RIG OR BAIT? - Part 2
Once upon a time, if a carp angler wanted to use an alternative hook-link material to standard nylon, he turned to a variety of, let’s face it, rather inappropriate materials. Dental floss, sea fishing Dacron, sail maker’s thread, and parachute cord were all used to try to achieve a better and more supple presentation of the hook bait.
The watchwords were suppleness and feel. Anglers were sure that carp could detect the stiff heavy nylon across their lips as they sucked in the hookbait and the alternative materials were intended to move away from the rather formulaic presentations permitted by nylon in favour of more delicate and less obvious presentations. Of course, we now know that nylon hooklinks, stiff rigs in particular, can be very effective but there will always be a place for the more delicate presentations permitted by alternative materials which is where braids and coated braids come in. It seems ages ago (1988) that Kryston Products brought out the first specialist hooklink material. I think I was one of the first to send off for their original Multi-Strand and was probably also one of the first to throw it in the bin! I was working on a fishing trawler at the time and my hands were as rough as piece of sandpaper.
Those minutely thin strands were never going to get on with my hands and in frustration I went back to the drawing board. What an idiot! I should have known that the more inventive in our ranks would soon find a way of working with this amazing stuff and the real thinkers of the carp world had a field day following Multi-Strands release, even those ones with sandpaper hands!
A few years later Dave came up with Silkworm. Now here was a product I could work with. Merlin followed then Super-Strand and Supernova, to be followed by the coated braids, Snake Skin, Snakebite, Mantis and the newly introduced Jackal. It wasn’t long before every major manufacturer had a range of braids on the market all following the revolutionary lead that Kryston had had created. The variety can be confusing even to experienced anglers so let’s look briefly at the various options.
It may seem obvious but not all presentations rely on the need for the hooklink to sink to the bottom completely. Indeed some actually benefit from the neutral property of the material. However, for the most part anglers themselves seem more confident to use a material that actually sinks. Super Nova the first choice for anglers like Bill Cottam and Simon Crow. This is one of Bills rigs simple and effective used to great effect at Les Graviers.
Neutrally balanced braids
The first HPPE braids on the market all had the propensity to loop up off the bottom between the lead and the hookbait. I think it was Rod Hutchinson who first pointed out to the otherwise blissfully unaware carp scene that this loop could possibly be a scare factor as the carp approached the hookbait and overnight sent paranoid anglers scurrying in search of something that would make their braid sink. The fact that these neutral braids had caught (and continued to account for) tens of thousands of carp was neither hear nor there. Rod said the braid floated and that was anathema to us all.
We have calmed down a lot since then and now many anglers have returned to braids like Silk-Worm and Super-Silk. These materials are perfectly suited to pop-up presentations. They are also ideal where a carpet of bottom hugging silkweed is present. In this case you need critically balanced bait that will not sink into the weed; rather it will rest on top of it. The last thing you want is a heavy sinking braid which will pull the carefully balanced hookbait down into the weed. For those who are paranoid you can make them slowly sink with a small touch of Drop Em.
There are two problem areas with non-coated braids. The first is their tendency to tangle on the cast and there is nothing worse than worrying that your hooklink and bait are lying in a tangled heap on the lake bed after you have just cast an inch-perfect screamer to the far treeline. The second is that they are not very conducive to fishing on rough ground, on hard gravel bars or rocks and boulders. Coated braids solve both problems at a stroke. The multi-coated braids in the Kryston range are designed primarily to protect the more fragile inner braid. That the coating also stiffens up the material, thus helping to prevent tangles, is a bonus!
Some time back and guy called Harry Haskell, a very inventive and much respected carp angler, came up with a rig that combined the slightly stiff anti-tangle properties of nylon with the supple, ‘soft feel’ properties of neutrally balanced braid. Harry called the resulting rig the Combi Rig and it was widely publicised in the late 80s and early 90s. Indeed many top anglers still swear by Harry’s brainchild today but now use a coated braid of some kind. Harry was associated closely with the Kryston stable and it was inevitable that his invention would eventually be refined and fine tuned by Dave Chilton of Kryston who brought us the first coated hooklink material, the awesome Snake-Skin. This consists of an inner core of Multi-strand with a plastic outer coating. The permutations of this material are endless as the coated section can be made as long or as short as you like. In addition the coating adds stiffness to the hooklink, which in turn prevents tangles. By removing the outer coasting to reveal the soft and supple Multi-Strand inside, a perfect Combi Rig-style of presentation can be created from a single length of material.
Brilliant though the concept is, there are still those who cannot (or will not) work with multi-stranded products so the next step on was Snake-Bite. Here the inner core is a braid rather. It has to be said that braid is easier to work with, and it is almost as supple, so for many Snake Bite has become one of the most popular hooklinks. Of course, Dave did not rest on his laurels and he soon brought out the awesome Mantis trio, Super Mantis and Super Mantis Gold, and Mantis Dark followed most recently by the Jackal range, arguably the best coated braid on the market.
