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Carp Fishing Rigs: Best Carp Rigs and How to Make Them

Written by: John B
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Carp angling is off to a promising start in America, with the number of fishermen chasing these fish increasing every year.

And that’s easy to understand. Wary, massive, and hard-fighting: the carp is an exciting catch that’s relatively common and easy to fish.

But as experienced carp fisherman can tell you, the rigs you need to land carp look nothing like what you’re used to for bass, pike, crappie, or catfish, and if you want to chase these big fish, you’ll need to learn a trick or two.

Related: Best Carp Bait

Nutsey Mirror Carp

This legendary carp is named “Nutsey Mirror.”

Take a lesson from the Brits…

If you want to know more about fishing for carp, there’s only one place to look.

In the United Kingdom, carp angling is more than fishing: it’s an obsession. Absent bass and panfish of most kinds, and with limited spawning grounds for salmonids, anglers in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England turn their attention to hard-fighting carp.

Across the Atlantic, you’ll pay to play, spending thousands and waiting decades to access prime carp ponds where long casts and even longer waits for a wary bite are common. This isn’t like bass fishing: there, anglers name the legendary fish in each body of water, vying to be the next to land one, snap a quick picture, and return it to the water.

Catch and release is a religion, as well as a legal obligation. And that ensures that generations of anglers can chase legendary fish.

Indeed, in the UK, an angler’s greatest dream is to land Nutsey Mirror, Toadless Leather, or Dink. And yes, those are the given names of trophy carp!

But that moment of victory is hard-won by hours--and sometimes days--of waiting by the water in a tent, rig-tying gear at hand, and a camp kettle on the bubble. The absence of boats, and the static techniques necessary to entice carp to take bait, give fishermen plenty of time for gearing up and some unique opportunities for rigging.

shrink the sleeves on carp rigs

Anglers in the UK often have a kettle and camping gear with them, which doubles to shrink the sleeves on their carp rigs.

And the Brits know carp rigs like no one else, having invented most of them, tried all of them, and tinkered with the best until they were perfect.

The rigs on our list are the result: pure carp-angling genius straiRght from the UK.

...But don’t forget you’re in America

Carp anglers in the US can break with some British necessities, however.

Anglers in the UK can’t run boats on carp ponds, and to overcome that obstacle, they must cast with super-long (12’ or more) rods running rigs weighted with massive sinkers. This allows them to cast tremendous distances, covering the water they can’t access by boat. And of course, this means long lines are the norm.

fishing for carp in the uk

No boats puts the emphasis on casting distance.

Sinkers as heavy as four ounces are common in the UK.

heavy sinker

That goes a long way toward explaining why, in the UK, you’ll see simply massive sinkers and rods longer than your boat! It can also help to establish why braided line became the go-to option for carp.

casting for carp

This gentleman is casting for carp with a rod we’d see in the surf!

But here in the States, boats are common, and ultra-long casts just aren’t necessary. As a result, any medium to medium-heavy rod you own will get the job done for trophy carp, and you can probably fish stout mono with no trouble on the hookset. Most pair their rods with spinning reels.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of following British advice to the letter!

Many carp anglers in the UK use methods that are illegal in the US, such as chumming and baiting. Always obey your local laws, and keep in mind that the law there is very different from the law here.

Don’t take a technique from Britain without thinking it through first.

Essential carp rigging gear

For anglers familiar with American species, carp rigging gear can look simply strange. And because the sport is just getting off to a start on this side of the Atlantic, scoring the materials you need can be a challenge.

Here’s a brief list of some essentials:

Korda Rig Rings

Rig rings are essential for the Blowback, Multi, and Hinged Stiff Rigs.

Korda RIG RINGS SMALL

Amazon 

Korda Size 11 Ring Swivels

The Hinged Stiff and Ronnie Rigs demand ring swivels.

Korda Size 11 Ring Swivels

Amazon 

Jumping Fish Quick-Change Ring Swivels

Essential for the Ronnie Rig, a standard quick change swivel will not work.

