When summer arrives many anglers thoughts turn to zig fishing. So when is it best to use a zig? Almost anytime is the answer. Ben and I have caught carp on zigs during the hottest summers and the coldest winters. To be fair though, zigs are at their best between March and October. They work very well on most waters. Although I remember once when we were doing a feature in the middle of winter. It was bitterly cold with ice around the margins and we were struggling. In sheer desperation I cut down a pop up and put it out on a zig on its own and left it. Meanwhile Ben and I were chasing our tails trying everything we could to buy a bite. A few hours later we could hear the distinctive sound of a clutch going on one of the reels. It was the zig rod; I’d forgotten to turn the alarm on. Not that it mattered as I was positioned next to the rods and heard it as soon as it went off. I carefully and I mean carefully played this carp to the net because we still hadn’t caught anything for the feature. We didn’t want to lose it. Ben eventually netted what turned out to be a 29+ Mirror. From zero to hero all thanks to a zig. We did eventually have a couple more carp including a 25lb+ which Ben had. It was just as well though because the lake froze over later that day. Needless to say the feature was a success.
Will zigs work on Broadlands? The answer to that is yes. Broadlands is a prolific water and is ideal for zig fishing. We’ve had several carp from Blackwater Bay, Motorway Bay and other areas of the lake on zigs. Making up a zig is fairly easy but before tying it, you need to find out the depth of the water in front of you. Plumb about with a marker and measure the depths in various spots. If it’s pretty uniformed it’s not a problem. Be aware though that there may be a gravel bar, deep hole or plateau in your swim. Once you’re happy where your marker is, let the marker float come up and record the depth. If the depth is say eleven feet we’d fish three rods (if allowed) at different depths. For guidance we’d have one zig at seven feet, one at eight and one at nine. These can be measured out using a tape measure or one of the many rig boxes that come with a twelve inch measurement on the side. If nothing happens then we’d adjust up and down until we got a bite. Even just a few inches can be the difference between having a bite or not. Zigs can also be fished on the surface but be careful if Gulls and Ducks are about. Once we’ve had a couple of carp at a certain depth, then all the zigs would be fished at that depth. A point worth noting here is what do you do if there are loads of carp already showing in the swim when you arrive. You can take a chance and guess the depth, sometimes it works. We’d much prefer to make one cast with the marker away from the bulk of fish to get an accurate depth measurement. Contrary to belief, it doesn’t scare the carp as long as you don’t keep doing it.
To tie a zig you need a fine monofilament line. Don’t use fluorocarbon because it sinks! We use Drennan Double Strength line in ten or twelve pound breaking strain but other lines can be used. Firstly measure off the required length of line for the zig plus six inches more for the hair, knots and loops. Tie a small loop in one end and attach the hook bait to the loop. Pass the free end of the line through the eye of the hook from the opposite side of the bend. Pull the line through until the hook bait touches the bend of the hook then tie the line to the hook using a six turn knotless knot. We use size 8 Ashima C420 Anti Eject Hooks. At the free end of the line tie another loop that when finished is about an inch long. That’s it. Slide a safety clip and tail rubber onto your mainline and tie on a swivel. Pull the swivel into the clip. Push a baiting needle through the wide end of an anti-tangle sleeve and attach the needle to the loop on the zig. Pull the loop through the sleeve so that it can slide onto the zig line. Pass the zig loop through the eye of the
swivel and then pass the baited hook and rig sleeve through the loop and pull tight. The rig sleeve can now be pushed over the swivel eye. The rig is tangle free when set up this way. Attach a lead to the safety clip and you’re ready to go. Make sure the tail rubber is only lightly pushed on to the clip. This way the lead will either be pulled off on the take or will fall off as you are playing the carp. This makes any carp caught on a zig a lot easier to land because it will come to the surface.
For hook baits we use a variation of foam in various colours or Mainline pop ups. The foam and pop ups are trimmed down before being attached to the hair. Maggots can be added to the foam or pop up to give it some visual movement. Continuous spodding on prolific venues can bring multiple catches but can have the reverse effect on the not so well stocked waters. A mixture of pellets, hemp, ground bait, chopped boilies, maggots and particles can all be used in the spod mix. Try mixing ingredients of different sizes and density as these will fall through the water at varying rates. Some will fall fast and others at a much slower rate. This will have the carp searching around at different depths for the food. Groundbaits such as Mainline’s Cloud Nine will cloud up the water when used in spod mixes. The cloud that is formed will linger in the water providing added attraction and sending the carp into a feeding frenzy. Adding liquids such as particle and pellet syrups, oils and flavours to the spod mix can beneficial. There you have it. Next time you’re at Broadlands and the fishing is a bit slow give a zig a go, you may be pleasantly surprised.