Tips on How to Catch Small to Medium Size Carp

Torbay is probably more known for its sea fishing than freshwater coarse fishing. However, there are a few ponds and small lakes in Paignton and Torquay that offer really excellent carp fishing. These commercial waters are absolutely stuffed with small to medium-size carp that will keep you busy all day, assuming that you are using the right tactics and bait. To be honest, these fish are not difficult to catch and any novice angler wouldn't find it too difficult to catch a carp. However, if you want to have a really good day catching lots of carp then keep reading and let me explain how I go about fishing for carp in the small commercial waters.


Float Fishing

drennan wagglerFloat fishing for carp is a simple, effective and enjoyable way to catch carp. There are various methods of float fishing, I'm going to talk about a few of my favourite ways to catch carp on the float. .

I try not to complicate things when I am float fishing very close in, there really isn't any need for complicated shot patterns, you want to get your bait on the bottom as quickly as possible because that is where the fish will be feeding. .

I like to use a fairly powerful rod when I'm fishing close in to the margins. For many years I used my which I absolutely love and still take with me every time I go fishing. However, I purchased a which are little powerhouses and are more than capable of dealing with a 20 lb carp. Because it's only 10 foot it's very easy to use around overhanging branches and bushes where the longer rods can sometimes be uncomfortable to use. It's also extremely light which means your arm won't start to ache if you have a biggie on the end.. As for the reel I use, again, I go back to the 1990s when Shimano started bringing out some awesome fixed ball reels. I have several Shimano reels, including a couple of Stradic GTM 4000s, a truly awesome piece of engineering which will never find its way onto eBay, not while I'm still alive anyway. I stick to an 8 lb main line as I think dropping any lower is looking for trouble, especially if there's a chance of hooking a double-figure carp.

The first method I will talk about is probably the simplest for any beginner to understand and get to grips with. It involves using a small float that is locked bottom only using shot. I would recommend using either a straight waggler, or a bodied waggler. I am particularly fond of the . The bodied waggler will give you better stability if it's windy and slightly choppy. If the margins you are fishing are very shallow then don't use a great big long float, opt for something fairly short, five or 6 inches is perfectly adequate for a couple of feet of water. All floats have information stamped on them which tells you how much shot is needed to cock them properly.

You can also buy . The only difference between a loaded waggler, and a non-loaded waggler is the loaded wagglers have the majority of weight needed to cock it built into the base. It's important that you don't get confused with a pellet waggler, these floats are different and have their own purpose. The loaded wagglers I like to use only need a few extra shot in order to have them sit correctly in the water. Without any shot on the line you will normally notice they sit quite far up in the water. There are different shotting patterns you can use. If you want your bait to fall through the water uniformly in the hope that you may pick up a bite on the way down then you could spread a number of very small shot down the line. Alternatively if you are fishing for carp then you will normally want the bait to reach the bottom fairly quickly. Therefore put a small bulk shot further down the line, just enough shot to cock the float properly. The beauty with these loaded wagglers is I always lock them on the line using two small rubbers float stops. This means that if you want to change the depth you're fishing you don't then have to start messing around with the locking shot, you simply slide the float up or down.

You should also consider using the crystal wagglers that have the long thin insert that is often interchangeable. When carp are rummaging around in the swim and your bait is amongst feeding carp they will often cause line bites which can momentarily pull the float under. Using a long insert on your crystal wagglers will help you differentiate between real bites and false bites. False bites are quite easy to recognise, the float will dip under and then come straight back up again, when you get a real bite the float will go under and stay under for much longer.

I always set my float over depth so that I have at least 7 inches of line laying flat on the bottom. The purpose of fishing this way is to eliminate line bites which could happen if you just have the bait touching the bottom where the carp will be swimming around the vertical line hanging down. If you are fishing very light and small baits then it's a good idea to pin this extra length of line down using a small amount of weight. If you are fishing your main line all the way through to the hook then simply pinch on a shot about 7 inches from the hook. Because I like using professionally tied rigs I actually use a Guru quickchange adapter swivel. Basically this enables me to change my hook lengths whenever needed. Sometimes I may be using a hook with a small hair, or a bait band, or if I'm using meat, I often use hooks that have a special spiral which screws into your small piece of meat and enables it to hang down below the hook. I also don't use a shot, I use which I mould around the swivel. The advantage of using this over a shot is it doesn't come off very easily, unlike a shot which will fall off at the drop of a hat.

I think it's worth pointing out that if you want to detect very shy bites then shotting your float properly is important. You should fish the bulk of your shot under the float. If you're fishing in fairly deep-ish water and you want the bait to sink quickly then you should attach a bulk of shot further down the line. If you want the bait to fall through the surface layers a little slower than spread small shot out equally along the line. It's important that you have a small shot about 10 inches from the hook. If you have a few inches of line laying on the deck then add that to the 10 inches. This shot needn't be heavy at all, a number six is perfect. That small amount of weight should be added just to bring the tip of your float down half a centimetre or so. The small shot is what will detect a lift bite. If the fish takes the bait into its mouth but doesn't swim away, but actually swims up in the water it will lift that small shot. This will be indicated by the float rising about half a centimetre, then it's time to strike.

My favourite swim at my local commercial fishery just happens to be very snaggy to the right. Carp are not stupid fish, when they get hooked they often head for the snaggist area they can because nine times out of 10 they will manage to pull the hook out by swimming through submerged roots and bushes. One of the big problems I find when float fishing is when they do this, the shot on the line often either gets pulled off completely, or shoved right up the line. I got fed up with having to re-shot the line every time I caught a carp. So what I do now is rather than use shot on the line, I use an in-line olivette. I lock the olivette in place using a couple of small rubber float stops. I particularly like the ones that Korum manufacture as they come in various sizes. So now when the carp takes all my gear through the bushes, all that happens is the float and olivette slide up or down the line, nothing falls off. So it's just a case of sliding the float and olivette back into position. I use olivettes in conjunction with semi-loaded crystal wagglers. The majority of the weight is always built into the base of the float.

If the water is very shallow then you will know when the carp are in your swim, you will see what I refer to as a vortex on the surface of the water, this is caused by the fishes tail fin as it feeds. This is always an exciting time for me, there's nothing more exhilarating than to see a big tail swishing around right in front of you. Don't go and drop the float right on top of the fish, you will end up spooking it which will just ruin your chances of catching fish. What I do is calculate where I think the fish is going to swim and put my float in the position that will basically ambush it. Nine times out of 10 you will catch a fish once it's feeding in your swim, you just got to be very gentle and certainly don't stand up and move around where the fish can see you.

If you can fish under overhanging trees or bushes then all the better, carp love hanging out in these sort of sheltered places. So don't overlook swims that are overgrown, they are often the best places to fish.


The lift method

Lift methodThe lift method is still float fishing. It is probably most widely used for tench and carp fishing because of the way the fish feed. The reason it is called the lift method is because when a bite occurs, the float lifts out of the water, rather than going under. In my opinion, this method is much more efficient at detecting bites from carp in shallow water.

When fishing the lift method use a straight float that isn't too long. Peacock quills are excellent for fishing the lift because they are extremely light. You can normally get three or four good floats out of one long peacock quill. I normally paint the top will red. Just use a float rubber to attach it to the line, you can then easily slide it up and down. However, it is not always that easy to get hold of a peacock quill, unless you happen to live near a zoo. I actually now use a small crystal float that is around 4 inches long. They normally have a thin fluorescent top that is very easy to see. I use small rubber float stops that you slide onto the line to lock the float. I find that this method performs a lot better than the old peacock quill. The rubber float stops normally keep the float very secure, unlike the bands on the old peacock quills, they would often slide when you strike. setting up the lift method is simplicity in itself. You don't have to bother about complicated shot patterns, all you do is place a single shot anywhere between three and 6 inches from the hook. It really depends on how big the float is to how big the shot should be. You need to choose a shot that will pull the float under. So, you may need to use a 2SSG to achieve your goal. If you don't use a shot that will pull float under, you will not know if the shot is actually on the bottom. You then alter the float so that when the weight is resting on the pond floor, the float tip is just visible above the surface. Some people actually submerge the float completely so that when the float appears above the surface, they know they have a bite. Personally I like to see the float. The reason being is because you often get traditional bites where the float does go under so I prefer to keep about half an inch of float sticking out of the water. If you do choose to fish the float just under the surface, watch for the line moving away, this sometimes happens rather than the float lifting out of the water.

