Bait and Tackle for Catching Carp
There are innumerable baits which will on occasion take carp, but those mentioned are time-honoured baits which the serious carp angler relies on.
A piece of bread crust the size of a golf ball is by no means too big, and crumb or flake baits should also be large. Large baits require a large hook, and Nos. 2, 4, and 6 are favoured by many.
Whole lob worms, or bunches of smaller redworms or brandlings should be presented on appropriately sized hooks.
The golf-ball-sized new potatoes are employed and must be parboiled in order to make them soft enough for the fish to eat, yet stiff enough not to be flung from the hook by the action of casting. The potato is boiled in its skin and baited with a baiting needle, the hook being tied to the end of the line and the bait slid down to it. The potato is then partially skinned.
Balanced bread is a bait designed to enable the bottom-feeding carp to annex a bait without feeling the nylon attached to it. It has the virtue of settling on the bottom, perhaps above silk-weed or soft mud, with the softer crusty part upwards and the heavier pasty part down. If the hook is inserted through the paste and into the crust this keeps the bend upwards, the point down, and the line well underneath the bait. A piece of paste is moulded to a lump of crust so that the whole bait has a very light negative buoyancy and sinks very slowly, settling as described.
Carp are tough, artful, fighting fish, and since they may weigh anything from 1.5-14 kg (3-30 lb) the rod must be fairly heavily built, with an ‘all-through’ action extending down to the end of the butt. Built-cane was once considered the ideal material and
Richard Walker designed a carp rod known as the Mark IV and later the stouter Stepped-Up Mark IV. Today these excellent rods have been superseded by weapons of similar action built of fibre-glass. The Avon type of rod is suitable for ordinary carp fishing where the quarry is not expected to be larger than 3.5-4 kg (8 or 91b).
The choice of reel is a very personal matter. Frequently carp fishing requires long casting and for this theis ideal, although anglers really expert at casting from centre-pin reels often prefer these for the more satisfactory contact which they give with a fighting fish. For many forms of carp fishing involving methods, however, special methods of bite detection are employed, and these are generally more easily applied with fixed-spool reels which allow a wider choice of method, especially when fishing direct from the reel with nothing but a baited hook on the line.
The line should be of about 3-3.5 kg (6-8 lb)for ordinary carp fishing, but where big fish are sought it can be increased to about 4.5-5.5 kg (10 or 12 lb) b.s. For the lighter weights mono-filament is very suitable, but for the heavier sizes the braided lines are more flexible, less elastic, and therefore more suited to long range work.
Most carp anglers prefer to tie the hook directly to the end of the line without having separately attached casts between hook and reel. To this end the line is often stained in various colours to camouflage it against the bottom weed. When this is necessary the line is bunched in coils and inserted in suitable dyes for half of the diameter, the other half being later stained with some different shade. Brown and green are the favoured colours, but conditions in various waters must be considered.
Weights are used only when essential, anglers usually preferring to cast baits under their own weight. When weights are used they must be swivelled to prevent fouling about the line during the cast or when sinking. Theis ideal when so fitted, and can be used in weights varying from 7 g oz) to 25 g (1 oz). Alternatively a pear-shaped lead with a clip-on link attached enables a change of weights to be carried out with considerable convenience. For float-fishing, split-shots are used, but transparent glass beads find favour with some anglers.
Carp have big mouths and the hook must in any case be big enough to accommodate a bait large enough not to be spoiled by the frequent attentions of small fish. Hooks of size 6 to 12 are usual. Eyed hooks are recommended and may be of any reliable pattern, although most anglers agree that a short shank is preferable. The hook must be kept razor sharp. A small stone is carried by many successful carp anglers so that the point can be touched up.
When floats are employed they are intended to indicate the bite rather than to support the bait and they must therefore be as light as possible within the given conditions. Some anglers prefer small PERCH floats when surface drift interferes with the surface line. Many like to leaveflat on the surface, where it will not produce vibrations at the bait end and can be drawn well clear of the bait.
An electricis essential for the serious carp angler. Several types are now available. The indicator is used in conjunction with a rod rest which is normally incorporated with it.
Keep-nets and landing-nets must be as large as possible in order to accommodate the size of fish sought. A reasonable size for the landing-net is about 60 cm (2 ft) in diameter with a depth of mesh of about 1.2 m (4 ft). The Y pattern with a supporting chord carrying the mesh between the arms is very popular, since it is so easy to stow.
Keep-nets are not often used for carp fishing because anglers like to photograph and return their fish immediately after capture. Where they are used they must be of about 90 cm (3 ft) in diameter and 1.8 m (6 ft) or so in length.