Carp Fishing For Beginners
So you want to become a carp angler?
Carp fishing is ever growing in popularity and a fantastic sport to be involved in. This 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.
Buy a set of carp rods
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.
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 Recommendations
I owned a set of Chub Outkast rods for many years and they were perfect for beginner carp anglers. Similarly, the Fox Warrior and Daiwa Black Widow carp rods are a great choice. All of these are great brands that produce top quality carp tackle
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 Recommendations
To complete my Chub Outkast 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. I have also heard very good things about the Daiwa Black Widow A Reels. Again these are tried and tested brands that make high quality long lasting tackle and equipment.
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 Recommendations
Do not over complicate things here, pretty much any rod pod will do this simple job. 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. I have had a number of rod pods and bank sticks from fox over the years which do a very good job without costing a fortune.
Rigs and Mainline
For general carp fishing, 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.
I use Gardner GT80 as my choice of mainline for all of my carp rods. I have also used Daiwa Sensor which is equally as good. You will be looking at spending around £20 for mainline.
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.
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.
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
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. Cost from £35 - £60 for the entry level alarms.
Carp bite alarm Recommendations
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. 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, Trakker or Daiwa which I have used over the years and found to be excellent for the job.
Bivvy, Bedchair and Sleeping Bag Recommendations
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 the following post showing how to set up some beginner carp rigs, it is very detailed and a great starting point
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 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.