Feeding carpThis is how the lift method works, when carp and tench feed, they often feed at an angle, rather like the illustration to the left. When they lift their heads up with your hook in their mouth, they dislodge the shot, thus making the float, lift out of the water, rather than go under. You may see the float lift quite high out of the water, or it might suddenly lie flat on the surface. As soon as this happens, strike. The lift method is a superb way of catching carp very close in. They often stay in one place when feeding so will not pull the float under. Using the lift method is an ingenious way of detecting baits from feeding carp. If you are fishing over slightly uneven ground, you may have to move the float around occasionally so that it sits exactly right. If you are fishing at a slight distance using the lift method you may have problems finding the correct depth. If you find that you are slightly over depth, i.e. the float is laying flat, reel in very slowly until the float cocks. The line will be going down at a slight angle from the bottom of the float to the weight rather than straight down but it will still work. This method is also a good way of catching wary carp. Because the line is at an angle, there is less chance the carp will bump into it and become spooked. You may have to put the rod on the bank or on some rests because the slightest movement will move the float.

Peacock quills are not always easy to get hold of. The ones I had a few years ago I found at Paignton zoo under some bushes. I tend to use a short crystal waggler nowadays. However, instead of passing the line through the hole at the bottom, I use a float rubber and attach it to the bottom so that the float runs freely up and down the line. I also prefer to use a 2SGG as it gives me more control and stops the float moving around, especially if the bottom is slightly uneven.


Fishing the Polaris float

 carp fishing with Polaris floatsNothing to do with submarines or nuclear weapons, however this is a very clever design that enables you to combine float fishing with ledgering. The beauty with using this method is you always know exactly where your bait is. Also, bite detection is a lot more sensitive than even fishing the feeder. Polaris floats are very easy to set up, they come with full instructions and are by no means complicated at all. You can fish with hook links from 6 inches, right up to 6 feet, although mainline must remain monofilament. You can use a simple ledger, or you can fish using a feeder. However, unlike feeder fishing where you angle the rod to detect bites, when using a Polaris floats you have to point your fishing rod directly at the float. Polaris floats have a unique locking design. When you cast, make sure that the float is sitting on top of the swivel so you just have the hook length hanging below the float. When you cast it's very important that you do not close your bale arm straightaway, you must allow the float to set its own depth. All you do then is put your rod on a couple of rests and adjust line tension so the tip of the float is sticking out of the water, just like any other form of float fishing. Obviously if it's quite choppy then you can leave a bit more sticking out, if it's very very still, then just a tiny bit. If you're fishing the feeder then leave a bit more sticking out of the water, you want to avoid getting false bites as the fish attack the feeder. I wouldn't advise you attempting to hold the rod because the slightest movement will pull the float under. The other great thing about the Polaris floats is that it works very much like the lift method. This is why people who fish for bream favour this matter so much. If the fish dislodges the weight, rather than running, the float will rise out of the water. This is a really brilliant method that can be used in any depth of water. When you reel in don't be alarmed if you see that the Polaris is miles away from the weight, just keep reeling when the float touches the top eye of the rod, it will then just push back down again. Polaris now make different designs of these floats for all types of fishing.


Catching up in the water

fishing up in the water pellet floatsWhen the water warms up during the summer months, carp will often feed in the upper layers of the water where its warmest. When this happens you can often catch carp from not only the surface, but just below the surface as well. When we fish just below the surface we call this "up in the water" fishing. When you fish using this method you want to present the bait between 12 & 18 inches below the float. Personally, I wouldn't fish any deeper as when there carp become confident, they will take your free offerings almost as soon as it's the water.

You can get purpose made floats for fishing up in the water, they are normally fairly chunky large floats that make a splash when they hit the water. They are often called . There are loads of designs you can choose from, they come in all shapes and sizes, in fact don't let the Mrs see some of them or she might mistake them one of her special toys. 

There are also purpose made hook links that are made for fishing up in the water. To be perfectly honest, you can probably use them for other types of fishing, but they are marketed for fishing up in the water. However, they normally have a bands which have been hair rigged onto the hook. Traditionally, most people tend to use pellets when fishing partner in the water, so the pellet bands come in very handy for hooking hard pellets. You can use pellets between 3 mm and 12 mm, although I prefer the slightly smaller pellets. I have actually started using small match boilies as the carp really seem to love them. Pellet bands are really not any good for mounting these round baits so I use like to use a bait bayonet which is also hair rigged to the hook. You could use a traditional hair rig if you are using slightly larger boilies, however the ones I use are 8 mm and 10 mm and is there is a tendency for the baiting needle to split them.

If you are a "sit back in the chair and relax fishermen" then up in the water fishing is probably not really for you. The reason I say this is because when you fish up in the water, you have got to constantly introduce free offerings around the float to bring the fish to the area. Carp are attracted to any type of noise caused by floats or free offering, splashing is like ringing the dinner bell for carp. Some people like to offer up fairly large free offerings, anything up to 12 mm. I actually prefer the scatter smaller pellets as I think this is a more attractive noise. Also, a bag of 3 mm pellets will last you a lot longer than a bag of 11 m pellets.

I normally cast my float out, start introducing free offerings and then slowly tweak the float back in towards me whilst continuing to introduce free offerings. When you tweak the float, you lift the hook bait so that it falls naturally like the free offerings, you can often initiate a take by doing this.

Bites are normally fairly positive, when the carp are really feeding confidently they will just grab your bait and when they feel your float will bolt so you often don't even need to strike. If they are very skittish and are just mouthing the bait then you may have to be a little bit more on the ball and strike as soon as the float dips.

I thought I would mention the rod and reel that I use for fishing up in the water. I use one of Drennen's 13 foot power wagglers rods as they have bags of power and you can chuck one of Middys heavy pellet floats quite far. As for a real, I use a Shimano GTE 3000, a real than I've had for years and would never part with. I have 6LB line loaded onto this as this is more than enough.


Float ledger in the margins

Another effective way of fishing the margins is to combine a ledger with the float. The setup is quite simple and actually only uses one knot which is on the hook. What you need is a float, some and a . Attach the float first either side with two float stops. Slide your weight on followed by your buffer bead. Slide two more rubber float stops and finally your hook. Set the two bottom float stops so they are about 7 inches from the hook. The weight doesn't need to be too heavy, definitely a more than 1 ounce. The buffer bead will rest against the two float stops and will stop the weight sliding down towards the hook This method is for fishing for up to 4 feet out from the bank so you will need to plumb the depth of the water. Now you don't want your float sitting up in the water like it normally would, you need to have it laying flat so set the float over depth. When a carp takes your bait you will see the float start to move, it will then start to cock and finally go under.


Margin fishing with the pole

pole_fishing Many anglers overlook the margins in favour of fishing further out. Unfortunately they are often missing out on some real action right under their feet. Just because it may be only a few inches deep right next to the bank, don't let that fool you into thinking that fish don't visit these areas. One of the best times to fish the margin areas of any lake or pond is in the evening. Carp are not stupid fish, they have been accustomed to anglers packing up and discarding any left over bait into the margin areas. Therefore they know that at the end of the day there is going to be food there waiting for them that doesn't have a hook in it. Having said this, don't think that the evenings are the only time you'll catch carp in the margin, I have caught them in the margin at all times of the day, the margin areas of the lake are also a retreat for fish, they will sometimes retreat to these areas as they find it safe, they can hide in weed, under low hanging branches and bushes without being disturbed.

I have a compact 10 foot float rod that is great for fishing the margins. However just occasionally it's really great fun to use a pole. There's nothing more exhilarating and nerve wracking than watching the elastic stretching out to what seems like a mile, you're just waiting for it to snap, really gets the heart pumping. Being disabled means I cannot use one of these larger poles that are made for the margins. Many of these poles are simply too long to handle when you have no hand movement at all. Therefore I favour a Carp Margin Pole that you can buy for as little as £10. Make sure you choose one that is elasticated, there's no point in getting one that has the little ring attached on the end. These are made so you attach the monofilament on the end, they are basically made for catching tiddlers, certainly not bigger fish that fightback. If your disability is similar to mine then you will probably feel comfortable up to around four or 5 m. Although these whips are like, they can get a little bit top-heavy, couple this with a fish and you will have quite a struggle bringing the fish in. I always have my whip attached to my right arm and control it with my left hand. 

