Advanced Rig Design

Roy Russell take us though the hugely unique rig he has developed over two decades to confuse even the biggest of carp.


I was shown a similar rig 23 years ago. It was known as the big-hook rig, and it was catching its fair share of fish from Duncan Kay’s mid-Northants fishery. It was known for being a tricky lake and the rig was getting some surprisingly good results. Due to its instant hooking nature, it was proving a mouthful for the riggy carp there, so I reasoned it would be worth a try. I have always had a penchant for rig tinkering. I see myself as a bit of a thinking angler and I always seek the next edge in my fishing.

I began having a play around and took it out for its first trial. It’s a rig that lends itself perfectly to hard clay or gravel spots. With a soft lake bed, you run the risk of burying the hook bait as it plunges into the detritus. The short hook link is a hindrance at this point because it ends up masking the hook bait from view.


The Key Points Of The Big-Hook Rig

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1 – A drop-off inline is the best lead arrangement because it falls off on the take with ease


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2. A chod section is the most efficient hooker for this rig. It turns quickly and finds flesh when sucked in.


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3. A loop is formed with a crimp to further increase the movement in the rig.


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4. The pop-up sits straight off the lead, giving the fish very little chance of getting away.

After trying it on a session it didn’t take long to get my first bite, and my god did I know it! The bites were mental and I made many hasty runs to the rod before grabbing the butt section as it was dragged in. It was probably down to the shock that the fish had when it realised it was hooked. I adapted it to fish it with a drop-off-lead system to prevent the lead hanging around the fish’s head during the fight, which reduced lost fish and improved the fish-safety aspect of the rig.

Originally, the big-hook rig featured a large Longshank Nailer and a small split ring threaded through the eye of the hook. The split ring was then connected to the swivel that sat in the inline lead boring. The hook bait was mounted on a rig ring with the bait running up the Longshank up to a hook bead that sat opposite the barb. This made the hook sit at an aggressive angle. Basically, it was a hook attached to a lead with no room for movement.

I have always used short rigs like the chod, but as it grew in popularity it began to play a part in my fishing because the components became better. However, this led to its overuse as anglers cottoned on to its efficiency.

Many anglers use a slack line for a chod rig and this makes it easier for the fish to get away with it, especially when they get used to seeing it on a daily basis.

I decided to hybridise the two rigs. I took the chod hook link and fished it directly off the drop-off 31/2oz inline lead fished with a short section of leadcore leader, which pins the line down behind the lead to keep it as inconspicuous as possible. The result was an efficient hooker with no room for movement from the fish. It never tangles either, which gives you confidence when fishing it.


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This big mirror fell to the original big-hook rig 15 years ago and Roy still uses it when the situation is right. 

By fishing the rig directly off the lead you are able to create a different problem for the fish to deal with, namely the instant contact with the lead. The way I look at it, I only have my own catch rates to blame if it doesn’t work.

As time’s progressed I have updated the components as more have become available.

One critical point of the chod rig that is overlooked a lot is a large loop made by crimping the stiff filament or by tying a loop knot in it. Many people think that a swivel will suffice, but the loop adds so much movement that it ensures the rig turns no matter which way a fish approaches it. The easier it is to get in the fish’s mouth, the easier it will be to hook the carp and the more efficiently it will do so. It’s a simple as that.

I fish the whole lot in a solid bag to ensure perfect presentation during the cast and prevent tangles. I have tried numerous bag mixes to complement the rig and I have caught on everything from pellets to a solid bag full of maggots. In the case of maggots, I have also matched my hook bait by gluing maggots to a buoyant cork ball to create a Medusa-style hook bait.

It takes a bit of bravery to cast out, but it’s a rig that you rarely use. When you do, it can get you an extra bite when the fish are hard to fool on normal rigs.

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A buoyant pop-up is a must with the big-hook rig. It is vital to the mechanics and helps improve hook-holds.