How to fish for carp using PVA


by James Furness |
Published on

PVA is used in all disciplines of angling, although it is most popular among the specimen carp angling fraternity. Available in a number of different forms, the two most popular are mesh stocking on a tube and solid PVA bags. It's also available as tape, foam nuggets and string.

The advantage of PVA is that it is water-soluble. This allows anglers to load their chosen type of bag with bait. Then, once the rig is cast in, within a few seconds or minutes – depending upon the water temperature – the PVA will melt. This leaves an enticing pile of free feed around your hookbait.

Other benefits include the anti-tangle properties it adds to the rig. By hooking/ threading on a PVA stick or bag to the hooklink, or loading the entire lead and rig into a solid bag, there is no way that the rig can tangle on the cast. This means you can be 100 per cent confident that your rig is fishing effectively.

This is a vital part of my fishing, as many of the waters I target are very weedy. By having the loosefeed and hookbait presented together, I know that as soon as I cast in, I’m fishing and that my presentation is spot-on.

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Ricky Mcgee has total confidence in using PVA for his carp fishing.
Ricky Mcgee has total confidence in using PVA for his carp fishing.

Solid bags

Solid PVA bags are something that I use frequently. The advantage of them is that the entire rig, lead and all, is placed inside the bag along with the loosefeed.

This gives you a presentation that can be cast almost anywhere as long as you don’t tie them too big, as this will cut down casting range dramatically. For the payload, I use a mixture of items, including groundbait/stick mix, small pellets, crushed hemp, boilies and tiger nuts.

The main thing is that all the loosefeed is small, no more than 3mm ideally. This allows me to compact the bags nice and tight, so they cast better. When I load the bags, I put the 2oz lead at the bottom of the bag and the hookbait at the top, so there’s no chance of the rig tangling. My hooklinks are 4ins-6ins of soft, sinking 20lb braid which can be packed into the bag easily.

On the hook, I use either a wafter or a pop-up. Which I choose depends upon the day. If the fishing is hard, I tend to use wafters. They are a bit more subtle, as the hook sits on the lakebed with only the hookbait sitting vertically.

With a pop-up, both the hook and the hookbait are sitting off the lakebed, so it’s a bit more obvious, and tends to be a better choice when the fish are feeding hard. To complete my solid bags, I carefully inject a little Goo additive. This will again help to entice fish into the area and get me bites quicker, as there’s more attraction in the swim.

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A perfectly tied solid bag, ready to be cast out.
A perfectly tied solid bag, ready to be cast out.

Mesh bags

One of the most common and basic PVA presentations is a small bag of bait formed from PVA mesh. This type of product comes on a tube, in either five- or 10-metre continuous lengths.

To make the bag, one end of the mesh is tied off and a quantity of bait poured into the tube. This is then compressed before tying a second overhand knot to form the bag, which is then cut off the main length of PVA.

To attach it, the small bag is simply hooked on to the rig. Once melted, an enticing small pile of loosefeed will be sitting next to your hookbait. I tend to use a bigger 25mm diameter mesh if I want a bigger bed of bait or when using a pellet/groundbait mix, or if I want to feed a quantity of boilies – six to eight.

A smaller 15mm version comes into play when I want to set a tiny trap of two or three boilies. This can be excellent when casting at showing fish.

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PVA mesh is a great way of presenting whole boilies.
PVA mesh is a great way of presenting whole boilies.

PVA foam

Nuggets are a form of PVA that I see many anglers get wrong. Their main purpose is to protect the hookpoint on the cast as it falls through the water, and to hold the hook up out of any low-lying weed.

Once the PVA nugget melts, the hook and hookbait fall gently and settle nicely on top of any detritus on the lakebed. To attach them to the rig, I cut the nugget into four pieces and then simply nick the hook into a quarter of a nugget.

By not compressing the nugget, it will quickly melt, before popping up to the surface. You then know that the nugget has come off, so you’re fishing, but it also provides a handy little marker for you to fire boilies or pellets around if needed.

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PVA nuggets will help prevent your rigs tangling.
PVA nuggets will help prevent your rigs tangling.
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