It all sorted early 2015 at the CCG fish in at Chigborough I’ve used leeches for five years but not on a leech rig and a lot off CCG members were on them so I decided to have a go.
I studied pictures of previous rigs and decided to source the materials that took me five week and i started to assemble the rig the hardest part to obtain was the top section because I wanted to shape it like a rod under tension to help anti tangling during casting I did this by steaming and shaping to the required shape. Although most people either winch out or boat I had my suspicions that if I got it right it would be a killer rig and did not want to have to keep winching it out because I fort the feeding spells may be short so for speed it needed to be cast.
I decided to add an extra float smaller in size to the bottom of the rig. My theory in this is that it would make the rig more stable to set and when there was a lot of surface movement .I.E wind and chop the rig would bounce more so aiding the rattle.
So it was ready for its first test on a Tuesday in June I went to a fishery in Billericay were live baits are prohibited only had one rod on the leeches I found out pretty quickly that I needed to break the cast before the rig hit the water to straighten the rig so it had no tangles. When sitting if the rig does not cock straight away when taking the slack line up it is tangled. Fished at about Thirty yards with braid mainline and a 50lb fluorocarbon hook length and a 2/0 circle hook with 2 leeches.
There was a gentle wind blowing from the west and a little chop on the surface the rig was working well bouncing up and down there was no signs of any cats on top at 4pm the rig flipped over and disappeared first and only kitten of the trip at 9lb but good fun and put the bit between my teeth.
I decided to make the floats smaller and scale the rig down so that instead of using a 5oz lead I was able to use 4oz and made the tale rubber on the tip longer so the swivel on the end of the hook length was incorporated 50% in to the rubber that made the rig 100% safe so if I had a line part the full rig would come away from the cat so it was a full running rig with a super slider.
I had a theory that most lake that prohibited live baits that it would be effective. The next trip was in late June and Carl Fogg was with me I had made 2 leech rig up Carl was very sceptical about the leech rig but that was soon to be put to bed it was starting to get warm by then and we rolled up at a lake in Brentwood with the leeches in toe there was nine anglers already fishing and not a fish on the bank we set up Carl was to my left and I was in the middle swim I don’t like fishing on the end because you get no through traffic of fish you only get what in the swim.
There was a lovely warm wind coming from the west into the dam end and a good chop on the surface the water temperature was 64F. There was no sign of any cats on top. When fishing the rig you are only about 16 Inches under the surface
The rigs were out and working well 2 hours went by without a sniff me and Carl were seating down watching the rigs and I said to Carl it would be lovely if we had a take right now as I said it my rig up ended and disappeared the line started to go and in anticipation. I struck the rod forgetting I had a circle hook on and did not get the hook up reeling in and thoroughly disappointed with myself I cast straight back and to my astonishment I had a take in five minutes this time I took my time I found that if I let the cat run properly taking line of the spool at a rate of knots and just reeled into them I was hooking up every time and was rewarded with a cat of 32lb over the next hour I landed 5 more cats to carls astonishment we were being watched by everyone on the lake this was unheard of and people did not have a clue what we were doing.
Carl turned and said to me what s going on my rigs is only ten feet away from yours and I’ve not had a take the rigs are identical I laughed and said no there not your one has no rattle on it so Carl reeled his rig in and fitted one then cast back out within minutes Carl was in and rewarded with a nice cat of 25lb from that moment on it went mad we had 16 cats on the bank to 42lb we had to reel in to eat dinner.
The next trip was back to the same lake and a different swim same side of the lake the swim that we see some very big cat in at night were taken it was very warm by now and was in July me and Carl did not think we would see fishing like that again.
We started setting up and it was the same scenario 7 anglers on the lake and no cats on the bank we cast out and it was instantaneous for 5 hours with a total 0f 14 cats to 38lb hard work but great fun we did notice a slowdown in the dark I carried on most of the night the next morning was slow until the wind come up the rigs were going all over the place and working well at 11am I had a take that was so violent it lifted the rig 2 feet out of the water a nice 20lb.
One of the problems I had at night was not being able to see the rig cock at night so I fitted a Drennan quiver tip top to the rig it work a treat I was able to see it working at night the isotope was about 10 inches above the water as the weeks went on more and more cats come to that rig but even though we had had cats to 45lb no big cats and was beginning to wonder way we had seen big cat smashing the surface on every trip I had my suspicions that the bigger fish may of been deeper.
Before the next trip I consulted Keith Lambert about his PIVOT Rig and went off and made one up so I could search the deeper deaths I had 3 cats on that rig and it worked well 2 feet of the bottom fished in 9 feet of water.
A friend of mine asked if I would make two rigs for him to take on a trip to a well known Kent lake I told Paul if there on it you will get no sleep a week later Paul and his fishing companion went and in a 24 session had a total of 38 cats to 38lb but we had still not hit that 50lb barrier.
The next trip I was not fishing my son and Brett were and two friends at the lake in Billericay in the first 3 hours my son had 6 takes and landed 3 kittens then Brett turned up and readily set his gear up casting his first ever leech rig out as he was cocking it at about 40 yards the rig suddenly dipped I said to Brett that a fish so he reeled into it and was greeted by a strong fight the cat weighed 47lb over that trip that was the biggest and a total of over 20 cats but still no 50 pounder.
The next Friday there were four of us going to the Brentwood lake all with leech rigs in hand when we got there we managed to get the four swims on the opposite side where me and Carl had seen lots of big cats moving of a night the weather conditions were against us it had been raining for six hours and not one cat I had a theory that the rain droplets was somehow masking the vibrations of the leeches in the surface layers at 6pm the rain stopped and twenty minutes later I woke to a screaming run it was the first cat of the trip and at 50lb 2oz the biggest of the year on a leech rig two more cats come to my friends then the rain started and they stopped.
At 2 am the rain stopped and I awoke to the sound of my ATT alarms this was a different animal altogether I was half asleep I soon woke up when I felt the power of this cat I played this cat for 15 minutes Carl even got some video of the fight I had the cat beat at about 50 yards out on the surface it was just wallowing there and with a shake of it head from side to side it was gone 50lb fluorocarbon hook trace just rubbed through that was the last trip in 2015 on the leech rig.
Further trips in the UK landed the group 15 cats over 65lb and just shy of the 100lb mark but that’s a different story.
SO HAPPY CATTING FOR 2016.