One of the most frustrating things I find while carp angling, and I’m sure other beginners to carp angling can relate, is ending up with a bird’s nest on the end of my line when I reel in. How many hours does one spend waiting without a bite, only to realize that they’ve been fishing with a tangled mess of a rig?
For years I fished with only a supple braided hair rig. I would have to cast softly and keep a close eye on my rig as it sailed to its destination, ensuring it didn’t come back and wrap around itself. I wasn’t aware of the tactics and tricks most carp anglers used to prevent carp rigs from tangling. Now that I have learned to utilize these tactics effectively, there is rarely a time when I reel in and find even the slightest tangle in my rig.
How Do You Prevent Your Carp Rigs from Tangling?
You can prevent almost any tangle in your carp fishing rig with the use of a few straightforward tactics. With the use of specialized rig materials, baiting methods and changes to your casting style, you can ensure your rig settles on the bottom and is displayed correctly every cast.
I’m pretty fussy when it comes to presenting my bait correctly. With the little free time I have to fish, I want to be sure my bait and rigs are presented effectively on every cast. Most anglers deploy the tactics below, hoping their rig lands in a suitable location and presents itself appropriately.
I have taken things a little further. I purchased an underwater camera that I place next to my pre-baited areas. Instead of just hoping things land and present themselves correctly, I can now see for sure that they are. After seeing my rigs land successfully time and time again, I am far more confident in writing this article as these methods are tried and tested to be true.
Main Causes of Carp Rig Tangles
There are a few things, as carp anglers, that we should try to avoid, so we maximize the effectiveness of our carp fishing rigs. First, we will list the main causes of WHY rigs tangle first, then we will list what tactics and gear can be used to prevent those tangles.
Tangles During Casting
The main cause of tangled carp rigs is during flight as you cast. Before casting, conditions such as wind, trees and bank space should all be considered.
Using Improper Rigs
Sometimes if a rig isn’t tied properly or it’s the wrong one for the situation, it can be more prone to tangle in weeds or upon itself. We will cover the types of rigs you should use if you’re struggling below.
Tangles on the Bottom
Whether it’s when the rig lands after falling through the water column or due to heavy currents or waves, this is another key area where carp rigs often tangle.
Using the Wrong Rig Materials
There are many bits and bobs to choose from when tying your carp fishing rigs. Some are beneficial and should be used 100% of the time to ensure your rig is presented properly.
Of course, there can be many other reasons why rigs may tangle. Sometimes you can do everything perfectly, and there will still be a slight chance of it happening. The tips listed below will greatly reduce the chances of your rigs tangling.
Casting Tips to Help Prevent Carp Rig Tangles
Rigs normally become tangled while casting, and there are some tactics listed below which I wish I knew when I first started targeting carp.
Poor Casting Techniques
Those that are new to carp angling will sometimes struggle to cast effectively with the larger and more powerful specialist carp fishing rods. The tips included below will help to prevent rig tangles while casting.
Prevent Tangles on the Wind Up
Try not to jerk the rig around too much when winding up for your cast. A sudden backward-to-forward motion can cause your rig and bait to swing and hook onto your lead. Instead, hold your rod over your head with your weight, rig, hook and bait aligned hanging behind you. Once you’re sure things are aligned, cast in a smooth, steady arcing motion. This will aid in the rig flying smoother through the air.
Prevent Tangles During Casting
During casting is when your rig is most prone to tangles. As your lead flies through the air with your bait and hook trailing, it is easy for your hook to wrap around your mainline, especially on windy days. To prevent this, try using stiffer hook link material and anti-tangle sleeves to keep your hook away from the lead.
Prevent Tangles Entering the Water
Feather the cast as it nears its destination. Slowly pinch the line against the top of your spool with your forefinger as it gets close to hitting the water. This will help slowly swing the bait and hook out in front of your lead as it enters the water column.
If you’re clipping up to hit a certain distance, aim your cast so your rig is close to the water when your line hits the line clip. I generally aim for 2 feet above the water or less; aiming just past your baited area will help to achieve this. I’ve noticed that if your rig is farther above the water than about the 2 or 3-foot mark, it will cause your hook and bait to helicopter around your lead with the force of hitting the line clip. Once you can do this correctly, your bait, hook, rig, and weight should all be aligned when they drop into the water column.
