Is carp fishing taking over the sport? That appears to be the case after reports of fishing tackle sales suggest that anglers would now rather catch a 20lb carp than 20lb of roach.
Many of the country’s biggest retailers have witnessed a definite shift in buying trends in recent years, with sales of specimen carp tackle now outnumbering match and general coarse gear in many cases.
Several reasons have been suggested for the rising popularity of ‘carping’, with marketing and celebrities high on the list.
Bristol Angling Centre estimates that a staggering 75 per cent of its customers are now carp anglers, with terminal tackle from Nash, Korda and Fox outselling everything else, revealed co-owner Callum Dicks.
“Twenty years ago it was the other way round and 75 per cent of sales here were for match products,” he told Angling Times. “But for the past six or seven years carp fishing has really taken off. I put it down to social media being huge in carp angling. People want to fish when they want, stay overnight and take pictures of big fish. The match side is becoming more expensive and less appealing.”
Mark Wilkinson, General Manager of the Chapmans Angling chain, has also noticed a preference towards carp, especially among youngsters.
“I think half of it is due to role models such as footballers appearing in the media with big carp. The carp boys market themselves better, especially with clothing ranges which are inspired by snowboarding and surfing, not bream slime! It’s generally trendier and even if a young angler starts out with a tub of maggots, they are soon looking to buy a rod pod,” he said.
Previously location has played a big part in the type of tackle a shop sells. Angling Direct’s Waltham Cross branch lies in the Lea Valley where there are gravel pits galore, and shop manager Len Golding said its customer base has been 70 per cent carp for a long time. He cites the decline of rivers and the rise of day-ticket carp waters as making it easier for new anglers to catch a big fish.
But even in traditional strongholds of match and natural fishing, such as the North East, carping is taking hold too. Despite very few big fish venues in the area, Pete Rambo of Cleveland Angling Centre said that it is fast catching up with the coarse side of the business.