Modern Carp Fishing-Part III

Dirk Buran
Articles / Modern Carp Fishing-Part III
Posted on: 2017-09-23 13:31:36 +0530 (IST)

Modern Carp Fishing-Part III


Now it’s the time to talk about tackle and fishing rigs. I hope you still remember that in the last article of Modern Carp Fishing Part II, I discussed with you the successful baits to catch specimen carps. Now let us discuss how you should present them to the fish.




Please remember that nowadays the successful baits for catching a big carp here in Europe have one thing in common, they’re very hard! Either these are boilies (special paste balls that are boiled and dried) or particle seeds (seeds and grains from several plants that are prepared by soaking them in water, additionally they are cooked for a short while). Because these baits are hard they negate catching small fish. Small nuisance fish are mostly unable to eat this hard stuff. Carp can eat these hard baits easily as they are accustomed to crack big mussels, snails & crayfish. In the western parts of Europe the most popular bait is the Boilies. These round hard balls have fooled loads of huge carps over the last decades and now they’re even more successful as they’ve been during the days when the new bait concept was born. Why? The bait itself, as being fairly selective, meant a revolution for all carp fishermen, but at the beginning fishermen were struggling when attaching the hard baits to the hook. You’ll agree that the easiest way is to push the hook through the bait. People followed this concept for some years, but there are two major disadvantages:


1. Very often the hard baits break when you push the hook through them.

This boilie broke during pushing the hook through it. When using this method it happens too often. If it happens on the shore it doesn’t matter as you can use new bait, but the same can happens under water too, even if the presentation was looking nice at the beginning. When “side hooking” you can never be sure if there’s still bait on the hook or no.


2. Too often the hook cannot find hold in the fish mouth if the bait was presented in that style.


The solution was fount by famous fisherman Lenny Middleton: THE BAIT SHOULD NO LONGER BE FIXED TO THE HOOK ITSELF!


He had the idea to fix the bait to a small line which is connected to the hook. So the bait is hanging freely below it. At the beginning Lenny and his friends used human hairs as the line to hold the bait. So his innovation got christened as the HAIR RIG. In Lenny’s mind the human hair was offering the most perfect presentation and due to the thin diameter of human hairs fish could not feel an unnatural sensation when sucking in the boilie baits. Nowadays we know that other presentations, using braided Dyneema line or even very thick monofilament lines are working too. These “rough” set ups are catching in most situations and sometimes they are even better choice.


No Knot Rig:


A very simple and effective Hair Rig can be tied within seconds and all the available parts can be bought in India too. Just follow the described steps:


Needed parts:


-A length (30-50cm) of braided line of at least 0.35-0.40mm thickness or a breaking strength of 25-30lb “Dyneema” line is good if you can get it, but the traditional Indian braids (in use for your traditional multi hook carp rigs) should work well too. Here in Europe we always try to stick to natural colours like brown, grey or green. I know that in India mostly red braided lines are in use for making the rigs. Try out the other colours too; maybe it will help you to catch the more cautious big ones.


-A thick wire hook (with eye).


-A good quality rolling swivel.


1. Tie a small loop on one end of the braided line. The loop length should be 0.5-1cm. The free end of the braid now gets guided through the eye of the hook. The loop should roughly be 2cm below the bent of the hook.

2. Twist the free end of braid around the shank of the hook with at least 4-5 turns. Afterwards you again guide the free end of braid through the eye of the hook.

3. Pull hard to tighten the “No Knot” connection. Everything should look smoothly. You can tie the swivel to the free end of braid. Use a standard blood knot therefore. Before fishing you should test everything again for its strength.


Fixing a boilie to the hair rig step by step:


1.        needed parts: The boilie bait/a hair rig/a boilie needle/a boilie stopper

2. First you push the boilie needle through the centre of the boilie and grab the loop of the “hair” with the help of the boilie  needle.

3. Now you pull the needle and push the hair through the boilie bait. As soon as the loop can be seen you stop pulling.

4.You push the small boilie stopper through the loop. Instead of a boilie stopper a small piece of wood can be also be used.

5. You push the boilie into the direction of the boilie stopper/loop. As soon as everything is tight your rig is ready to use.



The invention of the hair rig was only one half of the big success story of modern carp fishing. The combination of the “hairy” bait presentation and a fixed lead caused to the downfall of so many huge fish that were thought to be uncatchable before.