Abrasion Resistant Braids
Tough, strong materials are often called for to prevent line fraying on snags, gravel bars, rocks and stony plateaux. In the past it was usual to employ a heavy nylon leader to guard against such problems but braids are, believe it or not, tougher, more abrasion resistant and thinner, pound for pound than nylon lines. Kryston Quicksilver and Quicksilver Gold are both excellent braids, and the 25lb version of Quicksilver Gold can also be used as a tough hooklink material. Other extra tough braids include the 80lb Ton-Up and the 200lb Kraken. These have been especially successful on Rainbow Lake, where ultra strong hooklinks are essential. Martin Locke uses Ton Up hooklinks down there and his record for big carp is second to none.
I have been using Quicksilver and Quicksilver Gold for some time now on my favourite French river, the R. Lot. Here the lakebed is a virtual snag city with huge boulders, gravel peaks and jagged rocks. I need to be sure that my end gear can be retrieved under any circumstances so I use at least 10m of abrasion resistant leader to counter the snags. Invariably the hook and/or the lead will snag in the lakebed sooner rather than later, so the extra long leader allows me to get above the snag in my boat and then grab the leader rather than the main line. This allows me to apply full force to try to get the gear back.
Blow back rig
Coated braids allow the inventive angler to indulge his rig fantasies, as they are so amazingly versatile. Let’s look at a few of my favourite rigs that can be tied using any of the Kryston coated braids. The Blow Back Rig is a very effective one that has accounted for the downfall of a great many large carp and it is suited to all styles of presentation.
However, in my opinion it performs at its best with a ‘Snowman’ style of presentation. The Blow Back Rig will catch carp anywhere you go. It works so well because the bait is held tight to the shank of the hook (exactly where it should be) until the fish picks up the hookbait, but is free to separate from the hook on ejection as the ring is free to run along the shank as far as the eye of the hook. The hook then falls down towards the lower lip.
Drop down rig
This is my favourite rig for bottom baits (NOTE: This rig CANNOT be used with pop-ups or buoyant baits of any kind.) It can be tied using all manner of hooklink materials and it works both in stiff rig form as well as in a more supple form when used with braid or coated braids. Rather than going through a step-by-step description of the rig, just take a look at the photo, which I think speaks for itself.
Clearly the separation effect when the fish goes to eject the bait (the most important aspect of ANY rig in my opinion) is swift and totally effective, the bait and hook separating instantly allowing the hook total freedom to drop down into the lower lip. I have recently been messing about with the new Jackal coated braid and it seems ideal for this rig.
You may think it strange to be talking about the Stiff Rig in the same breath as coated braids, but they are actually ideally suited to stiff hooklink presentations. Once again the new Jackal is perfect for the Stiff Rig. First take a proper stiff rig hook, one with a slightly upturned eye as shown here. Next tie a Knotless Knot attaching the 30lb Jackal to the hook. You are now left with a coated section of Jackal coming off the back of the knotless knot. Strip away the outer coating to leave the braid exposed then tie a loop for the hookbait. The stripped hair is of course very supple while the rest of the hooklink is stiff thanks to the 30lb Jackal.
I find that the weight of the hookbait is pretty important with all versions of the Stiff Rig. It’s all to do with mass (weight) on ejection, so the heavier the better. Hence the double bait hookbait illustrated here. You may also find it helps to draw attention to the hookbaits by using a PVA mesh parcel filled with pellets and a free offering or two.
Mike Kavanagh’s invention, the Multi Rig might have been designed especially with coated braids in mind. They go together like gin and tonic! This is without doubt the most versatile rig yet invented as it allows the angler to chance hooks instantly, at the same time offering numerous permutations of stiff, supple, combi rig etc. Here the hooklink is doubled for the last two or three centimeters, and then the resulting loop is threaded up through the eye and over the bend of the hook. I am sure you can see the principle for yourself in the accompanying photos.
I find that Super Mantis just the job when it comes to creating the Multi Rig, though the new Jackal is also winning a place in my heart. I believe the photos are self-explanatory so further explanation is not necessary here. Suffice it to say, Mike’s little baby is a really top class hooker!
I have illustrated the short helicopter rig here but you may also be curious about the brown material that the rig is mounted on. Well it is nothing out of the ordinary, being Quicksilver Gold 45lb. I use this primarily to aid still further the anti-tangle properties of the helicopter rig. However, the extra strength at the knot where it is tied to the lead give added security at an otherwise rather weak point in any heli set-up.
The double beads and spigot comprise a system called the Cox and Rawle Beach Bead. These enable perfect rotation and guarantee tangle-proof presentations. In the event of a break the top bead easily slips off the spigot, thus releasing the swivel, which in then free to slide up the line and off at the break, leaving the fish with just the hooklink in it’s mouth. The hook, being barbless, will probably drop out as soon and the carp shakes its head. The Kryston product in use in the photos is 25lb Silkworm.
I hope that this short article has helped open your eyes to the enormous versatility of all the Kryston range. They out-perform any other range on the market and are used by many of the top anglers in the UK and abroad.