Stiff Stuff

The beauty of this presentation is that it doesn’t tangle on the cast

Chilly details his version of the popular hinged stiff rig.

I have always believed that if I can get a carp moving between mouthfuls it is infinitely easier to catch than one feeding on a tight patch of bait or particles. It is the reason that I have used boilies exclusively for my fishing over the past 15 or so years.

Occasionally I will use the corresponding Response Pellets if I think tench and bream won’t be a problem, but again I want to spread them out and avoid putting the spod down the same hole on every cast. I am not saying that a carp is impossible to catch over a tight baited patch, because obviously it is not. A carp is armed with a very advanced filtration system in its mouth, and it is this that ejects the hook, not a massive intelligence that carp do not possess. For me, the less opportunity I give this filtration system the chance to sort out the things it wants to eat from those it doesn’t, the more likely I am to hook it.

When I first became aware of the hair rig back in the early eighties, I tied mine up with a black braid. I caught fish of course, but I never felt I was getting the best from the rig itself. Things improved greatly when I started to use nylon; Sylcast and Maxima were my favourites for a while. Changing from the more normal 10-14-inch length of hooklinks to around six to seven inches improved things still further. However, I still wasn’t happy.

Chilly always checks the rig is balanced right before casting out
A Chod Withy Bin is perfect for keeping spare chod sections at the ready

It certainly wasn’t my idea, but I was introduced to a material called Amnesia, a black and rather stiff mono that came, I believe, in 20lb breaking strain. Much of the fashionable talk (something I normally avoid like the plague) revolved around making the hookbait behave as naturally as possible, but I always felt that that made it so easy for the carp’s filtration system to get rid of the rig. No, a stiff hooklink made it harder for the carp to eject the rig, and the stiff nature of my setup ensured that the hook stayed in the mouth longer, therefore having more chance of taking a hold. Basically, the stiffness of the hooklink meant that it didn’t fold back on itself, and for a few years I was happy with that. In many respects it is why my stiff Coretex strippable braid bottom bait rigs are so effective.

More and more these days I want to use a pop-up presentation, and that gathered momentum around the end of the nineties. Previously I had never understood why anyone would want to use a pop-up, especially as the free offerings they had delivered into the lake would be on the bottom anyway. It just made sense, to me at least, to use a bait where I was encouraging them to feed. That was until I fished at Horton Church Lake in 1996. A friend of mine had an incredible season fishing short nylon hooklinks and a pop-up off the lead. He had most of the A-Team that year, and won the Angling Times Carp Angler of the Year Award as a consequence. It made me sit up and think, and because the Lake was fished by anglers from far and wide I eventually got talking to a guy from Kent about pop-up rigs and the use of stiff material to make them. I laugh when I see claims of who invented the hinged stifflink pop-up rig, when it was being used many years before it became an iconic presentation!

A stunning big carp caught using the rig detailed.

I started to tie it up as I had been shown, but as normal I noticed that the mechanism wasn’t allowing the stiff material to work as effectively as I thought it could. Large loops with rings running around them left too much room for error as far as I could see, so eventually I ended up using Flexi-Ring Swivels to impart the movement and rotation of the up-link section of the rig. For many years I used as stiff a material as I could find, and eventually Fox came to my rescue with a brilliant fluorocarbon called Illusion. Best of all, they did it in a 30lb version, which may sound a little excessive, but its inherent stiffness was and still is second to none. The fact that it disappears in water takes away any doubts about using such a heavy material, and to be honest I haven’t looked back since.

The size 5 SR hooks that I use have never let me down, and are by far the best design to cope with this setup. The pop-ups are balanced using Rig Putty, which allows me to critically balance things to my liking.

Finally, the hookbait itself. I have never been one to use a technique that either takes too long or is a pointless exercise anyway. To that end, I use a baiting needle to pierce the pop-up and pull a length of braid through it. Through the loop at the top I put my boilie stop, then tie an overhand knot tight to the bottom of the pop-up to stop the rig ring cutting into the hookbait when I tie it on. The final thing to do is tie a couple of overhand knots to finish off the rig, burning off the tag ends with a lighter. The job’s a good ’un... or so I thought.

About 18 months ago Fox brought out the Edges Ready Tied Chod Rigs. Now, I am the first to admit that, all bar one experimental session, I have never used a chod rig. However, as soon as I saw these little beauties I knew I had found the perfect answer to rig tying. They are tied so much better than I can do it myself, and every one is of the same length. What that does is make sure I have infinitely more time to watch the water rather than tying rigs – perfect!

I mentioned at the beginning that I exclusively fish with boilies these days, and by spreading them out over as big an area as I can, and fishing one or even two hinged stifflink pop-ups over the top, I have never failed. I fish a whole host of different environments and it works just fine everywhere I go, and not once do I change my rigs or baiting tactics. In a world that tells you minute changes are what catch you carp, I have found it best to stick with and gain confidence in one or two things, then smile broadly for the camera!

 How to tie Chilly’s hinged stiff rig

  • STEP 1: The components Chilly uses to contruct his hinged stiff rigs
  • STEP 2: Take 12 inches of 30lb Illusion and tie one end to the ring swivel of a Ready-Tied Chod Rig
  • STEP 3: Cut the tag end of the swivel knot and blob with a lighter for extra security
  • STEP 4: Thread your pop-up on to a looped piece of flexible braid and add a boilie stop
  • STEP 5: Tie the tag ends of the braid to the rig ring and blob with a lighter
  • STEP 6: Mould a piece of Tungsten Rig Putty around the swivel of the chod section
  • STEP 7: Tie the other end of the boom section to a Flexi Ring Swivel using a figure of eight loop
  • STEP 8: Pull tightly from each end of the fluorocarbon boom to straighten it out
  • STEP 9: Attach the rig to your chosen lead setup and it is ready for fishing

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