Best Carp Fishing Methods
Top tips for carp fishing for beginners.
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The first thing you need to do is practice the art of; locating, hooking and playing fish. It’s quite often the case that smaller carp in well stocked waters can be easier to catch than big old specimens. As such, waters aimed at the match or pleasure angler (often day ticket) are good venues to start learning your craft. If when you arrive at such a venue you are faced with the option of a specimen lake in addition to match or coarse lakes; don’t be tempted. Not yet anyway! What you need from the start is quantity not quality. Your main aim is to learn how to get bites and convert them into fish on the bank. Outwitting specimens takes time and experience, which will only come after you have learnt more about your intended quarry.
Tackle is important, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to have special rods, pods, alarms, swingers, bivvies, and accessories right from the start. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s important to bear in mind that carp fishing has become a massive industry for shops and manufacturers, all of whom pay marketing specialists large amounts of money to come up with adverts designed to convince the reader that they must have a certain item of tackle in order to catch. Don’t be pulled in. To start off with, all you need is a cheap carp rod of around 2lb test curve (a good feeder or stiff match rod will suffice to get started). Any cheap coarse reel will be fine to get started, just so long as it has a drag function. The only other big thing you need is an unhooking mat. Add to that some basics like forceps, scissors, line and you are ready.
Then it’s a case of catching. Like many seasoned anglers I started off knowing nothing and got better and wiser with time. The result is that I’ve learnt simple is often best. Why bother with a complicated set-up when a simple one will do just as well. Yes it’s convenient to have pods, alarms and swingers, but these are merely accessories. You can catch just as well using bank sticks and bobbins. And in any case, like skinning cats; there’s more than one way to catch a carp! If you have progressed through catching other coarse species on float and feeder, there’s not really much change, just beefed up gear and bait, and if carping is your first foray into angling, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can only catch carp by ledgering �” float fishing can be just as productive and in many cases, more fun!
In terms of set-up, if ledgering, try a simple braid hair rig of about 9-inches. Tie it with a hair and loop for the bait-stop at one end, and a swivel on the other with a Size 8 hook. As for bait, again, don’t think boilies are the only bait for carp. In the early stages when targeting the smaller fish, don’t overlook sweetcorn and luncheon meat. Both are extremely productive baits. Keep the hook bait small and don’t put in too much free bait. Hopefully the small fish should follow on, and believe me, when starting out, size is not important. Keep at it and get used to catching fish in the 2-5lb range. You will soon learn that carp can put up quite a fight so it’s important to master the art of playing fish, knowing when to let them have a bit of line or when to offer resistance to their lunges is what it’s all about.
When not at the pool try to read up on articles about carp fishing. Don’t get preoccupied with bait; for now you need to learn about techniques, strategy and watercraft. Read any articles you can on such subjects, there is a wealth of good free information on the web so read as much as you can. Hopefully, in time, catching the smaller fish will become easier as you learn more about locating carp, baiting up and playing fish. There will come a point where you are able to turn up and catch these smaller carp pretty consistently, and only then is it time to start cutting your teeth on the next rung of the ladder.
Initially, the step up to a doubles-water can be a little daunting. However, the basic rigs and techniques used on your runs water should still work; just remember to keep them simple. The big difference is the fight; playing a good double figure fish is an altogether different prospect from a five pounder! At this level it helps to have proper carp rods but they don’t have to be anything special. I would perhaps still favour natural baits for a couple of reasons. Firstly, everybody and their dog will no doubt be using boilies. Secondly, natural baits cost a fraction of the price of boilies, and thirdly, being slightly different from others will often pay dividends. If you are going to use boilies, my only advice is to use good ones. Some of the crap I see on the shelves makes me wonder how some boilies catch at all! It’s a case of buyer beware; a cheap boilie is not necessarily a good boilie. If you’re going to use boilies, spend a little money, in my experience it’s worth it in the long run, but that said, most of my fishing is done with naturals, which when prepared and presented in the right way score just as well at a fraction of the price. Food for thought, if you’ll excuse the pun.
Your approach to doubles waters should be the same as the runs waters; you’re looking to gain experience. The more fish you catch, the more you will learn, and so it goes. On the side, keep reading all you can. When birthdays come around and new equipment is top of your list, don’t overlook books. There are some fantastic books on carp fishing written by the best anglers the sport has ever seen, past and present. Books are able to give a deeper insight to strategy over magazines and much that I have learnt over the years has come through the books I have read. A good starting point would be to grab a copy of Strategic Carp Fishing; by Rob Hughes & Simon Crow, I think this book gives the beginner or intermediate carp angler a great understanding of the mindset required to go about catching big carp consistently.
Once you’ve mastered the doubles waters, the world, as Shakespeare once put it, is your oyster. Many stay with doubles waters preferring the frequent action verses fight, and others carry on the search, looking for waters that hold bigger and better specimens. A rough rule of thumb would be that the bigger and wiser the fish get, the harder they are to catch, but of course for some, the allure of big fish is too great and the reward of catching one big fish far outweighs the rewards of catching greater numbers of smaller fish.
Whichever path you choose, it’s important to enjoy it. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game and I’ve seen many come and go who have ended up tearing their hair out in frustration when the runs don’t come. So don’t rush things. I’m always on the look out for big fish, but I’m just as happy picking off smaller examples when the opportunity presents itself. After all, there’s nothing quite like seeing a carp pick up your hook bait, no matter what size it is!