Carp-l FAQ - Techniques

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  1. Tell me about Water Craft
  2. Can you Fly Fishing for Carp ?
  3. Rigs
    1. What are Hair Rigs ?
    2. What is the Hair Rig Knot ?
  4. Float Fishing
    1. When do I strike
  5. Other Techniques
    1. What is "OFF THE TOP" ?

4.1 Tell me about Water Craft

The most important (in my opinion) part of consistently catching big carp is watercraft. What is it you might ask ? Well you cant buy it! You have to learn it. Getting to know the waters you fish is part of watercraft , you might see some person who always catches the lions share of fish. Don't look at him and think lucky person (or whatever ?!!?) . For if he is lucky he will have to wait a long time for more luck. Chances are this person has experience of the water. You might ask yourself what advantage this person has over you ? After all you are both casting a line into the water so you "must" have an equal chance? The thing to remember in any given lake or river the fish are NOT evenly spread throughout . If you have ever looked in a fish aquarium you will see that if there is any kind of feature , the fish will stay close because they will feel safe . Some features like fallen trees are obvious places to fish and well worth a look but these places often become "fished-out" due to fishing pressure . Out in a lake there are hundreds of "features " where the fish feel safe . There are not many lakes or rivers that have a perfectly uniform bottom or bankside. So without using diving apparatus how do we look for these features ? Before I fish anywhere I always plumb the depth. What do i mean by this? I have a spare rod set with a 2-3 oz lead (sinker) attached to the line by a free running barrel swivel . I then put a bead on the line . At the end of the line i tie a large buoyant float (bobber) The lead is free running on the line until it comes to the end where the bead and float is (picture added soon i hope) Therefore when i cast this out i wind in until i feel the float hit the lead on the bottom. So keeping a fairly tight line , i let out the line a foot at a time, counting until the float comes up. For every foot of line you let off the reel , the float will rise a foot , so its just a simple case of keeping count of the feet . On my plumbing rod i have a piece of tape near the first eye which measures exactly one foot. So its just a simple case of loosening the clutch and pulling off the line to the tape . If you have this set up correctly it is accurate to at least three inches (if not more) The depth of water you are fishing in is very important. Fish will be at various depths according to weather conditions. By gaining experience you will be able to "follow" the fish as conditions change , therefore making consistent catches . The plumbing rod can tell you of sharp changes of depth out in the lake. Normally when gravel is extracted from lakes , the method used creates long strips of gravel which are like banked seating at a football stadium . These are called gravel bars . These are excellent places to fish as not only do the fish feel safe but food tends to collect at the bottom of these bar. The fish tend to use these bars to travel around a lake in the same way we follow a motorway (interstate) . Most of the time these bars are invisible (being underwater) By finding the change in depth you are well on your way to finding a "HOT SPOT" all of your own. Then other people might start calling you lucky! But you will know better! The depth is not the only important thing the plumb rod can tell you. With experience you tell what sort of bottom you are fishing in. How is that important you might ask. Well carp just like humans have favorite places to eat. Sometimes the softer (silty) bottoms contain all sorts of goodies for the fish to eat . The technique of feeling along the bottom with rod and line is something where practice is needed. You have to use a heavy lead (sinker) of at least 2oz so keeping a tight line between rod and lead. You cast out the lead and pull it along the bottom with the rod at right angles to the water. You can "feel" the lead through the rod . When you are over gravel , the tip will ping and stutter as if you are dragging it over a jagged rock (which you are) You will find the lead has lots of marks in it , this is a sure sign of a gravel bottom. Where as with a soft bottom the lead would have sunk in so takes a bit of effort to get it out but you can feel its like pulling the lead through sludge (which it is) With a sandy type bottom you will find it will be harder than the silty bottom so the lead wont sink in so far . You will find it a smooth steady pull with a consistent resistance. When fishing waters with lots of weed in them it pays to try and find clear areas near the weed as there is a good chance(if they are the same depth as the weed) that they are kept clear by moving and feeding fish . I had one of my best catches ever by finding a small clear area next to lots of weed . Knowing the bottom also lets you plan what size of hook lengths to use. I wouldnt feel very confident fishing short hooklengths in a deep soft bottom like silt. The plumbing rod is a useful tool to add to you armory of weapons. It can tell you so much about the bottom (topography) of the water you are fishing. Fish dont feed all the time but to learn more about the waters you fish and constantly get your baits to where the fish are can only improve your catch rate .

Courtesy of Peter Dawson

4.2 Can you Fly Fish for Carp ?

Yes, you can fly fish for carp! You have to stalk them or bait them up with bread or corn, but you can catch them. A small carp of three pounds will get you excited, so imagine what a twenty pound fish will do to your heart beat!.

Woolly Bugger, Leech Pattern, Anything that looks like bread or corn, especially if you float bread on the surface is good or the small patterns. If you see carp rooting around in shallow water, try to figure out what they are taking. Crayfish are often a good bet. Carp are much smarter than trout, and can figure out a pattern quickly. Your best bet is to "rove" and take opportunistic fish. One technique that has been used with success is as follows;

Carp tend not to be very fussy about the type of fly used, so long as you can land it close enough. look for fish that are either cruising just below or basking on the surface. Then try and land the fly so that it sinks slowly within about 2 feet of the intended victim's nose. It seems that the carp will inhale the fly out curiosity providing it doesn't have to change direction to reach it.

Any nymph style fly seems to do the trick, although a friend of one of the list members swears by a large (no 8) bright orange nymph he ties specifically for carp. On waters where the ducks get fed plenty of bread, a large white (surprise!) dry fly can work. (Beware! it also works on ducks!)

