1. LINK LENGTH
The length of your link is far more important than changing your presentation to some fancy anti-eject, suck and blow special. A 3 inch link can be enough to mess up even tricky carp where everyone else is using 6 inches. And there’s a huge mileage the other way, too – a 12 – 15 in. link is as rare as rocking horse droppings. When replacing a link that has caught a carp, always make sure that the new is the same length again as the successful one. Measure or mentally note the lengths that you are using and look for trends in your success rate.
2. SWIM CHOICE
If forced to pick one single change that makes the difference between blanking and catching after swim choice, it’s always hook bait. Carp are incredibly fickle about what they will eat with enthusiasm and what they don’t eat keenly enough to get caught on. Experiment on different rods with different flavours, colours and shapes of boilie and pop-up, to plastic or tigers, Peperami, maggots and pellets. You will find that carp quickly get caught on one when you find which is the winner.
3. FREE MOVEMENT
Use an end tackle that has an element of free movement. They are an invaluable defence against carp that shake their heads to bounce hooks out, and tell you if there is any interest in a hook bait. A simple running lead up the line is hard to beat, while solar’s clips and run beads are excellent for longer range work. With running end tackles you will know more clearly what the problem is, even if that means they are telling you that you’re rig is being picked up but that you are not getting the rig and baiting quite right.
Fish accurately. The difference between consistent catchers and those who land just occasional carp is being able to drop end tackles back on productive spots and over baited areas whether it is daytime or at night, blowing a hooligan or lashing down with rain. Once you have located likely spots and baited up, you must mark your main line and use spool clips, so that you can land rigs back exactly on the same spots time and time again. A roll of electrical tape will mark your lines and will last you for a season or more.
Be a clock watcher. Look for patterns in takes and captures, even if they are to other anglers not to your own rods. Is action coming during mornings, afternoons, evenings or after dark? If you are getting no encouragement, try fishing at different times. Stay a few hours after dark to see if they switch on, or try an overnighter if days aren’t producing. If mornings are always quiet, treat yourself to treat yourself to a lie in! And if you are night fishing, always set your alarm for down to watch for carp activity as the light lifts.
Carp are incredibly aware of end tackle, and anything we can do to make it less obtrusive can increase the likelihood of carp feeding confidently and carelessly. Lead core and pre-formed nylon leaders are standard issue, but don’t sit line down along the bottom anywhere near as reliably as several lumps of tungsten putty behind the end tackle, which will help conceal line even when it is running over large stones, dead weed, sunken twigs or over chances in depth close to the hook and bait.
7. SEE MORE
Your indication system is the same as watching a float – you need to learn to interpret what it is telling you. Lightweight, free-hanging bobbins on lightweight chains are still the most responsive option. A major improvement to any bobbin is a clip that grips the line rather than allowing line to be pulled through it. Don’t dismiss odd unexplained indications as line bites, if the bobbin jumps, shakes or rattles, most likely it’s a carp and a missed chance.
8. SCALE DOWN
Is your tackle unnecessarily crude? if you’re chasing 30s and 40s and a few bites a year are a good result, then big irons and stiff links probarbly won’t make a jot of difference to your results. For the majority of carpers who are trying to catch doubles, 20s and, if they are lucky a 30, then small, strong hooks offer improved presentation and more action. There are lots to choose from, and dropping from a size 6 to a size 10 can give your results a shot in the arm.
9. GLUGGED UP
Whatever the time of year, most baits can be improved with a glug, a soak or a splash of something. In the warmer months try fish oils on boilies, splashed onto pellet bag mixes or floaters. And in colder weather the oil can be replaced by soluble liquid food such Feedstim XP, minamino or any one of a dozen others that will massively boost their taste, smell and appeal to any nearby carp. Bait given a good soaking catch more carp – always.
10. HOOKER TWEAK
Tweaks to hook baits can be make the difference between catching a carp out and going home fishless. Slow sinkers are a real edge, because so few people can be bothered to test and adjust buoyancy. With pop-ups, add tungsten putty around a small anchor shot until the bait sinks very, very slowly. For snowman presentations, trim either the pop up or the bottom bait slightly with scissors, depending up on wether it is too buoyant or too heavy when you first test it.
11. SHARPEN UP
The best of all carp fishing tips, last? Maybe! A carp taking a hook across the lips isn’t a guarantee you are getting a positive take. Always use the sharpest hooks – which means checking they haven’t become dulled or damaged on the retrieve between casts and changing them regularly, even after a tench or bream has hung itself. The cost of the hook is generally just a few pence, and they can make the other outlay of petrol, ticket, bait and food worthwhile. There’s no point saving 50p if it means the other £50 you spent was wasted
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