You are here
Rig Clinic - Shaun Harrison's Buffalo Rig - by Jason Johonnesson
Rigs are a loaded topic amongst session anglers in the US. Some anglers are always attempting to improve their rig only to be ridiculed by other anglers that say, “These fish aren’t pressured! You don’t need all that fancy stuff here.”
Such a statement implies that the skeptic believes that it is the rig that fools the fish. I would argue that it is less the responsibility of the rig and more the responsibility of the bait to fool the fish. The rig is simply a matter of function. I would agree that camouflage isn’t that important in the US, but function definitely is.
There are times when buffalo are feeding voraciously and even the crudest rig will work. However, buffalo are notorious for playing with their food and their mouths are oriented almost straight down which makes hooking up even more difficult. Every experienced session angler in Texas constantly wonders if the single bleep he or she just heard was a buffalo playing around. They have been observed hovering over the bait spitting it in and out, over and again, seeming to contemplate if it is either safe to eat or if they are even hungry enough to eat it. For this reason, until recently, I always used a simple stiff rig for the fact that it is hard to spit out. The downside, of a stiff rig, is that it may also be difficult for the fish to get in it’s mouth if it isn’t aggressively feeding and I often wondered how to build a rig with the best of both worlds, easy to go in yet difficult to eject.
Well, one man figured it out: renowned UK carp angler Shaun Harrison of Quest Baits. While Shaun was in Texas fishing, with me, for buffalo he constantly observed the strange indications from our alarms. He also mentioned that our hook up rate was not as good as it should be. He decided that a different rig was needed and the rig should to be able to do 3 things very well. How he accomplished these 3 things was by a slight modification to an already established rig; the reverse combi. The modification: a supple hair.
I am very fortunate to have shared a bank with Shaun for two weeks as I am fortunate to have shared a bank with a handful of world class anglers from overseas the past couple of years. The greatest lesson I have learned from these sessions is that before one can become an innovator one must first be a good student. If someone else is doing something that works it’s just plain ole “good business” to do it too. Be an observer and student of both your idols and your quarry.
Begin with taking an 8 – 10 inch section of supple braid and tying a standard hair with a figure of eight knot. Take your preferred bait, I am using Quest Baits Tiger Nut Crunch 10mm boilies, and thread them onto the hair. Buffalo love baits that are sweet, creamy, or nutty and this boilie is all three.
Using a straight eye hook, I am using an Owner Fly Liner size 6, thread the hair through the back of the hook and hold the bait in position. I prefer to position the bait even with the top of the hook. Next, pull the remainder of the supple braid back towards the bait, also along the shank of the hook. At this point you will be holding 2 pieces of braid along the shank.
Snip an 8 - 10 inch length of 25# fluorocarbon line and thread 3 inches through the front of the hook eye. Hold the line along the shank of the hook with the 2 pieces of braid that you are already holding.
Whip the rigid line up the shank of the hook until the whippings are even with the hook point. Make one or two whippings back down the shank and thread the line through the back of the hook. Using a rig tool pull the knot tight.
You will be left with two tag ends. One braid and one rigid. Simply cut them off. Crimp the rigid line ¾ of an inch below the eye of the hook.
Snip a 24 inch length of braid. If you visualize that the crimped rigid line is a hook shank, and the point of the crimp is the hook eye, the next step will be much easier to complete. Thread half of the braid through the “eye” of the crimped rigid line.
At this point you can use any one of three knots. The simplest is a knotless knot and a close second would be an Albright knot. The knot that Shaun prefers to use, I have no idea what the name is, is as follows; Whip the braid up the “shank” 7 times and then back down 6 times. Thread the braid back through the “eye” in the same direction it went in, this is very important. Slide the knot down to the crimp and use a rig tool to pull the knot tight. Now that you have completed your rig the most important step of all must be done, testing its ability to turn over and hook quickly. I have seen many anglers hold their rig over the back of their hand, allow the hook to dangle at a 90 degree angle, and pull the rig to see if the hook will turn over into their palm. I don’t feel that this test is adequate. It is my opinion that a hook must turn over and hook from a very slight angle rather than at a steep 90 degrees. For this reason I place the rig over my thumb, position the hook so that it is pointed away from me, and pull the rig at a very slight angle, even as slight as 10 degrees. With this rig the hook should turn over the instant it reaches the rigid section, every single time, without fail. You see, this is the physics and function of this combination rig. It is the transition from the supple to the braid, and the inherent angle created, from the straight eye hook, that causes the turn over. If the hook link material is the same throughout than you are placing all of the responsibility of turning over on the hook. With this rig turnover has begun before it even reaches the eye of the hook.