What is carp fishing

Carp fishing basics: Crash course for a successful fishing strategy

The catch of my first carp was spectacular and a dramatic experience for me while fishing for carp. At a pond I had thrown out my pose assembly, which was equipped with dough. A large ball of paste had kneaded around the hook and was now waiting for the things that were hopefully to come. At first nothing happened, but suddenly the prop was torn under the water and my light fiberglass rod curved up to the handle. My knees were shaking when I had my first carp in my net after what felt like an eternity. The mirror weighed four or five pounds. I had never caught such a strong fish at this point.

Classic carp fishing on the bottom

The classic and most commonly practiced technique is bottom fishing. For this you need a 3 to 3.60 meter long basic rod with a casting weight of up to 60 grams combined with a medium-sized stationary reel. Which line goes on the reel depends on the expected size of the fish. For swimming in the water, mainly carp or weevils of medium size, a 0.25 monofilament line is sufficient. If there are really big carp, you can go up to 0.30 or 0.35 millimeters in diameter.

With classic bottom fishing for carp, a Lead assembly fished in which the carp can pull line from the reel after the bite. Of course, the roller bracket must be open for this. I have also fished successfully with a combination of barrel and fixed lead assemblies. The lead is mounted in such a way that it runs freely on the line. About half a meter above the swivel that connects the main line and leader, place a stopper or lead shot on the main line.

After the bite, the carp can initially pull off without resistance, but then the lead is slowed down by the stopper or the lead shot. The carp feels the resistance of the hook and flees. The hook engages in the fish's mouth. If you now take a well-measured strike, the fish usually hangs securely.

A lead assembly is very sensitive and ideal for starting carp fishing. Photo: BLINKER / T. Steinbrück

Successful strategies

The leader is a little thinner than the main line and about 50 centimeters long. For bottom fishing for carp, hooks of size 2 to 8 are suitable, depending on the bait and the expected fish size. When fishing with batter, the hook is often completely hidden in the bait. This can be a problem if the carp bite carefully. That's why I like to bait the paste on difficult days so that the tip of the hook is exposed. When fishing with corn, I always make sure that the point of the hook is exposed.

At the Float fishing roughly the same device configuration is used. Because the baits are often larger and also a little heavier than when roach or bream fishing, floats with a slightly higher load capacity should be used. The assembly is adjusted so that the bait hovers just above the bottom or rests on the bottom of the water.

Float fishing for carp is still very exciting. Photo: BLINKER / E. Hartwich

Another and for me the most exciting method for targeted carp fishing is that Surface fishing with bread. With this technique, the bait, a piece of bread crust, is offered on a free line (hook size 4 to 8), i.e. without a float or lead. Especially in summer, when the carp sip food from the surface, this fishing technique is promising and promises pure excitement. A light float rod in combination with a 0.20 to 0.25 line is suitable for surface fishing.

Dry bread is not suitable for carp fishing because it falls off the hook too quickly. The crust pieces of fresh brown bread are best in my experience. You can't throw a piece of bread far on the free leash, but there are also enough hotspots near the banks, for example in the fields of cabbage or water lily pads. In rivers you can let the crust drift with the current and search large areas for hungry fish.

Carp are crazy about bread. Photo: BLINKER / E. Hartwich

Modern carp fishing

Modern methods, i.e. self-hooking and boilies, revolutionized carp fishing a few years ago. So it is possible to get the really big carp on the line. When using the self-hook assembly, the angler only has to pick up the rod when biting and the fight can begin. In order for the self-hook assembly to work properly, you need a special leader: the hair leader, also called hair rig in carp anglers' circles. The special thing about this rig is that the hook (size 2 to 8) is not hidden in the bait as it used to be, but is exposed. The bait is pulled on a piece of string and is located below the hook. A hair leader can be made quickly and easily with the no knot connection.

With the hair leader, the hook is not hidden in the bait, but is exposed. This allows it to grip the fish's mouth very well. The no knot connection is the easiest way to create a hair rig. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

The leader for the classic version of the hair rig is made of soft, braided material. The carp hardly feels any resistance when sucking in the bait. The leaders are quite short: a length between 15 and 20 centimeters is a good guideline. In heavily fished waters, leaders made of thick, stiff monofilament or combination leaders made of stiff and soft material are also used. However, these rigs are only required on really difficult waters. On most lakes and rivers, the classic soft braided leader is sufficient.