Please do carefully check the picture of the complete boilie hair rig. You’ll notice that there is the hook with added hair/line and the bait. To this hook there is attached a length of braided dyneema line (still a favourite with most carp fisherman). At the other end of the braided line there is attached a strong rolling swivel. This set up is called “the rig/leader”, but in fact it isn’t complete yet. A lead or weight is needed to cast out this rig and it is also responsible for another interesting effect of the Hair Rig, the famous self hooking effect.


The “incomplete” boilie hair rig: bait/hook/braided line/swivel


To get the best from your hair rig you should combine it with a lead weight of about 60-120 gr which is fixed to the swivel of your hair rig or which is stopped by a stopper on the main line.


The reason:  If you have prebaited your fishing spot the carp come in and look around for bait. Soon they start taking your baits. As the baits are normally lying around well spread, the fish take bait after bait and move around when doing so. Finally one of them will also suck in the bait which is connected to the hook. After doing so he again starts looking for the next piece of food. When this happens and the fish moves into the direction of the next bait the line which is tied to hook/bait gets tight and sooner or later the fish will feel the strong resistance of the heavy lead. When this happen the free hook point penetrates the flesh within the fish mouth. The result: The fish feels panic and moves away in a strong/fast rush! During rushing away mostly the needle point penetrates even deeper into the flesh (so deep that the barb is well settled). The fish hooked itself and mostly there is even no need for a strong strike (but in fact most fishermen still set a strike). If you don’t use a lead of at least 60gr (many European specialist use leads in excess of 100gr and more) the hook can’t find a grip within the flesh so easily and often you just get short bites without catching a fish.



complete carp rig with European style ”inline”  lead


Here in Europe many different styles of carp lead are available. Many of them can be connected to the rig easily. You just put them onto the main line and tie the open end of the main line to the swivel of your rig. Then the swivel needs to be pushed into a gum sleeve within the lead. Afterwards the lead is well connected to the rig and a biting fish soon feels the resistance of the lead and rushes away.


A simple, but effective set up. All parts can be found in India too.


I fear that such style of lead is not yet available in India. Anyhow there are other options to achieve the same effect. For example you could use a standard pear shape lead with swivel, some gum pearls, a piece of silicone tube and a small piece of wood. Please check the picture of the set up. First you add the small silicone tube to the main line. Then you add the first gum pearl, now there gets added the pear shape lead and afterwards the second gum pearl. Then the end of the main line gets tied to the swivel and as the final step a small piece of wood is pushed into the silicone tube. The heavy lead is well fixed too.


Other essential parts for boilie carp fishing:


This is how it works: In and out of the water!



A nice carp set up: modern rods, free spool reels, electronic bite alarms and bobbin indicators


There are special rods available in Europe that are just developed and designed for carp fishing. Mostly they have several things in common: A length between 3.60-3.90m, a two section carbon blank, only few very big guides (5-8 pieces) and a handle that looks strange as there is just a bit of EVA grips (or even nothing) around the reel seat. Then there follows a free part of the blank again before the final EVA grip starts again. These rods are available in 3 different strength and actions. The different actions have been developed to offer the perfect fishing tool for all carp fishing situations.

The strange looking reel seat area of a modern carbon carp rod…


  1. Rods for fishing close to the shore, for casting distances from 20-50m. They offer a fairly soft action, are not good for casting out heavy rigs, but bend/work very well. The fishermen can be sure that nearly never a hook will be pulled out of the fish mouth by mistake. These rods compensate or soften the strength of the pull from angler/rod as well as the pulling strength of the fish.
  2. There are rods for medium fishing distances (casting distance: 50-80m). These rods offer a multi use action. Careful fishermen -that know well how to fight a big angry fish- can use these rods even for short distance fishing without losing fish and will manage to cast out even further as 80m. The action of this kind of rod is stronger as the one of the rods described first.
  3. The long distance rods with a very strong action. Rods that can cast a rig with a weight of more as 100gr for more as 100 meters. As they have such a strong action they are no good option to fish close to the shore: Many fish can be lost because of their strength that will pull the hook out of the fish mouth. When a fish bites in a distance more as 80 or 100 m away from the fisherman it will already be tired of fighting when being pulled close to the shore for netting. So no longer that dangerous hard and strong pulls from the fish which can’t be compensated by action of the rod.


General note: The rods described before can rarely be seen in Indian fishing tackle shops. So for the beginning you’ll be forced to stick to the tackle from your market. Try to use fairly strong telescopic rods that have a length of 3-4 meters and which can be bought everywhere. Be careful when fighting the fish to avoid losing it! But: As most of the guided telescopic rods in Indian shops are either glass fibre or a mixture of glass fibre and carbon they behave more soft as the European carp rods. So it is less dangerous to a hard fighting fish.


