The Beginners Guide to Carp Fishing!

We know more than anyone that Carp Fishing can be full of complex tactics, complicated equipment and a lot of information to take in too! Surprisingly then, the experts at OverLive have broken it down to basics for a Complete Beginners Guide into Carp Fishing.

Always wanted to get into Fishing for Carp but don’t know where to start? Well, start here!


Rod Licence:-

Before investing in any Carp Fishing equipment we highly recommend you to obtain your Rod Licence. You can purchase these at any local Post Office. Another way to purchase your Rod Licence is from the Government Website.

If you are seen fishing any water in the UK including Rivers and Lakes. If asked to show it and cannot provide your Rod Licence you could be fined up to £2500. On top of that, you could have your equipment seized until a payment can be provided.

Rod Licence

Purchase a Rod:-

Henceforth, before anything else you will want to invest in a Rod and Reel. Carp Fishing rods are usually 12ft in length, this allows you to cast at long distances. Carp fisheries usually are quite large and being able to cast far and accurately will be a huge advantage. However, although it is recommended to use a 12ft rod, you could get away with using a 10ft rod if you feel more comfortable with it.

We would suggest seeing a family member or friend that has a fishing rod. Ask them if you could try it out for size before purchasing. Alternatively your local Tackle Shop will have Rods in stock for you to try out for size.

You will want to look out for the Test Curve of the Rod. This indicates how much ‘breaking strain’ the Rod will have, basically how much it can bend without snapping. Likewise, look for between 2.5lb and 3.5lb Test Curve ideally.

Reccomended brands of Carp Rods are Diawa, Fox, NGT and Shimano.

Fishing Rod

Invest in a Reel:-

Next, the Reel. Typical Carp Fishing consists of using Bite Alarms (which we will get too later) – this means you will want to look for a Bait Runner Reel. When the Bait Runner is activated it will allow line to pulled from the spool of the reel when the fish has hooked itself. Without the Bait Runner, the line will be tight and could snap the line. Moreover, worse than that it could pull your rod into the water.

Similarly, another handy feature to look for will be the gear ratio of the reel. Obviously this sounds complicated but surprisingly, all it means is a higher ratio will allow for a smoother action whilst winding the line back onto the reel and prevents jerking. Allowing for a more comfortable fishing experience.

Likewise with Rods, the recommended brands of Carp Reels are Diawa, Shimano, Okuma, Fox and NGT.

Fishing Reel

Next, You Need Line:-

Now you have your Rod and Reel, you will need Line to put onto the Reel.

Undoubtedly, we don’t suggest you skimp out on Line as the is arguably the most important part. Having inferior line will lose you regular Carp and can also be frustrating to tie and work with.

Line comes in breaking strains, meaning how much they can be pulled before they snap. Nonetheless, this isn’t exact as 12.5lb will not snap whilst playing a 13lb Carp. Because of this it can be slightly confusing to wrap your head around.

For smaller and medium sized Carp we would suggest 10-12.5lb and for large Carp we would suggest 15lb+.

Fishing Line

Grab Yourself a Rig:-

Rigs are a unmistakably a very important part of Carp Fishing. The Rig contains your weight which allows you to reach different casting distances. Moreover it also contains your Hook and your Bait.

One of the most popular Rigs is the Hair Rig. This simple Rig is ideal for Boilies or Pop-Ups. These baits are the most popular and widely used for Carp Fishing. Moreover, using the Hair Rig means you will not have to hook the bait directly onto the hook instead it is slid onto the ‘Hair’ and hangs just below the hook as seen in the image below. Carp suck up their food and will suck up the Boilies on the Rig and in turn hook themselves on your nicely laid out Hair Rig. 

Consequently, we have actually created a step-by-step guide on what you will need for a Hair Rig and how to tie one for yourself. You can view this guide here or by using the link below.

Besides, for now we would suggest purchasing pre-tied Rigs as these have been expertly tied and you will have the peace of mind that they can land you plenty of Carp.

Hair Rig

Which Brings Us Onto Bait:-

Above, we touched on Boilies as being the most popular Bait for Carp Fishing. Forthwith, boilies come in lots of different scents, colours and sizes. Generally speaking, what you will need can depend on the Carps preference on the day as well as what they can see well in the water. Hence, we advise speaking to local anglers about your chosen water will give you some good tips on what Boilies to use.

Boilies are sold in bags, from 1kg bags up to 20kg bulk bags. They also come in different sizes usually from 10-20mm, having larger sized Boilies can reduce the amount of smaller fish you catch, surprisingly though this isn’t the case as small silver fish like Roach, Rudd and Bream have been known to hook themselves on up to 20mm Boilies.

Meanwhile, another popular style of Bait is Pop-Ups, these are visually very similar to Boilies but are typically smaller and actually float in the water. When on a weighted Rig this allows them to float in the water above your Rig and can be very handy on dirty lake beds or lakes with lots of snags on the bottom.

Before choosing your bait, check the rules of your chosen lake as some lakes can forbid the use of Boilies and Pop-Ups and will only allow for natural baits such as Sweetcorn, Bread or Worms.

