The majority of carp anglers nowadays use braided hooklength materials. The advantages of braided materials are obvious; they are strong whilst having a comparatively low diameter, plus they are far more supple than mono lines. Due to this attribute, a bait presented with a rig tied with braided line behaves very natural under water when a carp sucks the bait in; almost like a bait without a hook.
But as easy as the carp can suck the bait in, it can eject it, too. On waters where the fish are pressured this happens very often.
A few years ago, I was observing a group of carp feeding in the margins on a water that was and still is very heavily fished by carp anglers. I threw in a couple of boilies about a meter away from where the carp where feeding on the bottom in the shallow water and hid behind a small bush to wait and see what would happen. A few minutes passed by and then one of the carp discovered the boilies I had thrown in. The other carp followed him a little later. In the clear water I could observe how the carp sucked in the baits only to blow them back out again straight away. This procedure continued a couple of times until the carp was sure that this boilie weren't attached to a hook.
I'm pretty convinced that if I had fished this swim casting from the other bank towards the margins where the fish were now feeding that I would have only got a single beep or even no indication at all from my Micron RX.
On waters where the carp have already been caught several times, we often don't recognise it when a carp tests our hookbait by sucking it in and blowing it back out again; especially if one is fishing at long range.
For this reason, stiff rigs (rigs tied with stiff mono line, especially the new fluorocarbon lines) are very popular in England at the moment. Fluorocarbon lines have the advantage over standard mono lines that they are heavier than water and thus sink very well, plus they are very difficult to see under water due to the fact that their light refractive index is closer to that of water than standard nylon.
But why mono or fluorocarbon lines? some of you will ask. The idea behind the use of stiff hooklength materials is that mono rigs are more difficult for the carp to eject once it has sucked the hookbait in. But now that we're using a stiff rig one also has the problem that the bait doesn't behave as naturally under water as with braided lines.
For this problem there are two solutions.
The first one is the so-called combi rig, the second a so-called stiff hinge rig.
A combi rig consists of a 15-20cm long piece of mono line to which one ties about 3cm of braided material near the hook. Due to the braided and supple material near the hook the bait behaves naturally under water, but then again it is difficult for the carp to eject the rig due to the long stiff section of the rig.
The second alternative is to fish a mono rig straight through, but with a loop on the swivel or, better, one of the new flexi-ring swivels that are now sold by Rod Hutchinson, Fox and ESP. The loop or the swivel allows the hookbait to move freely on the bottom of the lake, even though the hooklength material is stiff.
Personally, I prefer to fish the second alternative (mono rig with flexi ring swivel) as this rig never tangles and it always lies straight on the bottom; thus the hook is away from the lead. Ideal are stiff mono materials with a diameter of 0.40mm or more. During the last couple of years, I've fished quite a lot with this kind of rig and I've been very content with it. As stiff hooklength material, I can recommend three lines in particular. These are Illusion from Fox; Stiff Stuff from Rod Hutchinson and Bristle Filament from Drennan / ESP. I tend to use breaking strains of 20lbs and more for two reasons. Firstly, thicker lines are more stiff than thinner ones, which increases the stiff rig effect; secondly, on snaggy waters lines with a diameter of 0.40mm and more are safer.
A positive side effect of the stiff rig is that one normally doesn't have to use anti tangle tubing any more.
On waters with a lot of crayfish I usually fish only stiff mono rigs (with mono hair, too) as these can't be tangled by the crayfish.
Before I finish this article I`d like to present you another version of the stiff rig that is very popular in England at the moment. It's called the Spinner rig or the Terry Hearn Rig, and is called a Spinner rig because the rig allows the hook and bait to move and turn very freely. The job of a rig is to present the hookbait as naturally as possible, but it has of course to be strong enough to allow the angler to land the hooked carp.
An ideal presentation would be if the hookbait behaves no differently to the free baits. I think if you take a look at the drawing of the spinner rig you'll see what advantages it has. Due to the two stiff sections of the rig, the hookbait can move very freely on the bottom of the water.
Due to the fact that both parts of the rig are stiff, the rig always lies straight on the bottom once you've cast out. As soon as a fish picks up your hookbait it bolts against the weight of the lead as the rig lies straight on the bottom and thus the fish usually gets hooked very well.
Tying the rig isn't very difficult. Firstly, attach your hook to the stiff line with a no-knot knot. Make 4-6 turns and leave a bit of line standing. At this end you can now tie the "D" on the hook by pulling the overstanding line back through the eye of the hook. Once the line is pulled back through the eye of the hook you can cut it off (but not too short).
With the aid of a cigarette lighter you can melt the line a bit, which results in a nice little blob that prevents the line from slipping back through the eye of the hook. But be careful not to burn and weaken your rig. Tungsten putty for balancing the pop up can be attached to the uni-link swivel in the middle of the rig.
Terry Hearn uses this rig with pop ups, but it also works with sinking baits. The best way to store your stiff rigs is to keep them straight on a rig board or in a stiff rig pouch.
Finally, I'd like to mention that I'm not of the opinion that the stiff rig is necessary on all waters. With this article I just wanted to present you this kind of rig. If the rig is necessary on your water or not is something you have to decide for yourself. Personally, I've tried the Spinner Rig but generally I think it's not necessary on most French waters.
If you ever have problems with false takes, which can have many causes, give the stiff rig a try.