Margin-dibber pole floatThe majority of the waters I fish are very shallow in the margins. Therefore I don't use a big long float, I favour the small dibber float.These are very very small, probably no more than a couple of inches long and are only really suitable for fishing extremely close in where you can see them. They are really good for fishing in extremely shallow water, no more than 12 inches deep. They only need one small shot to cock them, I normally place this around six or 7 inches from the hook. The diagram I have included shows the float setup being fished at the exact depth of the water. I prefer to fish slightly over depth, around 6 inches, I find that you can reduce line bites and foul hook ups. If I am fishing in deeper water, four or 5 feet then I will use a larger float with a bulk shot placed around halfway between the hook in the float, and a smaller shops about 6 inches from the hook, this shot will be laying on the bottom and will not be there to cock the float, it will be there to keep the bait steady. 

Carp will visit the margins for one reason, food, so be prepared to give them plenty to eat. I've recently started using ground bait rather than pellets or free offerings. My philosophy is that if you use a good Carp ground bait and fish only your hook bait over the top, once the carp are confidently feeding on the ground bait, they will pick up your hook bait without even thinking about it. If you give them too many of what you already have on the hook, sometimes it can take ages for a bite to come. I've tried this several times now and it worked really well, therefore I don't waste my time piling in lots of pellets and free offerings, I just makes up the ground bait when I get to the water. I have recently gone back to using luncheon meat and spam, the plain old stuff from Sainsbury's. To be perfectly honest Carp absolutely love these processed meats straight out of the tin, however I do like to add a little bit of flavour to it, whether it actually makes a difference I really couldn't say. I've started using F1 liquid additives which smells very much like vanilla. All I do is cut the meat up into small squares, chuck it in a plastic tub, squirt a little bit of additive in and give it a good shake and is ready to go. If I've got some left over at the end of the day, I certainly don't throw it away, I freeze it which by all accounts draws more of the additive into the meat. There is absolutely no way I am going to pay £3.99 for the stuff they sell at the angling shops.

I am a great lover of presenting my hook bait on a hair, I feel much more confident that I can present a bait well and get a hook up straightaway when a fish takes the bait. I recently found a product called "quick stops" these are basically small stops that are already attached to a hair on the hook. Using a special baiting needle, you just push them through the bait and you have a nicely presented bait, hair, no more messing around with piddly little stops that keep falling out all the time. Of course you don't have to use a hair, a plain old hook is what the majority of people use. I would be inclined to use a strong hook when fishing in the margins, I have lost fish before when they have literally opened up the hook when bolting away from the margin.

When you are fishing in the margins, especially in the shallow water you must use a strong elastic. My preference would be between 16 and 20. If you use an elastic that isn't stronger than the chances it will snap on hooking a big Carp as they normally bolt. As for mainline, I don't normally use anything less than 8lb. I always use a slightly lighter hook link as I don't want the elastic snapping.


Fishing the method and pellet feeder

 Drennan method feederThese are two methods I have been using a lot in the last 12 months and I've caught a lot of carp. I particularly like using these two tactics because when bites come they are almost always explosive and if you are not hanging onto your rod tightly, there's every chance it will get pulled in. If you come from a sea angling fraternity then you will probably be used to watching the tip of your rod, therefore this method may be right up your street.

You can use a method feeder on any carp rod, it doesn't necessarily have to be a feeder rod. However, to get the best out of these methods feeders you should opt for a method or bomb rod that has a very sensitive tip that can detect small bites. Because I tend to only fish small venues I only feel the need to use a small feeder rod, certainly not my 11 foot Drennan, a nice rod but far too long for a small pond. Last year I bought a which are absolutely perfect if you are fishing on very small ponds and lakes where you're not casting very far. They come with three tips so you can vary the weights of the feeder.

The reel I use on my 8 foot TF Gear feeder rod is the Shimano Baitrunner DL 2500 FA . This is the perfect reel for this compact feeder rod, I would highly recommend you have a look at it. If you are fishing where there are carp up to double figures then I would be uncomfortable using anything less than 8lb. In fact you should check the venue rules as some places insist on you using a minimum of 8lb line if you are fishing for carp.

There are various different makes of method feeder on the market that come in different shapes and sizes, however they all do exactly the same job. and manufacture in-line method feeders that are very similar. I particularly like the moulds that come with these two feeders. make some nice feeders that are definitely worth a look. These feeders also utilise a mould that enables you to apply your pellet or method mix tidily and firmly so it stays on. I particularly like the which as the name suggests, it does rather look like a banjo. It's weighted on one side, the pellet mix sticks on the other side and will always be facing up, it's almost like you are presenting the food on a plate for the fish.

The banjo feeder is designed to run freely up the line. Preston Innovations also produce some that are designed to work with these type of feeders. These special beads make it very easy to change hook links without the need to keep tying a knot.

With traditional method feeders you would put the method mix all around the feeder, so basically you have a ball that you cast out. These new feeders are slightly different, the method mix is only attached to one side, the feeder is also weighted on the other side so when you cast your method mix is facing upwards, just like a dinner plate ready for the carp. The other good thing about this method is you're not really looking to give the carp too much to eat, just enough so that they take your hook bait fairly quickly. What you'll find happen after a while is that the more you cast, the more free food will build up in the swim. This will then encourage other carp to move in on your swim. You will then get them all into a feeding frenzy, however they will have to compete over what food is available, which won't be an awful lot. If you play your cards right you should get a fish every cast. Try and land your method feeder in the same position every cast, after all there's no point in fishing where the fish are not feeding.. A lot of anglers like to use the line clip on the real, this will guarantee that your feeder lands in exactly the same spot.

It's important that your hook links are kept very short when using the method feeder. The whole point of using this method is that your hook bait is right next to the free offerings on the method feeder. If you use a 12 inch hook link then it defeats the object if your bait is 12 inches away from where the carp are feeding on the free offerings. My hook links are always very short, no longer than 4 inches. Because my hook bait is always small, I like to use a small hook, anywhere between 12 and 14. Drennan now make a wide variety of different carp method hook links, some of them have bait bands attached, others have hair rigs attached to the hook. If I was using pellets then I would nearly always use a bait band, if I was using artificial sweetcorn then I would stick to a hair rig.

My favourite swim at Town Parks is right opposite an island. Carp love islands and margins, casting your method feeder right next to an island can often yield big catches. Also, don't neglect the open water, I found that carp will often sit feeding in mid open water in between islands and channels. This particular spot I fish not only enables me to fish tight to the island, but also the fish into open water, I've got the best of both worlds.

I've used the term method mix a few times, however I more than often use 2 mm pellets that have been soaked until they stick to the method feeder. I've mentioned Sonubaits already, I've been using their range of pellets for a couple of years now. I particularly favour the range of pellets they produce. They come in a resealable packet and are made in various sizes ranging from 1 mm up to around 8 mm I believe. I probably wouldn't advise going much bigger than about 4 mm. I found that trying to use large pellets on the feeder results in them falling off. Also if you soak them too long with the idea that they will stick to the feeder then you may experience them not working very well with the moulds that accompany these method feeders. Preparing the pellets only takes a few minutes. Put your desired amount of pellet into a bait box and submerge completely in water. Leave the pellets for approximately two minutes and then completely drain the water off. I find that leaving them for a further 15 or 20 minutes makes them even better and you'll find that they will stick to a method feeder really well. If you are fishing in deeper water then there's a good chance some of the pellets will come off the feeder before it hits the bottom. You could in these circumstances use some special additives that help bind the pellets which stops them falling off the feeder quite so easily. Mainline particle syrup is an additive that not only boosts the flavour of particles and ground bait, but also helps bind the pellets so that they stay on the feeder and don't fall off as it falls through the water.

If you want to use a traditional method mix in conjunction with one of these method feeders then I would highly recommend one of products. You can use them straight out of the bag, just add water. However, if you are going to use a method mix on the feeder then it is important that you use a to get all of the lumps out of the mixture, you want it really fine so that you get the perfect method mix.