Jumping fish 160pcs/Box Brass Carp Fishing Hanging Swivel Fast Change Rolling Oval Ring Link Stainless Steel Clips Chod Fishing Line Connector

Amazon 

Korda Hybrid Stiff Coated Braid

Carp rigs demand supple line that can hold a shape, and over the years, specialty coated braids have come to the fore of the sport. Korda’s is among the best, and in the US, it’s pretty much the only choice.

Korda Hybrid Stiff Coated Braid 20lb Gravel Brown

Amazon 

Gamakatsu G-Carp Specialist RX

These excellent straight shank carp hooks are available in #2, #4, and #6.

Gamakatsu G-Carp Specialist RX Hook, Bronze, 6

Amazon 

Shaddock Fishing Carp Hooks

Shaddock’s curved shank hooks are available in #2, #4, and #8. You’ll need a hook like this to tie the awesome Ronnie Rig.

Carp Fishing Hooks - 150pcs High Carbon Steel Barb Carp Fish Hook Catfish Hook Circle Curve Shank Jigs Freshwater Saltwater

Amazon 

Pena Turned-Eye Carp Hooks

Essential for KD rigs, Pena’s inward-turned eye hooks are available in #4, #6, and #8.

Pena 100Pcs Tackle Fishing Hooks Accessories Carbon Steel Sharpened Carp Professional Barbed(6#)

Amazon 

Newshot Hook Stop Beads

You can’t tie a Ronnie Rig without a hook stop.

NEWSHOT Hook Stops Beads Carp Fishing Terminal Tackle for Pop Up Hair Chod Rigs Bait Screws(Pack of 30)

Amazon 

Newshot Extra Heavy Tungsten Rig Putty

Rig putty is the weight of choice for every rig.

NEWSHOT Extra Heavy Tungsten Rig Putty Mud Soft Sinker Silt Carp Fishing Weights Terminal Tackle (15g Green)

Amazon 

Apofly sleeves

Many rigs rely on a shrink-to-fit sleeve to provide stiffness.

30Pcs Fishing Anti Tangle Sleeves Fishing Rubber Tubes Terminal Connect Hook Carp Fishing Line Aligner Carp Fishing Rubber Tubes Green

Amazon 

Zerone 15mm bait screws

Essential for attaching your boilie to your rig, bait screws come with a ring attached.

10Pcs 15mm Bait Screws Fishing Up Bait Fishing Boilie Bait Screw Lure Pegs with Round Link Loop Swivels Ternal Tackle Aessories, Sublight Black

Amazon 

Phecda 12mm Pop-Ups

Whether you call them a pop-up or boilie, these balls of bait float. 

Phecda Sport 30pcs 12mm Smell Carp Fishing Bait Boilies Eggs / 4 Flavors Floating Ball Beads Feeder Artificial Carp Baits Lure/Hair Rig (Red Strawberry(12mm))

Amazon 

Yoto Baiting Needles

To run your boilie over your line, you’ll need a baiting needle.

YOTO 8 PCS Carp Fishing Baiting Rigging Needle Baiting Rig Tool Kit Swinger Driller Knot Puller Line Scissors Boilie Stops Set Combo

Amazon 

SAMSFX Bait Stops

Essential for holding your boilie in place, you’ll use quite a few of these.

SAMSFX 500PCS Carp Fishing Hair Stops for Fishing Float Baitstops Boilie Stops Clear Color

Amazon 

Ling Braid Stripping Tool

You’ll need this tool to tie most of these rigs. 

No products found.

No products found.

Unfortunately, there are better, cheaper options in the UK, but that’s not where you live!

Carp Rigs Explained: Step-by-Step Instructions 

Each of these rigs will need a touch of added weight for casting, but not the massive sinkers you’ll find in the UK. Experiment with split shot, tungsten putty, and in-line sinkers to see what works best for you in your conditions.

The Hair Rig

hair rig

American anglers probably won’t need a large in-line weight.

The hair rig revolutionized carp angling by presenting these often wary fish with a bait that was separated from the hook. 

