The rigs and tips page is here to help you even more so if you are relatively new to carp fishing. ……
Following these tips and information will help you to bank more carp and help you to have the knowledge to handle them safely. We only put information on here that we practice and use ourselves; it is by no means exhaustive neither are we saying this is the only way to fish.
No one is ever too old to learn and the more carp fishing evolves the more the methods of fishing for them change, a good example is the new Avid tube gripper lead clip something we have been quick to take on board here because of its clear safety benefits.
Quite often simple is best i.e. a good strong sharp hook, a quality coated hooklink and decent line is the recipe for success.
I like to label the methods that I use as damage limitation methods i.e. we cannot fish for carp without causing them some damage but we can limit the amount of damage that we are going to cause to the carp with some forethought to the methods and equipment that we choose to fish with.
At last an absolutely brilliant design from AVID CARP called the tube gripper lead clip which really considers the safety of the carp (loud shouts of praise to them!).
Carp safety is always on our minds and for the last few years we have been recommending the Korda lead clip with the leg cut back so that the lead would eject in a snag situation. Coupled with rig tube 28 inches long (which prevents scales being torn off and fins being damaged) this system has worked moderately well but 3 problems occur, 1st if the swivel is not pushed into the clip until a click is heard the clip and tubing run up the line when playing a fish and damage occurs to the fish from the line, 2nd the rig tube sometimes pulls out of the tail rubber and again rides up the line thus failing to give the carp protection. 3rd if the angler failed to cut back the leg of the clip the tail rubber would pull off when the lead was shed on a snag and again the exposed line tears off scales from the carp.
This new design from AVID CARP eliminates these problems by clamping the rig tube inside the lead clip with a specially designed insert (see the pictures) but it will still shed the lead easily in a snag situation without any need to cut the leg back and the tube will be gripped firmly giving the carp body protection. It also will still come fully apart in a serious snag.
Watch the video from Avids web site and our own demonstration and set up video about these clips will be on here shortly
Please Note Avid Tube Gripper lead clips are now the only lead clips we allow you to use whilst fishing here, please note they do eject the leads easily if they catch on something which is a major benefit to the carp but you will lose more leads than poorly designed clips where leads do not release easily. We carry a large stock of Avid Carp flat swivel leads, the current price here is 1.95 Euros each or bring an extra few of your own with you. We also stock the Avid tube gripper clips, swivels and tail rubbers
Carp all over the world will benefit from this carefully thought out system
This new design is without doubt the safest yet
We know our fish would thank us for using these if they could!
Rig tubing is not only good for preventing tangles on the cast it is also great at protecting the scales and fins of the fish, we insist on you using a minimum length of 28 inches. It stops scales being ripped off whilst playing the fish and also stops the line from tearing through the fins when under high tension (look through almost any issue of carp talk and you will see pictures of carp with scales missing and bleeding).
One way to thread it is push one end of the rig tube into a tail rubber then push that onto a lead clip with lead attached then holding the other end of the rig tube and letting the lead dangle toward the ground it will pull the tubing out straight and you simply feed the line down the tube until it pops out of the other end!
Demo video soon
Some people find it a problem to get the line through such a long length but another simple solution exists in the form of a diamond eye pole threader. The diamond eye pole threader is a long flexible wire with a diamond eye on the end (bit like your grannys old sewing needle threader) and you simply push it through the rig tubing then put the end of your line in the eye and pull it through the tubing. Voila it couldn’t be simpler!
Please note the tubing should be a minimum 1mm inside diameter because it does not go through the 0.75 mm thinner one. A few blobs of heavy metal putty on the tubing help it all stay tight to the lake bed if that’s how you want to fish it.
Note there should not be any knots or stops on the line after the rig tubing because in the event of a line breakage the line must be able to run freely through the tube.
Hooks start with a good hook it must be strong and ultra sharp my preferred pattern is the Korda wide gape barbed hook in size 4 or 6. Some anglers wonder why we don’t allow barbless hooks? Well for some time we did allow them and some of the carp that were caught and banked had just a tiny little hole left in its mouth where the hook just slipped out easily. Great you may think the least possible damage must be good for carp welfare? Well the story doesn’t end there because what we found was that some of the carp that were lost during the fight suffered horrific mouth damage. I thought long and hard about this and done some experiments with different hooks and a few fish off of the fishmongers slab and found some very interesting information. You can repeat my experiments yourself very easily with a carrot, “a carrot I hear you shout whilst laughing out loudly” yes with a carrot. What you do is take a carrot and push the barbless hook in to it then grasping the main shank of the hook with your finger and thumb pull the hook out and you will find it releases very easily. Now take a barbed hook and do the same thing, you find that there is much more resistance and a kind of little click as it releases. “So” I hear you say “the barb must cause more damage when being removed from a carps mouth?” yes it does but that little extra damage is limited to a tiny area providing you are careful about the hook removal. If you now take your barbless hook and once more insert it into the carrot then while pulling it out also pull it backwards to simulate the line pulling while playing a fish you will find that as it comes out the point suddenly acts like a scalpel (because of how sharp it is) and cuts through the flesh making a large gash. If you look at the profile of your barbless hook point then look at a scalpel blade from the sharp tip down the blade you find exactly the same profile, surgeons use scalpels for cutting flesh because it is the sharpest tool they can get. So for every carp lost while using barbless hooks there is the potential to cause massive damage that the angler is blissfully unaware of and never gets to see. If you look at the pictures of the carp with the mouth damage I can assure you that it was caused by barbless hooks. Crushed barbs work a very similar way to barbless. So it is understandable how one could initially believe barbless to be safer but the facts show different. Most modern strong hooks have a small barb and these are without doubt the best to use.
