Top Ten Zig Tips- James Armstrong
To many, zig-rig fishing is regarded as hassle and whenever you mention the word zig, I can see fellow anglers turn their noses up at the thought. Why? I think it is mainly due to the fact that they don’t have the confidence in them. Anglers are worried that they tangle, they’re blatant and they don’t really know where to start.
However, if done properly, zig-rigs can be absolutely deadly. In fact, a zig-rig can be the one and only rig to outwit those fish that aren’t on the bottom (and at certain times of year) this is the majority of the stock.
Late winter/early spring is zigging time! The carp are on the move. A subtle sliver of black foam suspended mid depth will often be snaffled as the carp pass through in shoals. I am going to reveal my top ten tips for zig-rig fishing.
Cast them on the fish - this might sound obvious, but far too many anglers opt for the most comfortable swim, lob a few zigs out and wonder why they haven’t gone - deeming them rubbish. You can’t catch what isn’t there. Consequently, look for signs. Little swirls on the surface, patches of bubbles that are sent to the surface by moving carp, shows, dark shapes etc. All signs of moving fish. In such situation, get a zig on them!
Use a drop off lead - it is very important to drop the lead when zig-rig fishing. Due to the lengths of your hook link, the last thing you want is for a lead weight to be swinging around during the fight, potentially pulling out the hook or worse still lodging into a weedbed. Consequently, opt for a lead clip arrangement. The best clips for ejecting the lead that I have used are the MCF Dumper Clips or the Korda Hybrid Clips. You can use an inline drop-off too. The Fox system is very clever and works brilliantly.
Incorporate a long stem Anti-Tangle Sleeve - I never used to do this but have recently learnt that they aid in preventing tangles more than I first gave them credit for. These little products basically encourage the hook link to kick away from the lead system on the cast and as you feel the lead to the lake bed. I use the Ridgemonkey Sleeves, they are soft, enabling you to slide over the swivel with ease, yet stiff, ensuring that they kick everything away, thus preventing tangles.
No leader - Fish zig-rigs straight on the line. There is no need for a leader, you are just adding clutter and due to the hook link generally being longer than the leader, it will actually cause tangles, rather than preventing them (like they are designed to do).
Use a subtle, but stiff mono hook link - I am very picky with my hook link materials. They need to have an air of stiffness, so that they don’t coil up on the cast. They need to have little memory, so that they don’t kink or twist, but they also need to be as low diameter as possible, to ensure they’re hard to see. Experiment with the various zig-rig hook links on the market to find your favourite - there’s plenty to choose from, and sometimes a mainline can make a very good hook link - the Ridgemonkey RM-Tec for instance ;)
What depth? Choosing the right depth is all about experimentation. I like to use trial and error. Assuming you’re allowed to use three rods I begin one at a quarter depth, one at half depth and the other at three quarters depth. Whichever depth gets success, I will swap the others over to that.
Zig floats - in deep water, I love to use a zig float. By deep I mean waters over 20ft. Zig floats allow you to thoroughly explore the different depths far easier than a standard zig. Let your line out a couple of feet and you’re into completely new territory. So…if you fish a deep lake, I would be fishing zig floats over normal zigs ALL THE TIME.
Use a small PVA mesh bag - This is something I have been doing lately because I have become a little paranoid about PVA nuggets masking my hook point (the last thing you want on a zig). I generally like to add PVA to aid in preventing tangles. Simply pop one nugget into a mesh style bag tube. Place the plunger in to push it down semi tight, and then tie off the bag. Nick the hook point through the mesh lightly and cast out. The nugget will keep it buoyant, but won’t melt over the hook.
Rig - I like to incporporate a hook with a beaked point and use with a zig aliga. They are easy to tie and keep the rig nice and simple. I like the way that they are tight to the back of the shank and can’t move out of place like a hair and tubing might.
Trap the lead and feel it down - Prior to the lead hitting the water trap the lead and feel it down, or fish on a line clip. This is imperative when zig-rig fishing because it kicks the hook link away and prevents tangles as it descends through the water. ENSURE you learn this technique otherwise you will get tangles.