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Just about every angler has lost a special fish because of a duff hair rig. The worst catastrophe of all is a break off when steering a big carp, and you can bet it's a poorly made hair rig that’s the cause!   Tying your own hair rig is a pain, it’s expensive and very easy to get wrong.  Buying pre-made can be hit and miss..............     but not after you've read this guide and learnt a few simple things to look out for !
We're taking a quick look at how to buy hair rigs you can really trust for less than 60p each.  If you're buying the expensive way (in a shop) then read the packet. If  your buying on ebay, then tick the little "search title and description" box, and put in key words like "tested", and others that you'll read about below, to hunt down great quality reliable hair rigs.  Don't be put off by low prices. There are some excellent sellers out where you can buy some of the highest quality rigs for even less than 50p each.  Likewise, there are plenty of expensive ones that are very poor.   Look out for the things mentioned below, and you'll end up with rigs you can finally really trust.


The humble hook is often overlooked, but is one of the most common causes of a hair-rig-blowout.  Poor hooks are fine for the 5lb fish, but as soon as you hit the bigger specimens, many hooks will simply not take the strain. They will either break, or more often bend open.  Good hooks need to be made made of strong materials and well forged.  Forging is a process of working the metal to make it stronger.  You’ll want to be reassured by the product description, that the hair rig hooks are STRONG and FORGED.   Also, the vast majority of hooks have a slightly rough burr on the eye, where it has been severed during the manufacturing process. This is fine, so long as a suitable knot is used for the braid, that does not contact the rough edge.



There's Braid and there’s Braid. Always make sure the hair rigs are made from a quality brand. I find  Berkley or Spiderwire outstanding.  20lb breaking strain is perfect.  Its thin and soft enough to feel like normal organic material to the fish, but firm enough to avoid tangles, and will cope easily with fish  up to 40lb (remember your not lifting the fish in mid air like a crane - your pulling it along in water, so don’t go up to 25lb and 30lb, or braid with fancy coatings etc - its totally unnecessary and  in my experience it just spooks the fish.  Stick to 20lb braid and make sure its made by a well known brand.


Good swivels are manufactured to a breaking strain standard just like fishing line. You wouldn’t buy line without knowing something about its strength - So don’t by hair rigs that don't state the strength of the swivels. This is usually measured in lb's.


So often you will find hair rigs without shrink tubing or,  worse still , tubing all over the place except where you need it. So where do you need it then?  Whatever happens, make sure there’s a nice little bit of shrink tubing on the lower SHANK of the hook that you can slide up and down. You'll usually want to position it a couple of millimeters below where the hook starts to bend, to get a comfortable angle on the hair. If your getting lots of knocks but no bites, then you can adjust the angle of the hair.  If  the rigs you're considering also have a nice centimetre of tubing over the EYE of the hook, then perfect. However, be a bit careful about  tubing on the swivel - a swivel is supposed to be free  to do its job - to swivel !


Be sure to buy a brand that cares about  KNOTS.  The old faithful grinner knot is going to give you a nasty surprise with braid. It WILL SLIP with most types of braid - give it a few really hard tugs and you'll see what I mean.  Likewise the "knot-less knot" isn't always the best for many types of hook - as it presses against the burred edge of the eye where where it has been severed during the manufacturing process - this can break the braid clean off.   You can get some idea about the knot suitability by looking to see if the brand mentions it.  Most companies don’t like to make claims that aren’t true - they know it will come back to haunt them.  So if they say that they are professionally tied, or careful to use the right knots, then that's a good start.  If they don't say.., have to wonder why not.   Buy the smallest quantity possible to start with and give them a really hard tug. If they slip, twist, or if there's a knotless-knot pressing on the burred edge of a hook eye, then look elsewhere.


Some brands test every hair rig.  That's what you want,  and they'll be keen to boast about it in the description. Avoid rigs that have not been tested


So now you know what your looking for in a pack of reliable hair rigs :-

•  Strong, Forged hooks;
•  a brand name braid 
•  swivel braking strain and knot quality (to show the manufacturer cares about what you care about)
•  shrink tubing on the eye and shank
•  tested 

If your in the shop then read the label.  If your buying on ebay, which in my experience is much cheaper,  tick the little "search title and description" box, (it usually comes up after your first search). Use the key words you expect good hair rigs to have such as "hair rigs tested". This will narrow it down a lot.  If you need to narrow it down further, then add another word or two about quality, such as "forged"  or "knot" or other key words you would expect to see in the description of a reliable hair rig.   Then  look at each product, and watch out for the quality things mentioned in this article.  Buy the smallest quantity first and check them with a series of really hard pulls. Watch very careful as you pull, especially the tag end at the swivel.  If there's any twisting, slipping, or breaking, then steer clear. If you've followed the advice here though, then the chances are you'll have some rigs that are as solid as a rock.  


Last but not least, many sellers now offer a Money Back Guarantee if you're not satisfied.  Such sellers are showing genuine confidence in their product, and that's exactly what you want.   With the simple precautions you've learnt here, and a bit of luck,  hair rig horrors will be virtually a thing of the past, and instead you'll be able to concentrate on the great thrill of Carp Fishing.

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