Beginners guide to carp fishing

person Pauline Riverafolder_openMy Blogaccess_time January 12, 2017

Are you interested in carp fishing? Thinking of taking up the sport? Or perhaps someone you know wants the low down on how to get started.

Here we have put together a guide to carp fishing for starters.

Just the very basics to get you started – be warned – you’ll soon be hooked!


Image source: Fish on Friday
This is what you are after!

You are after carp – one of the most exciting, challenging and maddening fish it is possible to catch on rod and line. Common, mirror or grass carp to name but three varieties is a wide family of freshwater fish originated to Europe and Asia. During the middle ages, they were introduced to Britain and farmed by monks for their tasty flesh.

Inevitably, some escaped into rivers, ponds and lakes, where they flourish. Thanks to their power, strength and wily ways, carp were long considered almost uncatchable. With modern carp fishing tackle and baits, you could be in with a chance – but you’ve got to get it right…




Image source: Bath Angling
Make sure you stay free from board.

First things first. if you want to fish without the fear of being caught by one of the officers from the Environment Agency, make sure you are the owner of an up to date rod license. You need one to fish for salmon, trout, freshwater fish – including carp, smelt and eel with a rod and line in England (except the River Tweed), Wales or the Border Esk region of Scotland.

To get a license, simply go to your local post office and pay over the counter. You don’t need to wait for the licence to come through, just keep the receipt to hand in case you’re asked. A full licence costs £27 at the time of writing, however, if you’re just giving carp fishing a try, a one day licence costs just £3.75.


Image source: Cottington Lakes
choose a lake with lots of smaller fish.

We all want to catch a big fish, but the truth is, the bigger the fish grows, the wiser it gets. Some of the specimen lakes offer beasts well over twenty years old. In fact the oldest recorded carp was ‘Raspberry’, denizen of Redmire Pools in Herefordshire who  thought to be lived to the ripe old age of 67. Old, wise fish are hard to fool and as a starter, who wants to spend the day on the bank without so much as a bite?

Newbies are better off heading for somewhere that stocks a larger number of smaller fish, say around the 5 – 10 lb range. Catching bigger carp takes knowledge and experience, but put in the hours and you’ll be on your way to being a match for the big’un.



It is always true that a bad workman always blames his tools, but if you’re new to carp fishing, the last thing you want is to spend good money on the wrong rod and reel. please check out our Youtube channel for expert advice on buying the right equipment.

  1. Choosing a rod
  2. Choosing a reel
  3. Choosing clothing

Never underestimate the vagaries of the British weather – many a good day’s fishing is collapsed by insufficient or inappropriate inner and outer wear. But that miserable soul, perched on the bank, sweltering or shivering needn’t be you. Here’s a short video guide to what to wear to the swim – you’ll look like a pro!


The difficulty of what fishing tackle to buy and use is a vast subject, and not one we believe should overly concern the novice carp fisherman or woman. Instead, we recommend you start out with a good allround line like, TF Gear GS Carp Line. A leader like this TF Gear Nantec Mono will see you right. Hook wise, you are looking at the Nash Fang X – add a boilie and boilie stop, a piece of braid and a lead and you are in business. One of the simplest rigs of all is the ‘hair rig’ – here is how to tie it:


You are kitted up, you have assembled your rig, now all you need to do is launch that tackle into the water and wait for the fish to come biting. Right? Well – partially. Where you put that bait is key, and there is no better way to find the right spot of your local water than by asking around. The staff of  the lakeside bait shop, other anglers – ask for a little advice and listen to what is said. Then make your own mind up. You will learn watercraft by osmosis – but be patient because the ways of  the water aren’t discovered overnight.

Now for a guide to casting – you’re nearly there!


We saved the second best bit for near the end. Set your bait alarm, and head to your bivvy for a brew. Not sure which bivvy is best? Take a look at this:


Your bite alarm goes off! What do you do next? Our top tip – take a deep breath, calm that sudden burst of adrenaline. You might have hooked a fish, but you haven’t yet brought it to the bank. The drag on fish reel should be set so if the fish lunges or runs, it will take line rather than tear the hook from its lip. Now keep the rod tip low, and play your fish. apply gentle pressure because wrenching the rod, or winding like a madman won’t help the hook stay set, and it will stress the fish too. Instead bring your catch to the bank at a steady pace, and net it as quickly and  gently as you can.

Unhook your fish while it is in the net, and carefully place it on a handling mat. To pick up the monster for a snap, place one hand under its tail, and the other under its fin closest to the mat. While Lifting keep the fish close to your body – but don’t stand with the fish unless it’s in the net – they’re mighty slippery, and you don’t want to drop it. Now to put the fish back where it belongs. Place the carp in the water holding it gently by the tail until it’s ready to swim away. Now wipe the proud tear from your eye – you’re a carp angler!


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