A Carpy Experiment – Solid Bag vs Classic Rig: Which Is More Effective?

by | Advanced, Carp |

In my previous article, I described how I go about my solid bag fishing when it comes to carp. I covered tying the bags, the rigs positioned inside them as well as when and when not to use them. If you’ve not read it, give it a read here.

In this article I will cover one particular session, where I ran an experiment to prove to myself, once and for all, the effectiveness of solid bags when fished side by side with a more conventional rig. Hopefully you’ll find the results as fascinating as I did.

The Background

It was late summer and I was getting some excellent results after switching to solid bags. My catch rate on the syndicate had signicantly increased, but I wanted to be sure that the source of this new found success was the solid bags and not something else.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are so many other variables at play that could impact fishing performance – the conditions, fish location,  watercraft, bait application, or even just the fish deciding to play ball. I decided to drop onto the syndicate’s Car Park Lake, a lake that provides a lot of bites.

I always drop onto venues like this when I want to experiment. The reason is two-fold, I need plenty of action in order to accelerate my learning and I don’t like to experiment on my main syndicate lakes. Once I’m on there I need to be consistent and confident with what I’m doing – I don’t want to be playing around once I’m fishing for the big girls!

One of many fish taken on solid bags last year

Typically, we all have access to a lake or vene similiar to this, a place where there is plenty of action and not much expection. It’s hard to build a picture and improve your techniques and rigs if you are blanking session after session and I definitely don’t want to be fiddling around with rigs on lakes where every bite counts. My advice would be to drop onto an easy lake from time to time, experiment and have fun on a lake where a lost fish isn’t completely crippling!

Solid Bags Put to the Test

The first thing to do was to get a reasonable patch of bait out in front of me. The mix was made up of sweetcorn, pellet as well as whole and chopped boilies. I was using a catapult, as a spomb wasn’t needed on this little lake.

About twenty odd pouch-fulls went out, and I was ready to sort the rigs out. Both rods were going to be fished about two yards apart on the same patch, to make sure that there was no difference in terms of location.

My fairly standard bottom bait rig

Setup One

The first rod was a reasonably standard bottom bait rig. Fished on a lead clip, 2.5oz lead, 7-8” braided hooklength, kicker, wide gape hook and a boilie straight out the bag, tipped with a piece of fake corn. This no-nonsense rig has caught me plenty of fish in the past, and I was extremely interested to see how it performs against the solid bag.

Setup Two

The second rod was set up with my solid bag rig. Fished with the line straight through to a solid bag stem, 3oz lead, short 4” braided hooklength and fake corn fished blow back style. To see this rig and how I tie solid bags, then please refer to my previous article on fishing with solid bags.

Solid bags, all tied up in advance

The Result

The rods hadn’t been out long, maybe 20 minutes, before I had the first take. As I suspected, the first fish had fallen to the solid bag. After a spirited fight, a nice, plump common was on the mat.

A quick pic was due and then I swiftly returned my prize before tying on another solid bag and getting it back on the spot. One tip here is to use the Solid Bag Stems from Avid. These have a metal fixture that runs through the centre of the stem which allows you to make up loads of solid bags in advance. You can then simply tie these straight onto your main line, maximising the amount of time you’re actually fishing. 

The first fish and first blood to the solid bag. You can see the fake corn, nailed in the bottom lip.

I really didn’t have to wait long before the same rod burst into life again! By now I could see fish fizzing on the spot and a few  were directly in front of me. Again, I landed a common but this time it was a completely different shape. A longer, leaner fish was returned, and again a fresh solid bag was placed out on the spot with a simple under arm cast.

Another common – solid bag 2, bottom bait 0

Over the next hour, I went on to land three more carp. All of which came to the solid bag, while the bottom bait remained motionless. I had recast it a couple of times, just to be sure it was fishing okay and wasn’t sitting awkwardly. The fact was, it was presenting correctly but being entirely outperformed by the solid bag.

One of five fish all taken on a solid bag while the bottom bait remained motionless

An Unexpected Moment

What happened next was very interesting. At last, the bottom bait rod was away with a screaming take! A very powerful fish put in the best fight of the afternoon, making several very powerful runs out into the middle of the lake. Eventually, I pulled the fish over the net cord and a nice common was mine.

As I placed the fish carefully into the cradle, I could see it was easily the biggest fish of the afternoon. It was a lovely golden coloured carp that looked fantastic in the early evening sunshine. This fish was the last of the session as it was time to pack up and head for home.

The biggest fish of the day falls to the bottom bait


Take what you will from this, but I had six fish in total. Five were caught on the solid bags, and just one just landed on the bottom bait; however, that single fish taken on the bottom bait was the biggest fish of them all. A coincidence? Potential. What I do know is that it’s something to think about.

The results would lead me to conclude that you should fish with solid bags if you want a lot of bites, whilst a conventional rig may single out better fish. It’s certainly something that I would like to look more closely into and may even rerun the experiment in the near future.

Thanks for reading about my session, experimenting with solid bags. I hope it’s got you thinking. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this and hopefully it’s inspired you to try out a few things for yourself.