My wife and I had decided to spend a week on Costessy No3 (near Norwich) pit, she after some big bream, me in the hope of contacting one of the few big twenties that inhabiting this very hard carp water. In those days the water was gin clear and alive with natural food. Someone (I think it was Len Bunn) said that the fish never need to eat anything bigger than a pin-head to survive very nicely thank you.

It was with this in mind that we commenced a heavy prebaiting program using baked beans straight from the tin. Later I was to really get into particles and take several fish on floating hemp and dari seed but this time it was baked beans. At that time the water had a shallow area known by all the locals as ‘the square’. On rare occasions several very big fish would venture into this small area and clear up any bait left there by the tench and bream anglers. One afternoon we found a number of big fish feeding in the square and surreptitiously introduced the contents of a tin of beans as close as we dared. The fish went berserk, stirring up the silt until we could only see huge waving tails.

For several minutes the feeding spree went on, giving me time to introduce a bean on a size 4 hook to 11lb Sylcast. We sat watching and I remember having difficulty breathing fearful that the movement would be seen by the fish. Slowly, one by one the carp left the swim and the silt cloud subsided until a single fish remained. He was obviously looking for beans but finding none sailed over the bar and into deep water.

I was certain that the bean on the hook had been in the centre of the feeding area, so why hadn’t it been taken? After much discussion we agreed that the fish looked as if they were sucking up the beans from some distance rather than picking up individual beans and the weight of the hook had stopped our beans being sucked up.

I don’t remember exactly what my train of thought was but after a night in the bivvy thinking about it I came up with what I called the detached bait rig. This consisted of a length of 1.1 Bayer Perlon tied to the bend of the hook, three beans threaded on the line with a needle and then a knot tied to stop the beans sliding off so that the knot was approximately two inches from the bend. (Two inches was chosen because the distance between a 20lb carp’s lips and its throat teeth is approximately 2 inches). The rig was designed to be used at close quarters, which was the way I preferred to fish then.

I didn’t get another chance to use the rig for a couple of weeks by which time I had abandoned the beans and was back on sweet corn. One afternoon I arrived at the lake to find the fish were chasing around as if about to spawn. As this was late July I was surprised to say the least but quickly started looking for a spot where I could cast near them. After much creeping about in bankside bushes I found a spot where three big fish going around together came close to the bank under a tree, the branches of which trailed in the water at that point.

The shortest rod I had was a Hardy Mk1V Carp rod(Glass) which at ten foot I could just poke out under the tree but couldn’t really bring into play without fouling the branches. It would have to do. I dropped a handful of corn under the tree and sat down to tie a detached bait rig threading on three grains of corn. Before I could cast the fish were back and moving fast through the swim, which was about 3 foot deep under the tree. The first two fish ignored the bait but the third fish dropped down and sucked up the grains of corn in seconds and then sped off after the other two.

I dropped in another handful of corn accompanied this time by the baited detached bait rig. I didn’t have long to wait before they were back but again the first two fish ignored the bright yellow grains. Probably more interested in the promise of sex than a mid afternoon snack. The third fish was still hungry. Straight down on the corn, a quick suck and he was off with my line following him. A quick check to ensure the line wasn’t fouling and in with the pickup.

The clutch screamed. The fish was already moving fast, parallel with the bank and all I could do was hang on and hope for the best. It was impossible to raise the rod because of the branches so I was effectively playing the fish on a handline with a clutch. I applied a bit of finger pressure and the fish turned out into open water taking about ten yards of line before stopping and just hanging there. This made things difficult as the line was now running round a trailing branch. For some reason the fish then ceased fighting and allowed itself to be wound back under the tree and into the waiting net wielded by a friend who had been fishing along the bank. The fish weighed fractionally over 28 and a half pounds and was my first fish on the detached bait rig. The hook was in the outer edge of the bottom lip and I was to shorten the length of the ‘hair’ after taking a further fish that was hooked just outside the mouth. Strangely I caught the fish again at 29lb 2ozs on hair rigged pea-nuts a year later. This time I was using my newly invented radio controlled bait boat. But that’s another story.

At that time I was writing a monthly article for the Angling Times, so in September I published the rig in an article called Jungle Swim Carp. For some reason AT captioned the illustration of the rig ‘Rigs designed to prevent bite offs’. I had mentioned having problems with bite offs in the article but outlined what was to become known as ‘the bolt rig’ but what I called ‘the shock rig’ as a cure for this problem.

The article seemed to raise little interest and it wasn’t till some time later that I was accused (By no less a person than Kevin Maddocks) of giving away the secret of the ‘hair-rig’. I was never a member of the British Carp Study Group and certainly never a confidente of Lenny Middleton to whom the hair rig is attributed. I think this was a genuine case of parallel development and I believe that Lenny Middleton and his colleagues had been using the rig successfully for some time but keeping it a secret. I always think this parallels the inventors of penicillin, keeping it a secret for use only by family and friends!!

