Carp-l FAQ - Tackle

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  1. Rods
    1. What should I look for in a carp rod ?
    2. What is a Test Curve ?
  2. Reels
    1. What types or reels are suitable for carp fishing?
    2. How should I load my reel ?
    3. What difference to bearings make ?
    4. What about front / rear drag control ?
    5. Can handle length vary ?
    6. How can I tell the Line capacity ?
    7. What are gear ratios ?
    8. What are "Baitrunner" reels ?
  3. Line
    1. What type of line are there ?
    2. Tell me about Mono Filament
    3. Tell me about Braid
    4. Tell me about Fussion
    5. What line strength should I use ?
  4. Hooks
    1. What kind of hook should I use ?
    2. Does hook color matter ?
    3. Do Barb-Less hooks make a difference ?
  5. Bite Indicators
    1. What are Bite indicators ?
    2. Why are Bite indicators necessary ?
    3. What are Monkey Climbers ?
    4. What are Swingers ?
    5. What's the story on Electronic Indicators ?
  6. Misc
    1. What is PVA ?
    2. What are Anti-tangle Devices ?
    3. What are Brake Lights ?
    4. What are Throwing Sticks ?


3.1.1What should I look for in a carp rod ?

In a carp rod, you get what you pay for, buy the best you can afford and go from there.

The longer rods with heavier test curves and faster actions are more suited to long range fishing but they are less forgiving and care must be taken when laying fish a close range if you're not going to pull the hook out.

Shorter rods with lighter test curves and softer actions are a better bet if you are only fishing at close range. A shorter rod is also handy when fishing in a "tight" swim with tree branches, or other obstructions, overhead.

The value of test curve is that it gives you an idea of what weight line to use. Traditionally you multiply the test curve by a factor of 4 to 6 and get the line weight. Better rods have a wider range, just like a fly rod. Test curve does not tell you what the action of the rod is, nor will it tell you how well it will play a fish. Usually the longer the rod, the more range it has. Typical Carp rod will have a 2.25 to 2.5 test curve and be 11 or 12 feet long

In the US, English style carp rods can be difficult to obtain. Some steelhead rods are similar to English carp rods and are well worth a look.

3.1.2What is a Test Curve ?

". The test curve is the amount of weight it takes to bend the rod 90 degrees

3.1.2 Can you recommend a rod to me ?

No. It would be too difficult as I would have to know our needs. budgets etc. but people on the list use some of the following so they may be worth a look

Armalite 6ft Tree Rod 4lb TC
DAM Fighter Carbon Carp 11',12',13'I 2,2.5,3lb TC
Drennan medium Carp of 2.25 pounds,
Hutchinson Horizon 2.5lb t/c rods
Northwestern Kevlite of 2.25
Shakespeare Zenith
Shimano Diaflash Rods 12ft 2.5lb TC
Silstar Royal Classic Carp Rods 12 2lb TC
Silstar 'Turbo' 11'
Silstar MXA 11' 1.75lb TC

3.2 Reels

3.2.1What types or reels are suitable for carp fishing?

There are many reels available for Carp fishing and your choice depends on the style of fishing, most people choose to use a "Fixed Spool Reel" (also known as a "spinning" reel because the arm "spins", not to be confused with the type of fishing known as spinning )this type of reel is very easy to use, the spool is fixed and does not turn, a adjustable clutch is fitted to allow the spool to turn in the situation that the fish really wants to take some line, this is very useful when playing a fish near snags and weed, you need the fish to steer clear and by allowing it to take some line it sometimes helps, the clutch is also useful when the fish is trying to make off and putting a large bend in your rod, you can loosen the clutch slightly so as the fish can take some line but under heavy resistance, therefore the fish will tire quicker.

The fixed spool reel is a great tool to cast with as it is fitted with a "Bale Arm" which guides the line onto the spool but can be lifted away whilst casting, so you can cast with a completely free line without the danger of it getting tangled or snagged up.

