Long? Short? What about the waggler? The answers, as ever, all come down to keeping thing simple
Kick off on the waggler
START by chucking the waggler, partly to give any pole lines the chance to settle after being fed, but also to see if any early carp are present past pole range. You’ll normally catch carp early and late in a match, but you should also keep your eyes open and look around to see if fish are being caught on the float elsewhere. However, play the percentages. If those around you change to the pole, get back out on the waggler for a spell, as you’ll have this water all to yourself and could well pick up a few bonus fish.
Carp have been balled up for months in the colder weather, and that won’t have changed much yet, so you need to be fishing far enough out to keep in touch. That means going out to 14.5m or 16m on the long pole. The depth here will be uniform and the bottom flat, meaning that any fish that are further out can be coaxed into investigating the spot you are feeding. Fish closer in and it will probably take longer for the fish to turn up, if they actually venture this close in at all.
Pick pellets for quality fish
If carp are the target, that means pellets. Maggots can work, but silverfish love them too, and you want to know that when you get a bite and hook a fish, it’s going to be a carp. For that reason, quite big pellets for the time of year – 6mm, or perhaps even 8mm hard pellets, fished in a band – are a must. Expander pellets can work but, again, can be smashed by little fish. A bigger pellet stands out far better to the carp.
Have some patience
Some anglers may get an indication on the float but then lose patience and lift the rig, or perhaps come off that line altogether because a proper bite hasn’t followed. That’s wrong! A carp may knock the pellet without taking it, but then wolf it down four or five minutes later. As long as you get that indication, then you can be confident that a bite won’t be long in coming. Don’t move the rig – just sit tight and wait for the float to go. It’s rare for this not to happen.
Leave the short line for later
Fishing short is a gamble, but a few carp will move closer to the bank late in the day, making a spot around 6m out the perfect place to have a third line. It’ll be the same depth here as what you have on the long pole, although this swim may only come good in the last hour of a match. If there’s space, put this swim in well down the peg, using 11m of pole but only fishing that 6m out from the bank. That creates a bit of quiet water where the fish will feel more confident.