A Guide to the Withy Pool Rig
The Withy Pool Rig is a presentation that I have invariably used for all of my pop-up fishing when then bait is smaller than 15mm. Over time I have become confident in a small handful of different rigs and I will rarely use any others. I have a couple of bottom bait rigs and three different pop-up rigs that I will use. The withy is my first choice for small pop-ups, which I don’t use very often other than in the colder months.
Using a 10 or 12mm boilie on my stiff link variation always looks a bit, which I just don’t like. It might be me, but I never feel right casting one out with a small bait attached, particularly with a size 4 hook. Because of the baits size, the hook really protrudes and looks a bit cumbersome
I first saw the Withy when Steve Renyard was doing regular bits in the mags and knowing that he’s a bit of a terminator, and had caught loads on it, I thought I’d give it a go.
I have always been into the mechanics of rigs - I like to keep things as simple as possible but there are certain things that I notice in particular presentations that I think are worth implementing. With the Withy it was the severity of the curve in the tubing that I could see potential in. It made perfect sense from the word go really. The curve would help turn the hook quickly and aggressively towards the bottom lip. It’s a very similar concept to that of the Jim Shelley style Chod Rig.
The overly aggressive curve leaves the hook in a rather inconspicuous position, allowing me to use one of my favourite hook patterns, a size 6 Wide Gape, with it standing out beneath the bait. I have the utmost confidence in the Wide Gape 6’s and although I love a size 4 Choddy for my pop-up fishing, the slightly smaller hook does suit the small bait better. There’s never any doubt that Wide Gape might let me down and being a lighter hook too, that also suits the small bait, lessening the chance of the bait being dragged downwards once it’s taken on water. I want the hook held bolt upright for as long as physically possible.
With the aggressive curve in the shrink tubing and 1cm of coating removed from beneath the curve, it allows plenty of movement in the hook section. This coupled with a big shot 5mm from the tubing, anchors the rig in place. When having the bait balanced with a shot just big enough to sink it I noticed that the hook section wasn’t spinning round as quickly. By testing the rig in the edge in noticed straight away that when pushing my finger against the back of the curved shrink tube that the small shot would often lose position on the bottom and the rig didn’t turn quite as effectively as I wanted it to.
By totally over doing the weight needed to sink the pop-up, you end up with a shot that has a true anchoring effect. When I wrapped my shot in putty and again tested it in the edge, it was clear from the off that the it was holding firm and the hook section turned fast and effectively as soon as I pushed my finger against the back of the curved tubing.
In a fishing situation this would see the hook spinning round and into a position, ready to hook the carp a lot more effectively. The stability of my hook holds increased and I was much more positive about their positioning within the carps mouth.
The tubing is a major part of the rig, the most important in fact. I use a standard length of tubing and cut off 15mm, leaving me with a decent length. This is then slipped over the eye and steamed over the kettle, the curve is then carefully formed. I like to have the end of the tubing just short of level with the point of the hook. It can take a bit of fiddling about and the occasional steam burn but it’s worth the hassle to get it right.
The coating on the braid plays a part in creating and keeping the curves shape - by steaming the tubing with the coating still on it creates rigidity within the curve, whereas by stripping the coating you lose this. It is important that the curve is smooth and strong, keeping its shape. By over curving the tubing as you steam it you can also help achieve this. The tubing will have some degree of give in it, so a standard C shape will have the potential of opening up slightly, with an overly closed C shape you can then work the tubing with your fingers after steaming back into a C shape. This way the play in the tubing has been eliminated and you are left with a perfect curve and no chance of it opening up. By using the N-Trap Semi-Stiff rather than the soft, which I normally use, I found that the rig would kick away from the leader better, whilst being supple enough to settle nicely over any detritus. It’s important that the rig kicks away properly and doesn’t land and poke upwards, and when the pop-up is over-weighted, a stiffer hook link is needed in order to be sure this happens.
As I mentioned before, it is rare that I will use a bait smaller than 15mm but during the winter I have had good success using them. In actual fact the bigger fish I have caught between November and March, including two or three target fish have all been on the Withy Pool and a 10mm pop-up. Strange when I think that in reality I rarely use them. There has always been something appealing to me about casting out a small, bright pop-up during the colder months and with the Withy Pool Rig I feel I can do this whilst fishing confidently and effectively.
The buoyancy of the pop-up is really important and I will often drill the middle of my pop-ups out and plug them with cork.
Doing this stabilises the buoyancy – because cork doesn’t take on water. Water absorption will affect any bait and it’s a technique I use with my hinges stiff rigs too. Adding the cork means that bait will stay closer to it’s buoyancy level as it enters the water, many hours later. With the withy this is great because the more buoyant the bait is above the heavy anchor point, the quicker the hook section is going to spin, rather than it leaning over.
I caught my personal best common using the Withy Pool and a 10mm Mainline Pineapple pop-up fished over a bed of maggots. It was the last morning of my trip and in an attempt to make the most of the last couple of hours of my session I opted to fish with small yellow pop-ups, which will grab the carps attention quickly.
I knew the big ’un had a bit of history for liking yellow baits so it seemed a good bet. Not only for the big ‘un but anything else that visited the spot as they would also be sure to clock the yellow pop-up. Thankfully though, it was the big ’un that picked up the hook bait and after an epic battle I had a hefty common in the net. The Withy Pool Rig doing me proud, with a fantastic hook hold in the centre of the bottom lip.
There is definitely a place in anyone’s armoury for the Withy Pool Rig, it’s a very effective carp catcher and hook pulls are few and far between. What more could you want?