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Ultimate Carp Fishing for Beginners Guide

02 Sep 18

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Carp fishing is ever growing in popularity and a fantastic sport to be involved in. This carp fishing for beginners guide will run you through all of the tackle and equipment you need to get started.

We will also cover the main points you need to be aware of when purchasing each piece of equipment and finally give you some guidance where to go after you have started carp fishing to take your knowledge and skills to the next level.

If you want to know all about beginner carp rigs, check out our complete guide to carp rigs for beginners which will explain everything about beginner carp rigs and how to tie them.

Ready to get started? Ok, let's go!

Buy a set of carp rods

So our carp fishing for beginners has to start with the kind of carp tackle you require. Many lakes will allow you to fish with three or maybe even four rods at any one time. We suggest you buy two rods at this early stage in your carp fishing career which we think is a good balance between having enough to catch carp but also not break the bank.

There are lakes in the UK that have carp in excess of 50 lbs and so you will notice a dedicated carp rod is much more robust and powerful compared to a standard coarse fishing rod. 

how to catch big carp

Carp Rod Key Features

  • Test Curve - usually between 2.5 lbs and 3.5 lbs. This is basically the amount the rod will bend based on how much force is applied. If you are fishing for big carp or you are trying to cast much further, you will want to look at the higher test curve. However, as you are a beginner you will probably want to be looking at the lower end around 2.5 lbs to 2.75 lbs which should be more than enough for most scenarios and provide a good response when playing a carp.
  • Cost - I would look at spending around £100 pound for a carp fishing rod, for this amount of money you can pick up an excellent rod that will be good for many years even when you become a more experienced and skilled angler.

Carp Rod Recommendation

I owned a set of Daiwa Black Widow rods for many years and they were perfect for beginner carp anglers. The Daiwa Black Widow rods offer superb value for money and can cater for all types of carp fishing. I used them for fishing on the bottom, zig rigs and surface fishing having landed carp over 30 lbs. I was very impressed with these rods and you should check them out if you are looking for a set of beginner carp rods, you can't go wrong! 

Best Beginner Carp Rods - Daiwa Black Widow Carp Fishing Rods

Buy a carp fishing reel

So you have the rods, you obviously want the reels to complete the combo. You will need to purchase a set of reels to match the number of rods. As I mentioned earlier, I would start with two rods and reels at this stage, any more than this and I think you are going overboard especially when many lakes can be busy and this can limit the space and number of rods you can fish with.

Carp Reel Key Features

  • Type of reels - there are two main types of carp reel, Free spools and Big Pit. Free spools offer a Baitrunner style system which engages when you get a take and will often have a rear drag system. The Big Pit style reels are, as the name suggests, much larger and will have an oversized spool. The Big Pit reels often have a front drag system which is manually operated when you are playing a carp. For a beginner, I would recommend the smaller baitrunner style.
  • Size of the spool - often available in 6000 to 10000, the larger size allowing for more line to be fed onto the reel. I started with a set of 10000 size spools which covered pretty much all of the lakes I was fishing back in the day.
  • Cost - I would look at spending anything from £40 - £70 on a carp fishing reel. For this price range, you will be able to pick up a carp reel that has all of the features you need and more.

Carp Reel Recommendation

To complete my Daiwa Black Widow rods I matched them with a set of Shimano Baitrunner 10000 reels, they are still catching me fish to this day and I rate them highly. The Shimano Baitrunner reels are incredible value for money and they will cover all aspects of carp fishing, not only for beginners. Theses carp fishing reels will last you a lifetime and will not set you back silly money. 

Best Beginner Carp Reels - Shimano Baitrunner Carp Reels

Buy a rod pod

You need something to put the rods on when fishing, this is where a rod pod comes into play. Basically, a frame that can hold up to four rods complete with bite alarms (we will get to those later). You can also purchase bank sticks which hold a single rod which does give you more flexibility when choosing where to fish but at this stage, I would stick with a rod pod system.

Carp Rod Pod Recommendation

Do not over complicate things here or spend a fortune, as you really don't need to as a beginner carp angler. One to bear in mind is how easy are they to set up and how much space do they take up once boxed away. You can pick up a carp rod from £30 upwards. Make sure you pick up a carp rod pod with a carry case to make transporting it much easier.

Best Beginner Carp Rod Pod and Carry case

Rigs and Mainline

beginner carp rigs

For carp fishing for beginners, I would suggest you buy 12 lbs breaking strain mainline which is more than enough for the majority of carp fishing scenarios. I would only increase this to 15 lbs if the lake you will be fishing contains heavy weed or has a number of snags, these situations require a mainline that can take some more abuse.

I would avoid braid and fluorocarbon type lines until you gain some more experience. The type of mainline you are looking for is a monofilament

As far as beginner carp rigs go, I would suggest you purchase the ready-made rigs at this stage in your carp fishing adventure. You can be rest assured these rigs are tied to the highest of standards and will not let you down when you get a bite.

Mainline Recommendations

I use Gardner GT80+ as my choice of mainline for all of my carp rods and it has never let me down; excellent strength, longevity and great value for money. 

Over the years, I have pretty much purchased every item of tackle Korda has to offer and dread to think how much it has all cost me! Anyway, I rate their products highly and would suggest you have a look at their ready tied rigs on offer These ready tied rigs are perfect as a beginner as you are still learning how to tie your own carp rigs. You can also use the Korda ready tied rigs as a guide to improve your own rigs skills.

