Everything you need to start night fishing

by James Furness |
Published on


To get the most out of specimen fishing, whether you’re fishing for carp or other species such as tench and bream, you ideally need to fish for them at night.

Many fish, especially those in heavily-pressured venues, will often feed with more confidence under the cover of darkness or at first light, so your catch rate is likely to increase if you can fish overnight sessions.

If it is something you have never done before, there are a number of factors to consider to ensure your session runs smoothly.

The key to effectively spending your first night on the bank is efficiency. The old saying ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’ perfectly sums up night fishing. Particularly if you are new to it.

In this article we are going to take a look at some of the main points that will help you enjoy a successful night fishing session.

Essential kit

As well as your standard fishing kit, there are a number of extra items that are required to make sure your overnight stay is a comfortable one.

Firstly, a good quality bivvy or shelter is a must. If you’re likely to just be fishing for one night at a time a brolly style shelter will suffice, but if you intend to spend several days at a time on the bank you may want to consider a larger bivvy which will have enough space to house the extra kit required.

Likewise, if long walks with your gear on a barrow is required to get to the pegs at your venue, look for lightweight shelters which are easier to transport. If, on the other hand, you can park close to your peg, weight is less important.

First thing you need is a warm dry base to get your head down in and keep all of your gear safe and dry. This bivvy is easy to set up, light to carry and has plenty of space for one angler and all of their gear.


  • Lightweight at just 4kg without the groundsheet
  • Removable front panel provides added protection from the elements


  • It's low profile doesn't provide much headroom for taller anglers

Next, is a comfortable bedchair. Again, it’s important to consider the weight and size of the bed in terms of both the type of venue you’re fishing and the shelter you’ll be putting it in. Some of the larger beds on the market, although incredibly comfortable, would be a tight squeeze under a compact shelter and are more suited to use in a two-man bivvy.

A comfortable and lightweight bed featuring a padded polar fleece mattress, a strong 6-leg frame system, extendable legs with mud-proof feet.


  • Flat profile for a comfortable night's sleep
  • Well-padded mattress


  • Would be a tight fit under smaller brollies and shelters

A good warm sleeping bag is also required, even in the warm summer months. A sleeping bag with a three-season rating will do the job for most of the year, but if you plan to fish right the way through winter, a five-season bag will provide extra warmth.

With a three-season rating, this comfortable and durable sleeping bag will keep you warm during spring, summer and autumn nights on the bank. Smooth crash zips positioned on either side of the back allow for a quick exit when required and it can be securely attached to your bedchair via a central stap and hooded sections at both the head and foot of the sleeping bag.


  • Crash zips make getting out quick and easy when you have a bite in the night
  • Polyester construction allows for easy movement when in the bag


  • Not thick enough for winter use

The Sleep Skin system is ideal as a 'next to skin' thermal base layer, or as a mid layer throughout the seasons.


  • Padded shoulders for added comfort while sleeping
  • Comfortable and breathable


  • Only available in M-XXL sizes

When it comes to bite registration, it simply isn’t practical to sit up all night watching a float or quiver tip. So you’ll need to use bite alarms to alert you when you get a take. Many anglers prefer to use a set of alarms with a receiver. This is a device which syncs to your bite alarm heads and can be kept in your bivvy next to your bed allowing you to turn the volume down low or mute completely on the actual bite alarm.

Small but perfectly formed, the new Gizmo® bite alarm offers top performance in a miniature package. Featuring Illuminated snag ears and line roller giving you instant indication for the slightest of line movement. Sonik's intelligent mute function allows you to quickly, conveniently and silently adjust indicators or line tightness and will automatically re-arm the alarm after 30 seconds.

Volume, tone and sensitivity functions are all controlled by click dials which are super easy and quick to setup for multiple alarm heads. Add to this, fully protected electronics, improved battery life, clip on hardcase cover and a receiver with anti-theft and torch function.

Gizmo® bite alarm sets come complete with Sonik's new and updated bivvy light. Smaller, sleeker and now with a speaker included you can now be alerted in stereo, or keep it silent for just illumination when you get a bite. Six different delay and brightness settings. It can function completely independently as a standard bivvy light or when synchronised with the alarm heads provides an extra level of sound and illumination. Each alarm can also be assigned a colour channel so that you instantly recognise which alarm head has been triggered and perfect placement is easy with both hook or magnetic bivvy attachment plate.


  • The bivvy light included with the set offers excellent value for money.
  • Mute function is great for stealthy angling and preventing annoying other anglers.


  • A small LED attached to the main body would be easier to see on bright days than the illuminated ears.

Night vision

Carrying out tasks such astying fresh rigs, attaching hookbaits and even landing fish is obviously much harder in the dark than during the day. As such you’ll need to ensure you have some additional lighting.