Unable to feel the danger as it mouths the bait, wily carp are tricked by the hair rig into sucking the terminal tackle--hook and all--into their mouths. 

It’s that separation more than anything else that makes the hair rig effective. And while perhaps not the top dog, the hair rig tends to deliver very good hook placement, as well as a reliable grip on a carp’s lower jaw. 

But be warned: though you can lengthen the hair to create a larger gap, longer hairs invite more tangling, and you’ll need to take extra care beyond two inches or so.

Best over a hard bottom free of weeds or any other debris that may snag the unprotected hook, the hair rig is a tried and tested performer that every carp angler should know. And when rigged with a pop-up, it can be fished pretty much anywhere.

If you’d prefer not to tie your own, pre-tied Luroad hair rigs are available in the US.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Starting with approximately 24 inches of line (mono or standard braid are fine), tie a simple overhand knot to form a small loop. Wet your line, and cinch down the knot.
  2. Trim the tag end of the loop.
  3. Run the opposite end of your line--the one opposite the loop--through the back of the hooks’ eye.
  4. Adjust the length of the hair to just about 2 inches.
  5. Holding the hair and hook in your right hand, carefully wrap the hook from eye to shank with 7 turns of line.
  6. Run the free end of the line back through the eye.
  7. Tie a Surgeon’s Loop at the end of your leader.
  8. Wet and tighten your knots.
  9. Trim the remaining tag end.
  10. Using a baiting needle, pull the end of the hair through a boilie.
  11. Place a stop in the loop above the boilie.
  12. Crimp split shot a few inches below your rig, using just enough to cast well.

The Blowback Rig

blowback rig

You want the sleeve attached where it can stiffen the action--at the junction of the hook and line.

The Blowback rig is essentially a modified hair rig that tries to improve hook-up. Incorporating a ring that, in theory, keeps the hair, boilie, and hook aligned, the intention of this modification is to keep the hook in position as set even if the bait is (r)ejected.

Some experts question whether the Blowback rig works quite as it’s intended, but there’s no questioning that it has hooked legions of carp.

A versatile choice, this rig can be fished with simple corn on the bottom or buoyed by a pop-up.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut approximately 24 inches of coated braid.
  2. Strip 4 to 5 inches on one end.
  3. Tie a simple overhand loop knot, wet it, and tighten. You’re looking for a small loop.
  4. Trim the tag end.
  5. Slide a rig ring onto your line.
  6. Leaving about 2 inches of hair, tie the ring in place with an overhand knot.
  7. Thread the opposite end of your line through the back of your hook’s eye.
  8. Pass the point of your hook through your rig ring.
  9. Carefully wrap the shank of your hook with 7 turns, moving away from the eye. Then, pass the tag end back through the eye, pulling tight.
  10. Thread the tag end through a sleeve.
  11. Tie an overhand loop in the tag end of your line and tighten.
  12. Trim the remaining tag.
  13. Pull the sleeve up and over the eye of your hook to stiffen its action. (The video does this backward--don’t do this!!!)
  14. Using a baiting needle, attach your boilie to the hair.
  15. Place a stop in the loop above your boilie.

The KD Rig

kd rig

This KD Rig is weighted to rest on the bottom.

For doubters of the Blowback’s promised improvement, there’s the trusted KD rig. A hair rig that’s tied to create a severe angle between the hair and shank, it’s an attempt to do what the Blowback can fail to do: make the hook nearly unspittable.

Levering the eye upward tends to bury the point. And that can improve the odds of the hook landing true, even if the carp ejects the bait.

