The Art of Zig Rig Carp Fishing

Zig Rig Fishing Setup

Zig Rig Fishing: Getting Started

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Art of Zig Rig Carp Fishing!

There’s no better feeling when you’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating a zig rig setup that works!

It is such an effective method of fishing, particularly in the warmer months when carp can be found through the entire water column.

We encourage you to read on as we talk you through the many ways you can set up a rig for targeting those hungry, cruising carp.

The Art of Zig Rig Carp Fishing

What is a Zig Rig?

Ultimately, you are trying to achieve a method of subtly presenting a bait, other than the usual methods you use on the bottom of the lake (carp are bottom feeders after all!)

In warmer months, carp like to move up and down the depths, particularly near the surface (or shallow margins) as they seek warmer waters.

The principle is that you fish a zig rig using a lead to achieve a good hookhold as you normally would (but maybe not as heavy) and then a thinner, lighter line which appears ‘invisible’ as possible – at the depth you want to fish at.

Finding the depth really is a key ingredient in any zig rig setup.

Quite often you will have to re-adjust the length of your hooklink periodically until something bites – a great indication as to where the carp are!

Zig Rigs in action – notice the dissolving foam!

What Zig Rig Tackle Do I Need?

There are a few areas to focus on here, all are vital to achieving a setup you can have confidence in.

Let’s begin with a few starting points so you can become familiar with the art of zig rig fishing!

Matching Hooks with Hookbaits

Try choosing a size and style of hook that you can easily hide, whilst presenting it in such a way that when carp suck in your bait, the hookhold will lock into the mouth securely.

Mugga hooks (see below) are really great at this – they have an in-turned eye and a sweeping shank, ideal for bait placement.

Wide-gape hooks are also a popular choice because this will improve your chances of getting a decent hookhold. They also imitate a small insect, kind of!

As far as size goes – a size 8 or smaller will suffice.

Bait Selection

Nowadays, you can use coloured foam (or a combination of colours), good quality pop-ups – which already have superb buoyancy providing you choose a good brand, and even specialist zig bugs!

The Art of Zig Rig Carp Fishing

Whatever you plump for – make sure the hook can be disguised because the sun’s rays can easily give this away – and spook nearby carp!

You could also explore adding a liquid bait additive to really jazz up the attraction throughout the water!

Choosing A Hooklink Material

When you cast in a zig rig, the hooklink will rise (as you’ve a buoyant bait attached).

Choose a monofilament (not fluorocarbon as this will sink!) that has low-stretch properties, has a small diameter and we suggest a breaking strain of around 10lb-12lb.

This will float naturally up to the depth you intend to fish – without spooking nearby carp.

The aim here is choosing a light, thin line that will be strong enough to battle a carp but effective enough to keep everything hidden away.

Gauging Depth

We mentioned depth been a key component – it really is, because carp move around A LOT and discovering where they are is exciting in itself!

You should either use a specialist adjustable zig rig where you can reel in, and easily change the depth by simply moving a float to the point where you want to fish.

Adjustable Zig Rig Setup

For the purists amongst us, you can have a few zig rigs with varying lengths set up and ready to fish.

You may of heard of ‘zig bins’ or ‘zig spools’.

These are fantastic bits of kit that can store many zig rigs of varying lengths whilst also making them easier to store and of course, less tangles in your tackle box!

Either way, keep changing things up until you find the fish!

Zig Rig Bin
Keep Them Lines Tight!

We’re not gonna kick off the ‘tight vs slack’ debate again here!

But with zig rigs – especially longer hooklengths, you want that early bite indication which is why fishing tight is important.

Otherwise, carp can pick up your bait and you may lose it if your too slow picking up your rod!

Drop back bites (when carp swim towards you) are quite common when fishing zigs, so make sure to use sufficient swingers or indicators.

Drop That Lead!

Yes, you may of hooked a carp close to the surface which may seem easier to bring it in…

But…again, with those longer 6ft plus hooklengths, the chances of this becoming tangled around the carp or even worse – weed and snags on the way in – increases considerably.

Remember to use a lead clip with a loose tail rubber so that the lead gets dropped!Drop The LeadReally Long Zig Rigs

If you do need to use a 6ft plus hooklength – we strongly advise you to use a mug, plate or something you can store it in during casting.

This is because you can easily catch it on nearby branches or snags – or even worse – your bivvy!

All Out Zig Rigs

This may sound like a sneaky shortcut, but you can speed things up considerably by fishing zigs on all your rods.

Think about how easy it is use 2 rods with 2 varying lengths?

You’ll locate carp faster – and as we know, they can be down at the bottom one minute then up on the surface when the sun pokes it head out!

