Lance Barton reveals what he has learnt from winter Zig fishing!

Lance Barton reveals what he has learnt from winter Zig fishing!

The Zig rig: love them or loath them, they can be a devastating method, especially in the colder months. I’ve got to admit, I was late to the party with them, much preferring to sit it out on regular tactics than pinging a piece of flip flop into the abyss. A saying that I have seen ring true with Zigs is ‘something could be everything’!

hate to beat the broken and battered drum again, but location with Zigs is very important. Not only do you have to find an area of the lake with carp in, but you also have to work out where they are swimming! In general, carp in cold water will group together and as such will normally be super obvious in their whereabouts, the only problem is tracking them down. The vast majority of the lake could be devoid of fish, yet one small corner, or open water spot could have the whole stock in! I always use a pair of binoculars and polarised glasses to give me the best chance of finding them.

Even in super cold conditions, the CARP aren't always on the bottom

When it comes to depths, there’s no hard and fast rules. Carp are wild, cold blooded creatures and as such will seek out the warmest layer of water. The middle of the water column is a good starting point and generally I will work upwards if we have milder weather and downwards in cold weather. Unfortunately, it’s just a case of trial and error with Zigs, you have to almost guess your way through it. It is worth pointing out, I guess where the fish are in the water, I never guess the depth. Casting a marker rod around your swim will give you a starting point, then you know the exact the depths you have to deal with.

Foam is a classic hookbait for zigs and in cool, clear water I don’t think you can beat it. When temperatures start to drop further though, I tend to switch to larger hookbaits, even using 16mm pop-ups with a load of spray on them. I find the colder the water, the bigger and smellier you need to go on the bait front. I also match my hooks and hooklengths in this manner too, smaller hooks and thinner line with small foam baits, and large hooks with heavy line with larger baits.


I always fish all three rods on Zigs, this gives you the best chance of finding the depths they want to be at. Each one I set up to the same, a big, 5oz lead on a lead clip with bow string tight line. This is vital for me as it works in a few different ways. The first is that the tight line, and spring back of the mono give great detection of line bites, helping you further pinpoint the carp’s location. Secondly, the bites on Zigs can be finicky at the best of times. You have to think about it, the fish have such a massive hooklink to play with, so a big lead and tight line gives you the best chance of the hook catching hold.


By far the biggest thing I have learnt from years of Zig fishing is there really are no rules. The fish make them up as you go along, sometimes I think they do it to spite me! It is super exciting fishing too, as bites come out of the blue. There are no warning signs, no fish showing over you, no bubbles; just a twitchy bite and a heart stopping moment. Zig fishing has without doubt improved my fishing in the cold, I no longer dread it, I absolutely love it!