The KD rig demands a bent-eyed hook like the Pena to achieve the dramatic angle that drives the point down and true.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut approximately 24 inches of coated braid.
  2. Strip 4 to 5 inches on one end.
  3. Tie a simple overhand loop knot, wet it, and tighten. You’re looking for a small loop.
  4. Trim the tag end.
  5. Using a baiting needle, run a boilie up and over the loop, attaching it with a bait stop.
  6. Pinch a split shot--or better still--a small piece of tungsten putty about ¼ inch below your bait.
  7. Thread the tag end of your line through the back of your hook’s eye, and place the hook just slightly out of reach with the boilie.
  8. Carefully wrap the shank of your hook with 4 turns, moving away from the eye. 
  9. Wrap your line over the hair for one turn to create an angle vis-a-vis the hook shank.
  10. Continue to carefully wrap your line over the shank with 4 more turns.
  11. Then, pass the tag end back through the eye, pulling tight.
  12. Finish this rig by tying a standard loop knot on the tag end, trimming it neatly, and adding weight (if necessary) to cast.

The Hinged Stiff Rig

Hinged Stiff Rig

Known for its ability to turn the hook into a carp’s lip, the Hinged Stiff rig is a perennial favorite of pros in the UK and Europe. Touted for its ability to reset, it’s also nearly tangle-free.

Supremely popular, it’s subject to lots of experimentation, not all of it successful. And experts warn that the mechanics of this rig are at their best when the terminal section of line is longer, rather than shorter, as is more common lately in the carp angling world.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut 24 inches of strong mono. It needs to be high-strength and stiff.
  2. Attach a ring swivel via an overhand loop. Your goal is to leave this loop loose on the swivel, not tight as with a standard knot.
  3. Wet and cinch the loop tight, trimming the tag end.
  4. Slide a sleeve over the tag end of your line.
  5. Tie a larger overhand loop behind it. Wet that knot, and tighten, trimming the tag end.
  6. Slide the sleeve up and over your loop, leaving a bit of loop exposed.
  7. Cut roughly 6 to 8 inches of mono.
  8. Thread it through the front of the eye of your hook.
  9. Carefully wrap your line in 7 turns down the shank away from the eye before passing the tag end back through the eye. You’ll want a few inches of tag end.
  10. Thread a bait screw onto the tag end.
  11. Pass the tag end back through the eye.
  12. Trim down the tag leaving about ½ an inch.
  13. Using a lighter, heat the tip of the tag end and mash to create a stopper. Your goal is to create a small, weak loop for the bait screw.
  14. Attach the hook line to the swivel with a Two Turn Blood Knot.
  15. Wet and cinch it down.
  16. Using a lighter, heat the tip of the tag end of the Two Turn Blood Knot and mash to create a stopper.
  17. Using tungsten putty, mash a blob around the hook side of the swivel.
  18. Attach your boilie to the screw.

The Multi Rig

multi rig

This version of the Multi Rig doesn’t include the hook stop, but it really does improve performance.

The Multi Rig has a lot going for it: it’s easy to tie, it raises the hook above debris, and it levers the point into position for an ideal hookset. It also allows you to change hooks in just a few seconds.

All you need to do is slide the hook back off the loop, and you’re ready for a fresh one.

Quite possibly the best all-around rig, you can’t afford not to know how to tie it properly.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut roughly 24 inches of coated braid.
  2. Tie an overhand knot in each end.
  3. Wet the knots, cinch them down, and trim the tag ends. One of these loops will attach your hook to your main line; the other will dictate how high the bait floats above the bottom. Look for a loop of 2 to 3 inches in length.
  4. Strip roughly ½ inch of line lust below your terminal loop. This will provide flexibility to allow the hook to turn into the carp.
  5. Tie a simple overhand just past the stripped line, and attach a dab of tungsten putty.
  6. Feed a #4 or #6 hook onto the loop, hook toward your main line.
  7. Attach a hook stop, working it to just the other side of the throat.
  8. Run a bait screw into a boilie.
  9. Feed the loop through the bait screw.
  10. Fasten the loop over the hook stop.

The Ronnie Rig

ronnie rig

The Ronnie Rig developed from the 360 Rig, and the idea behind both was to improve hook-up when the carp hits the bait. 

Designed to offer the sharp point of the hook no matter the angle of the approach of a hungry carp, it relies on a sweeping curve, just the right amount of stiffness, and a well-placed hook stop. 

