UK Hooks BOAT RIGS

Finding good ready-made boat fishing rigs can be like hunting sugar grains among mountains of salt. But there's no need to panic because the BOAT RIG range from UK Hooks offers quality in spades, and there's not a bad rig in the set, says Steve Souter.

Anglers who choose shop-bought rigs/traces have every right to expect professionally constructed, functional items for their money. However the chances are that their expectations will be rewarded with something else entirely. Indeed, poorly tied clumps of dross that would be better in the bin than on the end of any line are not at all unusual. Uninspiring, unreliable ready-rigs are more the norm than the exception frankly, and sorting any gems from the masses of trash can be like hunting sugar grains among mountains of salt.

Cheaper overseas labour and products are largely blamed for the widespread problem phenomenon, but there’s plenty of bad ‘hand-tied’ gear that is shoddily thrown together right here on home soil. Aside from sound core designs there are two main underlying areas that separate good quality sea fishing rigs from bad ones. The first is the quality of the components and lines used in the build, while the other is the skill and the conscientiousness of the rig builder.

Just occasionally a set of rigs catches the attention simply because it does not follow the flawed crowd. And the comprehensive BOAT rig range from UK Hooks is one such. Top quality components, attention to detail and careful assembly set this selection of rigs refreshingly apart. Hooks, swivels and clips from acknowledged brands like Mustad, Gemini, VMC and Eagle Claw are used throughout; knots are well formed and the intended application of each rig is clearly labelled. Crimps, where used, are carefully secured with a single neat compression. Lines like clear Amnesia and Seaguar fluorocarbon are also widely used.

All rigs are supplied in a generously sized bag, and, as such, they can be pulled from the packet in good, ready-to-use order. There is nothing worse than rigs that have been tightly coiled and crammed into tiny little bags or packets. Rigs made from cheap line are the worst afflicted as they display the most memory and are unusable without stretching.

Something guaranteed to send me into a mouth-frothing frenzy of arm-flailing madness is a lack of uniformity across identically labelled rigs. Purportedly identical rigs with differing spacings and carelessly varying snood lengths irritate the hell out of me. Why? Because if I am successfully catching with a particular rig, which I then lose in a snag, I want to be able to replace it in the sure knowledge that the replacement is absolutely the same as the lost one. I have no such slovenly complaints about the UK Hooks rigs… and I compared half-a-dozen just to be sure!

Picks of the Bunch

If I were to pick some favourites from this rig range then I would plump for the standout Island Match rig, the attractor-free Island Bream rig, the clever Island Turbot rig credited to Dale Edmonds, and the currently seasonal HD Needles Cod rig. All of these rigs are crackers that would not be out of place in the rig wallets of the country’s top boat anglers.

This is arguably the most comprehensive range of professionally made boat rigs currently available anywhere. Clearly labelled and well packaged, all mainstream boat fishing bases from John O’ Groats to Land’s End and beyond are well covered. Crucially, there is not a bad or inappropriate rig in the UK Hooks BOAT rig range.

A brief list of specifications and description of each rig, starting with my top picks, is detailed below (and pictured above). Thereafter the rigs are listed in no particular order and full details of the range can be found at www.uk-hooks.com

Island Match Rig (BR15)

Configuration: Three hooks down

Rig length: 151cm/59.4in – 4.95ft/1.51m

Hook spread: 54cm-33cm-64cm

Hooks: Vanadium Red Worm hooks

Attractors: Clevis-mounted Indiana-type blades and 5mm lumi beads above each hook

Description: A three-down rig of good working length, with hook sizes and attractor blades staggered upwards in the direction of the point hook. Ideal for worm, fish strip and squid baits.

Comments: Luminous beads and added visual/vibro attraction effective for a wide variety of species. A general-purpose rig for both anchor and drift fishing situations. Viciously sharp, strong hooks that will hold big fish even in smaller sizes. Will nail everything including rays, bull huss, gurnard, cod and big bream.

Prices: £2.40 each or £20.89 for 10 rigs.

