Carp Fishing Tips: A Guide On How To Catch Carp

Although carp are only becoming more popular as a sport fish in North America recently, European anglers have been catching them for years. These giants are hard to catch but can be great fishing partners.

Are you familiar with the best techniques and baits for carp?

Continue reading to learn our top tips for carp fishing and how to catch them!

Carp Rods and Reels: the UK and the USA

Carp can grow to be huge, and they can fight at any size!

Some carp anglers prefer to use long rods. They say that this is because they need long casts. This is especially true in Britain, where carp fishing is a major pastime.

Motorized boats are illegal in fishing waters. Most British anglers cast from shore. Wary carp can move when they are pressured. Moreover, fishermen often have a limited area of the shore they rent for the day.

Anglers in the UK are unable to move closer to the water and must cast as far as possible. They prefer rods that extend 12 feet or greater.

This British angler runs what is essentially surfcasting rods.

These particular concerns and limitations are not present in the US. Additionally, because few anglers target carp from shore, there will be no pressure to fish. This means that you won’t require the same tackle as your European counterparts.

For carp in North America, a standard rod is better than a heavy rod. I recommend 6 1/2 to 7 5/8 feet long spinning rods. The ideal is moderately fast to fast actions.

Because spinning reels are the most popular choice for carp anglers, many prefer them. It doesn’t mean that baitcasting tackle isn’t possible.

Hard-core carp enthusiasts love bait-feeding reels. This is essentially a spinning reel that has two drag systems. This reel has the advantage that the initial drag setting is very low, which is not noticeable to the wary carp until the angler switches it. These reels are very carp-specific, so unless your passion is for these gentle giants, I would skip the bait-feeding reels.

Standard spinning tackle is what I prefer, as I don’t need a carp setup.

My top choice is Shakspeare’s Ugly Stik Elite 7-foot medium action. The rod has enough power to control a large fish without losing the feel for smaller fish. It also features excellent guides and a long cork handle.

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This rod is great paired with the Okuma Ceymar55. It has a lot of capacity to hold lines up to 15-to-20-pounds. This rod is great for those fish who are hard-fighting.

This is my personal tackle to catch carp with!

Carp Fishing Tips

Carp are not predators but can be picky about what they eat. Anglers in the US are beginning to realize this and recognize that it can be difficult to hook them.

The reward for catching a large carp is an exciting fight and an amazing meal.

Carp is a great fish to have on the table.

The UK’s anglers use static techniques. This means that they wait and cast their tackle but never move it.

They don’t need flash, action, or vibration to attract a bite. Instead, they resort to a variety of chum methods like slingshots and torpedo-shaped chum dispensers called pods.’ Dog biscuits can also be scattered in the water from remote-controlled vessels!

A typical spod.

North America’s first question about chumming is “Is it legal ?”– and this question?”AlwaysBefore you throw food in the water, it is important to have a solid answer.

It is legal to feed carp in certain areas. Dog food and bread are all good options.

You can also use the technique by using a “feeder float.”

You can pack bread or a homemade mixture of corn, grain, and other items into this float. This will encourage carp to look at the baited hook.

Check out our Top Carp Bait Recipes

These are available at Elfishes in No products found. I think they’re well worth it for the price.

Run strong mono as the mainline

Carp grow big and many anglers in the UK use braid to increase casting distance, as well as pack more line onto their reels.

This is a good idea, provided you are aware of the limitations. You should remember that mono has a lower knot strength than mono and will require a heavier line to keep up the fight that a monster carp can provide.

If you don’t need every foot of casting distance that your tackle can provide, I recommend using strong mono like Berkley Trilene Big Game. My 20-pound test is what I use to catch carp. I rely on my rod, my drag, and my technique to bring big fish to shore.

The right hooks are for carp

Carp are large fish with small mouths. It’s easy for people to underestimate the size of the hook they’ll need.

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Most anglers prefer #6-10 circle or carp hooks. Smaller sizes are reserved for larger fish.

