Making up pole rigs

Save yourself time and trouble by making up pole rigs beforehand. When you are ready to fish, attach the line to your pole, take the rig off its winder and away you go.

To get the best out of your pole you need to think about your rigs. Only by making up the right one for the job and putting it together with precision can you achieve the kind of bait presentation that makes pole fishing such a deadly method.

Have a purpose

Some anglers’ tackle boxes contain trays full of rigs on winders, which have been made up with no specific job in mind. Many of them will never be used. Although there is nothing wrong with having a few rigs to tackle the unexpected, it is always best to make a rig up with a firm purpose in mind.

The right specifications

Let’s imagine that you have a match at the weekend on your local water – we’ll call it Furnace Pool. Previous matches have been won on the pole with big skimmers and you’ve got an idea that this is going to be the method on the day. How do you decide on a rig that’s right for the job? Type of rig There are all kinds of rigs but you can narrow down the choice according to the species you are after. In this case it’s skimmers. In most waters skimmers feed on, or very near, the bottom — and the skimmers in Furnace Pool are no exception. So you need a rig that takes the bait to the bottom fairly quickly and keeps it there. With this in mind, you plump for an Olivette rig. The general point is that you choose the rig according to the species’ feeding habits. Had your quarry been roach – which often prefer a slowly sinking bait – you might have chosen a Styl rig. Rig length The next step is to think about where the fish are likely to be – and this is where your precise knowledge of Furnace Pool proves invaluable.

On the majority of pegs, skimmers can be taken at about 7m (23ft) from the bank onwards. You have decided to base your line of attack at about 9m (30ft). Because the pool has an even bottom, the depth of water 9m (30ft) from the bank tends to be around 1.5-2m (5-7ft) on most pegs. In other words, you need a rig suitable for fishing in 2m (7ft) of water, 9m (30ft) out. %

The depth of swim has a direct bearing on the length of your rig- obviously, the deeper the swim the longer the rig needs to be. You expect to encounter a depth of around 2m (7ft), so you should make up a 3m rig – giving you an extra metre (3ft) to play with. Most of this extra length is for controlling the float but some leeway is useful for coping with swims that are slightly deeper than expected.

It is much better to make a rig too long than too short. You can always shorten a rig on the bank by removing line and tying another loop but to lengthen a rig you have to tie on extra line. The problem with this is not so much that it weakens the rig but that it can make moving the float difficult. Many pole floats have very small eyes which won’t allow a knot to go through and you may end up pulling the eye out of your float if you try to force it.

Rig weight The depth and distance at which you intend to fish is an important consideration when it comes to deciding how heavy a rig should be. The rule is simple: the deeper the water and the stronger the wind, the heavier the rig.

Wind can play havoc with light rigs, causing tangles as you put the rig in and take it out, and blowing the float about when it is in the swim. So in general it is best to err on the heavy rather than the light side.

Furnace Pool nestles in a beech wood, so it is well sheltered. An Olivette of 0.75g with 4 no. 10s should be about right but you’ve decided (wisely) to set up a slightly heavier (lg) rig too —just in case the wind gets up. Rig strength Balance the rig so that the hook size and breaking strain of the hook-length and main line are compatible.

For example, it doesn’t make much sense teaming up a small, fine wire bloodworm hook — a size 26, say – with a fairly heavy hooklength – 2lb (0.9kg) b.s., say. In this case the hook simply straightens long before the hooklength breaks. Similarly, there is no point in matching a larger, forged hook – such as a size 16 – with a light hooklength of 12oz (0.34kg) b.s., say. In this case the line may stretch too much to set the hook properly – or it may even snap. Match the hook size to the bait, and the hooklength to the hook size.

Choose a main line of a slightly higher breaking strain than the hooklength. If you are using an especially heavy Olivette – 6g, say—then choose a sufficiently strong main line – one that is able to cope with the wear and tear. Make sure too that the strength of your rig and the elastic in your pole are also compatible.

Although there are tench and carp in Furnace Pool they are few and far between and haven’t really entered into your calculations. Your secret match plan is to fish a single maggot on a size 20 hook with a 1 lb (0.45kg) b.s. hooklength and 1.5lb (0.68kg) b.s. main line. If you do hook a tench or a mega carp, you’ll just have to take pot luck!

Putting it together

Having decided on a rig, all that remains for you to do is to put it together. Finding that you haven’t time to go fishing before the match, you are going to make the rig up at home.

The garage seems to be the best bet: plenty of space to set up the pole without having to worry about people treading on it or taking people’s eyes out with it, and away from the family dog whose enquiring and boisterous nature is sure to leave such a delicate operation in ruins.

Gather all the bits and pieces together: hooklengths, a spool of mainline, Olivettes, shot, pole float, rubbers, winder, rig anchor and pole, and you are ready to start.

The finished product

There’s nothing more annoying than having to dismantle what may be a perfectly good rig just because you’ve forgotten its specifications.

Once you have the rig on a winder, stick a label on it. Write the hook size, breaking strain of the hooklength, weight, length and date. This way you can see the rig’s specifications at a glance.

Finally, although it is a good idea to add a small blob of petroleum jelly to the hook to protect it from moisture, this is not an excuse for keeping rigs too long.