Island Bream Rig (BR13)

Configuration: Two hooks above, one below

Rig body length: 95cm/37.4in – 3.1ft/0.95m

Hook spread: bottom to top: 3cm (from lead clip)-59cm-30cm-3cm (to top swivel)

Hooks: VMC Sport Circles, size 6

Attractors: None

Description: A neat little three-hook paternoster for bream and other tight shoaling species. Made with top quality Seaguar fluorocarbon line, it utilises a trusted circle hook pattern and sports upper snoods of 24cms, with a longer bottom snood of 36cm.

Comments: Fluorocarbon is well suited to black bream fishing. I advocate minimal or no added bead attraction on snoods for bream, and small, strong hooks for neat bait presentation, with the capablity of holding a hard-fighting 4lb plus bream. This rig ticks all the ‘fussy’ boxes.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs.

Island Turbot Rig (BR4)

Rig length: 136cm/53.5in – 4.46ft/1.36m (hooklength) + 94cm/37in –

3.08ft/0.94m (boom section)

Hooks: VMC Black Bass, 3/0 & 6/0

Attractors: Large 46mm Colorado blade on clevis

Spine line: 40lb clear Amnesia

Snood line: 40lb clear Amnesia

Description: An interesting integral boom, pennel rig with a solid pedigree in the waters around the Isle of Wight. Well thought out, with applications beyond the turbot niche.

Comments: I have used spoons in all shapes, sizes and forms for more than 30 years. Spoons are a wonderful attractor for a huge array of different species, with flatfish particularly responsive. A nagging dilemma that I have always had where turbot are concerned is how to effectively employ a spoon in the rig without it seeming to impair the natural action of the launce baits and long cuts of mackerel that I favour. Place the spoon close to the bait in the traditional manner and this is the risk. However, with the spoon positioned immediately in front of the running boom, it cannot counteract the natural bait action. The blade is also not so far away from the bait as to be lost and ineffective.

Prices: £2.40 each or £20.89 for 10 rigs.

HD Needles Cod Rig (BR20)

Configuration: Pennel point and dropper down

Rig length: 156cm/61.4in – 5.11ft/1.56m

Hook spread: 66cm gap between point hook and dropper junction

Hooks: Mustad O’Shaughnessy

Attractors: Orange stand-off/pennel sleeve

Spine line: 100lb Marlin

Snood line: 100lb Marlin

Description: Heavy duty downtide cod rig robustly constructed from a good quality 100lb mono. The pennel hook arrangement is comprised of powerful 6/0 and 9/0 O’Shaughnessy hooks to ideally carry multiple squid baits, while the dropper spur branches from a very strong all-in-one crimp swivel component. Connection is via a meaty 180lb nickel rolling swivel.

Comments: Excellent low memory for such a heavy trace line. Thick-walled tube works well for stand off and pennel purposes… top pennel hook locks in well against the line. A top rig for big fish built free of unnecessary clutter. This rig is the perfect working length for downtide fishing.

Prices: £2.40 each or £20.89 for 10 rigs.

Island Whiting Rig (BR6)

Configuration: Three hooks down

Rig length: 139.7cm/55cm – 4.58ft/1.39m

Hook spread: 39cm-36cm-56cm

Hooks: 1/0 Eagle Claw Aberdeen (all)

Attractors: 5mm lumi bead and lumi tube for all hooks

Description: Relatively short three-down rig with single 5mm lumi bead and piece of lumi tube behind each hook. 10-inch long droppers securely positioned with good quality short crimps. Droppers are made from appropriately heavy line to cope with regular toothy whiting action.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.00 for 10 rigs.

Island Flattie Boat Rig (BR3)

Configuration: Three hooks down

Rig length: 147cm/57.9in – 4.8ft/1.47m

Hook spread: 57cm-32.5cm-57.5cm

Hooks: Eagle Claw Sproat Worm size 2

Attractors: 5mm beads, sequins, tubing

Description: Three hook trailing rig to target dabs and plaice in particular, but will account for many other species besides. The particular hooks are large for the stated size and are comparable to many other sizes 1s.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs

Island Bass Rig (BR1)

Configuration: Low visibility single hook running ledger

Rig length: 174cm/68.5in – 5.7ft/1.74m (hooklength) + 58cm/22.8in – 1.9ft/0.58m (lead runner section)

Hook: VMC Black Bass, 2/0

Attractors: None

Spine line: 9.1kg Amnesia

Snood line: 9.1kg Amnesia

Description: A first class, clutter-free bass rig, and more or less exactly what I would tie and use for general bass fishing with sandeel or small live mackerel. There is an ample length of hooklength should personal preference be to remove the single hook and add in a small stinger treble for use with live mackerel. A weighted shad or likes of a Red Gill EVO lure can also be fished very effectively on this rig.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs.

