Crayfish can be a real pain!
Crayfish really are the ultimate bait robbers; not only can they make short work of any hookbait offerings but also the rig and end tackle in the process! The uncertainty of not knowing if a rig is presented efficiently with the hookbait still intact can be frustrating and even demoralising for the angler, so, in this feature I’d like to highlight a few tips and tactics to ensure you get the best results from these crayfish infested waters.
Rigs & Tackle
Braided hooklinks are a no-no as the incessant mauling from a crayfish will result in a tangles very quickly indeed. Coated braids won’t fare much better as the coating will quickly become shredded. Monofilament hooklinks can become kinked, damaged or in a worst case scenario cut through entirely so they too are best avoided. Instead, a stiffer material would be the best option, and for bottom bait presentations I would opt for the 20lb Trans Khaki Illusion which is a fluorocarbon material and is much more resilient and hard wearing than a standard mono. The rig itself would be kept short at just 4-5 inches in length and after tying a loop in the end of the Illusion to create the “hair section” a size 4 or 5 Arma Point SR hook would then be attached with a simple knotless knot. By using a short rig and stiff hair this greatly reduce the risk of tangles, and by incorporating as few components as possible there’s very little to “go wrong” or be effected by the crayfish’s attentions. I feel the hook choice really is crucial here. The SR features an out turned eye which ensures the stiff hooklink exits the eye without narrowing the gape, which would greatly hinder the hooking potential. Also, they have a beaked point which I feel is much less prone to becoming damaged/blunted by the crayfish moving the rig around over gravel and stones etc compared to a straight point hook.
Above are the components that Mark uses to tie this rig.
1. Cut 8ins of Illusion Trans Khaki and tie a small loop in one end.
2. Thread a tiger nut and grain of plastic sweetcorn onto the loop.
3. Use a boilie cap top secure the hookbait in place on the Hair.
4. Now thread a 5mm piece of shrink tube onto the Illusion.
5. Take a size 5 Arma Point SR hook and thread the point through the shrink tube.
6. Set the Hair to the required length and secure the hook in place with a knotless knot.
7. Steam the rig straight and shrink down the tuning to trap the Hair in place.
The rig is now complete and ready to catch carp from crayfish infested waters.
Heavy leads also come in to play to avoid the lead being dragged or rolled around, which again increases the risk of the rig becoming tangled or the hook damaged. A flat pear shaped lead would be the most suitable and where situations allow I would opt for an inline lead which has a lot less flexibility and movement than a lead mounted on a lead clip or running lead configuration.
Heavy, flat leads help to prevent the crays moving your rig around too much.
There is virtually no bait out there that is impervious to the attentions of crays. One common misconception is that they prefer fishy flavoured baits over fruity or creamy, but I don't think they are too fussy, if they can eat it they will! Also, and contrary to what some may think, baits presented just off the bottom are just as susceptible as ones presented on the deck; crayfish can easily pull the baits down, or swim on top of them to bring them to the bottom, so pop-ups are certainly no deterrent. Also, whilst on the theme, I would avoid using tungsten putty (or tungsten rig tubing for that matter) wherever possible because for some reason crays like to eat the stuff! I'm not sure if it’s because the tungsten takes on the odour/taste from our hands after touching the baits and additives etc, but ones thing is for sure given the chance they will devour it in no time. So, what options do we have? Well, artificial baits such as rubber corn, boilies and tiger nuts etc are a brilliant way of offering an “everlasting” hookbait as are real tiger nuts. It is important to securely attach your hookbait to the hair because crayfish have the ability to remove the standard dumbbell style boilie stops. I say remove, but I think the likelihood is they probably just eat them. The Edges Boilie Cap stops that pull inside the bait are a much better option because they are less accessible and are less likely to be removed from the hair.
Plastic baits and tiger nuts make ideal hookbaits.
Knowing how much bait to introduce and when to apply it can be confusing at any time, but even more so when you need to factor crayfish into the equation! I feel I may divide opinions on this one but I have always preferred a groundbait approach where crays are an issue. Some may see it as a mass of attraction that will draw crayfish for miles around, and while it certainly does offers lots by way of attraction it has very little in the way of sustenance or for the crayfish to eat, which should hopefully ensure there’s always some level of attraction in the baited area. To this groundbait mix I do like to add some particles though such as hemp as well as whole and chopped tigers.
Mark also likes to spread some boilies around his swim.