3.2.2 How should I load my reel ?

When you purchase your line it will usual come on a spool. During the manufacture of the line it is place on the spool under tension (only a small amount but it is there), the spool is then stored until it reaches the shop and finally you. The result is that the line is twisted when you get it, it can't be helped. The problem is that incorrect loading of your reel can result in increasing or reversing this twist and the line will very soon become tangled as it try to revert to the original twist. The trick is too try too preserve the direction of the twist.

On a "Fixed Spool" reel the axis or the spool is at 90 degrees to the rod and the "arm" when looking from behind usually turns to the right (clockwise) when winding in. Place the spool of new line in the table in such a position that line lifts off too the left (anti-clockwise). Now wind on the require amount of line. At first this may seem illogical but what happens if this; When you wind on you are adding a 90 degree clockwise twist. as the line lifts off it is receiving a 90 degrees anti clock wise twist. the net result is that these two cancel each other out and the line now sits on you reel in the same position as it did on the manufacturer's spool You should not load the reel more the 85% as this can also result in tangles. If your reel turns to the left just reverse the manufacturers spool so that it now lifts off to the right (clockwise).

3.2.3 What difference to bearings make ?

Most fixed spool reels are fitted with "Ball Bearings" these help greatly when playing a fish as it allows the line to lay smoothly and of course the reel doesn't wobble around in your hand. The number of bearings (0 - 6) varies with more in the more expensive reels. It is difficult to tell how smooth a reel in a shop is, as the bearings only really come into effect under load. Generally speaking the more the better, 3 of more is getting pretty smooth. with more that 4 it is difficult to tell, but expensive reels with more 4 or more bearings tend to have advantages such a higher quality. again you get what you pay for.

3.2.4 What about front / rear drag control ?

The Drag or Clutch systems on fixed spool reels are fitted either to the back or the front of the spool, in the case of a "Front Clutch" it is basically a plate which when tighten puts pressure on the spool to hold it in place and when loosened the spool can gently turn, the "Rear Clutch" works in much the same way except that you have not got to put your hand around the line and over the spool to adjust it, you just turn a knob on the rear of the reel.

3.2.5 Can handle length vary ?

Some reel come with handle that are adjustable in length. This is normally done with a button on the side and can be done easily whilst fighting the fish. Increasing the length increases the leverage and thus reducing the strength required to wind the fish in. However it is more use full used in reverse. setting the handle too a small length reduces the leverage making it more sensitive and reducing the likely hood of losing the fish. So why not make all handles smaller? Well the smaller the length the more difficult they become to use thus you set it to your preference.

3.2.6 How can I tell the Line capacity ?

Most reel are marked with their line capacity. This is normal a series of numbers like 20/180 25/120 30/80. These numbers mean that the capacity of the real is 180 meters of .2mm thick line, 120 meters of .25mm line etc. Generally is a good idea to keep within the range specified by the real an a too thin or to thick line may result in tangles, or in the case of to thick line, not enough on the real.

3.2.7 What are gear ratios ?

The gear ratio is the number of turns a the arm makes for one wind of the handle. this is normally around 5:1, but in big game (sea) fishing ratios can be set to 2:1 by a lever during that fight, but this is not normally needed on fresh water.

3.2.8 What are "Baitrunner" reels ?

Basically the baitrunner system is a fixed spool reel with a normal clutch, however when the baitrunner is set on the spool is free to turn without the clutch or the handle spinning round and round, this offers great possibilities when fishing on the bottom as the carp can pick up the bait and move off with it, without feeling any resistance from the reel, then as you see the spool starting to move you can turn the handle once to switch of the baitrunner and strike into the fish.

3.3 Line

3.3.1What type of line are there ?

generally there are three types used in carp fishing mono filament, braids, and Fusion.

3.3.2 Tell me about Mono Filament

This is the traditional line.

3.3.3 Tell me about Braid.

Braids have had mixed reviews because of poor knot ability and odd casting properties. They do however have a very high strength for their low diameter.

