The Chod Rig has been a mainstay of my angling for over seven years now and during that time my confidence in this particular presentation has soared. As I predominantly fish short sessions, I need to be able to rely completely on the rigs and bait I use and concentrate on the most important factor of all, location. The chod rig has allowed me to do that.
Since its conception, the chod rig has completely revolutionised the way we are able to present our baits. Areas of the lake that would previously have been considered as ‘unfishable’ are now the complete opposite, and this for me is where the real success story of the chod rig lies, allowing us to effectively fish all around the lake. Not only does this increase our chances of being able to present a bait close to where the carp are spending large amounts of time, but more often than not, these particular areas of the lake are generally under fished and consequently viewed with far less suspicion by them.
Although to the casual observer the chod rig may look like a fairly simple setup, there are several critical factors open to adjustment that will ultimately determine how the rig performs…
First off is the length of ‘travel’ that the rig is allowed, which is determined by the placement of beads on the leadcore. Put simply, the higher the top bead, the further the rig is free to travel up the leader. For most people, deciding where to position the top bead will depend upon the type of bottom they are looking to present the bait on. In others words, if the weed or debris is a couple of feet deep, then allowing a travel distance of several feet ensures that, by the time the lead comes to rest, the rig will be able to settle on top, allowing for a perfect presentation. Simple enough in theory, but exactly where I decide to position the top bead is not completely determined by this.
Even if I’m casting onto a fairly even bottom with just a low level of debris, I may still set the top bead several feet up the leader. Why? Well, by doing this you almost completely take the lead out of the equation. This eliminates the chance of the carp using the weight of the lead to help in shaking the hook.
Anyone who has witnessed the success of an angler using very light leads, when the norm is a lead in excess of 3.5oz, will know exactly how big an edge this can prove to be at times. The trade-off is of course lessening the pricking potential of the rig in the first place, so unless I’m forced to because of the nature of the lakebed, this is not a decision I take lightly. Like so many things in carp angling I guess, it’s a balancing act.
By positioning the top bead much closer to the lead, which is how the chod rig originally appeared, you bring the weight of the lead into the equation almost instantly.
For cleaner bottoms, when I find myself almost ‘spot fishing’, this setup has proved very effective and the mechanics of the rig work very similar to that of another classic, the hinged stiff rig. Unlike the hinged stiff however, which incorporates a stiff boom section, using a chod rig setup in this way ensures a perfectly presented pop-up section without the worry of the boom section lying awkwardly, having landed on some form of debris. When using the rig in this way, I generally prefer a shorter hook section working on the theory that I tend to be fishing a more defined spot and baiting more accurately. This in turn should mean the carp are moving around the area closer to the bottom and able to the view the baiting scenario more clearly. A high pop-up in these situations can be just a bit too blatant.
Loop or Knot?
For some, it’s a case of one or the other but I find myself using both methods to join the hook link to the swivel, and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Lets start with the loop method first. This has become far more popular over the last few years, probably down to the results of several well-known anglers who favour a loop, rather than knotting straight to the swivel.
There is no denying that by joining the hook link to the swivel with a loop you create far more movement, which should in theory allow for an even more efficient presentation. However, if there is silkweed present in the swim then I have my doubts about whether the loop is still working for you, or instead, against you! Silkweed can seriously hinder the effectiveness of all presentations, and when I started experimenting with the loop, I sometimes wound in to find it all clogged up with the stuff. This has led to me sticking with the knot to swivel in these circumstances and the only time I favour the loop is for silkweed-free areas or when casting at range.
I’m sure any regular users of the chod rig have wound in to find the hook link knot has slid round the side of the swivel and, rather than running in line with the barrel of the swivel, is now sat at 90 degrees to it. This completely eliminates the 360º degree movement of the rig and suddenly a hugely effective presentation has become anything but! I have to say that I have only experienced this problem occasionally, when using a forceful cast, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on and ensuring you bed that knot down to the swivel as tight as possible to avoid this happening.
By incorporating a loop, this simply cannot happen. Although there are various loop knots that can be used, I have to say I much prefer the use of a crimp in this situation. Not only are they far easier to use, but they vastly improve the overall neatness of the rig and I can only see this as a bonus.
Deciding just how much curve to set into the rig seems to open up another minefield of opinion. Whenever I have discussed this topic with friends it seems there is a considerable diversity of views. Although I still consider it an important aspect of how the rig performs, I cannot see it making a huge difference unless the range is particularly vast.
