Tuesday, 25 April 2017 09:34
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

The Complete Zig Fishing Guide

Elliott Gray explains the key attributes to zig fishing that have made a difference to his angling. 


Pick The Right Lead System 
Pick the Right Lead System ACF April

Knowing when to use an adjustable zig and when to use a fixed-lead system is important. If the water is deep then I will always opt for an adjustable, if it’s shallow or weedy, then I’ll choose a lead clip. When using a lead clip I want the lead to release on the take. I’d like to drop the lead on an adjustable too, but it’s a tricky one. The range you are fishing at will also dictate what type of lead system you are best to use – adjustable zigs are better suited to shorter distances.


You Can’t Beat A Foam Hook Bait 
You Cant Beat a Foam Hook Bait acf april

Not only is foam extremely buoyant, which is very important when selecting a hook bait, but it has lots of other advantages too. Foam is easy to use, re-useable takes on liquid flavour and is also available in a variety of colours. There isn’t a great deal that foam isn’t good for, so it’s my number-one choice. Stability and consistency are absolutely key to a good hook bait and I don’t think you can better foam.


Maximise The Hook’s Gape
Maximise the Hooks Gape acf april 

It doesn’t really matter what rig I’m using, bottom baits, pop-ups or zigs, I want a wide-gape hook pattern. When tying up a zig, the monofilament hook link will kick inwards from the eye. To stop this I use a piece of silicone tubing. By covering the shank of the hook I am able to not only stop the knotless knot from loosening, or the hair from twisting, but it is opening up the hook’s gape again. My favourite hook pattern is the Mixa, which suits floater fishing and zigging down to the ground – the Mixas have a very wide gape. If I were fishing in extremely weedy situations, then I might switch to Wide Gapes in a size 8 or 6 – they have a thicker wire gauge.


Drop The Lead When Possible
Drop the Lead When Possible acf april

I’ve always preferred to drop the lead when zigging. I don’t think it necessarily causes hook-pulls, which is often said, but I do think it makes the fish much harder to control. With the lead gone, I’m in direct contact with the fish and the battle becomes much easier to win. I’ve always favoured a lead-clip arrangement for this, and when used in conjunction with a big lead, it drops effectively pretty much every time.


Think Carefully About Your Hook Link
You Cant Beat a Foam Hook Bait acf april

I always choose my hook links depending on what sort of swim I’m fishing and how cute the fish are. I’ll use as strong a hook link as I can get away with, which can depend on different things. If it’s a weedy swim then you’re going to have to use at least a 10lb line, and if you don’t have access to a boat, I’d say a minimum of 12lb. If the water in front boasts little in the way of threats then I’ll happily use 8lb, even for big fish. It’s always worth looking at the diameters of the hook links – 0.30mm is a good middle ground. I don’t think I’ve ever had a hook let me down zigging, it’s always the hook link, so it’s this I would worry about most in more extreme situations. If you pick the wrong one, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll lose the fish and, worst case, it’ll be because of a cut-off.


Check The Water’s Clarity
Check the Waters Clarity acf april

I could well be wrong, but I’ve always avoided the use of zigs in murky water. I’ve never heard of a murky lake fishing well on zigs. When I have used them on lakes that experience algae blooms, I have found them to dry up once the clarity goes. In an ideal world, I want the water to be nice and clear, which makes the hook baits much easier for the carp to home in on. 


Fish With Tight Lines And Clutches
Fish with Tight Lines and Clutches acf april

I tighten both my clutches and lines when using zigs. The line is tight for indication purposes because a slack line when zigging can result in little or no indication. Using a tight line ensures that when you do get a bite you’ll know about it, and pretty quickly too. My clutches are kept tight because of the extra line the fish gain; once the fish is hooked it has the distance between the hook and the lead to play with. I would rather the line tighten up properly because I then become in more direct contact with the fish during the take. I set the clutch so that once the line has tightened up, only then will the spool begin to turn and release line.


Use A Big Lead
Use a Big Lead acf april

The large leads really lend themselves to this method. You use an adjustable zig with a small lead, so that writes them off for that side of it all. For lead-clip fishing, you need a big lead for a few reasons. I’ve already mentioned lead ejection, so next up is the hooking potential. Most of the time the fish is going to be a long way from the lead and the more you can bring the lead’s weight into play the better. I like to know that I have a big enough lead for it to push that hook home as soon as the hook link is tightened.


Carry PVA Nuggets 
Carry Some PVA Nuggets acf april

I very rarely use PVA foam nuggets these days – unless I’m zigging that is. When it comes to zigging, I’m a big fan of PVA foam and it’s a bit of a lifesaver really. Both the adjustable and fixed-lead presentations have uses for PVA nuggets. I use them to prevent tangles, to protect the hook point, and as something to follow when looking for tangles during the zig’s flight. 

From my experience with foam, you need to be careful. Make sure that you store it somewhere dry and keep the pot or bag sealed as often as possible.


Use As Big A Hook As Possible
Use as Big a Hook as Possible acf april

I always have and always will favour a large hook over a small one, but for a long time, I have been more than confident with a size 10 for zigging. More recently, though, I started to play around with larger hook sizes, namely size 8s. The reason is simple, I think you lose fewer fish on larger hooks and I want to lose as few as possible. In an ideal world I’ll put every carp I hook on the bank (of course) and I’ll try anything I can to increase the chances of this happening.

Related items (by tag)

back to top