You can use many rigs for carp and coarse angling that all target the species in certain situations, whether on the bottom, up in the water, over weeds, on top of silt or to target wary fish.
Learning a good selection of rigs and what situations they are best used in can be quite challenging for beginners and even experienced anglers to ensure you have an effective presentation of your bait.
I’ve already written posts on a lot of carp rigs such as the method feeder, PVA bag rigs, other feeder rigs, chod rig and even the Ronnie rig.
Hair rigs can be used in nearly all carp rigs and give you an edge over the fish than simply attaching your bait directly onto the hook.
If you’re not clued up on all the carp rigs, you can use then starting with learning how to use a hair rig, the benefits and how to attach your bait can be a good starting point.
In this post, I will focus on how to attach baits to a hair rig.
What are Hair Rigs?
Hair rigs were first invented and trialled in the 1980s by Kevin Maddocks and Len Middleton, two of the largest names in carp fishing at the time.
Hair rigs refer to the method of attaching the bait to the hook without having to pierce the hook directly into the bait of choice.
Carp can be wary fish that will spend time investigating fish to ensure they are edible before consuming them.
They will taste baits on the bottom with their barbells and often pick baits up into their mouths to taste them and deem if they are edible or not.
They can also note if the baits seem to act naturally in the water and like other baits without hooks attached.
If they taste anything they don’t like such as a metallic hook or the bait seems to act strangely in the water as it is attached directly to a hook and line the fish may just pass on your bait which can result in a lot of missed fish.
So basically, this is why hair rigs were invented. Kevin and Len realised this was a major issue and spent many hours testing a rig using a real piece of human hair to attach the bait inside test tanks with captive carp.
They wanted to present the bait in a way that doesn’t directly interfere with the hook giving the bait more natural movement and avoiding having to cover the hook point with a bait which can greatly reduce the chances of a solid hook hold.
Hair rigs also allow for adding all sorts of baits to a rig that wouldn’t necessarily be able to attach directly to the point of a hook.
This is where the name hair rig originated from as you can expect hair rigs using real hair were not exactly the strongest, but they worked excellently by allowing the bait to act naturally while attached a short distance from the hook.
Nowadays artificial material is used which provides far great strength.
When the carp suck the bait into their mouth when a hair rig is used they more often than not will consume the full bait which will pull the hook into their mouth a short distance behind the bait.
As the carp moves away, your feeder or attached lead will set the hook, and the carp will run in alarm which further sets the hook.
Due to this, hair rigs are classed as self-setting rigs, and usually, the angler will not need to set the hook.
With the development of modern materials and strong braid the real human hair was swapped out years ago, but the hair rig name still stands.
How to Attach Bait to a Hair Rig?
Now that you should have an understanding of the benefits of hair rigs and why they were first invented let’s take a look at how you can attach your bait to different hair rigs.
There are many different ways in which you can attach baits to your hair rig depending on the type of ” bait stop” that the hair rig has.
Stops refer to the part of the hair rig that stops your bait from falling off once connected but generally, the method for attaching the baits is the same.
These stops are usually small plastic pieces that push through your bait which you turn horizontally once out the other side of your bait to stop them from backing off the hair.
There is also boilie spike, that as the name suggests, are pushed into softish boilies or pellets to create a stronghold to stop them from sliding back off.
Generally speaking, though, it is more common to attach baits to hair rigs when the bait is soft enough to pass plastic bait stops through, or holes are pre-drilled in harder baits such as boilies and pellets.
Boilies and pellets will often come predrilled for the purpose of attaching them to hair rigs, but if they come without a predrilled hole, you can easily drill one with a bait drill.
Since the process for attaching baits to a hair rig is very similar no matter the type of bait, I’ll show you an example of attaching sweetcorn that you can replicate with nearly all baits.
If the bait is predrilled or soft enough to pass a baiting needle through it the only thing you’ll need is the baiting needle.
Soft and Predrilled Baits
- Take your bait needle and push the bait stop vertically over the end end of the point.
- Push the baiting needle and bait stop through the soft bait or the hole on predrilled hard boilies or pellets. If the boilie or pellet is not predrilled, then drill a hole using a bait drill, taking care not to split the bait.
- Remove the bait stop from your baiting needle once it has passed through the bait and place it horizontally across the bait to stop the bait stop sliding back through the hole from the baiting needle.
- Your bait should now be attached securely to your rig.
Harder Baits Without Predrilled Holes
If you use pretied hairs that come with a bait spike or want to tie your own with bait spikes, then attaching hard baits is extremely simple.
This method of attaching a bait to a hair rig is really only good for harder baits, but they also can’t be too hard or brittle as they’ll break up when trying to push them onto the bait spike.
The process is simple.
Simply push the bait spike into the centre of the bait until the top is flush with the eye of the bait spike.
Banded Hair Rig
Bait band can be another easy way to attach hard baits to a hair rig. These are especially useful when the bait is too hard to push a bait spike or to drill a hole.
Attaching baits to banded hair rigs is also extremely simple.
You will usually want to use a bait band tool that you can use to spread the bait band and then place your bait inside before removing the bait band tool.
Depending on the shape of the bait, this method of attaching a bait may not be as secure as the other two, and I’d usually only use this method as a last resort.
Hair rigs are used in nearly all popular and effective carp rigs, so it is essential that you learn how to attach all types of baits to these rigs and the multiple methods of doing so.
Depending on what type of bait you’re using, then some methods are better than others. Using a bait stop hair rig is great when using soft baits to pass a baiting needle through or for drilled boilies or pellets.
Bait spike hair rigs are great when you’re fishing with harder boilies or pellets but still have enough give to attach a bait without the bait breaking up.
Bait bands are preferred when fishing with really hard baits if you they’re not pre-drilled and you don’t have a bait drill to hand.
The simple steps in this post should be enough for you to learn to attach all sorts of baits to hair rigs.