How to Make Zig Rigs

Hopefully we’ve kept your attention and you’ve learned a bit about the mechanics of a well-designed zig rig.

So now it’s time to show you a few examples of proven zig rigs, the materials used – and of course how to put everything together.

Just remember – a light, thin hook length, a hook that will benefit a zig rig and experimenting with bait choice and depths.

Gardner Zig Rig Session Pack

Materials Included

Zig Link 20m Spool (10Ib)
Buoyant Zig Rig Foam (2 x Yellow, Red, Black & White)
Barbed Size 12 Mugga Hooks (Pack of 10)

Gardner Zig Rig Session Pack

This is a great little pack to get started with zig rig fishing!

The specialist hooklink is perfect for stealth and the foam comes in a nice variety of colours – you could in fact chop and change them up to create a whole manner of combinations.

The Mugga hooks are size 12 – which ideally matches the foam, although you could opt to buy the larger 8 or 10 Mugga’s if necessary.

The 20m spool is enough to create quite a few zigs of varying lengths, and it is in fact available in a 100m spool if required.

The Gardner Zig Rig Session Pack is very simple – but perfect for beginners or those of you who just wanted the option of having this in your tackle box for another day.

How to Tie this Zig Rig

Take a length of hooklink (in 8ft of water, 4ft is a good starting depth unless you’ve spotted carp activity near the surface)

Now tie a small loop at the end which will become your ‘hair’ where you will place your bait or foam) – make sure this loop is fairly small, because the trick here is to get the bait as close to your hook as possible.

Now thread a small 1 cm section of rig foam onto this hair, using a small stop to keep it in place.

How to tie a zig rig

Cut the hooklink to the desired length, then slide on the Mugga hook.

Now perform the usual ‘knotless knot’.

Finally, tie a swivel (using a Palomar knot) onto the opposite end – and your zig rig is now ready to rock!

As mentioned, we strongly recommend using a lead clip arrangement so you can drop the lead on a take.

Tying the Knotless knot

Nash Zig Float

Using a float as part of your zig rig setup makes adjusting the length of your hooklink much easier.

Its a very efficient method to exploring these depths as opposed to reeling in and then changing your entire zig rig!

Nash Zig FloatShaped for maximum buoyancy, its also easier to cast. The tough rubber collars are in a sharp black and orange colour, allowing you to see it if fished close to the surface.

It has a rigid stem section to hold the lead and float together in flight, so you have the opportunity to really hit big distances. The innovative ‘speed clip’ allows you to change the lead between sessions to suit different venues and swims.

This is a great alternative to the traditional ‘carry many length zigs’ method.

Each pack contains one Nash Zig Float, two collars and one speed clip.

The video below demonstrates how to put it all together, with instructions on how to use it effectively as part of your zig rig fishing.

Zig Rig Tips & Tricks

Thank you for sticking with us – we haven’t quite finished yet!

Although learning the mechanics and finding the depth are important elements to zig rig carp fishing, we’ve handpicked some useful tips and tricks to bear in mind when you next take to the water.

Pick The Right Water

Some carp waters may produce more results than others – we suggest finding a well-stocked venue, preferably with shallower parts to give yourself the best chances of catching!

Fishing in 6 feet of water will be considerably easier than trying to fiddle around with a whopping long 14ft zig! (Although the Korda Rig Magnet is effective for casting longer zig rigs, minimising those tangles!)


Fishing off the bottom can often be a ‘sit and wait’ affair, whereas zig rigs are at the other end of the scale!

Been proactive is the name of the game!

You can try changing the shape and colour of your hookbait or adjusting the length to produce a bite – all requires some patience and experimenting.

The rewards can be huge if you stick with it mind.

Zig Rig Zones

This little method can often be overlooked, maybe because zig rig fishing can keep you preoccupied with all the trial and error that is often needed!

However, have you thought about baiting in and around the ‘zig rig zone’?

A couple of spombs of good old sloppy spod soup around where your zig is sat can really turn on the fish!

Or, another way to bring on some activity is to watch an area you’ve just spodded to see how carp are reacting before you cast in a zig.

A hugely popular (but under used) method of landing something huge!

Lake Lookout

When your comfortable with how your zig rig setup is, you should definitely pay attention to other areas around the lake.

Make a mental note of any activity and think about how you could keep the carp there whilst you prepare to take a chance by chucking in zig.

Try not to directly aim for where you spotted carp, but around the area – as we know, casting in a lead can often spook the area entirely!



As you can see – there is a lot to learn about zig rig fishing, but it’s a very rewarding method, and the more you experiment the more adept you will become.

We really hope you enjoyed reading ‘The Art of Zig Rig Carp Fishing’ as much as we enjoyed putting it all together for you!

Until next time!

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