Example of a Hair Rig

How to Tie a Hair Rig For Carp Fishing With Photos and Video

One of the simplest and most basic carp fishing rigs yet the most effective, The Hair Rig. What makes it so popular? The Hair Rig is usually the first carp fishing rig most beginners to the sport learn to tie. It can be as basic as you need it to be, although I will go into greater detail in this article and share my top 5 tips to improve catch rates with this very versatile rig.


What is a Hair Rig for Carp Fishing?

The Hair Rig is very simple due to the fact that it requires few materials to tie. The mechanics of the rig allow for a decent hookup rate when carp take your bait. Your bait is attached below your hook via a length of line called “a hair”. This causes your hook to embed in the lower lip of the fish on the majority of takes.

Example of a Hair Rig
Basic Hair Rig for Carp Fishing

I have noted that a lot of websites describe the “How To” of a topic but rarely the “Why”, I believe this is due to the fact that the “Why” takes a lot more research and effort to prove. This is where I try to be different with the content I create.

I purchased an underwater camera several years ago to see how carp actually react to things in real-time. It was a huge eye-opener for me. I was always under the impression that more advanced rig mechanics were only necessary on very pressured fish that were accustomed to being caught over and over.

I found that this was not the case, I mainly target wild carp in the Great Lakes, I have seen first hand on many days the fish can be quite wary of anything that is not natural to them. Time and time again I witnessed carp swim up and nudge my rig then back off as quickly as they arrived.

That is why I will share with you the tricks I use to keep my hair rigs as covert as possible while at the same time increasing their hook-up rate. Gone are the days of me watching hopelessly as fish after fish nudges my rig and swims off. I still do not hook every fish that takes the bait but I do catch a lot more than I used to. This is why I love carp fishing, they can be quite a challenging quarry and there is always room for improvement in the tricks and tactics we employ to catch them.



How to Tie a Hair Rig For Carp Fishing

If you are familiar with the Materials and Knots for Tieing a Carp Fishing Hair Rig, let’s put it all together. If not I will include those details further below. As you can see in the picture below the Hair Rigs I tie today for carp fishing are a lot more effective and streamlined than the first rigs I used.

Advanced Hair Rig
Carp Fishing Hair Rig

How to Tie a Hair Rig Step by Step

  1. Cut 12” to 16” of braided hook link material.
  2. Strip 2”to 3” of the braided coating with your stripping tool.
  3. Tie a Simple Overhand Knot with the 2” to 3” of the line that has been stripped.
  4. Feed the line through the eye of the hook from back to front. (This ensures the proper angle of your hook point when finished.)
  5. Tie a 5 – 7 wrap knotless knot then feed your line back through the eye of your hook. (Back to front again.)
  6. Thread shrink tubing over the eye of your hook. (Once steamed down this will aid with attaining the proper angle of your hook point.)
  7. Thread another smaller piece of shrink tubing over the “hair” of your rig and shank of your hook.
  8. I like to steam it just on the bend of the shank. This will ensure a greater chance of the point of your hook digging in when a fish takes your bait.
  9. Thread an anti-tangle sleeve onto your hook link. (Before tieing the figure of eight loop knot. (The small end of the anti-tangle sleeve can prove troublesome to get over the knot afterwards.)
  10. Finish by tieing a figure of eight loop knot on the end of your line. This will serve as a quick-connect point to your lead setup.

Video of How to Tie a Simple Hair Rig for Carp Fishing

Improved Carp Angling – how to Tie a Hair Rig

What Knots Do You Need to Know to Tie a Hair Rig for Carp Fishing?

There are only three very simple knots you need to know to tie a very effective hair rig. If you are not confident at tieing knots, DON’T WORRY! These are very simple and I’m sure you can learn them in no time.

How to Tie an Overhand Loop Knot

The Overhand Loop Knot is a simplified version of the Figure of Eight Loop Knot. It isn’t quite as strong as the figure of eight but its purpose is only to hold your bait on the rig so it is never under any strain.

1 Hooklink Material
1. Use a Stiff or Semi Stiff Hook Link Material
2 Cut Piece of Material
2. Cut Off around 12” of Rig Material.
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3. Straighten Rig Material by Stretching it Between Your Fingers
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4. Strip 3” to 4” of the Outer Coating
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5. Bend the Line Back on itself Forming a Loop
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6. Bend the Loop Back and Cross it Over Itself
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7. Thread the First Loop through the Second
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8. Moisten the Knot / Pull it Tight
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9. Trim the Tag End
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10. You’re Left with a Sturdy Loop

How to Tie a Knotless Knot for Carp Fishing

Here is a step-by-step illustrated guide to tieing a knotless knot on a carp fishing hair rig. Be sure to watch the attached YouTube video for more detailed instructions.

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1. Thread Rig Material Through the Eye of the Hook
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2. Ensure the Rig Material goes from Back to Front Through the Eye of the Hook
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3. Pull Rig Material Through the Eye Leaving Enough of a Hair for Your Chosen Bait
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4. 3” is About Right for Hair Length
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5. Wrap The Line You Pulled Through the Eye Around the Shank of the Hook
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6. Ensure You Wrap the Line Around Both the Hair and the Shank
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7. 4 – 6 Wraps are Usually Enough, Ensure the Hair is Kept on Top of the Hook Shank
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8. Thread the Line Through the Eye of the Hook Again
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9. Once Again From Back to Front and Pull Tight
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10. Change the Angle of Your Hook Point by Adding More or Less Wraps

How to Tie a Figure of Eight Loop Knot

The Figure of Eight Loop Knot is very similar to the Overhand Loop Knot we tied above. The main difference is the added wrap around the line. This gives the knot added strength as it will be under the full strain of the fish during a battle.

