Many kinds of “carp” are known to exist around the world, with most varieties being native to Europe and Asia. Carp fishing is extremely popular in the United States, especially in the Southeast. Carp are considered an invasive species in many areas, although some people do eat this bottom-feeding fish. Below we’ll explain some of the best carp fishing tips, tricks and techniques that expert anglers use to bait, hook and land carp (for whatever reason they may choose).
Different fish like different kinds of environments, and carp are no different. Carp are bottom-feeders who love to dwell in areas that have lots of dense plant life and vegetation. You can fish for cap in some rivers, but lakes and large ponds are usually preferable because they are full of vegetation and low-level life forms. Some of the best carp fishing locations in the United States include Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, California, and most of New England. In reality, though, it would be easier to list the U.S. states that claim to have no carp species population whatsoever.
- Safety first. Keep a first aid kit with you at all times, and don’t call that rusty old box that contains nothing but a single Band-Aid and a thermometer (for some reason) a first aid kit. A first aid kit for fishing should have sterile gauze, alcohol pads, scissors, bandages of varying sizes, and a lot more. There’s no excuse not to carry a first aid kit with you because they aren’t expensive – and if you’re on a boat, not having a first aid kid that’s up to code is against the law in many areas. If possible, keep a fully-charged cell phone in a Ziploc bag in case you need to make an emergency call.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Dress for the weather if you’re fishing from a dock or the edge of a lake, and never forget your life vest if you’re fishing from a boat. Believe it or not, camo counts when carp fishing. Leave the fashionable shirt at home and wear something that makes you feel like you’re hunting – because you are.
- Use a swivel. Carp are known for violently moving from side to side when hooked. Make things easier on yourself and land the fish faster by using a swivel when fishing for carp.
- Keep a net handy. Carp can be a tough fish to handle straight out of the water, so when you’ve got one hooked get it into the net before making your next move.
- Put on gloves. Carp aren’t as dangerous as catfish when it comes to the risk of getting cut, but their fins are pretty sharp. Use gloves because when the carp is flailing wildly their fins can be quite adept at slicing and dicing.
- Use a fish finder. The easiest way to increase your chances of carp fishing success is by using a fish finder. It can tell you where the fish are, how many are in the area, and which ones might be interested in your bait. Fish finders can also help you identify prime carp fishing locations based on sonar readings that point out areas with lots of mud and underwater plant growth.
Floaters & Weights
When it comes to fishing for carp, the floater and weights rules are fairly simple. Carp are bottom-feeders, so you’ll need to make sure there’s enough weight on the line to bring the bait down. Carp like to nibble at food before they latch on, so if it seems like your floater is moving due to something other than water movement then you might have a carp trying to test its limits. When it does latch on, be prepared to earn your keep!
The fishing rod you select for your carp fishing outing could play a major role in your success (or lack thereof. While the standard carp fishing rod is about 12 feet long with a 2.75-pound test curve, there are other rods available that might work better for specific situations. Keep the following tips in mind when choosing your carp fishing rod:
- If you’re fishing near the ends of the water then consider a shorter rod (a 9 or 10-foot pole should do the trick). Shorter rods give the angler a greater sense of involvement, but they can be difficult to maneuver when you have a crafty carp on the line.
- Long-distance casting calls for a longer rod. Some anglers exceed the 13-foot range but as a general rule a 13-foot rod is ideal for faraway casting. You’ll also want to up your test curve weight when making long-distance casts (three pounds should be sufficient). Longer rods are easier to cast farther, and they provide the user with more power and leverage when something bites.
- A brand name by itself doesn’t amount to much, but years of experience and lots of satisfied customers are what give a fishing rod manufacturer’s name true value. Find out what other anglers think about different fishing rod companies, as well as specific models, and make sure you know what sort of warranties and/or product guarantees are offered by the manufacturer and/or the dealer of the fishing rods you’re considering.
- Consider bringing along two or three extra fishing rods. You could break or lose a rod, or you might find that one rod’s setup is getting more bites during that particular outing. You could decide, for example, to carry a 9-foot rod, a 12’foot rod and a long-cast rod, or simply another standard rod for whatever situation may arise.
- Use strong fishing line. A fish doesn’t have to be huge to break a line, and carp have proven time and time again that they have more than enough size and strength to snap lines. Use a monofilament or braided fishing line with a good tensile strength to minimize the risk of a broken line.
- Bring extra line with you, and lots of it. Even if you’re using the best carp fishing line on the market, stuff happens. And your buddy who isn’t as experienced as you might be using an even weaker fishing line so having extra supplies on hand is always a good idea.
- Opt for barbed hooks. Carp are notorious for struggling once they realize they’ve been hooked, and they’re extremely good at breaking away. Using a barbed hook will lessen the chance that the fish escapes when you start to reel it in.
- Use multiple hooks at the same time. Carp feed in groups, and they’re actually not that stupid, all things considered. By using multiple hooks you can give yourself a fair chance at hooking a fish thanks to its insistence on avoiding a different hook. Additionally, if one carp sees another one enjoying a meal in the same area then it’s less likely to be as selective when choosing its meal.
- Hook color is important. Carp are bottom feeders, meaning the water could be murky or it could be somewhat clear. Use matte (flat) black lures in muddy waters. You can use golden lures if the water is clear, especially if you’re using a similarly-colored item like corn as bait.
Baits & Lures
We can’t overstate enough that carp aren’t very picky eaters. Maggots, chick peas, simple carp pellets have all been proven to be effective.
Many successful carp fishermen use sweet, canned corn as bait. Carp love the salty sweetness of processed creamed corn, and if you use hooks of a matching color you can increase your chances of success even further.
Boilies are another type of carp bait. They’re made out of fish or cow protein, and they also contain eggs and grains. Other anglers tend to use artificial bait like fake worms and grubs, but the fact is that sweet, canned corn is still the most popular and successful carp bait by far.
Don’t cast your line directly into the area where you know the carp are swimming. Cast slightly down current – this way the fish will make their way to you naturally. If you cast your line right at them, they’ll sense an obvious trap and the noise from the hook and bait will scare everything away.
If you’re fishing in colder temperatures then you’ll want to cast slightly more often. Carp move more slowly in cold water so if you aren’t having any luck try casting your line in a slightly different spot.
Carp fishing involve patience, and even when you get a fish on the hook there can be problems. Many anglers have found success by using the lift fishing method for carp and other bottom-feeders. This method involves setting the bait and weights in the mud while a taut string is attached to a quill float.
It’s unfortunate that carp fishing isn’t easier, as it’s more than necessary in many parts of the world. It’s important to keep carp populations in check, and if you want to make meals out of them then, by all means, be my guest! We hope these tips will help you land more carp, and if you have any suggestions that weren’t covered in this article (or carp cooking recipes you’d like to recommend) then feel free to let us know in the Comments section below.