on it so the bait touches the bend of the hook. This is because F1s are fickle feeders. The moment they suck the pellet in they are likely to feel it is unnatural and will eject it almost instantly. A long hair rig would lead to you striking at nothing, but a short version gives the fish little chance of escape once they’ve decided to slurp in your pellet hookbait. Fine your tackle right down for F1s, with 0.12mm hooklengths strong enough for even the biggest examples of the species.
5 Long hair
If I am going to fish up in the water for mirror or common carp, this is the only type of hair rig I will consider. I am convinced that the band being sat off the hook gives them an extra second to swallow the bait properly, and this leads to the hook penetrating after every bite.
I tend to scale down when shallow fishing and use a soft elastic to absorb the ferocious bites. A 0.14mm hooklength to a size 16 KM2 hook is more than ample.
ROLFS LAKE DEMO
Oxfordshire’s Rolfs Lake is one of the fisheries where Andy has perfected his attack. The fish were stocked small, but have grown well into double figures as the years have gone by.
“These carp have seen every trick in the book and every detail needs to be looked at. Using the right hair rig is a big part of that,” he said.
Three lines were set up for the demonstration – on the deck at 5m, shallow at 13m and down the margins.
Each had a different hair rig, and in four hours’ sport Andy barely missed a bite, with carp to over 10lb and a few bonus bream coming to the net.
To prove that the hair rig was an important part in the catch, he switched to a short one while fishing shallow and he instantly missed a run of bites.
“I never thought for one minute in the past that such a tiny change could make the difference between landing an odd fish and 100lb. Pay attention to your hair rigs and your results could suddenly rocket,” he said.