1 Hooklink Material
1. Use a Stiff or Semi Stiff Hook Link Material
2 Cut Piece of Material
2. Cut Off around 12” of Rig Material.
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3. Straighten Rig Material by Stretching it Between Your Fingers
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4. Strip 3” to 4” of the Outer Coating off the End of the Line
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5. Bend the Line Back on itself Forming a Loop
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6. Bend the Tip of that Loop Back and Cross it Over Itself Thus Forming Another Loop
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7. Wrap the Loop Around the Other Two Lines Before Threading it Through the 2nd Loop
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8. Thread the First Loop Through the Second
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8. Moisten the Knot and Pull it Tight
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9. Trim the Tag End
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10. You’re Left With a Stronger Knot than the OverHand Loop Knot

There you have it, three very simple knots to tie your first hair rig for carp fishing. If you need a better demonstration, check out the video listed below on our Improved Carp Angling YouTube Channel.


What Materials Do You Need to Tie a Simple Hair Rig for Carp Fishing?

To tie a hair rig for carp fishing you need some very basic materials. The first hair rig I tied for carp fishing was made out of:

Basic Hair Rig Material List:

  • A Barrel Swivel.
  • A Circle Hook.
  • Braided Mainline.
  • An Inline Weight.
  • 15mm Boilie.

I use some more advanced materials now. They mostly help to prevent your rig from tangling while in flight but they also increase the effectiveness of your rig as well.

Advanced Hair Rig Material List:

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Advanced Hair Rig Materials
  • Coated Hooklink Material – Either stiff or semi-stiff will do.
  • Rig Shrink Tubing – Prevents your hook from becoming entangled on knots and just makes everything look downright carpy.
  • Decent Carp Fishing Hook – Anywhere from size 4 – 8 will do the trick.
  • Anti Tangle Sleeves – Aid in keeping your rig straight and from coming back and entangling with your lead while casting.
  • In-Line Weight – I prefer in-line lead setups, although drop-off lead systems with swivels work fine as well.
  • Rig Putty or Split Shot Weights – These will be covered in the 5th Tip. Their placement can greatly affect hook-up ratios.
  • Carp Bait of Choice – Boilies, popups, corn, tiger nuts etc. The list is endless and they all excel at catching carp.
  • Braid Scissors, Knot Puller and Stripping Tool – These tools are not necessary but will decrease the time required to tie your rigs quite considerably and are highly recommended.

These materials are not that expensive when you consider the payoff of a higher hookup rate. It always amazes me, the amount of fish that actually visit my baited area to the amount that actually take the hook bait. With such a low ratio you want your rig mechanics to be bang on to increase your odds of catching a fish on every outing.

Back when I first started carp angling in North America, I didn’t have access to these more advanced rig materials. Now with the advent of e-commerce, there are online stores that can ship these materials to your door in North America within a few days.


5 Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Carp Fishing Hair Rigs Forever.

I have been using the hair rig for over 20 years. If you watched the above video you will note that the first hair rig I ever used was very basic and not that efficient. Here I will list my top 5 tips to increase your hair rig hookup rates while carp fishing.

Hook Pattern Matters

Hook pAttern Good
Carp Fishing Hook Pattern

I used to use just any old hook that I had in my tackle box. I noted that a lot of the hook holds on the fish that I did land were not optimal. I experienced a lot of hook pulls and many lost fish in my first years of targeting carp. It is advantageous to use a “circle hook” pattern. This will aid with the hook setting itself in the bottom lip when a carp takes your bait on a running or bolt rig setup.

Stiff or Semi Stiff Rig Material

Rig Material Good
Carp Fishing Rig Material

These advanced hook link materials greatly reduce the amount of tangle and slackline in your setups. It is important to prevent slackline or loops on your rigs as they sit on the bottom. The slack will allow carp to mouth your baits longer and give them a chance to spit it with no tension on your line.

Anti Tangle Sleeves

AntiTangle Sleeve
Anti Tangle Sleeves

Anti Tangle Sleeves will cause your rig to stay straighter during casting thus decreasing the chance of your hook becoming entangled on your lead setup.

Rig Shrink Tubing

Steam Shrink Tubing
Shrink Tubing

I always thought this was a gimmicky material and wasn’t very useful. I now rarely tie a rig without it. This material excels at shrinking down knots and swivels to prevent rig tangles. It also allows anglers to set their hook points to the optimal angle. While steaming the shrink tube down you may as well steam your entire rig straight too.

Rig Putty or Split Shot Weights on the Hair

Split Shot on Hair
Weight between the Hook Bait and Hook

This is a trick that I have recently discovered. I used to always put my rig putty or split shot on the rig above the hook. I noted on my underwater camera that a lot of fish were nudging my bait and hook as it was popped up a few inches off the bottom. Once I made the adjustment and pinned the hook to the bottom so the bait was sitting just above the silt, my takes and hook-up ratios increased dramatically.


There you have it; this is a resource I wish I had many years ago. It would have saved me countless hours of fishing with inefficient rigs that were 80% of the time just a tangled mess on the bottom.

Be sure to follow Improved Carp Angling on YouTube and Instagram for more recent updates. I am always learning new things and enjoy nothing better than sharing them with you.

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