Best Beginner Carp Mainline - Gardner GT80+ Mainline

Korda Ready Tied Carp Rigs

Buy carp bait

So how are you going to lure the carp?

I would suggest you stick with a tried and tested bait that has been used for many years and that is boilies. Boilies are purpose made carp bait containing fishmeals, proteins, bird foods and other ingredients which are mixed with eggs and formed into balls. They are available both fresh and frozen form much like food in a supermarket, the frozen option lasting longer due to freezing. Boilies are available in many different sizes from 10mm up to 24mm with everything in between. I would suggest you start with 15mm boilies. I have pretty much solely used Mainline boilies over the years along with their other products such as bait dip, glugs and enhancers. I would recommend the Mainline Cell boilies and Activ 8 which I have caught many carp using including a 40lbs plus fish. You cannot go wrong with Mainline Carp baits, they are proven time and time again! Buy some and see for yourself how good their carp bait is

Bait Recommendation

Best Carp Bait - Mainline Carp Bait

Carp Landing Net and Unhooking Mat

Most fisheries will insist you have your own landing net and unhooking mat which is paramount for fish safety. I would look at purchasing a landing net around 42" and a decent size unhooking mat to cover the largest of carp. Make sure the unhooking mat has lots of padding to protect the fish when out of the water. Landing nets will start around £20 and a decent sized unhooking mat from £40.

Landing Net and Unhooking Mat Recommendations

Best Beginner Carp Landing Net

Best Carp Unhooking Mat

Buy a set of carp bite alarms

When you have your rods set up in the rod pod you will need a set of alarms and bobbins to register when a fish takes your bait. The bobbins are a visual indicator and will also help with dropbacks. 

Dropbacks are when the carp picks up your bait and moves towards you without taking any line, these can be more difficult to detect but a decent set of alarms and bobbins will sort this out. My first set of alarms were Fox Microns which did me proud for many years. Great indication, they look very smart and did not break the bank. We cannot talk about carp bite alarms and not mention Delkims. They are fantastic bite alarms of the highest quality but probably not for most beginners unless you have a decent budget. You will probably upgrade to Delkims at some point in your carp career, most of us have! Cost from £35 - £60 for the entry level alarms.

Carp bite alarm Recommendations

Best Carp Bite Alarms - Delkim Ev Plus Carp Alarm

Best Beginner Carp Bite Alarms - Fox Micron Carp Alarm

Overnight fishing

If you are planning on fishing overnight there are clearly a few extra pieces of equipment you will need.

Bivvy, Bedchair and Sleeping Bag

A bivvy is a dedicated shelter when carp fishing overnight and is very versatile. A bivvy can be opened up at the front during the day and sealed up at night when sleeping. They are many options available such a 1 or 2 man, lightweight for a single overnight session or even a day shelter. Purchase a bivvy based on the main type of use you are planning.

A bedchair is what you will sleep on during the night and as the name suggests can be used as a chair during the day. To complete the setup, you will need a sleeping bag for when it gets colder during the night. 

I think the key point here is to make sure you purchase the best you can afford, there is nothing worse than sleeping on an uncomfortable bedchair and leaky bivvy. I would recommend JRC and Trakker which I have used over the years and found to be excellent for the job. Their products are high quality and most importantly, keep me warm and comfortable during a cold night!

Bivvy, Bedchair and Sleeping Bag Recommendations

Best Carp Bivvy - JRC Carp Bivvy

Best Carp Bedchair - JRC Contact Lite Bedchair 

Best Carp Sleeping Bag - Trakker Big Snooze Plus Sleeping Bag 

best carp bait

Where to go from here

A big step that will really give you many options and enhance your fishing skills and ability is to start tying your own carp rigs. Have a look for tutorials on tying carp rigs and start by picking one or two rigs to focus on.

Go out and purchase the parts that make up the rigs from companies like Korda, who I rate highly, and practice tying the rigs. Do plenty of research about each rig to determine where to use it and start to incorporate these into your fishing when you feel confident to do so.

Tying rigs is a real art and you will find many different articles and tutorials online purely focused on rigs. I would suggest you look at more simply rigs to begin and move onto the more complex rigs when you are more experienced. Check out our article on carp rigs for beginners, it is very detailed and a great starting point

Carp Rigs for Beginners

I would also suggest you research your local lakes and find out how best to fish them. You can get to know other anglers who also fish the lake and ask them any questions you may have. It could be the carp hold up in certain areas of the lake during the summer months, there could be a certain bait that works well or perhaps a certain method that has caught many fish.

Most carp anglers are very social and will be willing to help out a beginner anglers to our sport.

Try experimenting with different approaches and baits. Try the following:

  • fish with plastic imitation baits
  • try solid PVA bags
  • try zig rigs 
  • look at stalking in the margins
  • have a go at surface carp fishing 

I think the most important thing is to keep learning by any means possible and gain as much information as you can. This way you will always have new ideas that can be tested on your next trip. Take these points on board and you will become an experienced carp anglers in no time catching lots of big carp.

We hope you enjoyed our carp fishing for beginners guide and that you use this information to become a carp angler.

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