The Ronnie Rig is perhaps the most reliable hook-setter on our list, but you won’t change hooks as easily as the Multi.

The Ronnie Rig requires a curved shank hook like the excellent Shaddock.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut a ⅓ inch piece of sleeve and slide it onto the shank of your hook.
  2. Attach a quick-release swivel to the eye. Use pliers to close the quick-release gap.
  3. Slide the sleeve up and over the eye, stiffening the joint where it meets the swivel.
  4. Heat the sleeve to shrink it tightly in place. Steam will work well, but try a hairdryer, heat gun, or lighter if necessary.
  5. Slip a bait screw over the point and up onto the shank. You can attach the boilie at the end of the process.
  6. Slide a hook stop onto the hook, slipping it up against the bait screw. You want the bait screw to rest about halfway down the shank of the hook, as in the picture above.
  7. Tie your main line directly to the swivel, using your knot of choice.
  8. Tungsten putty can be added near the swivel as necessary for casting.

This video is pretty good, but the gentleman angler complicates the process by not using a bait screw:

The Chod Rig

chod rig

The Chod Rig is a venerable design that’s proven its effectiveness over the years since Sir Terry Hearn introduced it to British anglers. Relying on excellent mechanics, it places the hook in an ideal position for a solid bite. And with the proper bend, it will rotate toward a carp irrespective of the direction of its approach.

A bent-eye hook like the Pena is ideal for this rig.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut 6 to 8 inches of strong mono. It needs to be high-strength and stiff.
  2. Thread this through the back of the hook’s eye.
  3. Pull about 2 inches of line through to the tag end.
  4. Carefully wrap your running end around the shank, making 7 passes from the eye toward the barb.
  5. Pass the running end back through the eye and tighten the knot.
  6. Slide a bait screw (with ring) over the tag end.
  7. Pass the tag end through the eye, and using a lighter, melt it and press it into a weak stopper. This should create a tiny loop holding the bait screw.
  8. Attach your line to a swivel using a Two Turn Blood Knot, keeping in mind that the length determines the height of the bait off the bottom. 2 inches is a good starting point.
  9. Using a lighter, melt and press your line to tidy-up the knot.
  10. Use your fingers to curve the mono between the swivel and the hook. You want a nice aggressive bend in the line.
  11. Pinch a small blob of tungsten putty over the swivel on the hook side.

This video is good, but again, overcomplicated. Use a bait screw rather than bait floss and save yourself time and trouble, with no loss of performance.

The Withy Pool Rig

Withy Pool Rig

This version doesn’t add the hook stop because the pop-up is tied on rather than attached with a bait screw.

The Withy Pool Rig takes the Chod Rig’s bend to the next level. When properly “tied,” this variation on the Chod can be deadly effective.

The trick is to get a round curve without closing the gap between the barb and the shrink wrap. You want an open shape, as in the picture above.

For American anglers, the steps should be as follows:

  1. Cut about 24 inches of coated braid.
  2. Strip 4 to 5 inches at one end.
  3. Thread the stripped end through the front of the eye of your hook.
  4. Carefully wrap 7 turns toward the point, running the tag end back through the eye, and tightening it down. Trim the remaining tag end.
  5. Thread a sleeve over your line and up and onto the hook shank. You want to cover the eye completely.
  6. Slide a second sleeve over your line.
  7. Tie a simple overhand loop in the end opposite your hook. Wet and tighten the knot, trimming the tag end.
  8. Slide the second sleeve up and over this loop, leaving a bit exposed.
  9. Dip both ends in boiling water to shrink them into place.
  10. While still hot, bend the hook sleeve into an aggressive curve, being careful to leave a gap between the bend and the point, as in the picture above.
  11. Mold a small blob of tungsten putty over your line ¼ inch behind the hook sleeve.
  12. Slide a bait screw over the point and follow it with a hook stop.

Final Thoughts

I hope these rigs get you catching carp, widening the range of species you chase with rod and reel. 

And as always, we’d love to hear from you (especially if you’re from the UK!).

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
John B
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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