2. Reels: In Europe nearly all carp fishermen like to use free spool reels. Such reels have a special function! They offer a mechanism which allows to partly stop the normal clutch and to set up another spool clutch and this duel drag mechanism which gives free line with less strength and pulling pressure needed.


Free spool reel for carp fishing, please check the knob for changing the clutch function


Boilie carp fishing is practised by using a hair rig with self hooking abilities. The fish, after taking the baited hook, will bolt away with fast speed and strength. If the reel clutch of a normal front drag or rear drag reel is settled to cover normal fighting circumstances a fast running fish will either create a line break or the fish will pull the whole rod into the water. A free spool reel avoids this problem. By moving a special knob the normal clutch will be stopped and the free spool clutch activated. The tension of the free spool clutch can be arranged in a way that allows the fish to take line easily. When picking up the rod you just turn the handle of the reel, the knob springs back into original position, the free spool clutch will be deactivated and the normal fighting clutch starts working again. You can fight your fish with the normal clutch settings!

These free spool reels are available in different sizes so that fishermen can find the perfect combination to their rods. Smaller sizes with less line capacity are good for the short distance rods, while huge free spool reels (that can hold loads of line) are commonly used for the long distance rods.

If you cannot find any free spool reels in the shops of your town you should look for a good quality front drag reel with a line capacity of about 150 to 200m of 0.35mm line.-I prefer the front drag reels as I have the feeling that their drags can be settled more precise and that they work more smoothly.-

When using either front or rear drag type of reel you should settle to a very lose drag setting after casting out your bait to enable the fish to take line easily. Please don’t make the mistake to grab the rod and to strike in the same moment during a bite/run. A horrible line bird nest and a lost fish will surely be the result! Instead -if you want to set a strike-, you first put the hand onto the spool, hold it tight and strike afterwards without taking away the hand. Now you settle the clutch to normal fish fighting tension/strength.    


3. Line: Quality lines should be in use when the target is big carps. They should have a good breaking strength and they also should be very resistant against abrasion on stones, wood or shells. Personally I prefer lines between 0.35 to 0.40mm. I don’t tend to buy trendy and too expensive lines. As carp fishing is a way of fishing where a big part of your line is lying on the bottom of a lake, river or canal it will always get in touch with the before mentioned dangerous items and even if abrasion resistant the line might slightly get damaged every now and then. If you buy too expensive line you tend to keep it on the spool for too long. So I prefer to stick to medium price lines with good qualities that don’t cost a fortune when you replace then regularly.


4. Landing Net: It is big carps that we are looking for! So a big landing net is needed for them. Try to get the biggest version available in your shops. A carp fishing net nearly can’t be too big! With the help of such landing net it will be easy to end the fight with most fish successfully.


I added this picture to show several things: Another set of carp rods, a big landing net and how bite alarm and weight indicators are used and help you to enjoy life/nature. The picture has been taken on a carp fishing holiday to France where we fished for a full week and lived in the camouflage tent which can be seen in the corner of this picture.


5. Bite alarm:

Electronic bite alarm and weight indicator

Not really an essential item unless you’re fishing for several days for the whole time. Sooner or later you’ll get tired and need a bit of sleep. Who will awake you when the bite comes? A electronic bite alarm with a loud bell and an LED signal can do. Even if only fishing for a few hours during daytime I prefer to use an alarm as this little tool allows me to walk away a bit from the rods, so I don’t need to be concentrated all the time. These things enable you to enjoy life in nature and to relax.

Relax, enjoy nature and fish more efficient with the help of alarms…


The common models here in Europe get fixed to a rod rest and should be combined with an additional weight indicator, like a bobbin. This additional indication is important as most electronic alarms only react if line is taken from the spool. As the heavy lead used for the lines is not running free on your mainline (but attached/semi fixed to the rig) there will be no indication if the fish moves towards your fishing place instead of moving away from it. If such thing happens the lines just goes slack and there is no beep on your alarm. Therefore the various weight bobbins have been developed. If the line falls slack they fall down, take the line with them too and the magnet wheel of the alarm gets moved a least a few turns. This results in a bite indication of at least a few peeps. If such incidence happens you need to grab the rod immediately and have to reel in fast to get into contact with the fish.


Conclusion: In this part of “Modern Carp Fishing” you learnt a lot about bait presentation and about some essential tackle items. In the next part published in AIGFA you’ll read more about further useful fishing products, about making nice photos of your trophies and about fish care. I know many of you have the intention to release your catch back to the water. Catch & Release is a common thing over here and one of the reasons why in Western Europe big fish can be caught more regular as in other parts of the world. Thanks for your attention…