I've never liked the idea of adding shot directly to the line as an alternative, as even if the shot is pinched on lightly, it can still damage the line. The fewer weak spots in the rig the better as far as I'm concerned when chub are the target, with the hook knot being the only knot in the set up. Big chub are dirty fighters and, will soon find any weakness in your rig. I also don't tend to use hook lengths for chub much preferring to fish the main line straight through to the hook. Again a hook length might be a weak link and its a risk I prefer not to take. I do understand that on some venues, especially those that are heavily fished, that it may be necessary to fine down to a certain extent to get bites, but I can say I've ever had that problem.
Four Turn Water Knot Fixed Paternoster
Probably the most widely used setup but it does cause its fair number of problems and does have some some significant drawbacks.
1. You can't lengthen the hook length. You are stuck with the one you start with, but you can shorten it easily.
2. If your ledger link is anymore than half the length of your hook length then tangles are pretty frequent.
3. When casting out with a fairly heavy bait (meat, cheese paste), the two links don't force themselves away from each other, resulting in tangles especially if the ledger link is less supple than the main line.
Martin Bowler Adjustable Link Leger
Certainly an improvement over the fixed paternoster but the use of a float stop makes the link adjustable and therefore the length of the hook length. A semi stiff piece of fluorocarbon pushed through the float stop on the mainline helps maintain a fairly tangle free rig but the fluorocarbon pulls out of the float stop far too easily for my liking resulting in lots of lost shot and links. Its also quite fiddly to push the fluorocarbon through the float stop in the first place!
Martin Bowler's Winter Chub Rig Explained
Terry Lampard Link Ledger (My Modified Version)
Now my first choice ledger rig for winter chubbing is a modified version of the late, great, chub angler, Terry Lampard. Very easy to change length of hook length and adjust weight of shot. Simple in its construction and supremely versatile. Shot losses are at a minimum. Don't be tempted to use grippa stops instead of float stops for this rig as if a chub does take you into snags then its important that the stops can move up the line. I'm sure if it was fixed in anyway then it would result in far more lost fish. The Drennan ring on this rig allows tangles to be a thing of the past but I've since modified it further and replace it with a Drennan swivel bead, then by adding a small link clip, should I feel like swapping to a feeder its very easily done. Its nice casting out knowing that my rig is not going to tangle. Peace of mind and all that. Can't say I've ever had a tangle with it all the time I've used it and its sheer versatility is what makes it so good. Apparently the Terry Lampard link ledger is an adaptation of the Fred J Taylor ledger, which was probably invented by his brother (cousin) Joe. Instead of the float stops, he used a BB shot.
I first started using Fox Soft Steel in 6lb breaking strain a number of years ago and it has proved a very reliable and abrasion resistant line but the one trouble I'm having with it these days is that its becoming very hard to source in this strength. I'm nearly on my last bit so I'm on the look for an alternative. Through conversation with well respected chub angler Gary Knowles he recommend that I try Kryston's Krystonite in the same breaking strain or in 8lb. Its a traditional mono but has a fluorocarbon coating, giving the best of both worlds. I think it will be a sensible change when fishing in winter when the water is crystal clear the fluorocarbon quality's will give me a lot of confidence. Sometime little things like this can make all the difference.
I've used many different hook patterns for my chubbing over the last twenty or so years including makes such as Drennan, Partridge, etc. Make no mistake about it the river is not the place for straight pointed hooks. These are much more susceptible to being damaged by the bottom of the river or being 'turned over'. You need a hook with a in-turned or beaked point to minimize the risk of this happening. I feel that these types of hooks also a much better hooking potential and the best of the best that I use and feel very comfortable with is the Kamasan B983 Wide Gape Specialist. They are thin in the wire and could almost most classed as fine wire hook in this regard, but don't let this put you off as they are super strong and light for their strength. Because of their lightness this also gives great versatility when it comes to baits without effecting the weight of the bait, thus all manner of baits such as bread, crust, cheese paste, and meat can all be presented on them.