What do I need for carp fishing?
Most people start with a 2x rod carp set up, some people may start with 3x, you can always add an extra carp rod to your 2x rod set up, you would then require another reel, another bite alarm and a new set of bank sticks. If you are a beginner, fishing medium sized waters you would want to get yourself a set of 12ft carp rods with a test curve of around 2.75lb. These will still enable you to cast the required distances and also still enjoy playing the carp without the rod being too stiff.
Top Tip- How to set up a carp rod?
Line up the reel in the reel seat & tighten in position, put both 6ft sections of the rod together, ensuring all of the rod eyes are in line with each other. Thread your mainline through the all of the eyes of the rod, making sure not to miss any, or twist it around the rod. – And you are ready to tie your terminal tackle to the end!
Depending on the size of the lake you are fishing, you could either opt to fish with baitrunner reels or big pit carp reels. On smaller waters, a baitrunner could be very adequate, on larger waters where you may fish bigger distances a big pit could be required to assist you with this. Big pits tend to have a bigger spool and a front drag system, where as a baitrunner will usually have a smaller spool and a baitrunner drag system on the rear of the reel. Again, you could start out with 2x carp reels and if you wanted to expand the set up you could buy a third and then replicate this with the other parts of the set up you require.
Top Tip-How to put a reel on a rod?
Line up the reel foot to sit flush with the reel seat, slide the top end of the reel foot into the reel seat and tighten the reel seat with the bottom section on the rod.
You need a good quality line, this needs to be able to cast well, have enough stretch to play fish on and be resistant to snags in the lake like weed, mussel beds, rocks etc.This is going to vary on what lake you are fishing on, if there aren’t many snags and its not very weedy you can get away with fishing a lighter pound breaking strain line. If the lake you are fishing has some snags and is more prominent with weed it may be best to fish with a line which 15lb breaking strain, this should still enable you to cast most places and prevent you from easily being cut off on snags or in weed.
Top Tip- How to spool fishing line onto a carp reel?
Set the reel up on the rod, thread the mainline you want to use through the butt eye of the rod. Tie this to the spool you want to spool up, with an Arbor knot, close the bail arm on the reel. Have the spool of line in a bucket of water and reel the line on with a damp cloth in one had around the line to ensure the line lay is tight and secure on the reel, you don’t want to over spool or under spool – you want it flush with the top of the spool.
You need to be able to know when you have hooked a carp, once you have hooked a carp you will need to be informed with some sort of bite indication. To register this bite indication it is helpful to have a bite alarm, the rod rests on the bite alarm and when the line is pulled through the alarm, it signals a bleep and will light up. Sometimes a carp can pick up your bait and come towards you, this would give you a drop back and this would be when you would require a bobbin to help indicate this type of bite. Once again with a two rod set up you will require 2x bite alarms.
Top Tip- How to choose your bite alarm?
It’s certainly down to personal presence and budget, but my tip is that bite alarms are well worth spending money on so check out brands such as Delkim, Steve Neville, Nash Tackle & Fox – All of these brand provide tops alarms varying in price for your budget!
You need to be able to have something to register a bite on your rods, its going to be very difficult to sit and watch the reels & rods all day with them laying on the floor waiting for the spool to start spinning. You will require a bite alarm as stated above, these need to be screwed into bank sticks.
Top Tip- When to use single bank sticks, buzz bars or a rod pod?
You can fish single bank sticks, so for these you would require four for two rods, 2x for back rests and 2x for front bite alarms. You can fish buzz bars, again for a two rod setup in this scenario you would only require two bank sticks, one for the rear buzz bar and one for the front buzz bar. A rod pod doesn’t actually require any bank sticks, this comes as one entire set up and is designed in 2x rods and 3x rod pods. You can collapse these down and set them up on the bank, you don’t need to worry about what ground you are setting up on due to the fact they can sit on wooden platforms, concrete etc and do not need to be screwed into the ground. Single bank sticks can be helpful in scenarios where you would like to angle your rod differently to the others, or you want to drop a third rod an a margin spot for example.
6.Bobbins (Bite Indicators)
Bobbins are essential, these help to give a visual representation of what the carp is doing when hooked, or if you had a line bite. When a carp is hooked, swimming away and taking line the bobbin will pull up against the alarm and hold there whilst the line is passing through the alarm. If you have a drop back and the carp is hooked and swimming towards you, if you are fishing a relatively tight line you will see the bobbin drop down and it might not pull back up. Another thing you may notice is the bobbin being pulled up tight and dropping back down to its original position, if there is no further action this can generally be registered as a line bite. When carp are feeding in your swim, or bream for that matter they can swim through your lines and give you line bite indications, this is often a way you can tell you have fish feeding in your swim.
Top Tip- When should I fish bobbins tight and when should I fish them slack?
If you were fishing a Zig rig or at distance, a tight or semi tight line is usually a sensible suggestion, to assist with bite indication at range or on the zig.- The bobbin can be a lot more effective in this instance. When margin fishing, or fishing close in for wary carp, a dead slack line with the bobbin on the floor is essential to avoid the carp being spooked by the line.
So you’ve done the hard bit of hooking a carp, you now need to make sure you land it safely. You can buy a range of different net shapes and sizes, I would suggest purchasing a triangular shaped net 42″ in size. This is a good size for beginners, if the net doesn’t come with a net float it may be worth purchasing one these to help you in the situation of having to net a carp on your own. A net float goes just below the spreader block of the net and will help keep the net a float whilst you are trying to net the carp.
