My first experiment with the stiff D-Rig began back in 2004, fishing a local club lake during the winter. I didn’t know a great deal about the stock at all, but I knew it had a bit of winter form and held a handful of decent carp up to low 30’s to go at (unfortunately the lake had a large head of bream too!). If the truth be told, I’d spent several previous winters banging my head fishing a low-stock, deep pit, as well as a very heavily pressured pond that had almost no winter form at all. The long and the short of it was, I just wanted to try a few things out on an easier winter venue, developing methods which might stand me in good stead on the harder lakes further down the line.

I was a big fan of a size-6 Out-Turned Eye style hook at the time, so I coupled those with some ‘old skool’ 20lb Black Amnesia, and lovingly rolled some soft ‘wintry’ paste around some polyballs for balanced hookbaits. Much of my fishing was at short range, either wading and placing my rigs underneath the marginal snags, or daredevilish short-range flicks underneath snaggy gaps on the far margins. After a jammy capture of a low twenty common on my very first night, I was keen to get back for another go. After feeding some crumb in the back of the main snags, to the point where one of the better mirrors head and shouldered excitedly, I soon had another trap positioned at ‘my end’ of the snag, with a trail of crumb leading up to my hookbait. Well within an hour, the rod wrapped round, and a big slate grey 31lb January mirror known as ‘Arnie’ found its way into the net.

Both carp were hooked deeply, positioned centrally in the bottom of the mouth cavity. The mechanics of the rig were clearly working, but the lifespan of the soft hookbaits left a lot to be desired! (Although I went on to catch consistently through the rest of the winter, not dropping a single carp I hooked.)

I was keen to give the rig a whirl on the ‘head banging’ lake the following spring; so, dropped into the last unfancied spot available one Saturday afternoon in April, finding a close-range gravel slope and pinging a few baits around the rigs. I was trying out a new nut bait and had a pot of matching pop-ups (frying pan jobs) in my bucket. After piercing some holes into one side of the bait and loading them with some short pieces of 1.2mm lead wire, I tied the floss loop around the hookbait and positioning the knot over the adjusted centre of gravity of the bait. When tied to the rig ring, the hookbait would always sit cocked, the ‘right’ way up, with the hook dropping instantly into a hooking position when the hookbait was lifted.

Both carp were hooked deeply, positioned centrally in the bottom of the mouth cavity. The mechanics of the rig were clearly working, but the lifespan of the soft hookbaits left a lot to be desired! (Although I went on to catch consistently through the rest of the winter, not dropping a single carp I hooked.)

I was keen to give the rig a whirl on the ‘head banging’ lake the following spring; so, dropped into the last unfancied spot available one Saturday afternoon in April, finding a close-range gravel slope and pinging a few baits around the rigs. I was trying out a new nut bait and had a pot of matching pop-ups (frying pan jobs) in my bucket. After piercing some holes into one side of the bait and loading them with some short pieces of 1.2mm lead wire, I tied the floss loop around the hookbait and positioning the knot over the adjusted centre of gravity of the bait. When tied to the rig ring, the hookbait would always sit cocked, the ‘right’ way up, with the hook dropping instantly into a hooking position when the hookbait was lifted.

Only half an hour after dark, one of the rods simply tore off, and a VERY rare and mint conditioned carp (whose rude name shall not be repeated!) was being photographed. It weighed 26lb, and we had no record of it being caught since it was 19lb (and looking like death!) It was nailed solidly, about 2 inches back and as centrally in the bottom of the mouth as a fussy carp angler could wish for.

As it turned out, I went elsewhere to angle that season, and that presentation sat patiently ‘on the shelf’ until the following spring when I started on the ‘riggy’ club lake.

That spring started off to a flyer! After a costly and impromptu speeding ticket after an overzealous Friday evening ‘bomb’ down to the lake, two bottom weighted critical D-Rigged ‘singles’ were dispatched out into the last piece of free water (did I say it was busy?!) resulting in a lovely 31lb mirror, nailed in textbook fashion once again. On a water where 3 - 4 a season for a ‘weekender’ would be deemed a successful year, I’d managed to snare 12 of the stock during 11 (incredibly busy) weekends’ angling. That was all without a single carp falling off, so I was clearly onto something, and my confidence went through the roof.

By carefully nipping away at the last piece of lead in the pop-up, before pressing it into place inside the hookbait with the scissors, they were ‘uber critically balanced’, taking a few seconds to finally come to rest on the bottom. The only downside of the lead inserts was that come 9am the following morning, the hookbaits had deteriorated into a waterlogged, soggy crumbling mess and had lost any type of critical buoyancy. Luckily the bites were coming at 8am!

A bottom weighted pop-up always served me well for chucking singles at showing fish on the club lake, with an extra rare 40lb+ common slipping up after evading capture for 3 years.

I’m more inclined to fish a larger ‘D’ than I would on a hinged or chod pop-up section as I am a big believer that a greater separation between the hookbait and hook, along with the free movement afforded by a small loop knot at the swivel end, allows the hook to swing and drop into the ideal hooking position instantly when the hookbait is disrupted.

By the time I’d got to Dinton in later years, I’d done away with the fiddly lead wire, simply using a 6mm drill and appropriately sized ‘ball’ of tungsten putty pressed into the cavity to counterweight the pop up, before tying down the floss loop knot over the putty. It was a very efficient set up for casting into tiny holes in the weed. Not only would it reset perfectly if disrupted, but it could also be cast ‘all day long’ without tangles. Not only that, but it would also only take a matter of seconds to retie a fresh rig and transfer the hookbait onto the ‘D’ if the hook happened to be blunted during the weedy ‘thrashfest’.

Once I started to use Sticky, the Krill wafters made it a simpler affair, without having to ‘faff’ with putty (or lead) anymore. Although I’ve had good results (and some of my bigger carp) on those, I think that the more even distribution of buoyancy on a wafter hookbait has a tendency to make the hookbait move ‘willy-nilly’ when compared to a base weighted or ‘cocked’ pop up. When I’m fishing over a bed of bait or a pre-baited area, I’m quite happy to chuck a Krill wafter in amongst it, but for a single hookbait opportunist chuck, I can’t help myself but take the extra care and attention to ‘putty down’ a pop-up instead, preferring the potential to ‘fine tune’ the balancing just
how I like it.

LATEST ARTICLES

Thinking Caps – September

In this latest instalment of Thinking Caps, we ask Jonny Fletcher, Mitch Hammonds and Lewis Read how their autumn approach differs from other seasons.