Specimen carp fishing is the fastest growing form of freshwater fishing in the UK so here's our guide to all the tackle and bait you need to get started and the best deals we can find for you. Who knows, before long you could become the next Danny Fairbrass or Terry Hearn!
1. PICK A CARP FISHING ROD
With fish from double figures up to 40lb or more possible, you'll need to step up your gear considerably. A typical carp rod is 12ft long and boasts a test curve of between 2.5lb and 3.5lb, for big fish and potentially long casts. Judge the rod to the type of venue - you don't need a 3.5lb version on a five acre lake! Heavier test curves mean stiffer actions which cast further while softer rods are better at close range. A pair of rods will double your chances of catching but three rods can be a bit too much for all but very experienced carpers, as hooked fish can wipe out other lines.
2. BUY A CARP FISHING REEL
Carp reels run from 6000 up to 10000 class, although exact sizes differ slightly between manufacturers. Models can be categorised into either freespool or big pit versions. Freespools include a baitrunner-style facility to engage when waiting for fast runs while big pit reels typically have a large body and oversized spool, designed to be used with the front drag.
3. CARP FISHING MAIN LINE CHOICE
Unless you're faced with an extreme snag situation, a monofilament mainline of around 10lb to 12lb is more than adequate. Avoid fluorocarbon as a mainline as it's springy and difficult to use. Also avoid braid as a mainline until you become an accomplished angler fishing at distance, because you're liable to lose fish with the lack of stretch.
4. USE THE RIGHT CARP HOOK LINKS AND HOOKS
Coated braid hook links are preferred for carp fishing. This is stiff so doesn't tangle and is very safe and strong. Strip the coating off near the hook to give the bait more natural movement. In terms of hooks, a reliable, wide gape eyed pattern is a must. Here are some of our favourite patterns but some exceptional ready tied rigs are also available, whether you're a newcomer or seasoned carper!
5. MAKE A CARP FISHING RIG
Carp fishing is as complicated as you make it and there are loads of different rigs for different purposes. For starters however, a simple, easy rig is with a lead lip attached on the end of the mainline. Clip the lead on but don't push the tail rubber over it too tightly. Under extreme pressure the lead will come off, for example when snagged. Attach your hooklength to the lead clip, an 8ins length is about right.
6. PICK THE RIGHT CARP BAIT
Boilies are by a mile the most popular big carp bait going. Modern shelf life boilies are ideal but stick to a tried and trusted brand. Try a size of around 14mm 15mm or 16mm.
You can use the same on the hair-rig, or you can go for pop ups.
7. WHY YOU NEED BITE ALARMS
A good set is paramount. You can buy wireless alarms with receivers to transmit a signal to your bivvy too. You'll also need a set of bobbins to use with alarms to register drop backs, as not every bite will tear off to the horizon.
8. BUY A ROD POD
You'll need something to hold your rods and bite alarms whilst waiting for a run. Bank sticks with or without buzzer bars are one option but pods are easy to set up and are great for all surfaces. Always remember to have to your nearest line guide on your side of the bite alarm, to avoid the risk of losing the rod!
9. GET THE RIGHT LANDING NET
Go for a landing net of at least 40ins in size, so we're talking a triangular specialist version rather than a spoon.
10. CHOOSING A BIVVY OR BROLLY
You'll need to be prepared for longer sessions and overnight stays on lakes so some sort of shelter is a must. A brolly system tends to be an open face shelter so is probably better for warm weather and shorter sessions. A bivvy can be fully zipped up to keep the elements out.
11. INVEST IN A BEDCHAIR
If you're going to be serious about your carp fishing and you intend staying for a full day or more, a bed chair is great for reclining on. For overnight stays a sleeping bag will also be needed with it.
12. GET AN UNHOOKING MAT
Looking after your catch is paramount, especially when you've got a large carp in the landing net ready to bring onto the bank. Invest in a large unhooking mat with plenty of padding, ideally with walls or a flap to keep the fish contained, or a cradle. Always wet the mat with a bucket of water before a fish goes on it.