Get yourself a decent feeder rod rest that has different slots on it. This means you can locate your rod in different positions if you want. Locate the tip of the rod fairly close to the water so that there's not much line on top of the water. On very windy days, you may just have to put the tip of the rod under the water. There's no need to have too much of a bend in the tip, just a small arch. If you are fishing a few yards in front of you then leave the line slack because you may find that the carp will bump into the tight line. I bought myself an that the rod rest head attaches to. I had a small adaption made for my wheelchair which now means I always have a decent support for my feeder rod.

When a carp takes the bait you normally get a pretty big tug which will actually hook the fish, so there's absolutely no need to strike. If you are fishing tight against a bank then you may get what we call a "drop back" bites. This basically means that the carp has picked up the bait and instead of running away, it has started swimming towards you because that's the only direction it can go. When this happens you will find the line goes completely slack quickly, that's the time to wind up really quickly into the fish.

I must mention silver fish, that is roach, bream, and hybrids. If you are fishing for carp then these can be a real pain in the backside. Unless it's a fairly sizeable fish you won't get the same bite as you do with carp. I find that I will notice the rod tip switching back and forth, similar to what it does of the carp are attacking the feeder. Sometimes this will carry on for ages and then you will reel in only to find a tiny roach on the end. Bream are a little bit more forceful when it comes to bites, but unless it's a sizeable one, they can't fight for toffee. Having said that, bream and roach often save the day when carp are not biting.

Sometimes you will see the end of your rod shaking, or bouncing back and forth. The reason it's doing this is because the carp has picked up your bait and is trying to shake the hook out of its mouth. Therefore it's a good idea to strike when you see this happening.

It's a good idea to have various hook baits at your disposal. Carp can be a little bit picky when it comes to what they eat. You may find that an 8 mm pellet works for a few hours, then suddenly they don't want it anymore. That's what I love about Ringers allsorts, they come in a variety of colours so if one stops working, you can change until you find a colour that the carp do want. I've mentioned artificial sweetcorn, don't overlook this as a hook bait, it's fantastic and will work completely on its own, there's no need to use it in conjunction with the real sweetcorn, the carp are not going to be studying it for too long, they will be wanting to get it in their mouth as quickly as possible.

Using the pellet feeder

The pellet feeder utilises a slightly different design from the method feeder. Rather than squeezing your pellets onto the whole one side of a method feeder, the pellet feeder only has one small recess in which to squeeze your pellets into. This basically means that the carp can only approach the feeder in one direction in order to get their free offerings. Utilising a very short hook link and offering a pellet on the hook, it's inevitable that the carp will pick your hook bait up quicker than if they are approaching the feeder from more than one direction.

Guru have recently come out with a really great new design of pellet feeder. They are replicating their successful Guru hybrid feeder which has been very popular amongst anglers. The feeder is designed in a way that the pellets will stay in the feeder, even when casting quite far.<

If you are going to be fishing in fairly deep water then I would advise you to use a pellet feeder over a method feeder. Method feeders are great devices, but if you use them in deep water, by the time they hit the bottom most of the pellets will have fallen off. You won't get the same thing happening with pellet feeders, most of the pellets will stay inside.

So that's my take on feeder fishing, give it a try, you'll love it, especially when you get those huge rod wrenching bites.


Surface Fishing

surfaceWhen the weather is warm and the carp are hungry they will happily take floating surface baits. Taking a carp from the surface is I think the most exciting way of catching these fish. If you want to introduce your kids to carp fishing then getting them to surface fish is probably the best way of doing it. I've been there before, trying to get a kid to watch a float is quite difficult. If they can actually see the fish then that's a different ball game altogether.

As the name suggests surface fishing for carp involves using a bait that will float. Traditionally bread is the most well-known surface fishing bait. People have been using bread to catch carp for decades now and it still remains up there as one of the best carp baits ever. The great thing about bread is that carp absolutely love it. Carp don't seem to be spooked by a piece of bread floating on the surface. In a lot of cases when you start putting out biscuits or pellets, the carp will be a little bit wary to begin with. If you are fishing somewhere where the carp are quite jittery then you may find that bread works better than any other floating baits. The biggest problem with bread is that it doesn't stay on the hook very well. Expect to get one cast out of a chunk of bread. The other thing I like about bread is that it becomes very soft after being on the water for a few seconds so there are no hard bits to stop the hook from going into the fish's mouth. You can use any bread, carp aren't really bothered what brand you are using. Having said that, the two types of bread I like using is a normal tin loaf, and also the giraffe or tiger bread as it's known. I always buy it unsliced and then cut the side crusts off to use on the hook and the soft inside for loose feed. What I like to do is prepare the bread before I actually get to the venue. I chop all six sides of the loaf and then cut them into nice squares. I did used to use larger raggedy pieces of bread, however I now like to make it a little bit more tidy, don't know if it makes any difference, certainly does if you are casting any distance. I find a slightly larger hook of around 8 or 6 is best to use with bread because you will be pushing the hook all the way through a fairly thick piece of bait, a small hook will be very difficult to use. I like to push the hook through the crusty side first, pull it all the way through and then hook it once more, this means that it won't fly off the hook when you cast.

Dog biscuits have been a very popular surface fishing bait for carp for the last few years. I favour the dog biscuits manufactured by Pedigree chum. These used to be marketed as chum mixers, however they are just called mixers nowadays. You can get a large bag for about £4.50 from Sainsbury that will last you several weeks. Attaching mixers to the hook is very simple, you can either soak the biscuits until they are soft enough to simply side hook. However, the favoured way is to actually attach them to the hook with a small , the exact same way you would a pellet. There are several other ways you can attach them to the hook, you can use a small hacksaw blade and cut a small groove into the biscuit and glue them to the back of the hook with superglue. This means then that the hook will actually be on top of the biscuit away from the fishes site. However, this method is not something I've ever done, personally I think it's rather time-consuming. A lot of people like to use a hair rig to mount the dog biscuit, this can often be effective for shy feeding carp. Personally I would recommend using a small bait band, is by far the easiest and quickest way to use biscuit straight out of the bag. Nowadays I don't soak biscuits any more because they swell to the extent they are three times the size of your free offerings and somehow look out of place. Some people use cat biscuits with great success, this isn't something I've ever tried myself.

Floating trout pellets have become very popular in recent years and the carp can't get enough of them. You can mount them in exactly the same way as a dog biscuit. However, in the last two or three years I have been using These come in various sizes, I actually prefer the 11 mm version. They come in various flavours and are packed with oils which release massive amounts of flavour into the water. Unlike traditional trout pellets which are hard, these oily floaters are made so you can put them straight on the hook. Alternatively, you can use them on a hair rig.

In order to deliver a piece of bread, or a dog biscuit which obviously carry hardly any weight you need to use a special kind of float. The tackle companies sell specially designed controller floats that come in all shapes and sizes. If you're like me, you'll probably find two or three that you really like and you will stick to them when surface fishing. My absolute favourite is the . As the name suggests it is an oval egg -shaped transparent float that is designed not to spook the fish. What I find really funny when using my bubble float if the fish actually pay more attention to the float then they do the bait in a lot of cases. This is one reason why I never use a very long hook link when using the bubble float. If they are paying that much attention for the float, it makes sense to me to have the bait close by. Also, I find the bubble float an excellent device for casting into tight spots. It simply not sensible to use a very long hook link if you are fishing amongst bushes and overhanging trees. The bubble float also acts as a semi-bolt rig, although it's completely safe as it utilises a small rubber sleeve that the swivel fits into. When the fish take the bait, they feel the weight of the float and bolt, however the swivel always comes out of the sleeve and makes the whole system completely safe.

The other float I've been using a lot when fishing with bread is called the candlestick surface fishing float. It basically looks like a candlestick, it's as simple as that. All it does is float on the surface, again the carp peck at it, probably thinking it's a piece of bread.

There are simply dozens and dozens of different types of controller floats on the market, too many to list on this page. If you are looking for a controller float to use on a big water where you have to cast a long way then consider floats manufactured by , and Korda, they make stealth type floats that will cast 100 yards easily.

