There is no doubting that helicopter rigs have become popular of late and it’s easy to see why. They have been pushed in the media a lot in recent times. A few years back, it was always mega popular to use lead clip arrangements and this has taken a turn to helicopters, a bit like Chods, to Ronnie Rigs I guess – people use it because it’s trendy and it is pushed by top anglers.
For me helicopter rigs have their purpose, as do inline setups and lead clip presentations. A good angler will use such arrangements in the right situations, so it’s important to understand when and why you’re using them not because you’re another sheep following the trend.
Generally, my lead setups comprise a helicopter system (for silt/weed fishing) or an inline system (for harder, firmer lake beds). A helicopter system doesn’t need to be complicated, in fact it is very easy to setup once mastered. The benefits of a helicopter is the fact it very rarely gets tangled. The hook link can rotate (helicopter style) around the lead giving freedom of movement on the cast. It also sits over a variety of lake- beds. By adjusting the top bead on the leader, you can ensure that your hook link is always sitting proud of debris, simply because the lead can penetrate into as much, or little bottom as you wish. For lighter silt keep a few inches between the beads, for deeper silty/light weed areas, move it up. For chods, move it up even further. There are so many options.
One little gadget I have played around with, in fact I was involved with its testing, is the Heli-Safe. This item of tackle is fantastic when fishing weedy waters, as it will allow the lead to discharge should it need to.
To setup I simply tie up a leadcore leader, there are many ready-tied versions if you’ve never done this. Attach the Heli-Safe. Follow this with a bead, then your hook link, and then the drop-off bead system from Korda (for me, the safest system of all). It is really very easy to do. Remember, though, use the right lead system in the right situation, unfortunately there isn’t one that suits all! Using a helicopter certainly doesn’t mean that it is presentable anywhere around the lake, using a bare lead and a braided rod to search out those slightly firmer areas of the lakebed is still very important. Often what feels like a firm area will often be gravel or firm silt covered in a layer of much softer silt..
My final point when fishing a helicopter set- up is the importance of balancing the hookbait out; by this I mean ensuring that under the weight of the hook and link, the hookbait itself sinks slowly through the water when the lead touches down. This, in turn, will help to kick the link out straight; ensuring that the change of a tangle is minimised. I personally favour semi- stiff fluorocarbon for my hooklink boom section; I feel this when combined with a balanced hookbait, be that a wafter or a pop- up, creates a very effective and efficient hooklink that can be presented over most lake- beds when combined with a helicopter set- up.