Top Tip- How to net a carp on your own
Have the net in a position to easily grab with the hand you reel with. A net float will help the net float on the water for when the carp is ready to net, once the carp is ready for netting, give yourself enough line out to leverage the rod to be able to glide the carp over the top of the net cord!
8.Unhooking Mat, Weigh Sling & Scales
So you have netted a carp, you now need to get the carp on the bank and safely weigh it and get some photographs of your catch. Always make sure you have your unhooking mat, sling and scales set up in a safe position on the bank which is easily accessible. Before you get the carp on the bank, you should soak the sling and unhooking mat with water to make a safer environment for the carp, also make sure you have a bucket of lake water to hand to put on the carp whilst it is out of the water. You can zero your scales with the sack soaked in water so it is ready for when you weigh the carp. This also gives you an opportunity to sort your camera settings out, so you are ready to snap away once you have the carp on the bank. The reason you want all of this ready before you get the carp out of the water is to minimise the time you keep the carp out of the water. Once you are ready you can break the net down at the waters edge, check the carps fins are flush against the carp, role the net down and carry it safely to the unhooking mat.
Zero the scales before you get the carp out of the water to minimise the time the carp is out of the water.
9.Carp Care kit
It is imperative that you take care of the carp which you have been fortunate enough to catch, you should always have a carp care kit on you. Korda produce a fantastic carp care kit which will enable you to treat any wounds on the carps mouth from the hook, and any damages the carp may have on its body from spawning or from rubbing on snags etc.
Always check for cuts and wounds on the carp once you have them on the bank.
When you do find a spot which you want to set up in, it’s always handy to have a comfortable chair to be able to rest in. If you are going on a quick day session some anglers may just simply lay on their unhooking mat or use their bait bucket for that matter. But if you don’t fancy laying on the floor, a nice fishing chair is good to have on the bank to get comfortable in whilst you are fishing.
If you don’t have a chair, use a bucket or use your unhooking mat!
Having a good carp bait is essential, you need to be able to put something on the hook to catch a carp. So a hook bait is essential and some spare hook baits, and baits for free offerings will also be required. A good place to start would be to get a couple of bags of boilies, and some pop up boilies. Most carp have seen boilies, they are a great bait and carp love them, you will need to learn how to tie a hair rig to be able to fish a boilie. Bottom baits are always a good go to carp boilie for a beginner. You may also want to try pop ups for fishing lakes where the bottom maybe silty or not clean. Also simple classics like sweetcorn, hemp, tiger nuts can all be great baits to take with you as a beginner.
Have a variety of baits, bottom baits, pop ups, maybe some naturals so you can adapt to your fishing scenario!
12.Catapult, throwing stick or a spod/spomb.
If you are going to put free offerings around your hook bait, if the spot is at catapult range you can catapult your baits out or potentially use a bait spoon for particle baits. If the spot is out of catapult range you might want to use a throwing stick to get boilies out to the spot. You can throwing stick out individual boilies or multiple boilies at a time, at long distance. If you are going to put out particle, then you will need a spod, or the more commonly used spomb. This allows you to load the spomb up with particle and cast it out onto your spot, when the spomb hits the water it opens and releases the particle onto your spot.
If boilies start splitting when you are throwing sticking baits out, dip your throwing stick in the lake to get some water inside it to help ease the friction on the boilies when they are leaving the throwing stick.
Terminal tackle for carp fishing covers a lot from fishing rigs for carp to the leads which you would use to cast out with. To briefly cover terminal tackle you will need hooks, swivels and a hook length material to create a rig. You will also need a type of lead system, a lead clip system is a good place to start, for this you will need some leadclips and some leads 2.5oz or 3oz is usually a good weight to go for. You will also need tail rubbers to go over the leadclip and either a leader or rig tubing, to help pin the set up to the lake bed. There are numerous types of rigs you can use, and numerous types of lead systems which can be used, with some of the most common lead systems being, the lead clip set up, the helicopter rig and the inline lead set up.
Pre-tie carp rigs before you go fishing to save you wasting time on the bank tying them up!
See how to make carp rigs below:
14.Bivvy or Brolly
If you are going to be fishing in the day, a brolly which is easy and fast to set up would be good to have. This can keep you out of the rain and keep you and your fishing gear dry. Furthermore if you are night fishing a bivvy or a brolly would be required, to keep you warm and dry, and your fishing gear dry and out of sight.
Always check the weather before you go fishing, you should do this to give you an idea if the conditions will be good or not, but this will also dictate if you will need a brolly for a day session!
On a day session, the last thing you want to be doing is taking several trips to get the fishing gear from your car to the bank, you want to be able to load it onto a fishing barrow and take it one trip. This will also help you to move swim if you locate carp elsewhere, you can pack down, load up the barrow and move to another swim quickly with no hassle or several trips carrying the fishing gear.
Use Bungee cords to strap your fishing gear to the barrow, this will hold the fishing gear tight and in place on the barrow to stop it from falling off whilst you are walking around the lake.
About The Author
CEO & Co-Founder
Being out on the bank and catching a fish is just a bonus for me, what I really love about angling is it provides us with the ability to be at one with nature and appreciate what most do not get to see. I discovered my passion for angling at the age of 9 and it has never left me, carp fishing has always been the core of my angling but I will never turn down the opportunity to target other species and enjoy what our waters have to offer.