Having a sharp hook is vital if you want to turn more takes into banked fish, I always carry out this simple test. Take the hook between your finger and thumb and very lightly pull the point across your thumbnail if it scratches a cut easily it is sharp enough.
Please always have forceps ready to hand to assist in hook removal.
Hooklink material, there is a huge array of hook link materials on sale today some are very good and some are very poor. Lets start with what I consider the very worst for causing damage to a carp and something I would never fish with or allow anyone to use on our lakes. What is it? Pure braid hooklinks like merlin and edge 2000 as examples and there are many others, now these feel good when you play with them in your hands but once pulled taught they cut like cheese wires.
I have lost count of the number of carp I have seen that have been sliced through the scissors of the mouth and some having big cut marks across their cheeks after being played on such materials. Again do an experiment, pull a piece of braid very tightly between your hands and then pull it into your top lip you will feel that it wants to cut into you. Now do the same with a piece of covered braid like korda hybrid soft or camo skin and you immediately feel the difference, because of the covering it doesn’t want to cut in to your lip. If you use a quality hooklink material but peel back too much covering you are back to square one. The picture below shows a simple camo skin rig with a tiny little hinge, this little hinge is made by just breaking back the coating with your finger nails and makes a limp natural moving action on your bait when a carp sucks in your bait. I no longer peel back any coating and tend to only use a korda wide gape size 4 and korda hybrid soft with none stripped back all the way through from swivel to hook without any shrink tube or putty and it works very very well. Many anglers peel back about 2 to 4 inches or more of the covering but it is not necessary and again exposed braid will cut through the scissors of the mouth, I never peel back any these days. (We no longer allow coating to be stripped back, because far too many anglers try it on and strip back way too much)
How long a hooklink should you use? Well that depends on the sort lakebed you are fishing on and many other factors but my own preference is for about an 10 to12 inch link most of the time and about 18inches if I am fishing the silty middle of the lake.
Stiff rig hooklinks are also good and Korda Hybrid is a great material for making a stiff hinged rig that is very fish friendly.
The picture shown here of the carp with the serious mouth damage was caused by an angler using a fine braid hooklink and long shank hook along with playing the carp too hard. I had to put 3 stitches in the mouth of the fish, thankfully it did recover after some time but the damage could easily have been prevented. If you look hard at the picture you can see a cut line across its cheek also caused by the bare braid. The fish weighed over fifty pounds. This was the final nail in the coffin that caused us to change our rules to what they are today.
Line we recommend 15lb monofil (diawa sensor) line for fishing any of our waters. Having tried many different lines over the years (since the early 1970’s) I always keep coming back to Diawa Sensor it is super strong, very abrasive resistant and has good stretching ability (a buffer when playing a fish) it is also low priced so I have no hesitation about respooling at any time. Lines with little stretch combined with stiff rods are often although not always a cause of mouth damage and lost fish.
Knots the knotless knot is great and is very simple to tie, main points are making sure you thread the hooklink back through the correct side of the eye in the hook. The hair length for the bait should be adjusted according to what size bait you are using, leave approximately a 3 to 20 mm gap between bait and hook depending on the type of bait and setup you are using.
The Palomar knot is a strong knot for swivels.
The tucked blood knot is an age old favourite strong knot.
Reels most modern reels have very high quality clutches/Drag mechanism. Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money on research designing clutches/Drag that are easy to set and alter even whilst playing a fish. The clutch/Drag should be set before you even cast out, how? pull on the line so that there is enough tension that will allow the powerful fish to take line, but not enough for it to snap the line. When playing the fish be aware of those sudden power surges that big carp often make (especially when playing close to the net), if the clutch/Drag is too tight the line can (and often does) suddenly break, the maxim should always be to have the clutch/Drag too soft rather than too tight. Another point is back winding, over the years I have seen more anglers lose fish when back winding than those who set and use a clutch/Drag correctly, when you think about it why bother to spend hundreds of pounds on the best reels and then not use the part that is so finely designed for helping you to bank fish?
