3rd March 2020

Whilst searching the layers, Adam Francis details how he goes about using zig rigs, which have caught him four 40s this year.

Throughout the year, there are several periods of time that zigs can really come into their element. During winter and early spring, particularly on deeper venues, an all-out zig approach puts your hookbaits in-front of fish more frequently than fishing on the deck. As a result, I think there is no better method for catching fish during this period.

Recently I have been fishing the Essex Manor; an irrigation lake, with sloping margins and depths ranging between 20-30+ feet depending on the water level. This makes it the ideal water for adjustable zigs. The flexibility of the adjustable zigs makes finding the fish easy, as you can search the thermoclines in the water column and find where the fish may be held up. A slight variation in temperature or light levels can dictate the depth lethargic carp sit at! As a general rule of thumb, from my results, the top third, to mid-depth seems to be the best area.

Adjustable zigs are fantastic in deeper waters, allowing depth adjustments simply by adding or removing line from the spool. I make notes on my phone of the depths to avoid confusion. They need not be daunting to use either, I have found as long as you PVA nugget your hook bait to the side of the float, trapping it in place prior to casting, tangles are very rare, especially if feathered on the cast and felt down on a tight line. Once on the bottom it’s important to keep a tight line and allow the tension to remove any bow as the line sinks. Don’t allow the float to shoot up to the surface quickly, pay off line a foot at a time, and the rig should rise up tangle free! A pair of binoculars are ideal for checking your setup on the surface, you can then use them to watch your hookbait disappear if the conditions allow. If you can’t see your hookbait, simply note your hooklink length and count that down after the float has disappeared, before setting the required depth. I’ve added markers to my to rod blanks with electrical tape, 1 ft from the spool, to make this process as quick and simple as possible.

I have been adding the Bloodworm spray to my foam hookbaits to replicate natural food signals.

The water quality has been really good during my first season searching the layers, the clear water lended itself to the visual curiosity, bite inducing factor of my zig hookbaits. This was especially important in winter when the fly hatches of spring are yet to begin. All it takes is for one investigatory fish to mouth or snatch at the zig to be in with a very good chance of hooking!

To date this winter I have been fortunate, my all-out zig approach, day and night, has really paid off, producing several more of the venue’s residents in their winter coats, four of which over the magic forty-pound mark! Keeping mobile and proactive has been key, they can, and will move, even in winter if they feel pressured on a venue such as The Manor.

I mentioned day and night, which can be tricky to get the confidence to stick to, but once you capture your first zig fish at night, all doubt subsides. Black foam silhouettes fantastically against the skyline in the dark should a fish be looking up. A piece of yellow or red by themselves or combined with black, can work equally well, and on their day, even better, it can pay off chopping and changing!

I have been adding the Bloodworm Bait Spray to my foam hookbaits to replicate natural food signals. However, the jury is out on zigs, whether flavouring plays a part in bites, but in my opinion, if it encourages even one to investigate, then it’s certainly worth that extra dimension! Fruity flavours are great too, with my first fish of the winter boosted with Pineapple & N’Butyric Bait Spray.

I have resorted to zigs this winter not as a last-ditch attempt, but instead a go-to method for cold water conditions. It’s very well documented but being adaptable and tailoring your approach with the situation you are faced with will give you more chance of consistent bites, making your sessions memorable!