A helicopter rig is a rig that comes in especially handy when fishing to open water marks and when fishing to far banks, islands and lily pads, especially over lake bottoms of sand and gravel. When using a helicopter rig, the weight of the lead is able to be rapidly transferred to the point of the hook. Typically a 12 lb fluorocarbon mainline is used with 30 lb low profile leaders and semi tight clutches and not bait runners.
Helicopter rigs are also used with bottom baits when carp are feeding along far banks. In the summer however, the water temperature heats up and carp tend to spend more time in the pads or on the surface underneath trees along the far bank. In a situation like this, a 40-60 mm pop-up would be preferable on a chod set-up. You can also make use of a zig rig off both of the helicopter set-ups, allowing you to fish to all different depths of water. This gives you a much more versatile way of fishing for carp.
Many people love fishing with a helicopter rig, because once the top bead has detached from the rig, the hook link can make its way up the lead core and pull free. This leaves the fish only a very short length of hook link, which is good because carp are very good at working their way out of hooks. This presents problems when the line trails behind the fish and can get snagged on weed beds or other objects in the water.
Suitable tackle for a helicopter rig
When choosing tackle, you’ll want to have some stop beads or shock beads, which need to be able to slide over the leadcore without moving freely. Your leadcore should be at least 45 lb breaking strain and your lead will depend on the distance that needs to be cast.
A weight on your lead between 1 and 3 oz will be suitable, although keep in mind that the longer the cast, the heavier your weight should be. That said, even with a long lead, you don’t want to go overboard with the weight. For long distance casting, torpedo leads are an excellent choice
For your Flexi Ring Swivel, a size 11 or 12 will work perfectly. The swivel will allow the chod to run along the leadcore without getting stuck.
Tying a helicopter rig
To make a helicopter rig, you start out by attaching your lead to the leader. Make sure to remove the swivel from the lead before attaching the lead, which will make the whole process much simpler. If you want, you can always use a speed link, easi clip or Q-ring to attach the leadcore to the lead.
Once you’ve attached the lead, slide a buffer bead over the lead and swivel to stop the hook length from getting tangled up in the lead. If not, you could end up catching a big carp, only to have it tangled up in weeds because the lead wasn’t covered properly. The buffer bead can also work as a stopper for this.
Now get the hook length you will use for the helicopter rig. a hair rig or chod rig will work just fine. Then use a baiting needle to thread the two tapered beads and the chod onto the leadcore. Move them up the leadcore make sure the tapered ends point away from the chod. One of the tapered sections will be pointing towards the lead and the other will be pointing towards the main line.
Once you’ve finished threading the bead and the rig on the leadcore, you can thread a small piece of silicone tubing (~5 mm long and 0.75 mm in diameter) onto the leadcore leader. Make sure you do this very carefully, otherwise you run the risk of it tearing.
One thing you must remember to check, is that the bead is able to come free off of the silicone tubing easily. If it isn’t able to, then the carp won’t be able to rid itself from the hook if the leader has broken off from the main line, making the rig not carp safe.
Now enjoy fishing with a helicopter rig
The more times you tie the helicopter rig, the more quickly you’ll be able to tie one. Also, the longer you fish with the helicopter rig, you’ll be able to more quickly recognize when a helicopter rig is the correct choice for the current conditions in which you’re fishing. The helicopter rig can be a very rewarding rig to fish with, but only in the conditions that it’s suitable for.
Have fun learning to tie your helicopter rig and don’t forget to actually go out and put it to good use!