The general trend these days seems to be for a far more aggressive curve than originally advised, but I find myself leaning to a more cautious approach to this part of the rig and usually opt for a fairly steady curve. The very aggressive curve, which harks back to an almost forgotten setup, the Withy Pool rig, certainly looks the part in articles, but unlike the Withy Pool, which has a supple section of coated braid exposed next to the shrink tube, a chod rig knotted straight to the swivel lacks this kind of flexibility. Incorporating a loop at this point goes some way to restoring this kind of action to the rig, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the majority of anglers that advocate this aggressive curve favour the loop method.
By keeping a steady curve in the rig however, I’m convinced that even when carp are approaching the rig from a fairly high position in the water, the rig is free to enter the mouth unobstructed and hopefully find a secure hook hold.
I liken it a bit to the shrink tube ‘kickers’ that are used on bottom-bait presentations and have always found a small, lightly curve piece of tube more effective than the long aggressively curved pieces, which greatly decrease the gape of the hook. Certainly food for thought and probably one area of the chod rig that we don’t fully understand yet.
When it comes to selecting the components I use for my choddies, I work to the same rules I do when constructing any rigs; strength over subtlety. I cannot see any point in fining down to get more bites only to lose them due to unreliable components. There are two patterns of hook that I use, and both are selected over the other depending upon the situation I am faced with. First up is the Korda Choddy in a size-6, which features a beaked point and is extremely reliable in demanding conditions where heavy weed is present. Last year I had a 100% hooked-to-landed ratio using this pattern of hook and that is the kind of return I expect from modern-day products. Gone are the days when hooks varied so much from batch to batch. To put it sharply (pun fully intended!), the beaked point ensures that once it’s in it stays in!
The other is the recently released Atomic Gunsmoke Chodda again in a size-6. Although it’s early days for me using this hook, the shape, thick gauge of wire and long, straight point really make for a perfect chod pattern.
For the actual hook link material, I use the 25lb Mouthtrap exclusively. Having experimented with most of the stiff bristle materials over the years, this for me is head and shoulders above the rest. Not only is it so easy to work with and set that all-important curve in, the strength, reliability and lovely unobtrusive dull green colour really does tick all the boxes. Although the birth of the naked chod has seen some users move away from leadcore, when used correctly it remains the ultimate leader and I still employ a leader leadcore of some length for nearly 95% of my fishing.
My personal favourites are the original coloured ESP variety, which blends in perfectly on a variety of bottoms, the super-supple Thinking Anglers green version, which practically disappears over weed and the new Korda Kable in the dark variety which I find best suited to darker bottoms such as silt or dead weed. Swivel wise, I have used the same high performance Uni-Link swivels since their release all those years ago. Although they are a little shinier than I would like, the lack of matt coating ensures they spin extremely freely, something that is crucial for the chod to work to its optimum potential.
It seems to have become almost fashionable to write off the chod rig as nothing more than a fad in recent years; a lazy mans rig. Strangely enough, the hinged stiff rig, which played a major role in the original development of the chod, has completely escaped this kind of criticism, which really does baffle me as although there is no denying just how successful and pivotal a role the rig has played in the development of big carp angling over the years. However, I would choose the chod rig hands down, all day long, if forced to choose between the two. The chod rig’s all-out versatility and scope for development in various forms has taken it to a completely different level in my humble view and although there is still a place in my angling for the hinged stiff rig, the chod is quite simply a no-brainer for me. Perfect presentation over just about any type of bottom… I’m having some of that!
One of the main criticisms levelled at the chod rig is the increased potential for hook pulls. I have simply never found this the case! I can see why this could become a problem, due to the short nature of the hook link, but by incorporating a small length of 2mm silicone above the lead, this essentially acts as a little shock absorber and I have never experienced more hook pulls with a chod rig over a ‘standard’ type presentation.
It’s worth mentioning that my rods have a fairly forgiving action too, and this has probably helped me over the years. If you are experiencing hook pulls on a regular basis I would be far more likely to look in the direction of how you’re actually setting the rig up, rather than blame the mechanics of it. Sometimes slightly lengthening or shortening the hook link can make all the difference as can a change from a straight point to a beaked point and visa versa. The way carp feed and behave when feeding changes greatly from lake to lake and for me the tweaking of my rigs never really stops!
I hope this piece has gone some way to convincing you just what the chod rig can bring to your fishing and hopefully given you a fresh perspective and new line of thinking on this awesome presentation. I have to say that when I originally sat down to write this piece I didn’t envisage it becoming quite so in-depth, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised just how thorough my thought process is when it comes to dealing with this rig.
Maybe I need to get out more! Although there is still plenty more I could write about and several things I am currently experimenting with, I think the above justifies my faith in this presentation and dispels the myth that the chod rig’s best years are behind it!
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