When carp are feeding from the surface they will be looking up and will be able to see just about anything that is floating on the top of the water. One thing that you must understand about Carp is they are extremely wary and can be spooked very easily. You can completely scupper your chances of catching carp if they can see your hook link. Therefore it's a good idea to use the newly designed tackle that can help disguise your terminal tackle and stop the carp from seeing. Korda have brought out some tackle that demonstrates this perfectly. It's manufactured as Kruiser Control and is made especially for surface fishing. I've been using their for both my hook link and main line for a couple of years now and whereas I can't honestly tell you what the carp think, I can certainly see that the carp are not being spooked easily. They also manufacture a surface control float under the same name. These are designed so that they don't cause a big disturbance when they hit the water. I also like the fact that they have designed the float so that if you use a size 11 ring swivel you can locate it inside a silicon sleeve and therefore turn the whole system into a safety bolt rig. This basically means that the carp will hook itself as soon as it swims away with the bait, rather than swimming away with slack line.

Carp can often be very wary about taking surface baits, therefore I always use slightly smaller hooks around size 10 or 12. In the last three years I've been using as these really complement both dog biscuits and pellets. Whether you use a band, or soft hookable pellets, these hooks are absolutely perfect.

In my opinion there's no need to use very long hook links. Depending on the sort of surface fishing I'm doing, my hook links can range from as little as 6 inches, up to around 3 feet maximum. I never use long hook links when fishing close to islands because it's very difficult to cast accurately if you've got a long flowing hook link. Also, you often find the carp will cruise up and down right next to the bank, therefore you want your hook bait in the right position. I find that using a bubble float with a very short hook link works best in situations like this. If am fishing in open water then I tend to use a slightly longer hook link, around 3 feet.

On a nice warm summer's day when it's nice and still with hardly any surface movement on the water you will no doubt see quite a few carp patrolling back and forth. Don't be tempted to tackle up and cast out straight away, be a little bit patient, see if the fish are feeding to begin with. Before I even set my rod up, I will introduce a few free offerings to see what's going on. It should be fairly obvious if the carp are going to be up to taking surface baits. Spend a few minutes putting out two or three pellets at a time, once you've got a few carp taking them regularly then introduce your hook bait. Alternatively, you can walk around the venue and pick off individual fish, that's always fun.

It is quite important that you grease your line with Vaseline in order to make it float. If the line sinks then it makes it difficult to make contact with the float quickly. You can get Vaseline from the chemist, alternatively I like to use which is available from most tackle shops. It's purposely made for fishing and comes with a piece of foam which makes it easy for you to put a small layer of grease on your line without getting covered in it.

To keep the fish interested it's a good idea to introduce free offerings every now and then. Don't go overboard and chuck handfuls in because you'll just give them more than they actually need.

One mistake I see people making a lot is when they strike as soon as the fish goes anywhere near the bait. In most cases a carp will investigate a potential meal before actually eating it. On heavily fish commercial waters carp will become suspicious because they have been caught so many times. If you are float fishing, or maybe feeder fishing, you will see the float bobbing up and down, or the tip of the rod twitching, this is often when the carp is investigating your bait, but not actually taking it properly. They will do exactly the same thing with the surface bait. The best way to get a successful take on the surface is to let the carp take the bait when he wants it. If you strike when you see the carp mouthing the bait the chances are you will miss. When you become fairly experienced at this method you can hook the carp when they mouth the bait, but you've got to know exactly when to do it because they often split the bait out if they feel something is not quite right.

Although not a method I use much, you could try surface fishing using the anchored float method. Use a bubble float which has a couple of rings attached either side. Thread this onto the line first, then a weight with your hook length. When you cast out your weight will keep the float and bait in the same area and it won't drift around with the wind. You can then concentrate on feeding that area with free offerings.

The wintertime is not normally noted for good surface fishing. However if you get a couple of days of really good sunny mild weather than you will find the fish coming to the surface, so my advice would be to keep some surface fishing tackle with you at all times.


Surface fishing with artificial bait

Fake fishing baits have been around for quite a few years now. Enterprise Tackle have been producing various different types of fake fishing baits for a number of years. Just recently they have brought out a new version of their dog mixer biscuits. Originally their fake dog biscuits were produced to look like mixer biscuits that had been left soaking in water. The problem with this is that when you fired out biscuits straight from the packet, they look completely different from your hook bait. These new mixer biscuits looking exactly the same as dry biscuits from the packet and therefore in theory the fish should be less suspicious. The Enterprise Tackle fake mixers are specifically designed so they . It has a nifty little stop that not only performs as a means to stop the biscuit falling off the hair, but is also brightly coloured so that you can see your biscuit amongst all the free offerings. Don't worry, the carp will not be able to see the bright coloured stop, this is only for your benefit. The other version can be used straight on the hook. The other fantastic improvement is on one side which means when you side hook it, the hook actually sits on top of the biscuit away from the fishes view.

I have been trying these fake chum mixers at Hatchlands fishery where they have a small lake packed with carp ranging from less than a pound, up to around 12 lbs. They are absolutely fantastic, I had 10 carp in a very short period of time using the chum mixer with the coloured stop. What was quite encouraging as well was I didn't have any chum mixers with me at the time, so I introduced floating trout pellets as free offerings. The carp absolutely love floating trout pellets, but they still took the fake chum mixer, even though it did look a little bit different from the trout pellets. I can tell you that fishing with these fake chum mixers is a joy because you don't have to keep changing your hook bait. These new stops that come in various colours really hold the fake biscuit onto the hair firmly so it won't fall off. I made up some hair rigs which consisted of a length of ranging from around 8 inches, up to a couple of feet. This is specially designed line for surface fishing and reduces the chances of spooking the carp. A Fox bubble float, and a , I prefer to fish a slightly smaller hook nowadays, a 12 or 10 is what I would recommend, the smaller the hook the less chance the fish have of being spooked by it. The coloured stops which sit on top of the biscuit stand out really well so you are able to pick out which is your bait, even from 40 or 50 yards.

The second fake bait that you can use for surface fishing is bread. As far as I'm concerned bread is the best surface bait there is, carp will take it without even thinking about whether there's a hook in it or not. Enterprise Tackle sell artificial bread that comes in a packet of four pieces. The pieces are square and look like the inside part of a loaf of bread cut into small cubes. There are a few other companies that are selling that come in various different sizes forms and textures, these may be worth looking at as well. However, I have tried using fake bread times and as of yet have had no success in actually catching a fish. The fish have certainly investigated the fake bread, but they just turn away as if they're not sure what it is. That's not saying it doesn't work, I just think that you would have to get the carp into an absolute frenzy in order for them to take the carp in one go. If you've ever fished for carp using bread than you will know that they tend to pick at the bread breaking small pieces off before eventually taking it all in one go. I don't think this stuff will work if you try using a really big piece, especially at the carp you are fishing for a small to mid-size. You may find that a very large carp will take down a large piece of fake bread, but then again, the very big carp are often very suspicious, they get that with old age and experience. I think your best bet would be to use a small cube on a hair, small enough for the carp to think it's not really worth nipping at and it will take it down in one go.

I've said this before I will say it again, get the carp competing for food. It's no good chucking in tons and tons of free offerings if you've only got a few carp taking from the surface. Start off with a few pieces of free offerings, whether that's bread or dog biscuits. If you've got 10 carp taking from the surface in front of you and you are only throwing in five dog biscuits, they are going to want to get there before everybody else, the chances are they're not even going to bother investigating your hook bait.


Surface fishing with the suspender rig

carp suspender float The suspender rig is probably not a very common sight on many commercial waters nowadays. However, the principle of this method is actually very clever. Basically you are eliminating the need to have the line floating on the water which can often spook carp, all you have is the bait touching the surface. I suppose it's rather like a crane that has a wrecking ball attached on the end of it, although you're not trying to bash the carp on the head. This method utilises the anchored float technique. You use a weight, probably around 1 ounce minimum as the anchor. The suspended rig consists of a tube of around 12 inches, it has a buoyancy aid attached at the bottom, normally a ping-pong ball is used. When you cast out you use the tension of the line to suspend the bait from the arm. The beauty with this method is that you can use baits that will sink under normal circumstances. Personally I would only ever use this method if you are sure the carp are seeing the hook length and are being spooked.

