How Long Should My Carp Rigs Be?

A question I’m often asked by newcomers is how long their carp rigs should be. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer, as in my own fishing much will depend on the situation I’m faced with when I select a particular swim or water.

Firstly, I will look at how I’m going to put the rig out. If it’s going to be cast out on its own, i.e. with no PVA bag or PVA mesh attached, then I will usually select a rig of between six and nine inches. Again, the hooklink material will also have a bearing; some materials are more prone to tangles than others, so a coated or stiff link may be nine inches, but a fine braided hooklink will be nearer six to prevent a tangle on the cast.

Carp Rig Length

Usually, when casting the above rigs out on their own, I’ll be fishing them over a scattered bait approach. I like the link to be that bit longer in this instance to give them a bit more confidence before they feel the weight of a lead.
If I’m using PVA bags, I’ll match the length of my hooklinks to the size of the bags. Again, once tied up, I don’t want a big length of hooklink visible if I’m doing a big cast, which could cause a tangle – the more of the hooklink that’s in the bag, the better. It’s worth noting that I don’t put the hooklink, lead and rig in my PVA bag, as I often tie them up at home prior to fishing to save time on the bank. I simply drop a baited hooklink into the back with the end sticking out an inch from the bag, then fill and tie off my bag. Then, when I get to the water, I just clip the hooklink onto my quick link and away I go.

Likewise, if I’m fishing a PVA mesh presentation I will tailor the length of my rigs to the length of PVA stocking I’ll be using. At this time of year (winter), I always favour stocking over bags due to its improved melt time in cold water and, again, I’ll often tie a few up at home beforehand, so it’s just a case of selecting a rig of matching length when I’m out on the bank.

PVA Carp Rig

When fishing mesh stocking, I always incorporate a PVA link. This is a small metal link that fits onto the eye of your lead and hangs down allowing you to clip on a tied PVA mesh stocking for casting out. Using a safety-clip system for most of my fishing, I bear in mind that there will always be two inches of hooklink before it gets level with the top of the mesh in the PVA link, so, if I’m using a four inch mesh stocking, I would select a six inch rig so that the hook will nick the tied-off tail at the bottom of the stocking perfectly, thus reducing the chances of a tangle on the cast, and more importantly, making sure my hookbait is nestled in amongst the free bait once on the bottom.

What’s going on under the surface may also have a bearing on the length of my rigs. If there’s a bit of weed, leaf litter, heavy silt or such like, I may turn to a longer link to ensure it does not get buried on the cast. If, by contrast, it’s a firm bed with no weed or obstructions, I might move towards a shorter link. It’s all about matching the length to the situation you’re faced with and, obviously, this can change.

In order to make sure I’m covered for any eventuality, I always have a selection of carp rigs made up for different approaches; bottom bait, wafting bait, pop up bait, etc., and for all of these I’ll have long and short options, so that I don’t have to mess about making them up when I want to be fishing!

I use a quick link system on my rig so that if I want to change the area I’m fishing, or fancy trying something different, it only takes a minute to reel in, change rig and cast out again.

Julian Grattidge
February 2013