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How To Catch Carp

Carp is the name given to the Cyprinidae family of freshwater fish. Many types exist including the common, grass and silver varieties. In addition, ornamental goldfish and koi are also members of the Cyprinidae family.

This family of fish is believed to have originated in Asia and records exist of them being part of the Chinese diet as early as the 2nd century BCE. They became popular for eating in Europe, during the Middle Ages, particularly in the monasteries, because they grow large, rapidly, in relatively small volumes of water.


These fish can grow very large indeed. The European record for this type of fish, caught in France in 2006, is 87 lb (39.5 kg). The UK record is 67 lb (30.5 kg) for a fish caught in 2008.

How and where to catch carp

These fish are widely distributed and can be found, usually in shallow water, in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, streams and rivers. They thrive particularly well in ponds that have muddy bottoms and lush aquatic plant life.

Breeding habits

European varieties are able to start spawning when the water temperature reaches 17?C. The embryo takes approximately three days to develop. Three days after hatching, the rear part of the swim bladder develops and the larvae are then able to swim horizontally and start to consume food from external sources. European specimens can be expected to reach a weight of 1 kg (2.2 lb) by the time they reach two years of age and their weight is likely to double by the age of four. Although some ornamental fish are able to breed at a younger age, most need to be three to four years old before they are able to start breeding.

Boiled baits

Boiled baits, usually known as 'boilies', are the baits most commonly used for fishing this species. Boilies are balls of soft paste made from semolina, eggs and assorted flavours and colouring. They are made by rolling the paste into balls and boiling them in water in a pan until they develop a hard crust. A variety of ready made boilies are available from commercial bait suppliers. However, many anglers prefer to make their own as this reduces the cost considerably and allows for experimentation and customisation of different batches of the bait mixture. Fishmeal and birdseed are common flavourings used in making boilies.

Partticle baits

Particle baits, made from seeds, beans and nuts, are also popular with some anglers. The usual method for making particle baits is to soak the ingredients overnight and then to boil them for up to an hour. The resulting lumpy paste can then be kept in an airtight container and used as and when required. Common ingredients for particle baits include birdseed, chick peas, butter beans, kidney beans, unsalted peanuts and other kinds of nuts.


The type of rod required for this kind of fishing very much depends on the type of water being fished.

Most rods are between 10 feet (305 cm) and 13 feet (396 cm) in length. For fishing in areas surrounded by trees and other vegetation, shorter rods are more appropriate, whereas for fishing in larger, open waters, a longer rod would usually be more suitable.

Nowadays, most rods are made from carbon fibre although Kevlar rods are being introduced at the upper end of the market. The weight of the rod chosen will depend on the size of fish that you're expecting to catch. For fish up to 10 lb (4.5 kg), a rod with a 2? lb test curve will be fine; for fish over 40 lb (18 kg) you should probably be looking at a rod with a 4 lb test curve.


The Cyprinidae family of fish are fussy eaters and simply baiting a hook attached to the end of a fishing line does not usually produce good results. Over the years, a number of different rigs have been developed to attach to the end of the line, in attempts to tempt the fish on to the hook. The basic problem is that if a hook is inside a hard boilie, it is difficult actually to hook the fish and if the hook is even slightly exposed then the sensitive mouthed fish will reject it.

Ledgering rigs

A ledgering rig consists of a baited hook attached to a lead weight or a swivel that is a short distance from the hook. The main problem with this rig is that the lead weight has a tendency to fall off, warning the fish as it starts to take the bait.

Hair rigs

The hair rig is conceptually simple. The hook is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the edge of the bait, so when the fish initially takes the bait, from a thin lightweight 'hair' line, the hook is outside its lips, so it doesn't feel it. As it takes more of the bait it then finds itself hooked.

Bolt rigs

When a fish picks up a baited hook, it will often bolt, in order to try to lose the hook from its mouth. The bolt rig capitalises on this behaviour by having a lead weight on the line which causes the hook to become more deeply embedded in the mouth of the fish as it tries to bolt. The main problem with the bolt rig is that if the fish manages to snag the line and break it, it can finish up swimming around with a lead weight attached to its lip, often resulting in the fish being unable to feed itself, causing it to die of starvation.

Helicopter rigs

The helicopter rig consists of a fixed pear shaped or torpedo shaped lead weight at the end of the main line, with a trace fixed to this line by a rotating bead above the weight, which can rotate around the main line, hence the name 'helicopter'. This type of rig can be very useful when fishing above silt or weed, because the weight can sink down into it while still leaving the hook above any potential obstructions.




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