When choosing a headtorch, look for ones with a red light setting as well as white light as this won’t ruin your night vision. It is also better for ‘banked’ fish as a red light doesn’t stress them as much as shining a bright white light into their eyes. If there are anglers on the opposite bank, it is much more polite to use the red light setting rather than shining a bright white light across the lake.

Fans of Alan Blair’s media content will know how much he relies on high power lamps to locate carp when arriving at venues after dark. The Moonshine Mega Lite is the result of a lengthy development to design the ultimate high power lamp for anglers.


  • Incredibly bright
  • Compact and comfortable to wear


  • Not the cheapest of headtorches if you're on a tight budget

Bivvy lights are another option which can be attached to inside of your shelter via a magnetic strip. Many of these also have a USB output and can be used for charging phones and other devices.

These Thermacell Repellers create a 15ft mossie free radius by gently heating a replaceable matt which contains a synthetic repellent, ideal for keeping your bivvy and surroundings safe from biting insects.


  • Keeps your bivvy free from irritating mosquitoes
  • Compact and easy to store in your rucksack or carryall


  • Replacement cartridges can be expensive

Safety tips

Fishing in the dark brings with it a number of potential hazards that you need to be aware of.

Before you turn in for the night check that your peg is tidy and there are no obstructions or items between your shelter and your rods that you could trip over if you receive a screaming take in the middle of the night.

Make sure items such as your headtorch, bite alarm receiver and phone are close to hand and easy to locate if you need them during the night.

Always tell a friend or family member about where you are fishing and when you expect you’ll be back. We recommend installing the What3words app on your phone so that you can accurately share your location in the case of an emergency, especially when fishing more remote venues. It is also important to carry a portable charging device so that you don't have to worry about your phone running out of battery.

To keep connected to the outside world by keeping all of your devices charged, a powerbank has become an essential in the night anglers kit. This Fox one has a wireless charging facility compatible with most modern phones as well as two USB and a USB-C port for charging tablets, head torches and other accessories.


  • LCD display shows charging and power level
  • Fold-out legs to hold your phone while charging


  • Solar panels for bankside charging of the pack would have been a handy addition

Fish effectively

During the day it is easy to cast accurately to your baited spots. But this becomes much more difficult in the dark. To ensure that you are fishing as effectively as possible through the night, use a pair of distance sticks to wrap your mainline around and count how many ‘wraps’ are required to hit the spot. The other important thing is to choose a far bank marker with a silhouette that will be visible at night.

Playing fish in the dark is also a different experience than during the day. Rather than relying on your sight to see which direction the fish is going you will have to rely more on other senses and pay more attention to ‘feeling’ where the fish is heading. Before the sun has set it is worth making a mental note of any snags or other potential hazards in your swim that a hooked fish could potentially head towards so that you are aware of them during the night.

An innovative new gas stove from Fox with an infrared heating element that uses less gas and gets to higher temperatures than your traditional camping stove. A design that's up to 30% more efficient when used with the matching heat exchange Fox Cookware Power boil pots.

They come complete with an additional stand for use with your usual cookware.

Quicker boil times and Lower running costs
Up to 30% more efficient when used with corresponding heat exchange Fox Cookware Power boil pots
Stable body with 3 foldable legs


  • Infrared technology offering higher, more concentrated heat
  • Packs down nice and compact for easy transportation


  • Quite expensive if on a budget

The Sonik Sizzla Multi-Pan set is ideal for anyone who wants the most versatile closed cooking system on the market. The pan itself is the perfect size for a wide variety of meals, with its 30mm depth and wide rectangular profile providing space to prepare a whole range of different ingredients. The second pan can be used as a lid, giving you real options to prepare different dishes quickly, cleanly and efficiently.
Supplied with multi-functional tongs.


  • T-Lock mounting system means the handles are incredibly secure
  • The pans can be separated giving you the choice of a smooth cooking surface or a grill plate


  • Quite heavy so you need to ensure they're placed centrally on your stove to prevent slippage

With the items listed above in this article, you have the basic kit (once combined with end tackle and bait) to go out and catch carp from a venue near you. We would recommend starting night fishing by visiting one of these great fisheries, these venues offer consistent sport all-year round due to the numbers of fish present. The fish will likely be smaller than some of the whackers you might see printed in the magazine or on the TV, but learning how to catch these consistently will give you a great starting point to progress on to bigger and tougher waters from.

Get your tactics right and you will catch carp like this too!
Get your tactics right and you will catch carp like this too!

Author James Furness is the editor for the Angling Times and has been carp fishing for over 20 years, he enjoys catching all species of fish and all aspects of the sport.

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