I have always deplored secrecy in angling, getting as much enjoyment from seeing other people catching fish as catching them myself. Indeed this was the sole reason I wrote articles. As a member of one of the old ‘specimen groups’ we shared our knowledge with anyone who cared to join and I believe angling was the richer for it.
My wife and I had decided to spend a week on Costessy No3 (near Norwich) pit, she after some big bream, me in the hope of contacting one of the few big twenties that inhabiting this very hard carp water. In those days the water was gin clear and alive with natural food. Someone (I think it was Len Bunn) said that the fish never need to eat anything bigger than a pin-head to survive very nicely thank you.

It was with this in mind that we commenced a heavy prebaiting program using baked beans straight from the tin. Later I was to really get into particles and take several fish on floating hemp and dari seed but this time it was baked beans. At that time the water had a shallow area known by all the locals as ‘the square’. On rare occasions several very big fish would venture into this small area and clear up any bait left there by the tench and bream anglers. One afternoon we found a number of big fish feeding in the square and surreptitiously introduced the contents of a tin of beans as close as we dared. The fish went berserk, stirring up the silt until we could only see huge waving tails.

For several minutes the feeding spree went on, giving me time to introduce a bean on a size 4 hook to 11lb Sylcast. We sat watching and I remember having difficulty breathing fearful that the movement would be seen by the fish. Slowly, one by one the carp left the swim and the silt cloud subsided until a single fish remained. He was obviously looking for beans but finding none sailed over the bar and into deep water.

I was certain that the bean on the hook had been in the centre of the feeding area, so why hadn’t it been taken? After much discussion we agreed that the fish looked as if they were sucking up the beans from some distance rather than picking up individual beans and the weight of the hook had stopped our beans being sucked up.

I don’t remember exactly what my train of thought was but after a night in the bivvy thinking about it I came up with what I called the detached bait rig. This consisted of a length of 1.1 Bayer Perlon tied to the bend of the hook, three beans threaded on the line with a needle and then a knot tied to stop the beans sliding off so that the knot was approximately two inches from the bend. (Two inches was chosen because the distance between a 20lb carp’s lips and its throat teeth is approximately 2 inches). The rig was designed to be used at close quarters, which was the way I preferred to fish then.

I didn’t get another chance to use the rig for a couple of weeks by which time I had abandoned the beans and was back on sweet corn. One afternoon I arrived at the lake to find the fish were chasing around as if about to spawn. As this was late July I was surprised to say the least but quickly started looking for a spot where I could cast near them. After much creeping about in bankside bushes I found a spot where three big fish going around together came close to the bank under a tree, the branches of which trailed in the water at that point.

The shortest rod I had was a Hardy Mk1V Carp rod(Glass) which at ten foot I could just poke out under the tree but couldn’t really bring into play without fouling the branches. It would have to do. I dropped a handful of corn under the tree and sat down to tie a detached bait rig threading on three grains of corn. Before I could cast the fish were back and moving fast through the swim, which was about 3 foot deep under the tree. The first two fish ignored the bait but the third fish dropped down and sucked up the grains of corn in seconds and then sped off after the other two.

I dropped in another handful of corn accompanied this time by the baited detached bait rig. I didn’t have long to wait before they were back but again the first two fish ignored the bright yellow grains. Probably more interested in the promise of sex than a mid afternoon snack. The third fish was still hungry. Straight down on the corn, a quick suck and he was off with my line following him. A quick check to ensure the line wasn’t fouling and in with the pickup.

The clutch screamed. The fish was already moving fast, parallel with the bank and all I could do was hang on and hope for the best. It was impossible to raise the rod because of the branches so I was effectively playing the fish on a handline with a clutch. I applied a bit of finger pressure and the fish turned out into open water taking about ten yards of line before stopping and just hanging there. This made things difficult as the line was now running round a trailing branch. For some reason the fish then ceased fighting and allowed itself to be wound back under the tree and into the waiting net wielded by a friend who had been fishing along the bank. The fish weighed fractionally over 28 and a half pounds and was my first fish on the detached bait rig. The hook was in the outer edge of the bottom lip and I was to shorten the length of the ‘hair’ after taking a further fish that was hooked just outside the mouth. Strangely I caught the fish again at 29lb 2ozs on hair rigged pea-nuts a year later. This time I was using my newly invented radio controlled bait boat. But that’s another story.

At that time I was writing a monthly article for the Angling Times, so in September I published the rig in an article called Jungle Swim Carp. For some reason AT captioned the illustration of the rig ‘Rigs designed to prevent bite offs’. I had mentioned having problems with bite offs in the article but outlined what was to become known as ‘the bolt rig’ but what I called ‘the shock rig’ as a cure for this problem.

The article seemed to raise little interest and it wasn’t till some time later that I was accused (By no less a person than Kevin Maddocks) of giving away the secret of the ‘hair-rig’. I was never a member of the British Carp Study Group and certainly never a confidente of Lenny Middleton to whom the hair rig is attributed. I think this was a genuine case of parallel development and I believe that Lenny Middleton and his colleagues had been using the rig successfully for some time but keeping it a secret. I always think this parallels the inventors of penicillin, keeping it a secret for use only by family and friends!!

I have always deplored secrecy in angling, getting as much enjoyment from seeing other people catching fish as catching them myself. Indeed this was the sole reason I wrote articles. As a member of one of the old ‘specimen groups’ we shared our knowledge with anyone who cared to join and I believe angling was the richer for it.