I bought a couple of these suspender floats some years ago that have a very clever design. The body of the float has what I would describe as a miniature fishing rod attached to it. It has a small ring in the end that your hook link passes through. It is designed to suspend your on bait on the surface without the line touching the water. This suspender float is weighted so you don't need to fish it as a fixed suspender rig.

suspender float fishing rig


Carp surface waggler and the blob

If you want to try a slightly different way of catching carp then read on. This method is simplicity in itself and requires only two main elements. The first thing you'll need is a . These floats are made to fish surface baits and even though they look like a standard waggler float, they are actually designed to have the line passing through a ring on top of the float. The next element is probably what makes this method of fishing different from your standard surface fishing, that is a "blob". Okay, this has got nothing to do with that awful B horror movie of the 1950s. The and are basically a little round buoyant ball that you attach onto your line in exactly the same way as a rubber float stop. The difference between this way of fishing and surface fishing is you don't actually use a buoyant bait. The point of using this method is you actually want to fish your bait 2 or 3 inches just under the surface, rather than having it as a floating bait. This is where the blob comes into the equation, you position the blob two or 3 inches from your hook bait, this then suspends your bait just under the water. I would probably be inclined to use small pellets when fishing this method, although I think it would be fun to try some of the artificial baits that are very popular nowadays. Korum manufacture some that are supposed to be pretty good. You could also try using . I think it's a good idea to try and steer away from the norm sometimes. Everybody is using dog biscuits and pellets during the summer time on commercials these days, I'm surprised the carp don't completely ignore them. But carp are very inquisitive creatures, they will investigate something that maybe they haven't seen much of before. If they don't associate it with risk then the chance is they will eat it without actually being too wary. A lot of carp anglers are now using artificial hook baits that don't really resemble anything. It simply the fact that it's an odd shape and maybe a bright colour that attracts the carp to want to eat it.


The Zig Rig

zig-rigThe Zig rig is an excellent method for catching carp when they are feeding very much up in the water.

The principle of this method is very similar to using a fixed ledger rig. Basically you have your lead and hook link. However, the difference between a bottom fishing rig and the zig is that the hook link is much longer as it needs to present the bait much higher up in the water where the carp are swimming.

A lot of people like to use a small hair to mount the bait on when fishing the zig. However it's important that the hair is not too long. The problem with using a long hair is the fish may take the bait in initially. But because of the way the rig is set up, the weight of the lead will then pull it straight out of the fishes mouth without hooking it properly. So it's important that you mount the bait so that when the fish takes it into its mouth, the hook also goes with it. So if you are using a hair make sure that it's quite short so when you put the baits onto it, the bait is almost touching the bend of the hook. Alternatively you can use a device called a This nifty little device enables you to mount your bait directly onto the hook thus presenting it in such a way that the carp will always take the hook into its mouth when taking the bait.

It's important that you use a fine monofilament line. There's no need to use heavy lines and even more important not to use fluorocarbon which are very heavy and sink like a brick.

Use small hooks, a short shank mixer hook around size 12 is perfect.

Floating baits will work just fine, floating boilies, biscuits, pellets will all be attractive to carp. However, a lot of the guys use pieces of foam as bait. Because of the way the bait is presented up in the water, the carp will often take the bait automatically because when set up properly it will be right in front of them when they are swimming around in the upper layers of the water. A lot of anglers like to use two pieces of foam, one yellow and one black. The theory is that you put the black on the bottom and the yellow on the top. If the carp are slightly lower in the water and look up, they will see the black foam. Alternatively, if they are swimming at the same level as the bait, or slightly above they will see the yellow.

A lot of people don't know what depth they should be fishing at when using the zig rig. You won't really know yourself until you get to the lake and observe what the fish are doing. If the fish are very close to the surface then you want to be fishing just under the surface. If the fish are not showing near the surface then set your depth lower. The only way you're going to find the optimum that is to keep testing several depths. What I would advise you to do is get yourself a special float that measures the depth of the water. You can then put together several hook links that cover various depths of water. Then it's just a case of finding exactly what depth the carp are taking your bait.


A Simple Running Ledger Rig

Using match methods such as feeder, float, pole requires a lot of concentration and a fair amount of work in order to get the carp feeding. If you just want to go down to the pond, cast your line out and sit back and enjoy the sunshine then why not use a simple ? My advice would be to use nothing more than a weight and a hook link, no need for these fancy setups that these guys use when they are fishing for the really big carp. The running ledger was designed so that when the carp picks up the bait, it doesn't feel the weight. Sometimes carp will instantly drop the bait if they feel any resistance at all. Some people like to use bolt rigs, but if you are going to go down this route you must use a safety bolt rig so if something goes wrong and you get snapped off the carp is not towing a lead around the pond.


What is the best bait for carp

Carp, especially smaller carp tend not to be too fussy about what they eat. Commercial water carp will often take a wide variety of different baits. It really is impossible to say what bait works best. I could guarantee to you that I could go to my local commercial pond and fish artificial sweetcorn on a pellet feeder and do just as well the next day using 8 mm Ringer allsorts with the same method. I could then go down the following week and blank using both baits, that is what it is often like when you fish on a small commercial carp water.

If you shop for carp fishing bait on the Internet then you'll see that there is a frightening amount of different baits available, far too many for you to try all of them. I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to stick to one particular company when getting my ground bait and pellets that I use on the pellet feeder and method. This company is called Sonubaits and I am quite happy with their products, I don't see any need to go anywhere else now, certainly makes my life a lot easier. However, when it comes to my hook bait I am always looking around for something different, something new on the market that the carp may not have seen.

I have compiled a list of hook baits that I have used over the years. I'll tell you how I mount them on the hook and how much I rate them as a carp bait.

- the first bait on the list is probably the best bait ever for carp. I caught my first ever carp on a single grain of sweetcorn so obviously it is a bait that I carry with me on fishing sessions. If I am loose feeding sweetcorn then I use the cheap stuff from Sainsbury's. However if I'm using real sweetcorn on the hook than you can't beat the stuff that Van Den Eynde sell. Sweetcorn now comes in a variety of flavours and should always be part of your arsenal, just for emergencies when nothing else may work on that particular day. Maize is basically the same but just a little bit bigger, again you can buy it in large tins from companies like. If you're fishing for carp into double figures then don't be scared to put seven or eight kernels of corn on a size 8 hook. Alternatively, you can hair rig two or three pieces of corn. Some anglers like to include a piece of artificial corn just to put some buoyancy into the hook bait so the fish sucks up a little bit easier.

- I came across Ringers allsorts last year when shopping on eBay. They are shaped like a dumbbell and come in various colours. They are made to be used on a small bait band and can be fished using various methods. I like to use them on the pellet and method feeder.

- these pellets come in various sizes and are manufactured by different companies. Some companies are now pre-drilling sizes down to around 8 mm which obviously makes it very easy for them to be put onto a hair rig. These always work well on the method or pellet feeder. I use short method feeder hook links which are about three or 4 inches long and are ready side, normally with either a hair rig or a band. I would recommend using companies such as or with these particular type of pellets.

- mini boilies range from around 8 mm up to 10 mm and can be a very good carp bait. I like to use them when fishing up in the water with a pellet waggler. I have found the ringers 10 mm white boilies to be particularly good. Now these particular boilies can be a little bit difficult to mount on a hair rig as I found they can often split when you're pushing the baiting needle through them. Try and get yourself a baiting needle that has a very thin needle, if you use a standard one then you'll probably find your keep splitting the boilies. I had some Middy pre-tied hook links which had a bait bayonet attached to the hook. These bayonets are perfect for little mini boilies because you can push them into the boiling without breaking it in half.

- another fabulous bait that the tackle companies have jumped upon and are now producing their own versions of the stuff that we often put on our sandwiches at lunchtime. There is no way I am paying £3.99 for a tin of luncheon meat, I would rather get some from Sainsbury's for £1.70. The basic luncheon meat from Sainsbury's is all you need, you can flavour it with bait additives and get exactly the same results. Try baking grill, carp love this. You can mount cubes of me either directly onto the hook, or onto a hair. Try using Korum quick stops when using cubes of meat, it's very quick and easy to mount them and you get great presentation. Peperami is a great hook bait to use. You can present it pair or a fairly large hook, it's very tough so won't fall off. Carp love spices so don't be afraid to use the really hot spicy peperami.

