I have recently been having aborted bites, some are even single note takes but then nothing when I pick up the rod. Is it my rig that's the problem, what can I do about these aborted takes?
Some rig-shy carp have learned to feed cautiously by picking up a bait gingerly in their lips, or mouthing the bait. As they swim away and the line tightens to the lead, it can cause the alarm to register a bite but the carp is not hooked. Some people believe that the wise carp have even learned to tighten their lip around the bait so that it is removed from the hair when the line tightens. Therefore it's possible to get a screaming run and a bent rod but end up with no fish and no bait at all!
To avoid this situation you may need to adjust the length of the hair or even remove the hair completely! Getting rid of a hair may cause issues with hooking potential as the bait could block the hook penetration in some instances, but this could work with a little trial and error. You want to creat a rig where the carp cannot take in the bait without the hook. Firstly, try using a very short hair so the bait is almost stuck to the bend of the hook.
You could also try side hooking the bait using superglue, or even whipping light braid around both hook and bait in order to achieve a perfect position with the fullest amount of hooking potential. If this doesn't work then keep experimenting until you find a rig that reduces aborted takes when fishing for carp.
What type of anti-eject carp rig is works best?
All anti-eject rigs tend to work as intended providing they are made correctly. I think one important consideration is that the chosen rig is quick and easy to create. You do not want to fiddle about on the bank trying to handle tiny components whilst the rod is out of the water. It should also have good anti-tangle properties. I very often use long-shank hooks with a small piece of silicon tube placed on the shank where it is secure but slides easily under pressure. This type of anti-eject rig works well at allowing the bait to push away from the point but leave the hook in the flesh.
There are other methods to use for anti-ejection purposes. One is to use stiff links so once the bait is in the mouth, the carp find it difficult to eject the bait because the line is not supple enough to fold and allow the hook to blow out. Another way is to place a small weight a few inches from the hook. This allows the hooklink to drop back down to the lake bed and causing the hook to drop down inside the mouth where it can find a secure hookhold.
What hook-link material is best for carp fishing?
It really depends on the fishing situation. Many of these modern materials work well and have various benefits and options to the angler. For me personally, the best all-round hook-link material is a soft nylon of around 10 pounds breaking strain. This is because it offers a compromise of suppleness along with some stiffness for anti-tangle effects. The weaker hook-link compared to main line also has the added advantage of breaking before the main line if you're unlucky to lose a fish. This helps protect a fish from dragging a tether rig around the lake. The problem with nylon is that it isn't the strongest material and in certain situations, such as fishing over a hard, stoney bottom or heavy weed. This can create its own problems. For those situations, the stripped-back, coated braids come into their own. They are very strong and have good knot strength as well. They can also be very good in weed if you can match the colour well. The downside is that the strength also means that the main line could break first. If you're snagged up, a fish could be in danger. The coloured, coated braids can also be more visible to carp which can be a disadvantage.
The supple braids can be very good in PVA bags as they can wind neatly inside the bag with little problems. However on their own, they tangle very easily during the cast. Stiff Fluorocarbon lines are great in clear waters, fished over almost any flat bottom of clay, silt, sand or gravel. They hide well and are relatively tangle-free. There downfall is they are wiry and brittle, and as a result, may lift up off the bottom causing a bad presentation of the rig.
Are long hooklinks better for catching the bigger carp?
Any length of hooklink can catch big carp but it really depends on the specific baiting situation. You need to suit the hooklink length to the situation. For example, if fishing to a tight bait presentation, such as spodding accurately to a marker float, then I generally believe that shorter hooklinks are best. This is because carp won't be moving around much when feeding, thus a short link helps to set the hook point quickly.
If using a long length then the fish needs to move further before the hook sets, but why would they move when there's tons of bait all around them! Conversely, a longer hooklink might work better in weed. I wouldn't chuck tons of bait into weed beds directly and therefore there would be less free offerings around. The carp are hopefully moving through the weed searching for my single, smelly hookbait. Once taken the fish move away in search of another food item, and this constant movement means my long hooklink can work well for this fishing situation.
As a sidenote, why I would use longer hooklinks in weed. It is because I feel it has other benefits. It also may help with potential tangles. The lead will drop down through a shallow weed patch helping to hide it, but the hooklink will hold further above the weed so limiting the potential for the hook point to catch on any weed strands.
Is it worth creating carp rigs with camouflage components?
Depends on how complex you intend to make your rigs. In most cases, I would opt for a basic carp rig with good hooking potential. However for some rig-shy carp, you may benefit from using a rig made up from a good flurocarbon link instead. This is much more simpler than trying to conceal a rig's components.
If you are still sold on doing the camouflage thing, then maybe think about creating a rig which conceals its components. One way is to mask the shank of the hook. You could cover it by threading on soft bait like corn or bread. I have used those fake rubber worms to cover the hook shank. The advantage here is that a carp may also be attracted to the "worm" as well as the hookbait itself!
Another trick I've used before is to balance the hookbait boilie so it's buoyant and sits above the hook as the rig itself lies on the lake bed. As a carp passes over, the bait conceals the hook rather than it lying on the bottom where it would be visible by the side of the hook.
Tubing can also be used to blend in with the colour of the lake bed, however if it's not exact, it could end up more visible than using the line. I would think more about using a good fluorocarbon line instead.