Specimen Carp fishing is the fastest growing
section of freshwater fishing in the World, with over 2,5 million
registered Carp Angling societies members worldwide plus millions of
unregistered recreational anglers. From humble beginnings in the late
1970’s and early 1980’s in the UK, it then progressed in France and
then into every other European Community member country, before
entering the likes of Czechoslovakia and Romania, home of the current
World Record Carp venue, Raduta Lake.
Canada, the US and South Africa are among the newer countries to tune
in to this style of angling, but the quality of our waters together
with a favourable climate, put us firmly up there with the other big
fish countries. It will not surprise me to find the world record
coming out of one of our waters again in the not to distant future.
With this new style of angling comes new equipment, bait and angling
methods, all which when used in combination produce phenomenal
results, the likes of which previous methods were unable to produce
The knowledge of these methods and styles of angling have until now
been limited to a small number of specialist anglers who have been
importing on a very small scale from Europe the necessary equipment,
which while fine for themselves and a small select number of friends,
it left many anglers in the dark when it comes to how to fish using
these methods and where to obtain the equipment. Companies like
Anglers Inn / African Gold and The Smarter Carper has come to the
rescue for all those looking for European Style equipment at
affordable South African prices, by sourcing from overseas
manufacturers and manufacturing locally all the equipment needed to
get started and begin producing consistent results.
Among some of the essential pieces of equipment such as quality rods,
reels, electronic bite indicators, unhooking mats etc., the boilie has
been one of the fundamental baits an angler needs to target the bigger
Previously quality ready-made boilies were difficult to come by in South Africa
with only one or two companies producing them. Boilies
for Africa has come to the resque and their boilies can now be bought
all over South Africa. There are
three basic types of boilies.
High nutritional value boilies, which are a
complete food source for the fish, providing all the fishes
Hi-attraction boilies, which attract the fish but
are made from a less nutritional base.
A combination of the two.
I will go into more detail on the make up of these
when we discuss ingredients in another article.
Anglers contemplating fishing with boilies need to be aware of a few
facts and fallacies currently being bandied about at the moment on the
subject of boilie fishing.
Boilies are just another weapon in the specimen angler’s ever
increasing arsenal of carp baits which when used the appropriate way
and under the correct circumstances will enable the angler to produce
quality fish. Boilies are not the “Nirvana” of carp baits, which
anglers seem to be constantly seeking but in the right conditions
there can be no finer bait.
Two common misconceptions about boilie fishing is that one, you need
to pre-bait a water very heavily over weeks in advance before being
able to fish it and secondly the boilie is attached directly onto the
On a recent trip to the Vaal Dam an angler who was familiar with
boilie fishing decided to really give it a go one weekend, so on the
Thursday he sent his younger brother down, to begin ground baiting
prior to his arrival on the Friday evening, by which time he thought
the fish would then be feeding.
The younger brother dutifully set up all the rods, rowed out the lines
and pre-baited using a combination of both 18mm Fishmeal and
Strawberry boilies. The hook baits were single boilies, hair-rigged on
The afternoon passed by uneventfully for the younger brother except
for one or two boats, then at about 5pm one reel just took off, and
the older brother’s brand new alarms got their first take from a Vaal
Dam torpedo and the younger brother was into his first fish of the
session. A small Catfish/barbel of about 6kg was quickly landed, and
after a couple of photos as proof, the fish was released.
By the time big brother phoned at 7.30pm to check up on his ghillie,
he was to hear, much to his dismay, that the fish were feeding, and
that his young appie had started to catch almost straight away and not
only had he picked up the Catfish but an additional 3 Common Carp in
the 5 – 7kg class, all on the Fishmeal/Strawberry combination.
The older brother arrived a little earlier than planned the following
day and both he and his brother had a very good weekend, with 6
Catfish, which actually became a nuisance on the fishmeal boilies,
plus 9 common carp in addition to the younger brothers first three.
The fish were all in the 5 – 7 kg range except for one 11,35kg common,
which took a two double-hooked 18mm CVB Cream boilies.
All fish were weighed, photographed and released immediately, the use
of keep nets unnecessary.
