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Avoid rigs that tangle.


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A rig using PVA string to present loose boilies. A rig using PVA string to present loose boilies.

Carp coach Ian Gemson shows how to avoid tangling rigs.

Struggling with rigs that tangle ?

There are few things more frustrating than retrieving a rig at the end of a session only to find it is tangled to the point where it is totally useless. Tangled rigs are a very common occurrence and every angler has at some time in their own fishing career brought in a tangled rig. However with the correct approach and some good rig application there are ways to dramatically reduce or better still completely avoid tangles.

Nearly all tangles occur during the cast. As the rig travels through the air, the lead is the foremost object with the hook link, bait and PVA bag all trailing behind. When the lead hits the water's surface the speed reduction of the lead is huge. This reduction in speed allows the rig to catch up with the lead and the two can start tangling with each other. This is the usual point where rigs will tangle.

100924ians_1_reel_650634003.jpgOne solution to the aforementioned problem is to simply feather the cast. Cast your rig out as you would normally and whilst the rig is still in the air, gently push your finger onto the outer lip of the reel spool, slowing the line down as it leaves the spool. To ensure you do not reduce the distance of your cast too much, it is best to start feathering the line down just before the lead and rig hits the water.

The process of slowing the rig down by feathering causes the rig to overtake the lead, thus keeping the rig away from the lead as they both hit the water. This will dramatically reduce the risk of tangling. Feathering will also help with your line management. You are controlling the line as it leaves the spool, so you will no longer suffer from lexcess line sat on the surface of the lake which you'll have to sink to get it out of the way of the surface tow. Slowing the rig down also assists in preventing the rig from plunging too far into soft silty or clay lake beds and getting totally embedded in the soft sticky mud.

100924ians_2bag_960285596.jpgChoosing the correct hook length material will have a dramatic effect on your rig's ability to tangle. Soft subtle un-skinned braids are great for offering natural bait presentations and allow hook lengths to follow the lake bed contours. Un-skinned braid is great but it is also very prone to tangling.

100924ians_3stick_510783553.jpgTangles can occur not only on the cast but also when feeding fish on the lakebed stir up the bottom and cause the soft braid to knot up. To get the best from un-skinned braid it is best to fish it with small PVA bags, stick mixes, stringers - or inside solid PVA bags.

100924ians_4method_660002722.jpgSolid PVA bags are great for avoiding tangles. So is a method feeder - because with both of these systems the hook length material is completely enclosed and, as such, cannot tangle. With both of these systems, the only time the hook length is exposed is when the rig is on the bottom of the lake bed and the PVA bag or method feeder ball has started to break down.

100924ians_5piercebag_288476553.jpgWith both the solid PVA bag and method feeder using very short hook lengths, once the rig is down on the lake bed there is very little chance of the rigs tangling. If you are a fan of short hook lengths well these two methods will certainly work well for you.

However if you prefer longer hook lengths, the Method or solid PVA bag will not work for you. However there are ways around this with a clever new bag system from a company called the Fishing Bag Company. They do a great tapered PVA bag that allows you to use a lead clip or running rig set up, with a long hook length and a solid PVA bag.

100924ians_6bagonrig_466177175.jpgThe picture (right) shows a running rig set-up with a distance lead inside the tapered bag. The hook length has been passed through the hole in the bottom of the bag and brought back and hooked into the side of the bag. This set up not only casts very well due to the aerodynamic bag shape but also stops the rig from tangling. It remains trapped in the bag until the bag is on the lake bed and has dissolved.

Stiff hook length materials are far less prevalent to tangling. The nature of the stiff bristle-like material ensures a great deal of separation between the rig and the lead at all times, ensuring the rig does not tangle on the cast and it is also unaffected by any underwater movement. This rig is made from 25lb fluorocarbon on the boom and 15lb fluorocarbon on the short hook length. The rig is virtually tangle proof and very effective.


100924ians_8rigwithfoam_832517112.jpgWe must never forget the simple anti tangle techniques like PVA Nuggets or PVA string or tape. We all, from time to time, receive a large parcel with foam nuggets in the packaging. These nuggets could well be a PVA type nugget. If they are, well you have just saved yourself a few pounds at the local tackle shop. If not, well simply go and buy a bag and start using them on your rigs.

100924ians_9rigpoppedup_543884062.jpgThe rigs I have shown here are both using PVA nuggets. They both stop the bait on the hair from flailing around during the cast and to add a little weight (drag) to help keep the hook length tight behind the lead during the cast until you feather it.

PVA string or PVA tape can be used to tie your rig to your leader to stop it tangling (see header picture) or to thread boilies on; to assist preventing tangling and to deposit free offerings around your hook bait. You don't always have to follow convention either.

My last picture is of a long range rig I have been using which enables me to fish a rig at 150 + yards with a PVA stick of highly attractive ground bait and tuna simply threaded up the lead core with the helicopter rig pulled down and hooked into the PVA stick.


This simple set up traps the hook length, stopping it from flailing around and also balances the rig. This allows the lead and the stick to work together rather than against each other during the cast and has caught me many fish over the years.

We all suffer from tangles but if you follow some of my suggestions you can fish with confidence knowing your rigs will be presented perfectly.

Tight Lines

Ian Gemson - www.smartcarping.com

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