3.3.4 Tell me about Fusion

Fusion line is the latest trend and seems to offer the best of both worlds(braid versus mono). A line with 24lb test has a 12lb diameter. Apparently spools great, casts like a dream, has no memory, and takes standard mono knots (clinch and palomar) easily. Another thing is that while fusion costs more than mono is is much less expensive than the braids.

One member who recently tested it wrote the following;

When the fusion lines came out I was reluctant. Then I read a review in In-Fisherman (July, Aug, Sept. 1995, page 15) praising the line based on a preliminary test. I decided to try this new breed. I found fusion to be little more than mono at about $8 for 150 yards of 24 lb test line with 12 lb diameter. The line takes knots easier than mono and all standard knots work. Since the manufacturing process fuses over 100 fibers the line takes on a "fuzzy" appearance as a wear indicator to signal abrasion and need to retie a bait. As far as I know there are only two producers, Spiderwire Fusion and Berkley Fireline. The line has a pale green color (Spiderwire Fusion) or pale grey (Berkley Fireline) to make the line invisible to fish. The line is not as affected by UV light as mono and need not be replaced as frequently. In that respect, it may be less costly over the year than mono. Unlike the superbraids, fusion lines will not wreck rod guides by cutting groves. Fusion stretched more than the braids but far less than mono so that a very sensitive contact may be made with the terminal rig. Fusion comes off the spool very well. I have used it successfully on a Diawa Magforce, Garcia 6500 and a large Shimano Symetre. I will be spooling it onto my other outfits as they reach time for line replacement. They only real negative is availability. I can get Spiderwire Fusion at a local tackle shop in 24 lb test only. The area Walmart and K-Mart stores do not yet stock it. I understand that Bass Pro Shops has both Spiderwire Fusion and Berkley Fireline in a variety of weights. I would suspect that Cabela's does also although I am not certain.

3.3.5 What line strength should I use ?

Depends on the type of carp fishing you intend to do, but generaly any where between 10lb and 15lb is a good bet, with 10Lb used for float fishing and 15lb when fishing near snags or in gravel pits.

3.4 Hooks

3.4.1 What kind of hook should I use ?

A common mistake anglers around the world make is to use the wrong hook. In North America this means using a treble hook to fish for carp. While trebles have some advantages (I'm sure), the disadvantages are numerous, if subtle. They are cruel to the fish as foul hooking is common causing scarring and other injuries. More important is the fact that treble hooks are very large and will spook wary fish. A size 6 treble is twice the diameter of a size 6 single making it the same as a 3/0 single hook. Treble hooks have narrow gapes and their geometry is such that a good hookup is not always assured. Most trebles are of dubious quality and they have a tendency to snag on weeds, etc.

Hooks sizes vary between manufactures and styles. One thing is certain large hooks can scare off fish and too small hooks can either pull out of not hook at all. Larger fish need and will take larger hooks. Larger hooks also tend to be stronger. It is also very important that hooks are sharp as this not only allows them to hook the fish more efficiently but causes less damage to the fish. hooks That are too large can also cause damage to the fish by tearing.

Buying good quality, Brand Name, hooks pays off. They are always stronger and sharper and stay that way longer.

The actual size of the hook also varies with hook design Hooks designed longer rather than fatter get better results appear to present a smaller profile when sucked in with a boilie on a hair rig. However for float fishing the opposite is true, shorter fatter hooks that match the size of the bait appear to work better. With small particles like maze two or more particles should be used on a reasonable size hook.

3.4.2 Does hook color matter ?

Hook color ; Fish are color blind, however, a shiny silver hook sticking out of a dark bait will be visible if only by contrast. It is common practice to match the hook where possible too the bait. Generally, a dark (black) hook does not show up visibly unless of course you are using maze when a gold hook is preferable. Weather or not it really makes a difference is an interesting question, but many people believe it does.

3.4.3 Do Barb-Less hooks make a difference ?

Barb-less hooks do not appear to be a disadvantage. several people have been using then for many years now an have not lost fish because of a the lack of a hook.