Gamakatsu carp hook

Circle hooks are self-hooking. It’s therefore counterproductive to set your hook. You can tighten your line by turning a few cranks on your reel. The hook will turn and reach the fish’s mouth.

The best carp baits

You can leave your lures behind if you are looking for carp.

According to the American Carp Society, sweet corn and bread are good baits for carp. However, nightcrawlers (or earthworms) are also great. Hard-boiled baits or ‘boilies’ for short fishing sessions are great to use with a hair rig. They are known to catch larger fish.

Boilies are boiled concoctions that contain milk proteins, grains, and other ingredients. Phecda Sport boilies can be used with a hair rig and are a great choice. This bait is available in four different flavors, each with a bright color.

But simple bread can work wonders, too. Simply mash the bread into a ball and wrap it around your hook. Leave the tip unprotected. You can also use sweet corn to make hair rigs or thread onto hooks.

The ACS recommends that a large nightcrawler is the best option when the carp don’t want to be bothered by anything else.

Find out what carp eat.

Carp fishing rigs

Three rigs are my favorites for carp: the drop shot, wagglers, and the hair rig.

Drop Shot

Drop shot rigs are a great way to catch carp.

Drop shot rigs are designed to suspend a hook and a cylindrical weight that strikes the bottom. It allows for precise orientation of the bait at the bottom and is generally very difficult to snag. This rig can be used to suspend corn, bread, and boilies.

You can fish the drop shot rig to carp in an American break with American tradition by letting it sit.

You can find our complete guide to drop shot tips here.


British anglers use a float known as a “waggler”, which is a long, thin, flexible bobber to which you attach your line at the bottom. The waggler will help you detect when a carp is interested in suspending a small hook with bread, corn, or a boilie.

Wagglers are a regular fixture in UK carp fishing.

Although I have never tried a waggler myself, the concept is similar to what you might do for crappie or panfish with a long floating float.

This tutorial will show you how to rig one.

Hair Rig

The hook is not required for a hair rig. This allows the carp to use a bait and accidentally hook themselves without worrying about being caught with a heavy line or a large hook. This rig was originally tied with human hair, hence the name. However, it is now made from a thin braid.

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A complete hair rig that includes an attached boilie.

You will need a 20-pound braided rope-like Sufix 832, No Products Found., barrel swivels, and a baiting needle. This video will explain the process very clearly:

You can also buy pre-made hair accessories like the JSHanmei ones, which come in mixed packs of sizes #2, #4, and #6 hooks.

Carp Basics

Carp are native to Asia and Eastern Europe.

Common or European carp.

Carp come in many sizes, from tiny goldfish to decorative coys found in the backyard of your favorite Chinese restaurant.

The most sought-after carp species by anglers however is the common or European Carp ( Cyprinus carpio). Although this large fish was introduced to the United States in 1831 as an alternative food source, it has never been popularized as table fare.

Fisheries managers now consider carp an invasive species and encourage them to fish–and take–to keep their numbers under control.

Common carps grow quickly in the wild but not as fast as domesticated species. It reaches an average length of 16-32 inches at adulthood and weighs 4 1/2 to 32lbs. However, carp can grow larger and have been caught on rods and reels with trophies weighing in the vicinity of 100 pounds.

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Carp prefer slow-moving, still water. They can live in ponds and lakes as they can withstand both heat and cold. They are hardy and difficult to kill once they find water to call their home.

Adult carp are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of aquatic plants. They also work the bottom looking for insects and other invertebrates, such as crayfish. They are not true scavengers like catfish and can be picky eaters.

According to the American Carp Society’s website, they eat snails, shrimps, and beetles. Freshwater clams and mussels also make it on that list.

According to the International Game Fish Association, the fish will often patrol the shoreline when they are foraging for food. They are often found near lilies, reed beds, and other structures, particularly in the early morning and later in the day.

Last Thoughts

The popularity of carp fishing in the US is growing rapidly, and anglers are seeking tips to get started.

We hope you found this article helpful and that it has helped you to better understand carp.

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Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.