The simple and effective hair rig

The hair rig is an excellent rig that allows finicky fish the chance to play around with the bait and fully investigate it before deciding to eat it. In these circumstances, the fish will knock in to the food, gently suck it in and then blow it back out again in order to ensure the food is safe to eat. Only once the fish is fully satisfied the food is OK will it actually consume the food. 

When using a hair rig the bait is kept away from, but close to, the hook. The bait is free moving and the fish can carry out its tests on the bait without the hook interfering and spooking it. Once the fish is happy with the bait and decides to eat the bait it will suck in both the bait and the hook, which will of course hook the fish. The hair rig is a simple idea that works very well. 

Carp are especially wary and cautious therefore the hair rig was designed for this species. However, many people soon discovered that they were catching bream, tench and barbel when using a hair rig and fishing for carp, and many anglers specifically targeting these species soon began to use the hair rig as well. The hair rig is an excellent fishing rig suitable when bottom fishing for all bottom feeding fish. 

As well as letting the bait move around freely another advantage of using a hair rig is that you can use baits that would be impossible to use on a conventional fishing hook. For example, large trout pellets cannot be mounted on to a hook in the same way a piece of bread can, however it is possible to drill a hole through a trout pellet and mount it on a hair rig. Some baits are too soft to use on a standard hook and will fall off during the cast, hence leaving an un-baited hook in the water. Luncheon meat is a particular soft bait that is very difficult to keep on a hook, however if it is mounted on a hair rig it will withstand some large casts, ensuring there is a baited hook in the water. 

Many tackle shops sell ready tied hair rigs, which are often very expensive. Tying your own hair rigs requires an initial investment in tackle but you can make plenty of hair rigs once you have bought all the equipment, and the cost per rig will be far less that if you bought a ready tied hair rig. Many people think that hair rigs are very difficult and technical to tie, but this is not the case. Many people also think that hair rigs are made out of special equipment that is impossible to get hold of. Once again, this is a fallacy and whilst you do need some special equipment to tie a hair rig, the equipment is readily available from all good fishing tackle shops.

All the kit you need to tie some hair rigs. The tackle is going to require an initial investment but the cost per hair rig will work out far less than buying them ready made from a fishing tackle shop.


All the end tackle you need to tie a hair rigCredit: yackers1

So, how do we go about tying a hair rig to use to target those large bottom feeding carp, bream, tench and barbel? In order to tie a hair rig you are going to need some essential pieces of terminal fishing tackle, including some braid, fishing hooks and barrel swivels, as pictured above.

Step one. Get the braid and tie the hair, i.e. a small loop at the end.


The first step in tying a hair rig - making the "hair"Credit: yackers1

The first step in tying a hair rig is to tie a loop at the end of the braid using an overhand knot. The loop is essential to keep the fishing bait on the hair so you must ensure the loop knot is tied very tight and doesn’t slip. The size of the loop is entirely up to you, although you don’t want it too big.

Step two Cut a length of braid and thread on the fishing hook.


Thread the hook on to the braidCredit: yackers1

The second step in tying a hair rig is to take some braid off the spool and cut it off to create the hook length. The length of the fishing hook length is down to personal preference and can be as long or as short as you like. I usually find a length of 8 inches to 12 inches is sufficient. When cutting the braid you need to use very sharp scissors, otherwise the braid will fray making it very difficult to thread through the eye of the hook. Many fishing tackle shops sell special braid cutters, but these are very expensive. A cheaper option is to use some scissors from a sewing or craft shop since these are just as sharp but cost a lot less.

 This step also involves threading the braid’s tag end through the eye of the hook. You need to leave some braid below the gape of the hook, and this is the “hair”. The length of the hair will depend on the size and type of bait you are planning on using. You need to make sure the hair is long enough to let the hook bait move around freely, but not so long the bait sits way below the hook.

Step three. Tie the hook on to the braid using the knotless knot.


Tying on the hook using the knotless knotCredit: yackers1

The third step in tying a hair rig is to attach the hook to the braid. Once you have determined the length of the hair you need to take the braid’s tag end and wrap it around the shank of the fishing hook. Six to eight turns around the shank should be sufficient. Once all the turns have been made take the tag end and thread it back through the eye of the hook. When you thread the tag end back through the eye go “back of the hook to the front of the hook” for the best hooking effect. Once the tag end is through the eye of the hook pull everything tight. The fishing hook is now tied on to the braid using a knotless knot.

Step four. Tie on a barrel swivel and the hair rig is good to go.


The completed hair rigCredit: yackers1

The final step in tying a hair rig is to tie the barrel swivel on to the tag end of the braid. A simple blood knot should be used to tie the barrel swivel since it is strong. When tightening the knot you need to add a little saliva to help the knot slip a little.

The hair rig is now complete and can be baited up and used to go and catch some specimen fish.