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Flying Collar Rig

Flying Collar Rig

The Flying Collar Rig is wrongly thought to  be a relatively new rig but was actually devised and developed between the two  great wars and originated in the southwest of England for fishing with live or  dead sandeel over reefs. Like most rigs it has been refined over the years and  has been responsible for the development of specific tackle items designed to  make this rig work more efficiently.

Originally the booms used to tow the hook  trace and bait or lure were short 8-inch ones made from brass wire, but anglers  quickly realised that these short booms caused frequent line tangles during the  descent to the seabed. To combat this longer home made booms 12-inches or more in  length quickly became common and proved more efficient at keeping the hook  trace well away from the main line as the tackle descended to the seabed.

The Flying Collar Rig was also, in part, a  catalyst for the rise in popularity of the artificial rubber eel. Such was the  effectiveness of the long trace in conjunction with the rubber eel, that having  live sandeel became less of an advantage. This influence was compounded when  wreck fishing for pollack and coalfish became highly popular. The Flying Collar  Rig and rubber eel combination accounted for a string of big pollack and coalies  from the southwest wrecks during the early 1970’s with famous Plymouth skipper JJ McVicar and his boat June  Lipet leading the way.

The key component in a Flying Collar Rig is  the boom. A big mistake made by many anglers, especially when fishing in depths  over 80ft and using heavy 10oz plus leads, is to choose a plastic bodied  tubular boom. The problem with these, is that during a fast descent of the  tackle towards the seabed, the plastic tubing can flex upwards in a U shape due  to water pressure on the tubing, but more so from the drag of the artificial  eel. This drag effect is increased the bigger the rubber eel is. As the boom  flexes the distance between the main line and hook trace dropping vertically  side by side decreases increasing the chance of tangles.

Experienced anglers using Flying Collar  Rigs will always choose a stiff wire boom not prone to flexing on the descent.  Because of the stiffness of the wire even a big rubber eel or shad can be  dropped at speed through the water levels without the worry of the hook trace  and eel wrapping around the main line. The long stiff wire booms, often referred  to as French booms, will not flex so maintain the distance between the main  line and hook trace when descending. Also, having the ability to descend at  speed, this maximises the amount of time you can work the eel over the wreck  when drift fishing to increase your overall catch rate.

For reef fishing in depths around 100-feet  choose wire booms with a length of at least 10-inches. For wreck fishing in  depths over 150-feet booms of 15-inches in length are essential to maximise  fishing efficiency. Veals and Fox both do 10-inch wire booms, but Fox also  produce a 15-inch Flying Collar Boom specifically designed for wreck fishing.

Tie the main reel line, which needs to be  between 15lb and 20lbs for general wreck fishing, to the top eye of the wire  boom. Some anglers prefer to use a snap swivel connector to connect the main  reel line to the boom, though this is not essential.

To the leg of the boom add a short 3-inch section  of weaker 12lb to 15lb line to tie the lead weight too. This is a safety system  that will break before the main line should the lead weight get snagged in the  wreck or surrounding debris as it hits the seabed. Some anglers prefer this  weak link to be made from a tie wrap or telephone wire using just a couple of  light turns to hold the lead in place.

The hook trace is tied to the eye of the  wire boom. This needs to be a clear mono line 12lb to 18lbs in strength. For  fishing in shallower water over reefs a length of 10 to 12ft is about right.  For wreck fishing use a minimum of 12ft with 15ft to 18ft being the average. Tie  the rubber eel or shad to the end of the hook trace.

Always add a size 4 rolling swivel to the  middle of the hook trace. This reduces line twist in the hook trace as the eel  descends at speed in the water, but also when actually fishing as the eel is  retrieved.

To further minimise the chance of tangles,  especially during periods of minimum tidal run, a good trick with the hook  trace is to have the upper half of the hook trace made from stiffer 30lb clear  mono, then add a size 4 swivel, and have the lower half of the hook trace made  from normal 15 to 18lb mono. The stiffer 30lb line helps keep the hook trace  straight, again during descent to the seabed and during actual fishing.

Flying Collar Rig

Allow the tackle to descend to the seabed,  but as soon as you feel the lead touch down, put the reel in to gear and lift  the weight up off the seabed or wreck a few feet. Pause for a few seconds to  allow the hook trace to straighten out in the tide away from the boom, and  begin a slow to medium speed retrieve. Count the turns you make of the reel  handle and note the number when bites begin to occur. This is the level at  which the fish are currently feeding and allows you to anticipate future bites.

The take from a pollack or coalfish is typically an initial slight increase in pressure on the rod tip as the fish  draws in water to suck in the eel. It’s a mistake to strike. Simply continue  winding until the rod tip pulls hard over and the hook sets itself. The fish  will then dive back for the wreck.

If bites are few and far between, or the  fish can be felt just plucking at the tail of the lure, then always try  increasing the length of the hook trace to induce more bites before trying  alternative lure colours.

This is exactly the same flying collar rig  with the 15-inch wire boom, but using a shorter 4 to 6ft section of heavier 30  to 50lb line and a weighted rubber shad such as the Calcutta shads.

This rig is used for working the shads, and  rubber eels, tight to the seabed and through the wreck structure. Again let the  lead weight touch down, then jig the shad a few feet above the seabed. This  swim and sink action of the lure has proved highly effective for ling, cod,  bigger pollack and also coalfish when wreck fishing. It also works well over  the shallower wrecks for bass in the summer.

It pays to carry a good range of colours in  both rubber eels and shads for use with flying collar rigs. Black is a good all  round colour for clear water conditions as it gives a good silhouette, with red  also very effective. In water with slightly less clarity try a white or yellow  lure to stand out more.

Big coalies and pollack show a liking for  luminous yellow and orange eels and shads, as will bottom hugging cod and ling.  The pearl white, pink ice coloured shads, also the mackerel look-a-likes are  the ones to use when after wreck bass and pollack.