Working The Water
Dale Turner gives us his zig-fishing masterclass
I often try to be as versatile as possible when out angling, no matter the weather. Taking in the scenario I’m faced with and then adapting to the situation has got to be my most confident approach.
A lake I’ve been fishing sees a good number of anglers target it and the majority of them fish on the deck with boilies or pop-ups, introducing boilies as freebies, whereas in the summer months the fish can be taken from the surface in numbers. It seemed that nobody was targeting the carp in their most comfortable area: mid-water. My approach with zigs seemed to really come into its own on this lake. Baiting little and often over zigs can create an awesome feeding response. I’ve seen many anglers try to spod over zigs, but it’s not as simple a task as many think and it requires work to get it right. Once you do, though, the results will speak for themselves.
I like to use a slightly different spod mix to the norm when feeding over zigs. About 70% of the mix is a classic cloudy mix, but the other 30% is made up of heavier items. I think it helps to get the competitive feeding instinct of the fish really going, chasing the larger items down to the bottom. It also has the advantage that it effectively baits the spot on the bottom too, just in case the zigs become unproductive; that’s when you’ve got to adapt.
My mix starts off with a light coloured groundbait and some evaporated milk (which boosts the clouding effect). The next ingredients are crushed hemp and peanuts, which I blend at home to give me a mix of items that sink really slowly. The next addition is whole hemp, sweetcorn and some chopped Krill boilies. These are the heavier items that will sink through the water column faster, drawing the fish to feast in a more competitive manner. Finally, I add a few handfuls of maggots. These are a must for me when spodding over zigs, as they slowly drift through the water column and the fish go mad for them! I begin with 10 Spombs, keeping them as accurate as possible using a far-bank marker. After that I top up with three Spombs every 15 minutes, setting the timer on my phone to ensure the bait keeps going in on time to keep the bait trickling through the water column.
Accuracy is vital when baiting over zigs and to maximise this, after finding my spot, I will wrap my line out around the Distance Sticks and count the turns. This ensures that both my rods are clipped up at exactly the same range, as is the spod rod, so the bait lands bang on the zigs every time!
I like to keep my zig fishing tackle very simple, yet light and reliable. I have now settled on a setup I will rarely change, whether fishing for doubles, twenties or bigger fish! I use an 8lb mono hooklink along with a size 10 hook. I keep the hair as short as is possible and the hookbait tight to the bend of the hook; the hookbait being a piece of black foam topped with yellow as a sighter. To save time on the bank I pre-tie a number of zigs at home, all at 10ft in length, and then cut them down to the size required when I’m on the bank. This means I can get the rods out quickly, and have plenty of spares if the bites come thick and fast! With regards to the lead clip, I replace the tail rubber with a few wraps of PVA tape. This holds the lead on the cast, but as soon as a fish is hooked the lead is dumped. This is a great advantage as it means fewer fish are lost due to the lead bouncing the hook out. I also use an anti-tangle sleeve to help push the hooklink away from the lead, which greatly reduces tangles.
Bite indication is extremely important when fishing zigs. Using such a long hooklink gives the carp a lot of freedom of movement before the lead moves and the bite is actually registered. Fishing mega-tight lines, using a heavy indicator on a Flexi Arm maximises the indication massively, putting constant tension on the line, meaning that as soon as the lead is dislodged in any way, the indication is transmitted back to the rod. You’ll find that drop-backs can become extremely commonplace.
Know the depth
Zig length is an important aspect because the fish will often be at a certain depth in the water column which they find most comfortable; find this depth and the bites will soon come. In the area I’ve targeted, the water is around 11-12ft deep, so I begin at three quarters depth (9ft). If the bites aren’t forthcoming, I swap and change every hour and a half or so. Once I’ve got it right, I often find that bites will actually come while I’m spodding over them, just like the common did that I’m holding in the photo hereabouts.