Spring into Zigs
Zig rig is the nickname given to an anchored floating bait, that is fished well up off the bottom. In recent years some very big fish have fallen to zig rig tactics and these days most carp anglers will use a zig at some time or another during the season. Zig rig fishing requires little in the way of additional gear, so with a little bit of planning you can easily gear up to fish zigs when the conditions are right.
A recent trip to Drayton Reservoir was a classic example of how effective zigs can be. Fishing with angling mate Graham Drewery, we opted to fish off the dam wall. The night had been cold with a frost, and a thick mist shrouded the lake as we started by fishing on the bottom about 80yds out. We were pleased with a couple of hard fighting mirrors in the first hour, but then we went a couple of hours without any further action. Drayton can be a very prolific water so we started to question if we were getting it right, plus the weather conditions had changed. A warm spring sun, had burned off the mist, and a gentle breeze was blowing into our faces. We had approximately 15ft of water where we were fishing and most importantly topping fish over our baits.
Conditions which screamed time for a bit of zig fishing, so in came one rod each and out went a zig. Within minutes of the change Graham was into a fish, we had our tactics sorted for the rest of the day.
Fishing zigs is relatively simple but like any tactic there are a few tweaks to make it even more effective, here’s my top 5.
1) Go as fine as you safely can with the line you use for the hook-length. If I’m fishing in an open water snag free situation I would opt for something like 8lb Daiwa Sensor clear.
2) A fine wire, wide gape hook works well for zigs. For most of my zig fishing I use either the Gamakatsu Specialist Wide Gape or Korda Mixa. At the other end of the hook-length I prefer a standard lead clip system, but I dispense with the tubing above the clip. A simple in-line lead system again without tubing can also work well.
3) You can try zigs at any depth, my normal starting point is two thirds of the total depth, but be prepared to experiment until you find the carp’s preferred feeding depth.
4) There are a range of floating bait options that work well on zigs, my preferred baits are chopped down pop-ups, small pieces of foam, or plastic corn. Be prepared to try different baits on the day as some days one shape, colour, or flavour works better than others. It can also be worthwhile spodding over zigs as well to get fish active in the water column.
5) Casting long zigs can be a pain. Put a bait bucket or bait tray behind you to put the hook-bait in prior to casting to make sure it cannot snag up on the cast.
The rest of our day went far too quickly and we had several more fish on the zigs. Hard fighting mirrors that just didn’t know when to give up. Drayton Reservoir is a relatively new water for us, but already we are becoming real fans. Brilliantly run by head bailiff Mark and his team, very prolific, what I would call proper ‘fun’ fishing. Graham and I are already planning out next trip and somehow I reckon zigs will be on the agenda.