To successfully fish for carp, you need a strong rod with a test curve of between 1lb and 3lb. A good-sized, strong reel that will hold a decent amount of line is also needed. I like to use a line with a breaking strain of around 12lb, but anything between 8lb and 15lb is acceptable. The lakes where you fish will determine this. For instance, if the lake is full of sunken trees and weeds, the stronger end of the scale will be needed. There are many ways to fish for carp. The two main methods are on the surface and on the bottom.
Surface Fishing for Carp
When to surface fish for carp
Fishing on the surface is preferred in warm temperatures when the fish use the upper layers of the water. Once fish are spotted on the surface, it’s time to add some urban floaters into the swim, either using a catapult or a spomb. With floaters drifting around the surface, the carp will quickly take notice and hopefully slurp some in.
The best rig for carp surface fishing
The rig I use when the fish are close in is a simple freeline. Just tie a small size 8 hook onto the main line on your reel; 8lb is my favoured choice on the top. Then I like to superglue one of the Urban Bait floater hookbaits onto the back of the hook, leaving the point and bend free to hook the carp.
This single hookbait can then be cast in front of the feeding fish. The light splash of the freeline bait acts naturally and should not spook the feeding carp. It is vital to always watch the hookbait. The angler strikes the rod as soon as the feeding carp suck in the hookbait, hoping to set the hook. The fish will get away with it on many occasions, so patience and consistency are important to hook the carp.
How do you catch carp on the surface?
Keeping the feed going into the swim regularly helps to give the carp confidence and gets them into a feeding frenzy. When the carp are further out, a freeline bait is of no use. This is when I add a weighted float such as a controller or a bubble float.
You need to attach the bubble float or controller to the line along with a bead then a swivel. This weighted float should be anything between 20 grams and 50 grams, depending on the distance needed to reach the feeding carp.
The hook length when surface fishing needs to be much longer than when fishing on the bottom. This is so the carp do not come into contact with the controller or bubble float, which will scare them away from the hook length. The hook link can be anything between 2 feet and 6 feet long, 6 feet being my preferred length.
Once the controller is cast into the swim, slowly draw it back to straighten the hook link. Casting beyond the fish will help as by the time you have straightened the hook link; it should be in the line of the feeders.
When floater fishing at a distance, remember to keep the feed going in to keep them there and searching for food. Watching the hook bait is key when floater fishing on the surface, but when using a weighted controller or bubble float, the chances are the hookbait will be hard to see because of the distance, so watching the float is important.
Sometimes the bites are vicious, and the float will disappear. Other times the float will move slightly, so quick reflexes are needed. Once again, it is essential to be patient as many bites will be missed using a float. Consistency and a never-give-up attitude are required to land a carp off the surface.
Bottom Fishing for Carp
How to bottom fish for carp
When targeting carp off the bottom, the first thing to consider is the location of the carp. Finding the carp is the most important and exciting part of carp fishing for me. Most carp lakes hold few carp, but some have many more than others. So, each lake will be completely different. The number of carp in the lake will be key to the difficulty of locating the carp.
Carp will give away their whereabouts in many ways. An angler who can locate carp will be successful. The signs to look for are jumping fish. Carp love to jump clear of the water, gleaning their sensitive gills in the process. Arriving at the lake early in the morning and watching for jumping carp is the best way to locate them.
When Carp feed off the bottom, they produce bubbles that rise to the surface; this is also a great way to locate carp. Early morning bubblers are a brilliant starting point to carp location.
Carp also like to roll on the surface, so any big swirls or vortexes will give away the Carps’ whereabouts. Carp also like certain features such as sunken willows, weed beds, and lily pads. These areas will nearly always hold carp. Once the fish have been found, then it’s time to fish for them.
Best bottom rig for carp
My preferred bottom rig when arriving at a new lake is a basic running setup. This consists of just a lead on the line; anything between 2oz and 3oz is perfect for a running setup.
Once the lead is on, a small bead is threaded on to protect the knot, which is tied onto a size 8 swivel using a Palomar knot. My favourite is a short 10-inch hook link, either using nylon or a soft braid with a breaking strain of at least 10lb.
I then tie a size 6 hook using a no knot, leaving a small loop at the end to tie the bait onto. I thread a small Urban Bait wafter onto the loop before stopping with bait stop. I generally like to have a small gap between the hook and the hookbait to give it some movement.
Once the rig is ready, you will need to find a spot where it’s comfortable to sit. Keeping away from sunken trees and heavy weed beds will help with the mechanics of the rig. When fishing in heavy silt where the rod bends when pulling back, lengthening the hook link will help.
How do you catch carp on the bottom?
Cast the baited hook and lead into the lake, then sink the line before putting the rod onto the rest. Then to encourage the fish to feed in the area, catapult 20 or 30 boilies into the zone. The carp runs using the no knot rig are easy to detect. Make sure your line comes off the reel easily using the drag, or the result could be a lost rod.
When playing a carp, it’s vital to always keep the line taut so as not to let the hook slip. The carp will pull hard; again, keep the drag set so the line can be drawn from the rod. If the carp tries to make it to sunken trees and snags, apply heavier pressure to turn it away.
Once the fish is beaten, a large net is needed to land it. Carp need to be cared for on the bank, so a good unhooking mat and a pair of forceps are essential. Never stand when holding a carp. Keep them low to the ground, use a sling or net to move them around the swim, and to help return them.