It’s been getting cold over the last few weeks so I thought now would be a good time to take a look at some of the winter carp rigs and presentations I’ll be using this coming winter. I used to be someone who’d stick it out on the hard waters no matter what but with age comes an appreciation of being home with your feet up in the warmth an hour after dark so these days I tend to target runs waters just for the day. It’s worth bearing this in mind because the waters I fish tend to be just as pressured in winter as they are in summer and this has had an impact on my rigs over the last year or two.
I’ve always advocated using the same rigs and baits all year round, I still do use the same type of baits, which is boilies at the moment, but I started fining down my rigs a couple of years ago, specially on waters that are gin clear during the colder months, with this in mind I dropped down my hook size to a size 12 Korda Kurv Hook. Now I know a 12 might sound small but the korda kurves are a big hook and they are roughly a size 8-10 against some other patterns so not that small!. I’ve changed my hooklink material too, I still like my 25lb Silkworm and last winter I was using a Sharpie Marker to dye it green or brown, during the year I discovered ESP Camo Sink Link which is a really nice braid already dyed to match the lake bed. I’ve already seen enough to convince me that scaling down the hook and blending in the braid might give an advantage on pressured waters so I’m more than happy to use esp sink link in gin clear cold water. Apart from the hook and hooklength, my rig is essentially the same, an inline lead with tubing and you can read more about the actual lead arrangement here.
I only have a couple of variations when it comes to my rigs, my main two have the same hook and braid, it’s the way I present my rigs and baits which gives me the biggest edge. The first presentation is a chopped boilie rig. I use a short 4-5” hooklength and the bait is a quarter piece of boilie on the hair, this is fished as a bottom bait in a pva bag with a small handful of quarter boilies and a couple of whole ones. The idea is that carp are so used to boilies being round they automatically treat them as dangerous and being wary, the carp have a focus of danger in the two boilies but the chops are regarded as safer and are readily taken first, sometimes the chops are all they'll take!. This little trick has bagged me a lot of pressured winter carp in the past and I’ll be using it again this winter because it always seems to produce the goods. The pva bags I use now are Avid Carp PVA Bags in size 5, one of my mates put me onto these at the beginning of last winter, they are a nice, small castable size, ideal for those little traps and my rigs don’t come in with any residue on them so they do melt well in cold water. One last thing on the chopped boilie rig, beware of the bream!, if they are in your water in numbers you might want to consider something else.
My next winter carp rig is a 10mm scopex popup fished kd style, it’s a tidy little rig and although I’ve only been using scopex baits this year, the 10mm popup has always produced the goods during winter, in fact this little rig has produced all this year for me, the sink link braid is around 8-10” and I have the choice of moulding my Heavy Metal Putty to the hooklink creating a popup or underneath the popup so it acts like a balanced wafter, a very flexible rig you can alter easily without messing around. Speaking of not messing around, I’ve started incorporating Korda Kwik Links into my rigs so I can chop and change quickly, my winter carp sessions are generally no longer than 5 hours and I don’t want to waste 20 minutes or so tying a new rig with cold hands so I’ve started to carry some already made up rigs in a Korda Rig Box and I use the kwik links so I can be fishing again straight away should I decide to ring a change.
My third winter carp rig is a standard size 6 Kamasan B175, a hook I’ve used for near on 20 years, this was my standard winter carp rig for many years and it still produces the goods today, I use this hook in conjunction with 8-10”of sink link braid but I use bigger hookbaits, in this case it’s a 14mm northern special barrel, again I prefer non round baits on the hook because I’ve witnessed carp get quite paranoid when they come across perfectly round boilies yet they go for chopped baits in a big way. I try to avoid using round baits of 14mm and upwards because of these close up observations.
If I’m not using a solid pva bag I usually nick my hook into a small PVA Mesh bag when casting out so either a couple of whole boilies or chops usually accompany each rig, as well as giving a little extra attraction, the small bag helps prevent tangles which is something you need to watch with braids like silkworm and sink link. I also add a small piece of Foam Nugget to trap the hair and stop it wrapping round the shank of the hook, this is very important as I’ve suffered quite a few hookpulls when the hair itself has looped around the hook shank. It only needs to wrap around once and that’s enough to cause trouble so I use the foam nugget and pva mesh bag every single cast. I do sometimes chance not using a bag if I'm casting at a showing fish quickly but I would never not use a piece of foam nugget, it's just too important.
Well that’s it for my winter carp rigs and the presentations I'll be using in the coming months. The chopped boilie rig is a belter and I'm sure it's saved me many blanks and contributed to many multiple catches on some winter runs waters, I've had that one up my sleeve for a long time!. Judging by the number of anglers on the banks of the waters I frequent in winter, I'm not the only one who opts for easier winter targets. It's good to keep the runs coming when it's cold, it's more enjoyable and you go into spring with a lot more confidence than if you've banged your head against a brick wall on somewhere difficult. Spring is probably the most important month for catching carp, as the temps rise in March and April the carp will switch on in those harder waters and it's best to enter this period confident, for me, a good spring campaign starts with a productive winter one so wrap up, keep warm and keep catching.