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Zig masters


Lumeymorris
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Happy New year all,

Zigs! Now I always hear or see people on YouTube, on the bank in the magazines but never really got involved until now. Now I want to get on the zigs as I keep looking at the weather lately and its always high pressure when I have time off so instead of not fishing ill start fishing the water column instead of the bottom. But there's a few basic rules I'm not aware of like what's the minimum hook link material you want to be using? I get using a small hook so the bait keeps it all up. And I read somewhere that keeping the bait tight to the hook as you get slightly different bite indication. And then what size lead do you want to be using as with zigs there all different lengths so then would it come down to what length to what weight? Also location say the fish as showing in a snaggy swim how would you approach say a snaggy island or do you avoid and stick to open water with a clear bank to land the fish?

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Zig link breaking strain is a tricky one. The lighter you go the more bites you'll get but there's no points in getting bites of you can't land them. The waters I fish are weedy and I was losing too many fish on the purpose made zig lines (they're all pre-stretched so have poor abrasion resistance). I moved to X Line (fluro) in 10 lb and started landing them. Basically you need to use common sense and look at the water you fish/the fish you're fishing for to determine what link you need. Personally I wouldn't go below 10 lb.

 

Similar story with hooks. You don't need to go too small, zig foam is more buoyant than you think. I use 8s and 10s.

 

I tend to keep the bait tight to the hook. I recommend the Fox zig aligners, very good indeed.

 

Lead size: This depends completely on whether you're dropping the lead or not. If you're not, use the smallest you can get away with (landing fish on zigs with a big lead attached is a recipe for disaster). If you are dropping them, go big, but only if your set-up is guaranteed to lose that lead. I use anything from 2 to 4 oz depending on how far I need to cast. I always drop them (not huge fan of dropping leads but it really pays with zigs).

 

I wouldn't go anywhere near snags with zigs. It can be difficult enough to land them from open water. It's just not safe IMO.

 

Bite indication can be downright weird with zigs. Don't be afraid to hit some strange little occurrences.

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i am with you lads,i have watched hours and hours of tube vids on zigging and i still cant get a handle on it.

its probably too simple for me to grasp the complexities of :lol:

thing is, i reccon that if someone on here did an in depth post on it i would probably pay more attention and so get more out of it.

hopefully over to you Nige :wink:

 

Jon, funny that you should mention Nige Woodcock as a guru on the use of zigs. Year before last a bunch of us held a social at Merrington in Shropshire and Nige had the good sense to slowly walk the entire bank, looking.

 

He noticed a fly hatch and opted for the nearest swim, he'd caught three good fish, all on zigs with black foam on short hairs, before I'd chosen my swim........

 

He went on to take eleven (I think) carp from that swim. If I didn't like him so much I'd gladly loathe him........

 

Ian

 

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Jon, funny that you should mention Nige Woodcock as a guru on the use of zigs. Year before last a bunch of us held a social at Merrington in Shropshire and Nige had the good sense to slowly walk the entire bank, looking.

 

He noticed a fly hatch and opted for the nearest swim, he'd caught three good fish, all on zigs with black foam on short hairs, before I'd chosen my swim........

 

He went on to take eleven (I think) carp from that swim. If I didn't like him so much I'd gladly loathe him........

 

Ian

 

Thank you mate. You've a good memory Ian but don't forget the two I had on my last night before having to leave at first light a day early! Not that numbers matter mind.

I wouldn't call myself an expert in regards to zig fishing, far from it really. If people used them more, they would catch more on them. Stating the obvious but that's what it comes down to in basic terms.

I will try and put something together tomorrow night on how, where and why I use them. Will need to sit down at the laptop though as typing on my phone is a nightmare!

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That!

If guys checked zigs at showing fish as often as they do pop ups they'd soon establish confidence in them.

Funny you should say that many time before have I casted to a showing fish with nothing to show until my last session where I was having no joy on the bottom and with the fish jumping out every few hours I set up a rod with a zig and waited for the next fish to kindly show it self and then casted out a six foot zig with black foam and bang I was graced with a Christmas carp just gutted I didn't do it earlier.

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ZIGS


As I mentioned before, I am no expert but I do use zigs a lot of the time in my angling. I have lost count the amount of times I would have blanked if I didn’t fish with zigs. I have also had lots of big hits using them. If I could only fish one tactic all year; zigs or standard bottom baits/pop ups, there is no doubt in my mind that the zigs would heavily outscore the standard set up come the end of the year.


 I have had a good think about how I could go about writing some information on how and why I use them but don’t want to bore you all with paragraph after paragraph of ramblings. There are so many variables to zigging, just like fishing on the bottom, if not more so. If I was to tell you that a capture of mine was caught on a zig, this could have been one of many guises that my zig fishing comes in. From one foot off the deck to 4 inches over depth. From feeding over the top of them to a one rod, single approach. Maybe even stalking or sat ‘twitching’ an adjustable zig by pulling the line back and forth a couple of inches!


