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Pebble Rig

There are numerous advantages of fishing with large round pebbles secured to a running clip swivel by rubber band. I have learned that one pound of lead fixed to the line either semi or running by the same clip swivel has detrimental effects to hook holds, the lead bounces around loosens & even pops hooks out of turning fish & results in mouth damage. With this method you obtain a direct line to your hook hold & not your lead weight. Heavy leads get snagged & tend to lead the fishes head down towards the river bottom. When a pebble rolls out of a band a direct line to the fishes mouth is obtained, it usually results in playing the fish in the upper levels of the water giving you better control, increased rod tip sensitivity & quicker response times when playing turning & long, fast running fish as well as having better direction on the fish if fishing near snags. When fishing mud flats over long sessions, new environments are created in the form of small bars & mounds of pebbles if you are good at placing baits on the same spots in the main flow of the river consistently. These in are then frequented & commandeered in time as home by crayfish, patrolled by the carp & acts as a dinner plate for the catfish. When baited regularly, these features will provide the edge on fishing the barren mud flanks of flooded valley, this is also a cost effective way of presenting baits in the main flow.

Single hooks, elastic bands, clip swivels & 5lb pebbles are not the most common items in a cat fisherman's tackle box until now. The pebble rig & its variations for carp & catfish will prove to be one of the most effective river rigs to date.

The pebble rig was born from a number of theories I had about the relationship between hook holds & free lead weight movements. No rig can really guarantee the same hook hold for a given number of times in exactly the same part of the mouth.

Hook holds are the single most important part of my fishing as without a good one there is little chance of landing 200lb specimen fish. These lead weights were previously presented on flooded mud flats & sometimes would penetrate the surface crust of the silt & mud, hook-link & hook bait thus being buried for the duration of many a fishing session. Hook links were lengthened initially but when hooking any size of catfish I was conscious that I only had a direct line to the 1lb lead & not the hook hold. When fishing with these heavy lead weights I had little control & direction over the fish as the lead weight would most often dictate & take the fight out of the fish for me. The 1lb weight bounced from side to side as the catfish availed my attempt to near them to the margin for gloving, often leading the fishes head towards the river bed & more often than not resulted in small tears & double hook holds in addition to hooks popping out as the fish was nearing sight. The results from bad hook holds were most apparent when unhooking & repairing such damage & re-thinking my rig mechanics became a number one priority. I have always loved the idea & fished many a time with the free lined live & static bottom bait method. The only disadvantage of this is that you are limited as to the distance fished from the bank although bite indication does not pose too many a problem.

My initial trials saw me landing fish in addition to a 5lb pebble which not surprisingly enough is very hard to play on its own at 200 yards let alone with a Wels catfish on the end. Having experimented with several band types & numbers with different weights & shape of pebble I started to land every fish that took the hook bait. My increase & overall catch rate is made up of many factors including lady luck but are mainly attributed to the mechanics & positioning of my rigs. I noticed that the energy produced when the clipped band ejected the pebble was enough to hook the fish, leaving the pebble in place & the rod bent flat with a direct line to the hook hold as opposed to any awkward play from any weight. Over time, many pebbles were deposited in a few selected areas covering some 10km of river. These pebbles in turn formed bars & mounds on otherwise baron mud flats & were soon home to families of crayfish, clouds of water flea & regularly patrolled by the carp. When baited these areas would become a hive of activity, the types of noise, signals & movement given off was such that no catfish would resist investigation. Pebbles can be fished fixed or free running even though eventually they are ejected from the bands. I found using fixed pebbles in certain areas required longer hook lengths due to depth of soft mud & silt. When fishing with short hook links on hard bottom the takes would be the fiercest, with the rod initially being very hard to lift from the rest due to the amount of force applied by the freshly hooked fast running fish. When fishing longer hook links nearing 1 metre in length I found typically the rod nodding away as the cat carried on feeding, moving its head from side to side oblivious of being hooked & intent on scoffing the entire free pellet that baited the trap.

Hook bait presentation is also very important as this is the difference between landing & pulling out of a fish half way to the bank. When using pellet I always tie a hair using 30lb 0.33mm braid to the back of the shank of the hook & present my baits on this so they are free from the hook. The length of my hair usually is long enough to accommodate eight 28mm drilled hook baits & looped with an over hand knot at the free end. It is important that the hook baits do not come into contact with the bend of the hook when manoeuvred as this will mask its point & result in missed takes.


The hair is baited then doubled round & placed over the bend of the hook with a few securing turns to form a loop or ring of pellet that sits free from the bend of the hook. I tend to use a knot known to me as a no knot hook knot; this is not to be confused with the knotless knot & associated hair positioning problems. My hair knot sits under the no knot hook knot which is whipped to the shank of the hook & then passed through the back of the eye in order for the hook to turn & set properly. The hook link can be tied to the swivel with a Palomar knot, the clip swivel is either attached to form a fixed weight rig or a bead is placed on the mainline braid allowing the clip to free run. I have found that large flat smooth pebbles are best as its surface area tends less to penetrate any silt or mud crust, heavy round ones like hot potatoes are the worst for getting buried. When banding the pebble it must be done with several twists to allow the band to roll the pebble from its grasp. I have found rubber bands to be an ideal retainer due to flexibility. Bands of Velcro & bicycle tyre inner tubes are poor substitutes & often more expensive & far better than using mono breakaway link rig. This rig can be used in all sorts of situations from the boat or from the bank; I have presented live baits anchored to the river bed as well as the favoured meal of pellet & even used this rig on a scaled down version for my carp fishing as these pebbles in a smaller size are very castable. In addition to its rig mechanics the pebbles are capable of absorbing small volumes of flavour & oil, ideal for fish attraction. I have several tubs of casting pebbles (4 - 6 oz) permanently in soak & to an extent in certain situations are more beneficial for fish attraction than a food source due to time release.

Information supplied by Stephen Buss from carpandcatbussters.com



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