Danny Fairbrass on using the Multi Rig
Despite being a self-confessed ‘rig man’ DANNY FAIRBRASS hadn’t tried the multi rig until this year (2015). So why did it take him so long, and what’s his verdict?
I have been aware of the multi rig for some time now, but I had never really tried it, simply because my fishing hadn’t required a pop-up rig of this kind. I’d seen anglers I very much respect, like Jon McAllister, championing the rig and catching loads of very sought-after big fish on it, so I knew it was a winner. However, it wasn’t until I went to France with another angler I hold in high regard, Terry Dempsey, that I really felt compelled to try it
Tel and I chatted all the way down to the lake about all things carpy and the three-and-a-half-hour trip went in a flash. I had known of him for many years and his big-fish reputation preceded him, yet I had never really seen what technology he cast out into the lake. The subject turned to rigs, and eventually pop-ups. He raved about the multi rig. It allowed him to get the pop-up as close to the lake bed as possible, which he preferred, and also allowed him to change the hook easily; both of these qualities appealed to me, as I too prefer a low pop-up, especially over bait.
We both blanked on the main lake of the Gigantica Complex and Tel moved over to the Road Lake for a couple of nights and bagged a few. Neither water responds to pop-ups for some reason, so I didn’t have a chance to try it out, but once back in the UK it was my first line of attack, fishing over a dirty lakebed with a small amount of bait.
I moved over to softer materials than I normally use for the hook link, namely 20lb Kamo and 20lb N-Trap Semi Stiff, because I wanted the hook link to bend around whatever was on the bottom rather than sit up in it.
Both were tied in exactly the same way; a large overhand loop was tied using a figure-of-eight knot for the lead system end. This was then loop-to-looped onto a size-11 ring swivel to be fished with a helicopter rig because of the choddy bottom. The doubled loop made up at least half of the hook link, helping to push it away from the leadcore in flight.
The addition of a small amount of putty to neaten up the knot ensured it sat flush to the lakebed, even if a small amount of leaf or weed debris was present. It also helped to push the hook bait away from the lead system, as the rig hit the bottom.
Another, smaller, overhand figure-of-eight was tied to the other end, it is pushed through the eye of the hook and then looped over the hook point once a large rig ring has been slid on. Not only does this allow the hook to be changed easily without spoiling the hook link, but it also dictates how high the pop-up sits off the bottom and how much the hook hangs over. The smaller the loop you tie, the lower the pop-up will be. If you tie one only just large enough to loop the hook on the pop-up will sit very low, much lower than my other favourite, the hinged stiff rig.
The larger the D that is created on the back of the hook the more upright the hook sits. I haven’t used it enough yet to say one setting is better than another, I have however had banging hook holds with the D coming up to opposite the barb of the hook, this holds the hook up pretty straight. It is essential to strip some coating back behind the knot to allow the hook to stand upright. This can be a tiny break in the coating, up to 10mm. Expose as little braid as possible to lower the chance of a tangle on the cast. I strip with a Stripper Tool, pulling up to the knot that makes the loop for the hook. I try to tear off the rippled coating with my teeth to stop it sliding up and down afterwards. The way you attach your counterbalance will also affect how much is stripped back.
The counterbalance can be attached several ways.
Damian Clarke uses the tag end of the over hand knot to attach a split shot, then covers that in putty if the shot isn’t heavy enough. You can squeeze the shot straight on the exposed braid; this is very tough on the Kamo and N-Trap Semi, so it will take a lot of punishment. Personally, I prefer to use putty on the knot. Dark Matter sticks well and can always be helped by a small dab of super glue on the knot before the dry putty goes on. This helps if you are having to strip weed off the rig on every retrieve. The other advantage of using the knot as a counterbalance is that you get the hook bait closer the lake bed.
I will say that the Choddy has a larger eye, making it easier to push the looped-up hook link through it. I found I needed to put a length of bait floss through the eye and pull the hook link back through a Krank Choddy as the eye was too small to push it through. It’s a little fiddly but the result is an even tighter fit. Neither slip on the cast, even though they look like they might. They only slide down during an epic battle and are often still sitting right with no slippage, even after a fish is landed.
I still swap between sharpened hooks and ones straight out of the packet. I have found sharpened hooks can tear out more easily, especially in hook-and-hold situations, and when fishing near heavy weed.
Fish with tough mouths in open water seem to stay on best with sharpened hooks and I have no doubt that a super-sharp hook converts more pick-ups into runs; you just have to weigh up whether losses are worth the extra bites. I try to keep all my rigs as short as possible, so the fish feel the resistance of the lead system sooner. On clean or patchy bottoms five to seven inches is my favourite starting point. I may lengthen if there is a lot of bottom weed and I want the hook link to lay over it. I prefer to fish a helicopter rig incorporating one metre of leadcore and simply slide the No-Trace bead further from the lead so the hook link can slide up more on the cast, settling in the weed well away from the lead.
In these circumstances I always fold a foam nugget around the hook to hold it away from the weed whilst the leadcore finds its level. The hook can then settle in the weed without being moved as I tighten the line.
And finally hook baits. Obviously, they need to be really buoyant. For me the Mainline Cell white and pinks are just the right size, about 14mm. I always boost them with something. I use Cell Activator if I want to match what I’m feeding, which is my preference when they are having it in summer and autumn. Contrasting hook baits have caught me most of my fish in recent years; my favourite concentrated flavour cocktail is 10ml Banana and Pear, 10ml Sweet Ade and 20ml Milky Toffee, put in an old flavour bottle, shaken well and dripped into the pop-up pot over a matter of months; every time they dry out, add some more!
And finally, the Goo. It’s a big part of my fishing, especially when the fish aren’t feeding hard during winter, spring and late autumn. I use the supremes, which are thinner and eat into my baits over a matter of months. Garlic, Squid and Almond are my favourites and Mystic Spice is a great winter one. You can’t overdo them, simply keep adding more, like the flavour, every time they go dry.
The Infuza pots are about the only thing the dye doesn’t leak out of, the rubber seals put a stop to that; I have ruined a few hook bait bags when the dye has leaked out of a normal pop-up pot, so you have been warned! Also, I rarely use Goo’d pop-ups that are still wet. I like them to soak in over time for a longer release, as I rarely fish waters where bites are instant.
So that’s how I fish the multi rig, it’s started to form a large part of my angling because it’s so easy to get a fresh, sharp hook on!