I will try to break things down into sections and will try and find some photos that I can illustrate things with. These may need adding later though, as and if I find them.


Why? Where? When?


It is well documented in the media and videos that carp spend most of their time ‘off’ the bottom. Great news for standard zig tactics and over depth zigs for surface feeding fish. But there are times when carp are feeding on the bottom that zigs can still be the only way to get a pick up. One of these is on a weedy lake like horseshoe. Fish love to feed in and amongst the weed but presenting a bottom bait or even a pop up, can prove almost impossible in some cases where the weed is just too thick or moving around. These feeding fish will move in and out of a spot that they are feeding on numerous times throughout the feeding spell. This is where a strategically placed zig can catch them off guard. Either placed on an entrance/exit route or even sitting just above the weed. I’ve had fish from Horseshoe on zigs that are only 8 inches high.


My standard zig set up is a size 8, short shank hook mounted knotless knot on the fox Zig line. I have tried several different lines and most fall short in one way or another. The Fox line is by far the best and I use it in 12lb. I always start with a little 10mm foam ball that is half black and half white. The black sits underneath to form a silhouette against the brightness of the sky and the white on top so fish above it can pick it out easier as it shows up against the deep dark water or bottom. It is mounted tight to the hook but with the use of rig tube so that the bait can be sat slightly above the bend of the hook whilst still being tight against it. I also use a tiny piece of clear shrink tube to form a slight kicker. This allows the hook to be sat in a claw like position, ready to prick the bottom of a fish’s mouth if picked at.


These are almost exclusively used in conjunction with lead clips so that I can quickly change between zigs and more standard rigs in double quick time. One exception of this is if I am using adjustable zigs. These are set up just like a marker rod. If you imagine the marker float as a fox clear bubble float and the hooklink coming off the top of it.


On the subject of adjustables, I don’t just use these in very deep water. As Phil has eluded to earlier on, I have been known to stalk fish using adjustable zigs. Sometimes, the fish need that bait to be right in front of their mouth to get a take. I have watched this in very clear water and even ½ inch difference in height can mean getting  take or not. Fishing an adjustable lets you make these minute changes in an instant. If all the fish are swimming around with their backs just touching the surface, every one of their mouths will be at a different height due to the shape, size and type of mouth they have. Another thing an adjustable can allow is ‘twitching’ of the bait. A little bit of movement will sometimes provoke a bite when a static wouldn’t rouse any interest. This is especially useful in the spring and early summer when the fish may be feeding on fry!


Back to a standard set up. I see people advocating the use of the lightest lead possible. I go completely the other way. You could be fishing with say an 8 foot zig. There is a lot of play in that hook link and I want the weight of that lead to really pull the hook into the flesh. As soon as this happens and it has done it’s job, I want the lead gone. This is another reason for using lead clips. A chap on my syndicate was saying he will only use a light lead as he doesn’t want the fish pivoting on the lead giving it a chance to shed the hook. As I explained to him, the fish are already moving so having that heavy lead pull down will generally see them bolt off and dump the lead, giving you one hell of a screamer of massive drop back at the same time!


This leads nicely on to bite indication and line lay. I think it’s pretty obvious that a tight line are the order of the day when zigging. The majority of takes I get are, as said, screamers. These normally come with no prior warning. The fish are already moving when taking the bait. That could be away from you or towards you, hence the tight line allowing the biggest range of movement on the bobbin during a drop back.


Another ‘non standard’ way of fishing them is over depth. This can give them something different to deal with other than a floater, with line all over the surface. I will only fish them around 4 inches over depth. This will give contact with the lead in the shortest space of time/distance. The more over depth (longer amount of line on top), the more aborted takes I seem to get. 4 inches seems to be the best option although sometimes, the bait just breaking the water will score more. Again, this is another time I would use an adjustable. Even casting six inches left or right of the same spot can be 4 or more inches’ difference in depth. That could be the difference in having a bait on top to having one 6 inches below the surface.


I can honestly say that I have never spodded over zigs (other than Barston in the BCAC semi finals). If they are feeding mid water, they are there for a reason other than your sloppy spod! If I was to fish a very heavily stocked lake, as said, then I may change this and feed over them.


There is a way that I have fed over them though. This is with Nash riser pellets. These are the best surface feed that I have ever come across. They can get the fish taking far quicker and with more confidence than bread or dog biscuits. As some of the pellets slowly sink, a zig placed just under the surface is a killer method. Most the time though, I will be fishing amongst a hatch, in a shoal of fry or, say in winter, fishing at a depth were the fish are comfortable. No need for bait in these situations.


To finish, I will give you a few tips as bullet points.


·         Look for hatches. These can be given away by simple things like ducks supping the surface or birds swooping down to take the immerging creatures


·         Commit all three rods to them. If you think the fish aren’t on the bottom, why just fish one rod for them. Increase your chances by having 3 out there.