If you don't mind deviating from the "purist" approach, a little flavoring rubbed on the fly can help if the fish are showing interest but not taking.

Surface flies generally don't work. Carp typically cruise along the bottom eating insects, snails, vegetation, etc.. The exceptions seem to be places where people regularly feed carp by tossing bread and the like into the water.

Sight fishing is the most successful technique (a la bonefishing). Locate a fish and cast to it. Chumming also works to attract fish but is illegal in some places.

Flies (all weighted)

Fish on or near the bottom using either:

Avoid bright colors in a fly line.

The hair-rig-like corn fly that I described previously also works and has the advantage (like a hair rig) of being easy to remove without damaging the fish because they are hooked in the lip rather than back in the throat.

4.2.1 Are there any books on fly fishing for Carp ?

I was at the bookstore today and discovered a new book -- "Beyond Trout: A Fly fishing Guide" by Barry Reynolds and John Berryman. They are the authors of the excellent "Pike on a Fly". They have an entire chapter devoted to carp fishing, which is quite good. I recommend it to anyone who wants to pursue Carp fishing with fly fishing tackle. But beyond that, they heap great praise on the white amur (grass carp).


4.3.1 What are Hair Rigs ?

The hair rig is easy to make, all you need is a good hook, leader material, silicone tubing (optional), and some patience. The idea of the hair rig is to separate the bait from the hook. Any fish will take a bait off the hook because the bait will act normally. Wary fish can be fooled by this rig, even when they won't touch anything with metal in it.

Mono, braid and the new fused lines make good leaders and hairs. Don't use the small diameter braided lines as there is no advantage to them in North America and they slip knots. Take advantage of the strength and abrasion resistance of the heavier pound test braided lines. Tie or snell the hook to the line and leave a tag of several inches. Tie a small overhand loop in this tag and you have your hair. It is not complete until the hair comes off the bend of the hook. You can use silicone tubing or heat shrink tube to do this. Another way is to tie the line on the bend or to wind the hair on the hook until it comes off the bend. The latter is easiest and works best with thicker line.

Put your bait on the hair with a baiting needle and a boilie stop. You are ready to tie the line to a swivel and build the rest of your rig.

A bolt rig or running lead is the best terminal rig to use, but the hair rig works well with a float. This part is up to you and depends on conditions. If you are fishing where snags occur, consider the float with the hair rig just touching the bottom.

Courtesy of the Carp Anglers Group

4.3.2 What is the The Hair Rig Knot

I have never found this know in a book so I have decided to include it hear

Take a piece of leader material and create the first loop

Now wrap the loop round the hook. (I do this 7 times for luck).

Onece the loop has been wrapped around the stem several times is purely a matter of pulling on the ends to tighten the knot. On the trailing end tie a loop to assist in threading your bait.

4.4 Float Fishing

4.4.1When do I Strike ?

If you are new to float fishing, give them time to "take" the bait". Let the totally float sink and then strike, moving the rod in the opposite direction to that which the float is moving as moving the last time you saw it!

4.5 Other Techniques

4.5.1What is "OFF THE TOP" ?

In England a popular method for catching fish is "OFF THE TOP" this is carpfishing slang for Floater fishing. You use a floating bait such as dog biscuits . For freelining you can super glue a dog buscuit to the hook. Then you just watch the bait , it can be very exciting watching a big carp moving towards your bait ! This method is only good at short range as the biscuit does not have a lot of casting weight. So what people do is add a weighted float (bobber) with the eye at the top called a "controller". this is about six foot from the hook. This has three advantages,

1: it will enable you to cast longer distances

2: It is a visual indicator at range. sometimes the carp sucks the bait
off the top very gently , so watching for movement of the controller
is easier!

3: The controller acts like a bolt rig in helping prick the carp.

This method can be very productive especially during the middle of the day when the carp dont feed on the bottom as much. The carp do tend to wise up to this method after a while due to the line lying across the water. You can use the beachcaster method which is a set-up which lets only the hookbait hang onto the water (thus looking like the free oferings) This method can be very productive , in fact the beach caster is banned on some waters in England because it is so good! One important point i would like to make is the word CHUM In the UK when people talk about using CHUM they mean using the floating dog biscuit "PEDIGREE CHUM MIXER" The word chum in the US and elsewhere is not used in the same context. In the UK we use the word "PRE-BAIT" to feed day(s) before you fish. Sometimes in an article someone might mention "FREE OFFERINGS" or "FREEBIES" , these are all the baits apart from the one attached to the hook. I think the word CHUM comes from Shark fishing , not sure.

4.5.2 What is light lining ?

Light lining is deliberately using a light line eg a 5Lb or 2Lb test line. The idea is that it takes more skill to land a Carp that way. In some place competitions are held where every one is give 100m of 2Lb test from a bulk spool and uses that to fish until it breaks. The person with the largest fish wins the day.

4.5.3 Why Is Light Lining not such a good idea ?

Two reasons really, first targeting very large fish in open water on a very light line can require that you play them to the point where they're unlikely to recover when released. This is a major problem with catch and release trout fishing in many areas, during the summer, when high temps and low oxygen levels make many waters pretty marginal. Second, it increased the likely hood of your line snapping and thus leaving the fish towing your terminal rig around which in turn can get snagged trapping the fish.

4.5.4 What is pre-baiting ?

Pre Baiting is the act of placing bait in a swim in order to teach the Carp that there is normaly food in this area. The idea being that next time you fish they will be routinely inspecting the spot for food and thus eat your hook bait. Key words hear are not too much and same time same place.

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