- this is a fabulous hook bait, however unless you can get a very stiff mixture you may find it falls off the hook easily. It's more than often used when people fish for carp using the pole. You can make your own paste by soaking trout pellets for several hours and maybe adding a little bit of cornflour. This way you can get the texture exactly as you want it. If you're going to be casting with paste then use a big hook, no smaller than 8.

- what fish dosen't like worms? If I'm fishing for carp then I prefer to use a nice big juicy lob worms. You don't need to buy lob worms, if you've got a back garden then go out in the evening, sprinkle water that has a little bit of washing-up liquid over the grass and then wait for the worms to appear. Alternatively, go out on a football pitch, especially around the goalmouth if the mud is exposed after it's been raining and worms often appear in their thousands. Another good place to get worms is a golf course, golf groundsmen hate worms and you may get permission to go and harvest them after it's dark when it's damp. You'll need a fairly large hook if you're using a big lob worm, at least a size 6. Hook the worm just above its stomach so that you've got plenty of worm wriggling around. Match fishermen love using worms, ones that you find in compost heaps. They will often chop the worm in half so that it releases all its smell into the water which apparently is irresistible to fish. Hook the worm where you've cut it in half.

Bread - bread isn't just a surface fishing bait, you can use it on a float as well and it can be very good indeed. Don't use crust if you want your hook bait to sink. Use normal white sliced bread, or you can use the white fluffy inside of tiger bread. I like to use a fairly big hook when using bread, a size 8 or 6 is a good size. Take a piece of bread about the size of a 50p piece, fold it around the hook and then squeeze very tightly around the knot, but don't squeeze all of the bread, make sure you leave some nice flaky bits that will come off in the water.

Maggots/casters - maggots and casters will catch just about anything that swims in a pond. However, expect to catch loads of silver fish. Alternatively, use a bigger hook, a size 10 and cram it full of maggots, as many as you can get on. You can always use a cocktail, maybe sweetcorn and maggots, the list is endless and can be very attractive to fish.

Shellfish-seafood -Carp love cockles a lot. I'd probably avoid using pickled cockles, get fresh or frozen cockles if you can. I normally use one cockle on a size 10 hook. However, you could cram several cockles onto a larger hook if you want..

Hotdog segments - Savoy sausages and hotdogs are an absolutely brilliant carp bait. I particularly like the Savoy sausages, they are quite expensive, you will pay about 40p for one off the delicatessen counter at Sainsbury's. You can often find hotdogs in jars that are cheaper. I tend to use smaller hooks nowadays so I will normally cut a Savoy sausage into 1 cm segments and then cut this into three. The texture of the Savoy sausage is perfect for mounting on a hook. Because Savoy sausages are very firm, they are also absolutely perfect for mounting on a hair rig.

Cat meat - believe it or not you can use cat meat as a hook bait for carp. Make sure you use the stuff that comes in small cubes. It's very soft so I doubt whether you'll be able to cast with it very far. However, having had a cat for several years myself, I know that cat food absolutely stinks so on your head be if you use this bait.

- before you start using nuts on a venue check the rules first because many fisheries will not allow nuts to be used. are a wonderful bait for carp, they cannot get enough of them. Giant American peanuts where a favourite of John Wilson, he used to use them a lot and rated them highly, although I've never managed to find the ones he used.

- these are great pellets to use on the method feeder. They are easy to prepare, add your desired amount to a bait box. Add water until it just covers the pellets. Turn the bait box over and leave for 15 minutes whilst the water drains out. Turn back lid up and leave for a further 15 minutes. The pellets will then be perfect for use on a feeder.

- there are hundreds, probably thousands nowadays of bait additives that you can enhance your hook baits and free offerings with. The one I was using last year which smelled of vanilla was . I used it when fishing a small method feeder. After adding water to a box of pellets, I would add a couple of liberal squirts of the liquid flavouring and give it a good shake.

Nowadays I add a liberal amount of Korda Koo to enhance the flavour of my hook baits. I particularly like Spicy Squid flavour for cockles, and Carmel flavour for meat.

Anyway, I could make a list a mile long talking about different hook baits, however I'd rather talk about ones I've used myself, rather than ones I haven't. I've caught carp on all of the above hook bait, they all work well so give them a try.

Before you go to the tackle shop and spend a fortune on baits, consider getting your baits from Sainsbury's, it will cost you a fraction of the price and you will be getting the same results.


Ringers Banded Allsorts Pellets

Last summer I came across some awesome pellets that are probably the best I've ever used for the feeder. Manufactured by Ringers they are marketed as Banded Allsorts Mini High Flavoured Sinkers. They are shaped like a dumbbell which means they are absolutely perfect for use on the pellet band as it does not easily slip off. I've been using them on nearly all the feeder sessions since I got them and have caught a ton of carp. What I really like about them is because there pellets don't come off easily, you will catch more than one fish on the one bait. Yesterday I caught three bream and one carp on the same pellet. I got mine from eBay, £3.99 and you even get a free packet of bands, you can't beat that for price, especially when there are plenty of pellets in the box.


ground bait your swim

sonubaits groundbaitsCarp have got very large appetites and are very nomadic which means they will be on the move all the time looking for something to eat. You will catch carp without ground bait or free offerings, but to increase your chances of catching more than one carp in a session then it's important to give them an incentive to come into your swim. Now that carp fishing has become so popular there are literally hundreds of different varieties of ground bait that you can buy. To be perfectly honest it can be rather overwhelming when you look on the Internet for carp ground bait. For the past couple of years I've been using variety of ground baits and pellets. You get a really good deal for your money, more than enough ground bait for a couple of sessions on the commercial water, and enough pellets to last for several sessions if you are using a pellet feeder. Sonubaits make a wide variety of carp ground bait containing all sorts of ingredients as well as making ground baits for different types of carp fishing. Their ground baits are incredibly easy to prepare, you just pour them into your bucket, add some water and mix them up. If you are going to ball the ground bait and throw it out then you can just mix it in the bowl and it's ready to go after a few minutes. However, if you are going to introduce the ground bait into your marginal area then a lot of people now recommend that you don't actually compact the ground bait, just skip it out of your bucket and tip it into your swim so that it just sinks down through the water in a nice cloud. Doing this will actually attract the carp into your area as they will see the cloud of ground bait from quite a long way off. To remove any lumps out of the mixture then use a . It's always a good idea to bait up a couple of areas so that you give yourself a good chance of catching. I will normally bait up directly in front of me, and then to the left and right. Then if you catch in one area, you can rest it for a while and fish the other area that you have baited up


Make up your own ground bait

There are loads of different ground baits on the market that will do the job for you. However if you want to get a bit more creative then you can make your own ground bait mixup using various ingredients. Here is one mixture that you could use.

- this contains all sorts of goodies that carp love. You could also take particles included in this mix and user for your hook bait.

- carp love spicy food, chilly hemp is a great addition to any ground bait mixture. I get mine from Dynamite Baits.

Sweetcorn - no ground bait is really complete without a liberal helping of sweetcorn.

Powdered chilli powder - you can get this from Sainsbury's, again a nice liberal sprinkling will give the whole mixture a presence in the water which carp will be attracted to.

Salt - we like salt or our food, carp also like it.

Tinned tuna in oil - all fish love this type of food, I often used to feed it to my tropical fish occasionally so I can guarantee that the carp will definitely enjoy eating it.

There are no specific measurements, just add as much as you think you need.


Simple to make ground bait

If you don't want to go to too much trouble to make a ground bait then you can use three or four off-the-shelf food items to make a very effective ground bait that will definitely bring carp into your swim. The ingredients are bread, bran, sweetcorn, and whatever you are using on your hook. Bran is readily available in bags, I got mine from Holland and Barrett for about £2.50, more than enough for a couple of sessions. Put about 3 or 4 inches of lake water in a bucket, take four or five slices of white bread and mash it all up into a pulp. Don't worry if you still got lots of extra water, when you add the bran flakes, you will find it soaks up the water almost straightaway. Then add your sweetcorn and mix it all up and you are ready to go. If you are using pellets, or chunks of meat then check a few of those in as well. This isn't the sort of ground bait that you can throw, it's only suitable for use in the margins.


Attach Your Pellets Easily

maver pellet-banderIf you like using bait bands but find them extremely fiddly to use, especially when they are the very small ones then I might be able to help you. I recently came across a special gadget that enables you to quickly and easily mount any sized pellets or dog biscuits on any size band. The gadget is called a and is available at many tackle suppliers for a few quid.


