Ali Hamidi talks through setting up a rig that will keep your bait visible when the autumn leaves are falling into the water.
It’s getting to that time of year when bottom debris on lakes will increase as the leaves drop from trees and the rainfall increases. For many of you, your fishing will be concentrated on smaller lakes or closer in to the bankside, which means your chances of fishing over thick silt are increased. This isn’t something to be afraid of as the carp’s natural food sources are mainly found in silt pockets. However, to fish effectively in these conditions you need a rig that will present a bait efficiently in front of the carp’s nose. The word ‘pop-up’ can scare some people and make them think they need some supercomplicated rig to make their presentation work. Well, the simple fact is that you don’t, and the tcf lads passed on some great tips for popped-up baits in last month’s issue. Carp rigs over the last few years have become heavily focused around making the hook turn and catch hold in the bottom lip of the fish. If you watch the Korda Underwater DVDs, you begin to realise just how important it is to catch the carp out quickly. On commercial fisheries and small club waters, the quarry you’re chasing will be under intense angling pressure all year round, so it’s of vital importance that you use a rig that is up to the job. My advice is that if you can find the time, tie your own rig using the best components for the job rather than buying a ready-made rig. The picture sequence will take you through the different components I use for my popped-up boilie set-up. The word pop-up is basically a description of the way in which the hook bait is presented above the bottom. It’s not as dramatic as the zig rig, which I covered last month, but it can generally mean presenting your bait anything from a quarter of an inch to five inches off the bottom. I know this may sound obvious but firstly you will need a floating bait that’s buoyant enough to float the hook when it is placed on the hair. Once you’ve got the relevant bait or boilie, you then need a shot – generally no bigger than a BB – that will slowly sink the bait. This shot is placed away from the hook at the distance you want the bait to be suspended from the bottom; your bait will then sit tantalisingly above the debris on the deck. When you use a bright bait this can be even more attractive. I will very rarely use pop-ups if I’m fishing over beds of sinking particles or crushed boilies – basically anything small and sinking. When carp are preoccupied by small baits they are often nose-deep in mud/silt; therefore, a bait that is positioned anywhere but hard on the bottom is destined for failure. If anything, you risk foul-hooking a fish because your hook is likely to catch its fins as it feeds past your hook bait in the silt. However, if you’re fishing over a handful of boilies or to the edge of a baited area then a single hook bait pop-up can be devastatingly effective. The picture sequence will also help you choose which lead arrangement to use. I prefer to use a simple lead clip, which is very easy to deal with. As the series progresses I may take you through more complicated rig arrangements. On almost every session I will have one rig fishing on a pop-up, and certainly as the weather cools down I will always fish a bright, highly flavoured bait on its own, re-casting every hour or so to different areas to try and pinpoint where the carp might be holed up. I like to present it around half an inch off the bottom, and I use the smallest shot I can get away with to slightly sink my hook bait. It’s easy to do and can help you catch some bonus specimen fish during late autumn and early winter. The presentation I have highlighted incorporates a super-sharp hook and a simple knotless knot that will help turn the hook into the carp’s mouth as soon as the bait is taken in. As it gets colder and fish play harder to get, I become even more stringent in my choice of tackle. Much of this is focused around the type of hook I use. The carp are feeding with less frequency and intensity when it’s cold, which means that when a fish does decide to pick up your hook bait you need to hook the creature and not risk it blowing the bait out. That’s why I always use a straight-pointed hook for pop-up fishing. I also favour a long shank hook with an inturned eye. Okay, that’s enough! Have a shop round and get yourself some nice smelling pop-up boilies. My favourites during the cooler months are Mainline’s Pineapple Juice and Fruit-tella pop-ups. A tub of each, at just £10, will last ages and help you keep catching fish when the mercury is plunging.
Angler File Name: Ali Hamidi Age: 26 Hometown: Colchester, Essex Personal best carp: UK – 33lb 10oz, Redesmire, Cheshire; overseas – 51lb 4oz, Maison de Lac Blue