If pre-feeding was a pre-requisite it would be impossible to get the
fish turned onto Boilies on a water the size of the Vaal Dam, so if
the angler applies a little thought to his or her fishing they should
not leave a water despondent.
It was known for instance that the fish in the Vaal Dam/River feed
well on baits flavoured with Strawberry, and that Fishmeal boilies in
all waters are a great way to get into fish quickly, due to the fish
oils, natural attractors and stimulants emitted from them.
The results were based on common sense and local knowledge.
The CVB Cream was a gamble the older brother took, anticipating the
other flavours would be pulling the fish into the area and that there
was a chance that the alternative flavour may appeal to one of the
fish in the area, fortunately it was one of the bigger specimens.
The other common misconception is that the boilie is attached directly
to the hook.
We are quite fortunate in some ways when it comes to Boilie fishing in
this country because we are able to learn from various other boilie
fishing countries and in this way we can jump straight in to a style
of angling without having to go through the teething troubles the UK
anglers did during the mid-seventies and eighties.
However, we are also left a little in the dark on the various
processes they went through to bring boilie and specimen carp angling
to where it is today.
One such development is that of the hair-rig.
The hair-rig has been around since the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt,
when fishermen then used a crude form of today’s rig when fishing with
live-bait in the ocean.
The hair-rig of today’s carp anglers was made popular and is generally
accredited to two anglers who made it public in the early 1980’s,
Kevin Maddocks and Len Middleton.
The story goes that they were both fishing with boilies and were
looking at various other ways of attaching boilies to the hook. Over
many cups of tea and late evenings at the kitchen table at Kevin
Maddocks house, one of them pulled a hair from their head and tied it
directly onto the bend of the hook and attached a boilie to the other
The end result was the first hair-rig.
This very crude form was tested and re-tested using various materials
and tying techniques.
Judging from Kevin Maddocks hair today, they could have gone onto
another material sooner, but today’s hair-rigs are generally made
using braid and monofilament.
At the time I am sure neither Kevin Maddocks nor Len Middleton
realised the impact of their discovery both from a commercial point of
view and from a practical one.
The secret to the hair-rigs success lie's in the way a carp feeds.
Carp feed by sucking up and blowing out quantities of food, gravel,
mud, twigs etc from the river/dam bed, and during this they filter out
the rubbish before swallowing the food.
The action of the hook in the fish’s mouth while feeding is such that
during the carp's sucking and blowing of material, the hook is
constantly rotating and changing direction in and out of its mouth as
the fish feels and assesses the potential of the bait as a food
It is during this ejection that the exposed hook point invariably
pricks the fish’s mouth and if the hook is sharp enough it will become
As the fish then becomes uneasy and finally panics because it cannot
get rid of the bait in its mouth, it turns to flee and either the
weight of the lead will force the hook deeper, or in the case of a
running lead all the angler has to do is to set the hook.
So even if the fish decides not to eat your bait you still can hook
If you are using current bait/hook methods the fish still has to
decide to eat it before you stand a chance of catching it. Even when
fishing with the hook point exposed, it does not have the same hooking
potential as the exposed hook / hair combination.
Initially it was thought that the fish would see the hook and refuse
to take the bait but this is simply not true, and the rig is now used
in all forms of angling.
The most common way to tie a hair-rig is by using a method known as
the Knotless Knot. Follow these steps to tie your own
Take a small piece of braid about 20cm long and tie a simple loop
in the one end. Trim with braid scissors to neaten the knot.
Monofilament line can also be used.
To attach the boilie to the rig you will need a boilie needle
and a boilie stop.
Thread the boilie onto the needle. Thread the loop of the
the barb of the needle and pull the boilie back onto the hair by pulling
the loop though the center of the boilie.
Thread the boilie stop through the loop and pull the boilie tight
against the stop. Trim off any excess stops using nail clippers or
Thread the other end of braid through the eye of the hook, from the back.
Wrap the braid back down the shank 6 – 8 turns.
Holding the wrapped shank firmly re-thread the braid back through the
Note. When using smaller hooks it may be difficult to pass back
Pull the braid tight to finish the hair-rig.
The finished rig, complete with swivel.