Prevent Tangles During the Drop
As your rig descends through the water column is another area where it is prone to tangles. It is beneficial to hold your line taught and feel your rig and lead down to the bottom. This will ensure your hook and bait trail behind the lead on an arc, keeping them further away from your mainline.
It will most likely be a process of trial and error before you master the art of getting your rig to land on the bottom in a presentable state 90% of the time. Just keep at it, the more you practice the easier it will become.
Types of Carp Rigs that Help Prevent Rig Tangles
A few types of special rigs can further aid in preventing tangles. If you’re still having trouble with tangled rigs after using the casting techniques above, maybe try switching to a rig that is less prone to tangles.
One of the go-to anti-tangle carp fishing rigs. Even when casting forcefully in windy conditions, it is difficult for a helicopter rig to entangle. With this rig, the lead is tied onto the end of your line while your hook link is attached above it between two beads. Aptly named the helicopter rig, it allows your hook link to swing freely around your line in flight. Coupled with PVA mesh baiting methods, this can be one of the most reliable rigs.
Since I switched to using the Spinner Rig in 90% of my fishing, I rarely see tangles. The stiff boom material used to tie this style of rig paired with the use of crimps and shrink tubing allows for a rig that lands and presents itself effectively in almost any situation. Even if you opt to use other rigs, a stiffer hook link material creates a “boom” type section that will kick your hook and bait away from the rig upon landing virtually eliminating tangles.
The Hair Rig is the go-to rig for many newcomers to carp angling because it’s easy to tie and requires fewer materials than other types of rigs. The main downside is that it is quite prone to tangles. Don’t be afraid to switch things up once in a while and test out new rigs to increase your catch rates.
Special Carp Rig Materials to Help Stop Rig Tangles
It is quite amazing the innovation that some carp anglers have come up with over the years to solve the problems specific to their sport. The gear list seems endless and grows larger every year with new ideas and tactics.
Here are just a few terminal tackle bits used to prevent your rig from tangling.
Stiff Coated Braid Hooklink
My go-to hook link material. I don’t know how I survived without coated braid. It is incredible to watch your rig settle to the bottom on an underwater camera, the stiff hook link material acts as a long boom, pushing your bait and hook away from your lead as it lands.
I almost always use a stiff piece of shrink tubing on my rigs. I butt it up against the swivel on my coated braid. I find it adds a little more rigidity where it is needed most. It keeps your rig farther from your lead and mainline.
Anti-Tangle Sleeves are small tapered rubber sleeves. They serve two purposes: keeping your rig away from your lead, plus preventing your swivel from folding and allowing your rig to make contact with your main line.
Place a PVA foam nugget onto the tip of your hook. The foam keeps the hook from snagging on the mainline and weight. The weight settles on the bottom with the PVA foam suspended above it. Once the foam dissolves, the stiff boom carries the hook and bait away from the lead.
These are just a few products you can use in your rigs to prevent tangles. There are many more specialized bits of end tackle, but the list is too lengthy to list in this article. If you’re interested in learning more about specific carp fishing end tackle, be sure to check out our Big Guide to Carp Fishing Terminal Tackle.
Baiting Methods to Prevent Carp Rig Tangles
So far, we’ve covered casting techniques, rig materials and different types of rigs to prevent tangles. One more very simple way to prevent tangles is by employing a few simple baiting methods to keep your rigs from tangling.
Merely place your baited rig along with your weight in a PVA bag. Fill it with your bait of choice, and you can confidently cast any distance. With everything packed tightly inside the bag, it will fly through the air and travel through the water column without fear of tangling. Once the PVA bag dissolves on the bottom, your rig will be displayed correctly with a nice pile of bait around it.
My favourite way to prevent tangles. I use pack bait while carp angling about 90% of the time I fish. I pack a tight ball of bait around my lead. Before casting, I stick my hook into the pack bait ball. I combine this method with pop-up boilies to great effect. Depending on the consistency of my pack bait, it sometimes takes longer than PVA mesh for my boilie to pop up above the pile of pack bait.
PVA Mesh is another way to prevent tangles. Pack some freebie boilies, stick mix or your bait of choice into a mesh bag, tie it off, and ensure your hook point is buried into the meshing. This will prevent your hook from entangling on your mainline. This tactic also ensures a nice pile of bait is around your hook bait when the mesh dissolves.
These are just a few simple tips to reduce tangles when carp fishing. I wish I would have known this information when I first began fishing for carp. Now that I employ these tactics, I have a much higher catch rate than before.