You don't need any particular brand of hook. Just buy a good pair of needle nose pliars with flat sufaces in the jaws and flatten the barb down. Granted this is easier with some hooks than others but is always possible. Chemically sharpened hooks because they are sharper and have smaller barbs.

3.5 Bite Indicators

3.5.1What are Bite indicators ?

"Bite Indicators are either a mechanical & electronic device designed to provide the angler with an indication that something is happening at the hook end of the line.

3.5.2 Why are Bite indicators necessary ?

Several reasons really, but primarily when ledger fishing there is nothing to watch, like in float fishing. Audible devices are popular as it of often possible to get distracted, and it is not practical to watch a visual device constantly for 24 hours

3.5.3 What are Monkey Climbers ?

It is a strike indicator made of a metal rod called a needle and a light spool called a bobbin that can slide along the needle. It can be stuck in the ground under your fishing rod and a loop of line clips into the bobbin. When a fish grabs the bait, the line goes tight and the bobbin "climbs" the vertical needle.

3.5.4 What are Swingers ?

Swingers have no pole or their own un-like a monkey climber, the swinger is connected to the front bank stick or rod pod.. The line then runs from the bank stick (electronic bite indicator can be used hear) and down to the swinger. and is clipped in to the end of the swinger arm. When you get a run the swinger will rise. Alternately if the fish runs towards you it will fall thus indicating that your line suddenly went slack. This downward swing is important as it pulls some line in and thus set off the electronic buzzer. Without one,, the electronic device would give no signal if the line went slack. (For this purpose the older monkey climber could be used)

My impression of quiver type swinging indicators is that they are really meant for long range type. On the other hand if you don't already have a swinger type indicator I'd just go ahead and spend the few extra bucks for the dual purpose one's. If you already have a swinger type indicator you can easily make a quiver type indicator yourself. A friend of mine taught me how to do this about a year ago, really all you need is a mounting bracket for your bankstick, a quivertip, split rings, and line clips.

3.5.5 What's the story on Electronic Indicators ?

There are many types of 'Optonic' Indicators avalible, however the better ones have a volume control and a tone control. The tone controli is to enable you to set a pair of them on different tones so you can identify which one is going in the middle of the night, they are also fitted with a pair of LED's (Light Emmiting Diode's) one is normally red, this one flashes at the same rate as the tone is being generated, exciting to watch in the black of night! the second LED is normally yellow or Green, this is called a latching LED and once a single tone has been heard the LED will stay on for about 10 -20 seconds or so which helps when you are asleep and you miss the red one going mad!

They are very loud at full volume and will most certainly wake you up. Most optronics have 'Carp Ears' attached to them, these are a extension to the 'V' so the wind doesn't blow the rods off of the optonic.

Some optonics namely the 'Fox' range have a sensitivity control too, which means you can set it so if a tiny movement on the line is detected. it will bleep right up to the line having to move about 5cm before a tone is heard.

A similar method is used in 'Delkim' they use a set of blades that turn in front of a infra-red beam, each time the beam is broken a tone is heard, you can change the blades to have more vains, so a 4 vain will give a reasonable indication of a run whereas a 8 or 12 vain are great for twitch bites, which is where the carp picks the bait up works out it hooked and trys to get rid of the hook without moving away, thus each and every movement on the line causes a bleep, the problem comes when its a windy day!!

An alternative to optical devices are magnetic ones (e.g. Knuckelhead by Boss).These work by using a set of small magnets set into the twitcher wheel. as the wheel rotates the magnets pass a hall switch. (I think that what it's called). There are less steps per revolution (6 in total) making it slightly less sensitive, but the use of magnets gives the advantage that the whole unit can be sealed (infact all the electronics are set in resin). This system is also not effected by dirt on the lens.

