Carp fishing is some of the easiest and most entertaining fishing around and anyone can be successful if they follow the carp fishing basics below. With this being said, Carp fishing is very different from other types of fishing that most people participate in (i.e. Bass and Trout fishing), and in my personal opinion can’t be approached in the same manner; both in terms of mindset and technique. Read on for Carp fishing basics.
Carp Fishing Gear
Before heading out for a day of Carp fishing, you need to make sure you have the right gear and tackle for the day. Go ahead and leave your ultralight trout rods at home. For small to medium sized carp, a 7 to 9 foot, medium/heavy action rod and spinning reel with 10lb mono should suffice. I’m just going to stick the basics for this article, so I’m going to explain a very simple rig that I like to use when fishing for small to medium sized Carp; and it may be a rig that you have already used for another style of fishing.
Basic Terminal Tackle For Carp:
- 8 to 10+ pound monofilament OR 15+ pound braid for your reel
- 1-ounce egg sinkers
- Size 6 baitholder or plain shank hooks
- 20+ pound test fluorocarbon leader
- Barrel swivels
As with any rig, your first step is deciding which line to use, I prefer to use the heavier braided lines whenever I fish for Carp, but 8-lb or 10-lb monofilament line works perfectly for your average sized Carp as long as you don’t try to horse the fish in too fast. Now that you know which line to use, we can move onto the rig itself. You’re going to want to have a 1-ounce egg sinker on your main line, followed by a barrel swivel with safety snap (size 12 or larger) tied onto your main line. All that’s left now is your leader and your hook. I usually tie my own leaders with 20-lb fluorocarbon tied to a size 6 bait-holder hook which I make into pre-tied leaders so I can easily switch them out, or if I get broken off I can simply put a new one on (This is where your snap swivel comes into play). Though to simplify it even more you can even go pick up some pre-tied leaders from Walmart or your local tackle shop instead of making your own.
Creating Your Carp Fishing Bait
Choosing a bait for Carp is fairly easy seeing as it can be as simple as using a can of corn or garden worms, both of which Carp will readily take. Though, one simple way to increase your chances of catching more Carp is to increase the appeal of your bait to the fish. When fishing for Carp, I create a simple, though effective, bait made from foods you can find in your local supermarket.
Carp Bait Shopping List
- Two or three cans of cream style sweet corn
- One can of whole kernel sweet corn
- One or two larger containers of 5-minute quick oats (oatmeal)
Baiting the Hook
Start off by putting enough of the regular sweet corn onto your hook so that the hook is covered, but the tip and barb are still exposed. For size 6 hooks, usually three or four pieces of corn will do the trick. Once you’re done with that, you’ll need to combine the creamed corn and quick oats to make your oat pack. Your first step in this process will be to pour some of your oats into a bucket of some sort; I usually start with half of the container of oats. After you have your oats in the bucket, you’ll need to pour about a quarter of the can of creamed corn into the bucket as well. After that, you’ll need to mix them up a bit, and add a bit more creamed corn after that so you’re mixture is just wet enough to stick together when you cast out. Usually at this point, the question of “how much of the mixture do I put on the hook?”. I usually do an entire handful, but when you’re first starting out, smaller handfuls are easier to mold around the hook and cast out until you get the hang of it. Another common question I get asked about this process is “how do the carp get to the hook with that big oat ball around it?”. This brings me to the point of the oat pack; after about a minute or so in the water, the oats fall apart and fall around the hook. Now instead of having the big oat pack around your hook, the oats are loose and in a pile around your hook, and when a Carp comes by it sucks up the oats around the hook, and will eventually suck your hook up along with them. This way the Carp have something extra to draw them in as opposed to only having sweet corn on your hook for bait.
Casting a Bait Ball
Casting this bait out might take a little while to get used to, so don’t get frustrated if you lose your oat pack on your first few attempts! When casting out an oat pack, you can’t really whip your bait out there like you normally would. Instead, you have to take it easy and make your casts a little slower and just pitch it out there without whipping your rod too much. It definitely takes getting used to, but after your first trip or two you should start to get the hang of it. Now that you have your bait all ready to go and in the water, all you need to do is wait for some action!
Hooking, Playing, and Landing a Carp
Right after you get your lines in the water, I can’t stress enough that you should either have bait-feeder reels, or have your reels in free spool. The reasoning behind this is that you don’t want the fish to feel any resistance when taking out line while it’s inspecting your bait, and most importantly, you don’t want to lose your rod to the fish! This leads me into my next point, just because you get a bump on your line, doesn’t mean the fish is on yet. When your line bumps, it’s usually either the Carp sucking up the oats around your hook, or bumping your line itself. As soon as the Carp feels the hook, 99 times out of 100 it will go on a strong run and start to peel out line. Now when this happens, you can’t set the hook like you would on other fish, like a Bass. Though it is always good to still set the hook, you don’t have to do it as hard as you normally would since Carp have very soft mouths and you don’t want to rip the hook out. Usually just simply lifting your rod up and taking it out of free spool, or engaging the drag if using a bait-feeder while the fish is on it’s initial run will be more than enough to set the hook in it’s mouth.
Fighting the Fish
While the fish is on it’s initial run, you’re going to just want to keep your rod tip high and pointed away from the fish, just as you would any other large fish. Once it’s done making it’s first run then you can finally start reeling and fight the fish. When fighting a Carp, it’s just like fighting any other large fish, but you have to take it easier on them since if you pull too hard you’ll pull the hook out of their soft mouths. General rule of thumb is; if the fish is running, let him run and tire itself out against your drag, only reel once it’s done with a run, and ALWAYS keep tension on your line otherwise the fish will be able to shake the hook. By doing this, you minimize the risk of pulling the hook out while also making for a more enjoyable fight!
Landing the Fish
Once you get the fish under control and close to shore, he might stay just out of netting distance for a while or go on one final run, so be ready for that. But once you have the opportunity to net the fish, guide it in head first and get the majority of the fish in the net before trying to scoop it up so the fish doesn’t flop back out of the net and injure itself. Once the fish is in the net, take the hook out, snap a few pictures, and get it back in the water to fight another day! If you wish to weigh your fish, the best way to do this is by using a weigh sling, or if you don’t have a weigh sling you can weigh the fish in your net and subtract the weight of your net later on. This method is much easier on the fish than weighing it on a conventional scale that goes through the gills since Carp are so heavy.
With the information in this article, you have all you need to get out for a fun day of Carp fishing. I hope everyone found it helpful, and if you have any additional questions feel free to ask!