·         Keep busy. Changing depths, colours, areas you cast to etc etc.


·         Use a heavy lead. I favour 3 or more ounces


·         Bow string tight lines


·         Don’t ignore ‘twitching’ an adjustable


·         If your struggling to get a bite on the bottom but you know fish are there feeding, put on an 8 inch zig.


·         Don’t go too small on the hooks or too light in the line breaking strain.


 


I hope this helps a few of you convert to using them and I will gladly try and answer any questions you may have or expand on bits if required.

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I have watched this in very clear water and even ½ inch difference in height can mean getting  take or not.

 

Now that is interesting. I played around with adjustables a few years ago but never fully committed. It makes me wonder just how ineffective my normal changes of +/- 6" might be!

 

Class A writing Nigel; really, really good stuff.

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Now that is interesting. I played around with adjustables a few years ago but never fully committed. It makes me wonder just how ineffective my normal changes of +/- 6" might be!

 

Class A writing Nigel; really, really good stuff.

Witnessed this myself yonny too .... literally an inch either way can make the difference between a take or it being completely ignored.
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Now that is interesting. I played around with adjustables a few years ago but never fully committed. It makes me wonder just how ineffective my normal changes of +/- 6" might be!

 

Class A writing Nigel; really, really good stuff.

I spent pretty much the whole day stalking fish with adjustables in clear water. It was so frustrating watching them glide right over the bait. I figure that because of them not grubbing around and sucking everything in, like when feeding on the bottom over bait, they perhaps have a blind spot? Who knows??? What I do know though, through experiencing it, is that it does make the difference between a take or not. If I had been sat there with set length zigs out, as I would be on most lakes, without being able to view what's going on, I might not have caught. I had zigs out for two days previous to stalking them with only one aborted take.

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Witnessed this myself yonny too .... literally an inch either way can make the difference between a take or it being completely ignored.

It was ace being able to share that trip with you and bounce ideas off. The fish were certainly not up for being caught that day. Worked out socks off didn't we!

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I spent pretty much the whole day stalking fish with adjustables in clear water. It was so frustrating watching them glide right over the bait. I figure that because of them not grubbing around and sucking everything in, like when feeding on the bottom over bait, they perhaps have a blind spot? Who knows??? What I do know though, through experiencing it, is that it does make the difference between a take or not. If I had been sat there with set length zigs out, as I would be on most lakes, without being able to view what's going on, I might not have caught. I had zigs out for two days previous to stalking them with only one aborted take.

 

I believe in many instances they don't look at the zig and think 'food', rather they're just giving it a nudge so see what it is. Your observations might support this; if they thought it was food I've no doubt they'd drop an inch or 6 to eat it. Maybe if we place it so accurately in front of them they just can't help but 'give it a prod'. They're inquisitive creatures at the end of the day.

Obviously if you're feeding over the top (which I also never do) it'd be a different story. Assume you were fishing them as singles?

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I believe in many instances they don't look at the zig and think 'food', rather they're just giving it a nudge so see what it is. Your observations might support this; if they thought it was food I've no doubt they'd drop an inch or 6 to eat it. Maybe if we place it so accurately in front of them they just can't help but 'give it a prod'. They're inquisitive creatures at the end of the day.

Obviously if you're feeding over the top (which I also never do) it'd be a different story. Assume you were fishing them as singles?

I would say that 95% of my zig fishing is using no feed at all. I think that the majority of the time, if they are up for a bite to eat, they are at that level for a reason. Hatches, fry, tadpoles could all be the reason. It's observing what's going on round the lake, not just with the carp but everything together. Ducks, birds, hatches, wind, atmospheric pressure, angling pressure, other fish feeding, where other fish have spawned etc etc. Massive jigsaw puzzle that sometimes you get the peices in the right place. Other times you can't even find the corners or edge peices!!!

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that post is exactly what i was looking for nige, i would favour the adjustable approach myself as its the casting out a fixed rig that i cant ever get right.

has it tangled, is it presented as i want, what the hell is going on with it, WHY HAVEN'T I HAD A DAMNED BITE YET? these are all questions that have haunted me when i have tried zigs in the past, i have had some meager success with the adjustable but not enough to give me the confidence i need to commit to the method, plus not being a fan of lead clips may hold me back too.

never too old to try new tricks tho :wink::lol:

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Playing a fish on a zig with the lead still attached is a nightmare. You will have to do this with an adjustable but the float will slide down to the lead leaving just the 2 or 3 ft hook link above. Not ideal but a sacrifice you have to make when fishing an adjustable.

Funny enough john, I find that the adjustables tangle far more than a set length, standard zig. I have countered this by not using a dedicated zig float but a fox bubble float.

If you have a smooth casting action and stop the lead in flight, feathering the cast, I can pretty much guarantee that my standard zig won't be tangled.

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