An excellent way to cube luncheon meat

I've been using luncheon meat and spam for years, it's a fantastic carp bait that never lets you down. Cutting the meat by hand isn't particularly a difficult job and doesn't exactly take ages, but cutting the cube so they are all uniform isn't that easy. I've been using a nifty little device called the that allows you to cube your meat in a matter of seconds, you then get a whole tin of spam that is cut into exactly the same size cubes. The meat cutter is aimed more at match anglers so don't expect massive cubes from this device. You can buy the main meat cutter equipped with one set of blades that will cut a specific size of cube. Once you've got the main unit then you can buy all the other blades as add-ons. Blade sizes come in 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, 7 mm, 8 mm and 10 mm.


Know the Depth of the Water

It's very important that before you start fishing with a float you first know how deep the water is. If you are ground baiting your swim then there seems little point in fishing 1 foot under the surface. The term we use to work out how deep the water is is called "plumbing". It actually originates from when sailors used to use a plumb line to determine how deep the water was and what substrate they were sailing over. We anglers use what we call a plummet in exactly the same way.

Plummets are available in all shapes and sizes and every angler should have one. I actually prefer the ones that I refer to as "hippopotamus" plummets. This is basically because they look exactly the same as a hippopotamus's mouth. They are actually and can be bought in packs of three. I like these because they can accommodate larger hooks and just clip on and off with no messing around. Plumbing the depths is simple, clip your plummet onto the hook, put your float in the water where you intend on fishing and observe what happens to the float. If the float goes under then you know you are under depth and you need to move the float up. If the float lays flat on the water then you are over depth and the float needs to be slid down the line. Adjust your float so you just have the coloured tip sticking out of the water. As mentioned in a previous article under float fishing, you may want to adjust the float so it's slightly over depth, this will ensure that you have 6 or 7 inches line laying on the bottom.


Terminal tackle I really like

The tackle companies are forever bringing out new gadgets so it's always a good idea to keep an eye on what is new. I particularly like tackle produced by Guru, Korda, Korum and Drennan. They all have YouTube channels which advertise any new products they are bringing out.


Drennan quick change speed beads

These are really fantastic, you can change hook links very quickly and I would recommend using them on a method feeder, or a pellet feeder.


Korum Hook Hair Quick Stops

korda quick stops

I use hair rigs as much as I can and I just feel confident that I will hook the fish without having the bait masking the hook. I recently came across these which are a absolutely marvellous design. You can see by the picture how they work, there is a little plastic stop attached onto the hair, you simply push this through the bait and security on the other side, it takes a couple of seconds when you get used to it. I would advise you to purchase the special baiting needle that accompanies these quick stops as it's sometimes difficult pushing the stop through a large bait. These come into a couple of varieties, the hooks on their own with the stops attached, and also complete ready tied hook links in various sizes.



Some fishing knots

Here is a diagram that shows you how to tie a knotless knot, or hair rig as it is also known as. The hair rig is a integral part of many carp fishermen's tactics and is one of the most common knots people use when fishing. A hair rig enables you to present your bait whilst leaving the hook totally clear and away from obstructions. The most common bait used on a hair rig is the boilie, although just about any other bait can be used. Even though many people prefer to tie their own hair rigs, many of the fishing companies now produce "ready tied" hair rigs. The single ready tied rigs are quite expensive however, the match hair rigs which often come in packets of up to 10 are quite cheap and in my opinion it's a lot easier to buy these off-the-shelf, rather than spending ages making something that costs less than three quid.

My local angling supplies stocks most of what I want, however there are times when I need to get on the Internet to obtain an item of tackle. Poingdestres have quite a nice variety of hooks to nylon, many of them incorporating a hair for various baits.


Surgeons Loop

Every angler should know how to tie a loop, I use loops nearly every time I go fishing. A surgeon loop is a very convenient way of attaching various different types of tackle. For instance, the Drennan in-line flat method feeder is designed to be attached using a couple of surgeons loops, one on the mainline, the other on the hook link, it's so easy, no need for any knot tying if you leave the loop on your mainline. Tying very small loops is difficult at the best of times, however I recently came across a clever little device that makes tying small surgeons loops childsplay, check out this .

surgeon loop

If you are a beginner to fishing then it's always a good idea to have a book or these in your tackle box so that you know your knots will always be good, after all you don't want to lose the fish of a lifetime just because you haven't tied your hook on hook properly.

Fish the Evenings

Most guys who fish commercial waters get there quite early in the morning and then pack up at around 5 PM. The one thing they are overlooking is the evening period just before dark is often the very best time to fish for carp. Think about it logically, what do a lot of anglers do when they stop fishing and start packing up? They throw their unused bait into the swim. Over the years the carp have realised this and know that they will be getting a free meal at the end of the day. That is often why you will see a lot of activity in the margins in the evening. So instead of sitting there all day roasting your chestnuts off in the hot sun when the carp are often not very active Go down at about five o'clock and fish through to 10 o'clock, I can almost guarantee that you'll get a lot more action. Also, you'll probably have the whole pond to yourself as well.


Carp love overhanging trees and bushes

Carp love hanging out under overhanging bushes and trees, they probably find these dark places a sanctuary to feel safe.  If you're fishing in undergrowth then try opting for a short that come in sizes of around 8 foot. These little powerhouses are perfect for fishing where there are overhanging branches and foliage that will make it impossible to fish with a longer rod. There's one location I fish where I am situated under a tree and am basically fishing right under my feet. Using my eight-foot

I like to use a method feeder with a very short hook link. I just drop the method feeder next to the bank, leave the line slack and wait for the fish to run, absolutely brilliant fun. And believe me, this particular location is absolutely packed with fish, they obviously really like it under this tree.


Spawning Carp

In the spring time when the weather starts getting a little warmer the carp start thinking about other things rather than food, in other words they have got sex on the mind. A female carp can hold hundreds of thousands of eggs, when the time comes to release them the male carp get very excited and jostle with each other so they can be the one to fertilise the eggs when the female releases them. You'll know when the carp start spawning because firstly, you probably won't catch anything, but more noticeably you will hear a lot of splashing around, especially in the margins around the foliage. When fish spawn they are really not interested in feeding, so don't be surprised if you don't catch anything during this period. Once the carp have finished spawning, they are often extremely hungry so it's often very good fishing just after they have spawned. Don't be surprised if after spawning time, some of the carp you catch have got injuries, this is inevitable as they are extremely rough during the spawning period. If you want to help the carp, always have some antiseptic in your box, Klinic is one manufacturer that comes to mind.


Hot days aren't always best

Anglers often think that baking hot days are the time to catch carp. Warm days yes, baking hot days, unfortunately not always the case. The problem with long spells of hot weather is on the small commercial waters, the oxygen is sapped out of the water. When this happens, you often find that fish are just not interested in eating. It's very easy to tell when this is happening, you will see all the carp sitting just under the surface of the water. We've all done it, you cast a floating bait at them and they just ignore it. If this is happening to you, try fishing near an inlet if there is one at the fishery. Many commercial fisheries are spring fed so you will have constant water entering the pond. When the water enters the pond, it creates plenty of oxygen and I suppose revitalises the fish which is why you will often find the one guy catching all the fish on a hot day is the one who is right next to the inlet.

If the weather is going to be very hot, I often prefer to go down to the pond and fish a few hours in the evening when the weather cools down. I'd much rather do that than sit on the bank all day roasting my chestnuts off catching absolutely nothing.


Fish into a southwesterly wind

None of us like to be uncomfortable when we go fishing, there's nothing nicer than sitting there with your rod with the sun blazing down warming your cockles. As soon as that wind starts blowing, most people try and find shelter. However, winds that come from a southwesterly direction can actually improve the fishing. Southwesterly winds are always warm, they often bring the fish on to feed.. Fish will follow a southwesterly wind. So if you're going fishing on a day when there is a southwesterly blowing, don't sit on the side of the lake where it is nice and sheltered, fish into the wind, especially if you are fishing in a corner, the chances are, you'll bag up because that is where all the fish will be. But remember, this is only with any southwesterly, don't waste your time fishing into a freezing northerly wind, the only thing you're catch is hypothermia.