Time for Bite Alarms:-

Bite Alarms are a very important bit of kit for a Carp angler. They allow you to leave the rods down and when you get a bite, the alarm will sound because the line has been pulled through the sensor.

Searching for Bite Alarms as a newcomer can be a bit of a minefield as there is so many features they can have. Because of this, for beginner alarms we recommend NGT as they have some entry level options at a fair price and the alarms are very hardy and will do everything you need. The experts at OverLive reccomend the NGT VC2 Bite Alarm as you can purchase these in singles. For a set of three alarms we reccomend the NGT VS 3 Bite Alarms.

Furthermore, to set up a Bite Alarm you will need two bank sticks, place them in line with eachother with the front one being close to the edge of the bank. The other one place about 2-3ft directly behind it. On the rear one screw in your rod rest, on the front one screw in your Bite Alarm. Now you can cast out your line, once in the correct place tighten the line up. Next, you can lay the rod down ensuring the line is through the sensor of the Bite Alarm.

Make sure your Alarm is on and turned up. As recommended above, if you have a Bait Runner Reel you can now activate this, allowing line to be pulled from spool when you have a fish on the hook!

Bite Alarms

Bank Sticks, Rod Rests and Rod Pods:-

With Bite Alarms, we touched briefly on Bank Sticks. These allow you to set your rod down on the Bite Alarms so you do not need to hold the rod in your hands all session.

Rod Pods are a all-in-one system. The NGT Dynamic Rod Pod is a fully collapsible and compact system – including the Bank Sticks. Simply fold it out and screw in your Rod Rests and Bite Alarms. This saves you having to put in your induvial Bank Sticks, and it looks neater and cleaner on the bankside too.

Bank Sticks look like metal sticks, usually adjustable in height. They have a simple universal screw end in the top so you can screw in your Bite Alarms and Rod Rests which are simple holders, designed to hold the rear of your rod.

Rod Pod

Landing Nets and Unhooking Mats:-

Now you’re all set up with actual Fishing equipment to catch the fish. It’s time to focus on the kit you will need when you want to land the fish.

A Landing Net lands the fish onto the bank. They are quite simple. You will firstly need to purchase a Net Handle, some of these are telescopic in order to be stored easily. They also have a universal screw-end in to attach the net. Nets come in different sizes and shapes. What you will need depends on the sizes you are looking to fish for and your personal preference.

For a beginner Landing Net we suggest the NGT Specimen Landing Net, this will cover you from smaller carp up to larger carp and everything in between. For a Net Handle we suggest the NGT Specimen 2m Carbon Net Handle. This has plenty of length to it and is super sturdy and strong, it should see you through hundreds of sessions.

Unhooking Mats or Cradles are what you will put the fish onto once you’ve netted it. This prevents you from damaging the fish on the rough ground. Cradles usually have high sides which allows the fish to flap and move around without it sliding off your Unhooking Mat and injuring itself. Cradles sometimes have legs too – this holds the fish higher and can come in handy when taking pictures just in case it slips from your hands. Now it doesn’t have far to go. The Unhooking Mat we suggest is the NGT Quick Wipe Folding Mat and Cradle we would suggest is the NGT Quick Folding Cradle.

Landing Nets

Night Fishing Equipment:-

Finally, the last section regards Night Fishing equipment. Not everyone is interested in staying out on the bank throughout the night and hoping for fish to coming in thick and fast. However though, if you do you’ll want to invest in some kit to ensure your comfortable and warm.

Bivvys are essentially small tents, they are to be assembled on the bankside and will keep you dry and warm throughout the night. You can spend to your hearts content on bigger and better bivvy’s but you don’t need too for your first one. As long as it has enough room for your sleeping set-up and your kit bag that should be fine.

Because of this we recommend the NGT Domed Bivvy for a entry level Bivvy. This is a 2-Man Bivvy so easily fits one person in with plenty of kit or two with not so much kit. It is waterproof to keep you nice and dry and has a double skin to prevents water drops dripping through.

Lastly, Bedchairs are what you will be sleeping on inside your bivvy. They keep you off the cold, hard and uncomfortable ground. Like Bivvys, you can spend as much as you like on these but a simple one is just as comfortable. Some come with a sleeping bag/duvet zipped onto them and some come with pillows integrated into them.

For a starter bedchair we suggest the NGT 6 Leg Fleece Lined Bedchair. This has a pillow integrated so all you need is the sleeping bag to wrap yourself up in. We bet you will sleep just as good in this as you do in your bed at home!

Clothing is another essential bit of kit when Night Fishing. You’ll want to be wrapped up warm yet still able to move around to land fish and tie yourself some rigs. This NGT Camouflage Hat will allow you to retain heat in the cold and it also has LEDs on the front so you can see what you’re doing in the dark! The NGT Comfort Gloves will be a life-saver during cold night fishing sessions. You can fold down the Thumb, Index and Middle finger so you can still tie rigs, use tools and unhook fish on the bankside. To summarise, this is an essential in any night fishermans kit!

That completes our Carp Fish Beginners Guide. We hope you have learnt plenty and are now ready to get out there and catch Carp! Overall, using these tips and our recommended products, we know you will!

Comment below if you learnt something new and how you’re getting on using our guide. If there is something we missed or something you’d like us to discuss more please let us know.

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