Handling carp ; for most of the time the carp can be regarded as a reasonably tough creature however at times it can need the most delicate of care for its welfare. During the late winter and spring the carp’s eggs develop prior to spawning and as the hundreds of thousands of eggs grow they expand in a very thin membrane almost like tissue paper, because the membrane is fine and delicate it is very easily damaged when the carp is caught and banked. If it does get damaged the carp normally dies about 12 to 14 days later and then floats up somewhere in the lake with the angler that caught it completely unaware of the consequences. So we should have a little forethought to the handling and the list of events that happen after a capture. Some anglers like to get the carp in the net as soon as possible and really bully the carp in, its not good practice though because if you bank it too quickly its going to be real handful when its on the mat. Far better to play the carp and let it tire itself, enjoy the playing part its great fun! Of course there is the other extreme of overplaying until the carp is completely exhausted which also isn’t good for the fish. Once you have the carp in the landing net give it 30 seconds or so to regain a little energy before lifting it out of the water. Is it a baking hot day? Wet and cool the unhooking mat if required. Break down the net i.e. remove the landing net from the spreader block and before lifting the fish from the water make sure that the fishes pectoral fins are close to its body or they will just break, then roll the net up and with 2 hands lift the carp onto the unhooking mat which should be close to the water. Unroll the landing net and remove the hook from its mouth with the aid of forceps which should be ready and waiting, use a little klinic or similar on the wound to aid the healing process, now remove the landing net by sliding it under the carp starting at the head end so that it doesn’t catch on any fins. Now pour a little water over the carp from the bucket that you had ready and waiting. It is a good idea to leave your weighing sling on top of your unhooking mat in preparation of your catch because it is now a simple matter of lifting it gently again making sure its pectoral fins are close to its body, weigh the carp over the unhooking mat and place it down again on the mat. Wet the carp from the bucket of water once again and you are ready for your photo, your camera should have been set up and ready to hand now is not the time to be searching for it or looking for batteries or suchlike. Choose just one side of the carp for your gallery pictures, its now been out of water for a few minutes and the quicker it goes back in the better for its welfare remember all the time that it is out of water is slowly suffocating. Most people tend to just use one or possibly two pictures of each carp for their photo album so photographing just one side means you can spend a little extra time on composure for a great album shot. This does depend to some degree on whether you are left or right handed I am right handed and like to have the carps head end in my left hand, but goes like this; (having removed your watch) kneeling in front of the unhooking mat turn the carp around so that its back and dorsal fin is facing towards you then slide one hand under its body to its uppermost pectoral fin and place the other hand under its body to its anal fin and lift, I keep my right knee on the floor and have my left knee in the air I can then use my left leg and knee to rest my elbow on and take the weight of the fish. Doing it this way means that I am in control of the carp because if it starts to thrash around I can just lay it back down instantly and be ready to start again with complete control. If you lift its head higher than its tail you should be in a good position for a great photo. If you have someone to take the pictures make sure you have shown them how to turn your camera on and off before you get to this point, ask them to make sure the picture of you and your prize are fully in the viewfinder and if digital quickly check that a good picture has been taken, it is best if they take the picture from a kneeling position and not whilst standing. Now gently put the carp back onto the weighing sling and after checking its pectoral fins lift it back to the water in the sling. Never stand up holding a carp and never attempt to hold one in your arms and walk back to the water with it. Many carp have been killed when they have thrashed at an inopportune moment under those circumstances. When the fish is back in the water hold it for a while to check that everything is ok and when it has regained enough energy to swim away let it go. Now back to the beginning it is vital not to let a carp thrash around as the internal tissue like membrane that we mentioned is easily damaged so if the carp begins to thrash at any time try to cover its eyes ( use the wet landing net) and put your bodyweight gently over the top of it until it calms down, also never sit a carp on its belly most of its organs are in the lower part of the fish and having its full unsupported body weight bearing down on them is like me standing on your chest when you are laying down. All fish should be returned to the water as quickly as possible. If you need assistance for any reason always keep the fish in the water in the landing net whilst waiting.
Bait boats a classic mistake anglers often make when using bait boats is to run the line out on a bait runner, what this does is create an enormous amount of line twist every time you run your rig and line out. If you do it too many times you will suddenly find your line twisting around your rod tip when it’s slack. The correct way to use it is to open the bail arm and let the line come directly off of the spool which prevents the line twist. Another tip is to lift the rod high and try and lift as much line off of the water as possible when the boat is in position because if you tighten down after dropping the load you can and often do move your bait away from the freebies.
By Steve Benjamin