Island Uptide Cod Rig (BR7)

Configuration: Running ledger pennel

Rig length: 90cm/35.4in – 2.95ft/0.9m (hooklength) + 47cm18.5/in – 1.54ft/0.47m (boom section)

Hooks: Aberdeen Black Eagle 5/0 & 7/0

Attractors: None

Description: At around 36 inches it is the perfect uptide trace length for cod in moderate to strong runs of tide. The line used is of an appropriate diameter to counter the rasping problems associated with codding. Hooks sport generous, well defined barbs and are ideal for large worm and worm/squid cocktail baits.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs.

Island Smoothhound Rig (BR9)

Configuration: Running ledger ‘reverse’ pennel rig

Rig length: 104cm/40.9in – 3.4ft/1.04m (hooklength) + 47cm/18.5in – 1.54ft/0.47m (slider section)

Hooks: VMC Faultless Octopus, 5/0 & 3/0

Attractors: None

Spine line: 30lb Amnesia

Snood line: 30lb Amnesia

Description: Beautifully uncomplicated rig with incredibly sharp VMC Faultless Octopus short shank hooks. These are strong and perfect for holding crab baits. The larger of the two hooks is positioned above the 3/0 point hook to ensure crab baits are held correctly, and to provide a better strike ratio. Lead is carried via a simple Zip slider. Rig can be used in downtide and uptide scenarios.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs.

Island Pollack Rig (BR10)

Configuration: Single flowing trace

Rig length: 305cm/120in – 10ft/3.05m (hooklength) + 43cm/16.9in – 1.4ft/0.43m (boom section)

Hook: VMC Red Devil, 6/0

Lures: Jellyworms

Spine line: 30lb Amnesia

Snood line: 30lb Amnesia

Description: 10ft flowing trace finished with a strong, surgically sharp 6/0 VMC Red Devil hook. Long 13in running boom (11in stand-off length) incorporates a Fistek plastic weak link attachment, which parts at 20lb. Supplied with two curltail jellyworms.Good trace length for general ‘Gilling’ use with lures.

Prices: £2.40 each or £20.89 for 10 rigs.

Needles Conger Rig (BR2)

Configuration: Heavy single flowing trace

Rig length: 116cm/45.6in – 3.8ft/1.16m

Hook: Mustad O’Shaughnessy, 9/0

Trace material: 250lb commercial mono

Description: Rig features a professional quality ball bearing swivel and 9/0 Mustad O’Shaughnessy hook. Professionally swage crimped, with three compressions per perfectly sized crimp at either end to both hook and swivel. Intended to present mackerel flappers, whole pout, large squid and cuttle baits. Could easily be used for tope too.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs

Island Tope Rig (BR8)

Configuration: Single hook

Rig length: 103cm/40.5in – 3.37ft/1.03m

Hook: 9/0 E299 Octopus hook

Trace material: 150lb mono to 75lb multi-strand wire

Description: A functional mono-to-wire tope trace incorporating a metre of 150lb mono to 15 inches of multi-strand wire, quality ball bearing swivel and on 9/0 Eagle Octopus hook. A good general length of tope trace and an ideal uptide length too.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs.

Island Gurnard Boat Rig (BR14)

Configuration: Two hooks up

Rig body length: 96cm/37.8in – 3.14ft/0.96m

Hook spread: bottom to top: 47cm (from lead clip)-45cm-4cm (to top swivel)

Hooks: Southern Sproat, size 2

Spine line: 40lb

Snood line: 25lb

Description: A two-hook, light paternoster rig with 38cm snoods branching from trapped swivels. This indiscriminate will catch much more than the various gurnard species. Snoods embellished with six 5mm lumi beads and small clevis-mounted attractor blades.

Prices: £10.21 for 5, or £19.14 for 10 rigs.


Author: Steve Souter

Publish Date: Monday 31st October 2011


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