Zig rigs are a huge leap of faith. To suspend an inanimate object somewhere midwater in the hopes a carp will come along and take a bite is akin to casting out a lure for pike and not reeling it in to make it move – it seems ridiculous, but carp are very, very different creatures to most fish.
I can remember writing about Zig rigs when I worked for Crafty Carper magazine. A few anglers had learnt of their effectiveness and had caught some really impressive fish using the tactic. Back then, a yellow pop-up or piece of cork was the hookbait chosen, before somebody started messing around with bits of buoyant foam in yellow, white and black. That totally changed the game.
My first choice for Zig hookbaits is black foam, of varying shapes. Avid Carp High Lites and Zig Lites are perfect. I sometimes glug these in something like a Sonubaits Booster Cloud, or rinse the Zigs in water then roll them around in powdered additives. My favourite is a Sonubaits Super Octopus Flavour Shaker - boy that's caught me some fish!
When it comes to selecting the right hook and hooklink, in my opinion the new Korum Xpert Specimen hook is the perfect option. Straight point, super sharp and a slightly inturned eye. I'd use anything from a size 14 to a size 8 depending on how big the fish are, or how tricky they are to tempt. I'm not scared to go right down to the size 14. These hooks have been strong enough to land me mid-30s in testing in weedy conditions.
As for the hooklink, well here I change it depending on the amount of weed or snags. Preston Innovations' Reflo Power hooklink is quite good in 0.24 and 0.26 for really open water, but the new Korum Power Mono in 10lb or 12lb is tough as old boots and absolutely perfect for Zigs. This hooklink is unreal, in that you cannot kink it. You can straighten it out by pulling it tight through your fingers just once. It transforms it into the perfect monofilament for big fish fishing. It's got no shine to it either, it's totally matt. Just the job for Zigs.
One thing I also prefer for Zigs is a leadclip arrangement with a big lead on. A 3.5oz at least, with the leadclip set to release the lead right away. Playing a fish with a 10ft hooklink and a big lead swinging around is a recipe for lost fish, so set the tailrubber to drop the lead, or use an Avid Carp Zig Clip with no tailrubber, using PVA tape to secure the lead.
Rods are a personal thing but I definitely prefer lighter rods for Zigs. My Korum 2.75s are permanently set up with Zigs on. When I arrive at a lake I will chuck out two or three Zigs as soon as I arrive - and then start setting my gear up, plumbing, etc. It's caught me some quick fish before now and I've ended up not needing to fish any other method!
I also fish with tight clutches on Zigs. Don't set your baitrunner or clutch loose. If the fish get up a head of steam, you'll lose more fish. Fish tight, so the fish come up high in the water as soon as they're hooked. This also encourages the lead to come off. Play the fish with the rod low and only lift it up if they get weeded or they're ready for netting. It's a great way of landing more fish.
So there you have it. Quick and easy tips on fishing Zig rigs. Give them a try on at least one rod this autumn, you're sure to end up with some beauties in the net.