As we head into spring, Zig fishing seems to be generating a huge amount of interest, but it’s probably one of the most unexplored areas in carp fishing; yet, at the moment, it is possibly one of the most talked about. With the recent release of the Zig Bugs from Nash Tackle this statement has never been truer, and the guys in the office have been inundated with phone calls and emails about this product and Zig Rig fishing in general.
So, what makes the Zig Rig such an effective method of catching carp? Considering the relatively short amount of rod hours most anglers spend fishing a zig rig, they certainly account for their fair share of bites. I have recently listened to some very experienced successful carp anglers theorise that carp spend perhaps 15% of their time on the bottom exploring their watery home searching for food, maybe 10% up on the surface, and the remaining 75% of their days (and often nights!) is spent somewhere in the mid-water layers. Of course these figures are just picked out of the air, but they are based on several lifetimes' worth of angling experience. But thinking about my own experiences and observations on the bank, I would say they are quite representative of a lot of fisheries around the UK.
The possible reasons for carp spending so much time mid-water throughout the year are numerous, but during the spring and early summer I believe that there is one big reason, and it's simple; the sheer amount of insects and invertebrates which hatch into the water is phenomenal at this particular time of year. Most of the flying insects which can be found around a typical carp lake have hatched in that lake and have, therefore, at some point had to run the gauntlet from lake bed to the surface to emerge from the water, which of course results in an abundance of natural food for the carp to capitalise on. Not to mention all of the other invertebrates and crustaceans floating about mid water such as daphnia, beetles and snails. Carp are masters of their watery home and will always exploit any sudden explosions of natural food. They often become completely preoccupied with such events to the exclusion of all else, which could go some way to explaining why, at times, carp can seem impossible to catch on proven and normally reliable baits and tactics. So, considering all the facts, it stands to reason that carp will be spending a great deal of time feeding mid-water during these periods when the natural food is rife and this applies to most, if not all, the waters we will be fishing over the coming weeks and months. There is also evidence to suggest that big carp are particularly well tuned in to these natural events, so fishing off the bottom this spring and summer could well maximise your chances of banking a special fish.
Hatching in the lake, these insects are natural food for carp
SEEING THE LIGHT
Whilst fishing an overnight session on an Essex venue last spring, I noted a number of swifts flying down and seemingly sipping at the surface of the lake in one particular area. As dusk drew in, the swifts were replaced with bats, which were also swooping down in this particular area… and then it clicked, they were feeding on a natural insect hatch in the upper layers. The lads who had fished the lake for the two nights previously had been struggling on bottom baits, and so I decided to tie up three zigs at three different depths, and duly dispatched them to the area which was receiving all the attention from my flying friends. Now I could have just fished a piece of foam and there’s a good chance that it might have produced a bite or two. But having witnessed some of the amazing results achieved during the Zig Bug, development programme I knew what I needed to use. Three different coloured Attractor Beetles were despatched to the spot.
THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Because of the thick blanket weed present, even at this time of year, I wanted to lose the lead on the take if I was lucky enough to hook one. Fishing a Diffusion Weed Safety Bolt Bead, I just lightly pushed the tail rubber over the clip – just tight enough to withstand a short-range cast but at the same time loose enough for the lead to be ejected by the head shaking of a hooked fish.
During the hours of darkness that night, I caught two carp, the biggest being a mirror of 31lb 2oz. I went to work a very happy man and returned the following night for another go with the zigs. I headed for the same area and got the rods back out. The bats were still doing their thing at dusk, and just into dark I heard what sounded like a good carp roll over the middle rod. At around midnight that same rod ripped off and it wasn’t long before I had a cracking 38lb mirror in the net. Of course, it is hard to keep anything quiet, especially when you need someone to do the photos! The other lads who were struggling on conventional bottom rigs had clocked what was going on and they soon replaced their bottom baits with 4ft long zigs with home made “Zig Bug” creatures on the end! They had a fish each the next day, which was a total contrast to the previous two day's fishing, which had produced very little action for anyone fishing on the bottom.
Foam Nugget guarantees perfect presentation and a Diffusion Kicker optimises hooking potential
A NEW PLAN
My next session came the following week and, upon arriving at the lake, I noted the chilling breeze blowing down to a reedy corner. I climbed a tree or two and soon saw the odd carp cruising around about 3-4 feet down in the water, but strangely nothing was to be seen in the area that had produced a result the previous week. I watched until dusk, but not one bat or a swift showed itself in that area! Clearly, the natural insect hatch I had observed the week before had finished and I needed a new plan of attack. I set up in the area where I had seen the odd carp cruising earlier and tied up three fresh Attractor Beetles on zigs set at 3ft, 4ft and 4.5ft under the surface. The light was fading, and I needed to move quickly.
Luckily for me, I happened to have a bag of the new Riser Pellet in my holdall. Because a small percentage of this floating pellet sinks slowly down through the water column it does a very good job of imitating a natural insect hatch. I thought it would be interesting to see just how effective the new pellets would be at switching the carp into “search and feed mode” and getting them hunting for mid-water food.
I cast the rods and walked upwind to scatter the Riser Pellet in such a way that it would drift over my spots, dropping pellet down over the top of them. I kept baiting into the night, constantly repeating the process of brewing up a cuppa before going back up the wind to scatter another small helping of the Risers. The night was a cloudy one, but at about midnight there was a break in the cloud and a huge full moon beamed down onto the lake. The moon lit up a couple of mallards, which were having a feast on the pellet that had drifted down to the windward margin, and I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing by continuing to bait – and I had definitely drank my fill of brews by this point! I eventually decided it was a case of “in for a penny, in for a pound” and I carried on with my baiting plan. At about 1am I heard what I thought was a carp roll. It was a little bit further down from my rods, but it was in an area where the drifting pellet would be passing through.
So I decided to stop feeding for a while in case the fish were following the pellet down the wind. At 2am I had a fast take on the rod furthest downwind, and I carefully played what felt like a good fish to the net. I kept imagining that little size 10 hook in its bottom lip, and how fine the new 10lb Zig Flo hook link was, but I needn’t have worried, as when the fish eventually rolled over the net cord I could clearly see in the moonlight that my attractor beetle was buried about an inch back in its mouth – it certainly wanted that bug! I was in awe as it was clearly a P.B. common sat in the bottom of the net, and it looked a good 40 pounder, too! Up on the scales in the morning she went 42lb exactly and really cemented my new found confidence – the Risers and the Zig Bugs would now be permanent additions to my tackle!
So, in the space of 6 overnight sessions, and with the help of one bag of Riser Pellet and 6 little Zig Bugs, I had experienced some of the best fishing of my life, banking some amazing carp to over 40lb whilst others struggled using conventional boilie tactics. It is relatively cheap fishing too; Mother Nature is doing the pre-baiting for you! Of course, there are times when the weather or the carp dictate that conventional rigs and baits will be the most productive method, but when the time is right there is no more effective way to catch them than on a Bug!
Just one final word; as we expect at this time of the year, the catch reports detailing carp caught on Nash Bait products are flooding into the office each and every day. As word gets around, more and more fish are being caught on the bugs and anglers are discovering that the Zig Bugs also make very effective surface baits; fished in amongst Riser Pellets they seem particularly effective at catching out spooky fish that have previously been hammered on more conventional surface freebies and hook baits. All I can say is, give them a try – you won’t be disappointed!
A 42lb Bug eating monster!