With carp fishing being as popular as it is, it can sometimes be a struggle to head to a water full of confidence that you may actually catch a carp, especially on heavily fished waters. However to help you in your quest for a big carp we have come up with 20 carp fishing tips to help give you an added edge over the angler in the next swim. Check out our list of tips below and let us know what carp fishing tip best suits you!
freezer or shelf-life?
Both types of boilie work well on the day but the decision to make really comes down to storing the bait. Freezer baits contain few preservatives and so are ‘fresher’ but won’t keep once defrosted and so are best for one or two sessions at best. Shelf-lifes can be kept in the resealable bag for ages but aren’t as fresh. However, they remain effective for longer than freezer baits and so are a better choice for the occasional carper.
know your lines
Old-fashioned mono reel line is supple and forgiving, but there are two other options that have somewhat niche uses.
Braid is no good for fishing at distance but at close range and in snags it is brutal stuff that won’t break, while fluorocarbon is almost invisible underwater and sinks well, ending up pinned to the lakebed. This makes it very useful in gin-clear water or on hard-fished venues.
choose the right hook
Carp hooks do various jobs. For surface fishing or when using pop-ups, go for a wide gape hook. For fishing a bottom bait, little can beat a long shank pattern.
Curved shank hooks are brilliant for wary carp that may otherwise eject another pattern as they pick it up. So think about the fishing you are going to do before choosing your hooks.
Carry different boilies
Of all the sizes available, 14mm and 16mm boilies are the most popular – but carp see a lot of them and can associate them with danger.
The way round this is to scale down to a 10mm bait, either as a single or double offering. At the opposite end of the scale, a bigger 18mm or 20mm hookbait will give them something different, and a real mouthful.
first locate your carp
Where will the carp be when you arrive at the lake? Several factors have to be taken into consideration.
A good starting point is the north-east corner of a lake. This will get the sun and also avoid the worst of any colder winds. Reeds and weeds are fish-holding spots, and a noticeable drop-off in depth offers an area where carp can move up and down in the water.
check the lakebed
Every lake is different when it comes to what’s on the bottom. It could be gravel, sand, silt or mud and all substrates have their pros and cons. Cast a lead around the peg with braided mainline and slowly wind it back, feeling for different sensations as it comes back.
Tremors and taps on the rod-tip will indicate gravel, whereas silt will feel like pulling the lead through cotton wool as it sticks in the muck. A smooth retrieve spells a sandy bottom.
perfect your rods
Carp rods are sold with varying actions and it can be hard to know which one to pick. A rod with a fast action makes a great casting tool but can lead to hook-pulls at the net... a through-actioned rod struggles to send leads a long way. The happy medium is a middle-to-tip-actioned rod that will let you throw a long way but be soft enough to ensure that fish don’t come off.
Switch to fakes
Carp of all sizes love maggots, but so do small fish. If your water responds to a maggot attack, don’t use live ones on the hook as these will be smashed by roach and bream. Instead, carry a pack of fake rubber maggots and thread four or five of these on to a hair rig. They look just like the real thing and won’t be shredded by nuisance fish.
Change boilie shape
Sometimes a round boilie won’t catch, but something as simple as altering its shape will get a take. Take a boilie and carve the edges off to create a square or irregularly-shaped bait. Better still, invest in a tub of barrel-shaped dumbell boilies.
cast to the horizon
You need to choose a rod with the correct action in the first place. Balance and rhythm are the human element to casting further, and that means having a strong footing to cast off. When casting, have one hand (the one holding the rod and reel) pushing forwards while the second hand lower down the handle pulls back. This creates the whipping motion and the leverage needed to power the lead out.
Tip a pop-up
Adding a few maggots to the hook turns a standard pop-up boilie into something a little bit different that may just grab the attention of a carp or two on hard days. To do this, thread the pop-up on to the hair and then nick on the maggots before sliding the boilie down.
wash out your baits
Changing how your bait looks on the lakebed can go a long way to producing a fish. A common trick is to ‘wash out’ a boilie.
This means fading its natural colour by leaving it soaking in water for a few days. The result is a pale bait that looks as though it has been on the bottom a long while and is safe.
Know your leads
A standard pear-shaped lead will work for most carp fishing situations but not all.
Pears are fine for all-round work when casting up to 80 yards but to go longer, an elongated distance lead will help you hit the mark. A flattened pear leads comes into play in silt or on lakebeds covered in debris. It will sit on top of the muck rather than sink into it.
try Zig bugs
Surface fishing provides exciting carp sport in summer, and Chum mixers or floating pellets are normally the go-to baits for many carpers.
However, Nash Zig Bugs have really made an impression over recent years. These represent insects that carp will see on the surface throughout the year.
deposit your feed
PVA bags for depositing feed around the rig come in mesh or solid versions. Solid bags will cast a long way with the lead buried inside and the feed packed tightly to produce a streamlined missile. Mesh comes into play for fishing as a stick of feed that breaks down quickly and forces the particles out through the holes almost immediately. It can’t be cast that far, and so is better for shorter chucks.
Tighten the clutch
Don’t fish with the clutch set too light. This will let a carp power off rather than come off the hook, but you won’t be able to exert any pressure.
Instead, fish with a tighter clutch. This will immediately give you the upper hand and stop that first run – from then on you can slacken the clutch or even use the reel’s backwind facility if preferred to a degree that suits you and the swim you are fishing in.
Feed crushed pellets
When floater fishing, instead of firing in 8mm floating pellets from the bag, grind some up and break others into halves or quarters.
When fed, this range of bait sizes will see some float and some sink while releasing smaller particles into the water. This can work well when the fish have shied away from whole pellets.
strip some braid
Braid hooklinks lack stretch but will sink and stay on the bottom. If you want the best of both worlds, try coated braid with the outer coating stripped off – these are supple but still sink.
make use of the power of particles
Too many anglers think that boilies and pellets are all they need on the bait front. That’s true to an extent, but it can get expensive when baiting up in bulk. Particles are perfect for prebaiting or for piling in as a large hit at the start of a session and because they are relatively small, they keep fish grubbing around in the swim for longer. Parti-Blend is a super mix of seeds and pulses that covers all bases, while hemp, maize, sweetcorn and maple peas mixed together make another knockout feed.
get zig depth right
How far do you set the hookbait to be off bottom when fishing a zig rig? Start with the bait at around three-quarters depth and then move it up or down by a foot at a time every hour or so until you get an indication.