For most systems it is possible to get an extension cable and box. The knuckel head extension box has a second buzzer and a 7 segment led display that indicates a 1 2 or 3 depending on which sensor was triggered. Some manufacturers also offer the extension box with a radio transition device. This can have a range of up to 2 Km and eliminates the need for trailing wires.

A word of warning however I know of one guy who had to change his alarm clock at home because every morning when it went off he was looking for a rod to strike ! (true)

Using them during the day time is not very interesting although it does have a couple of advantages. Whilst it doesn't happen often a fish can swim towards you after taking the bait. The result is that you line goes slack and noting else. When the electronic alarms are used in conjunction with a monkey climber or a swinger, the result is that that alarm gives off a few bleeps and lets you know that some thing is going on. Believe me if you are with friends you can miss it with out one. I once though I had had a day of nothing, but when I start to reel my line in to pack up I noticed it was in total different place. you guessed it a carp and well dug in to the reeds by now. bait runner reels can be almost silent giving you little or no indication when it is running especially if you have wandered down the bank to answer the call of nature! and you know they bite when you have your hands full. I will say one thing however, I know we all have good ones so keep the volume to the leval realy required. I dont want to wake up because YOU caught a fish

3.6 Misc.

3.6.1 What is PVA ?

Poly Vinyl Alcohol . This is a type of line that dissolves in water. It is used to get ground bait in the same area as the hook, particularly when using particle and hair rigs. Several particles are attached to a small length (8 - 12 inches) of PVA, this is then attached to the main line and cast out with the hook and main bait. When the PVA "melts" (about 30 seconds) the result is ground bait in the exact spot your cast landed.

3.6.2What are Anti-tangle Devices ?

Particularly useful when casting long distances. Because the leader trails behind the weight, when casting, it can get caught up in the main line. These devices consist of a 18 inch long plastic tube about 1/8 " wide with the weight molded into it. The result is that if the leader come into contact with it just slide off and does not get caught up. The devices also help when castting a long disttance as they fly rather like a dart. This can be a disadvantage in that they tend to dig into the botton if it is very soft.

3.6.3 What are Brake Lights ?

These are a small sealed plastic tube which a chemical in them. Inside the plastic tube there is also another glass tube containing a second chemical. When the plastic tube is are bent the small glass tube breaks and the two chemicals mix with the resulting mixture glowing in the dark. They come in various sizes some are about 10 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter and are often used in survival packs. There are small versions available, 2 cm long and 3 mm inn diameter. It is this small version that is of interest as they can be attached to float so that they can be seen in the dark. They can also be attached to rod tips Since the glow lasts up to 5 hours they can be useful when the light is beginning to fade and floats become not impossible but "hard on the eyes" to see.

3.6.4 What are Throwing Sticks ?

Throwing stick, as used by carp anglers fishing at long range 100 -140 yds can be used to send ground bait a long way These sticks take practice to perfect (like casting a fly)but once perfected are pretty accurate if you are using the right baits

Throwing sticks are only accurate with perfectly round baits , as the stick spins the projectile (bait) very fast , so any wobble will cause the bait to go left or right. Also the baits must be fairly hard , as they are under a lot of pressure and can split(use duran yellow semolina) .To increase the range , Uk anglers have found that when making the baits, to include more dense bait ingredients (maize meal and some other stuff which has slipped my mind , you can get it from animal feed merchants?)

It is the centrifugal force that blows th bait apart, this is caused by the bait rolling down the tube of the throwing stick and continuing to accelerate until it flies apart. This can reduce this effect quite considerably by wetting the inside of the tube every ten baits or so. This acts as a lubricant and allows the bait to slide up the tube without spinning so fast - it really works!

An ingredient that hardens boilies is dried egg albumen, include one or two ounces in a pound of dry mix, its worth the expense if hardness is your priority. You will also get harder (tougher) baits if you let them dry out - a couple of hours in the sun should do the trick

3.6.5 What are line clips ?

Basically they are a small clips that you attach to you rod near the reel that hold the line and prevents it from paying out on it's own. The clip will release if the line is given a tug such as from a Carp making a run

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