The effect of this assembly when fishing for carp: After the carp has sucked in the bait, it feels the hook in its mouth, is frightened and flees. The fixed lead ensures that the exposed hook penetrates the fish's mouth. So that the Self-hooking effect is guaranteed, the lead weight should be at least 60 grams. It is also important that the reel brake or the freewheel is set much more tightly than when fishing for predatory fish with bait fish, for example.

The fixed lead assembly ensures that a carp hooks itself after being bitten. The most frequently used lead assemblies are the inline lead and the safety clip, with which the carp can free itself from the lead after a possible tear. In order for the carp to hook well, the lead should weigh at least 60 grams. Graphic: BLINKER / M. Ziegler

Insight into the rod and reel jungle

In order to be able to cast out the heavy rigs and drill out large fish, special carp rods are available. These rods are 12 or 13 feet (3.60 and 3.90 meters long). Most carp rod models do not have a casting weight, but an indication of the test curve in "lb" or "lbs" (English pounds). This information can be converted into throwing weight using the following rule of thumb: One pound is equivalent to a cast weight of approximately 30 grams.

The range of carp rod models ranges from 1.75 lb to 3.75 lb. Rods with a soft action (between 1.75 and 2.25 lb) are used when fishing small waters where there are no really big carp. When fishing long distances you need a harder rod (test curve between 3 and 3.75 lb) in order to be able to carry the heavy rig far out. If you don't want to get several rods at the beginning, you should get a model with a test curve of 2.75 lb. Such a rod is an all-round model that can be used in most situations.

Modern carp rods are tailored to the needs of fishing for capitals. A 12 foot (3.60 meter) model with a test curve of 2.75 (casting weight about 80 grams) is an all-round rod that can be used in most situations. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

There are two types of reels that are used in modern carp fishing: free spool reels and surf reels.

  • At Freewheeling rollers you can adjust the resistance of the freewheel, deactivate the freewheel after the bite (usually with a turn of the crank) and then drill with the previously adjusted brake setting.
  • Surf rolls have a very large coil. They hold large amounts of line and increase the casting distance - these factors are advantageous when fishing at a distance.

In most cases, a monofilament line (between 0.30 and 0.45 millimeters) is attached to the carp fishing reel. Braided line is only used when fishing at very great distances when the bait is brought out by boat. Because braided line has no stretch, it improves bite detection over long distances. Speaking of bite detection: Because you often have to wait a little longer for a bite, rod rests (rod pods) and bite indicators are often used. So you don't have to stare at the tip of the rod all the time.

Free spinning reels make fishing easier with the fixed lead assembly. When fishing at great distance, surf reels with high line capacity and large spool diameters are often used. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

The most catchy carp bait

If you ask a carp angler about the best bait for big carp, the answer will likely always be the same: boilie. And not without good reason, because the boilie brings countless large carp into the nets of the anglers every year. The term “boilie” comes from the English “to boil” = to cook. The name makes it clear what the boilie actually is: a boiled ball of dough. This rather hard ball is very selective: small whitefish have no chance of cracking the ball. She stays at the feeding place until a carp comes by. The weevils have no problem with a boilie, and what's more: they like to eat them.

Many carp anglers make their own boilies, but making the balls is not that easy. The base mix needs to be balanced so that a nutritious bait with the right consistency is created after rolling and cooking. As a beginner you can quickly be wrong. The specialist trade offers a large range of ready-made boilies, but these baits are often not cheap.

This carp couldn't resist the bright boilie. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

Fortunately, you don't have to fish for carp with boilies. It is also easier and cheaper, namely with so-called Particle baits. The best known particle bait is corn. I caught my first carp on maize and still like to fish with the yellow grains today. Corn is a very good bait, especially for beginners. Canned corn is only suitable to a limited extent because it is quite soft and does not hold well to the hair or it quickly becomes a victim of white fish.

Cheaper and better Hard or fodder corn. You can get this corn in the country trade in containers of up to 50 kilos. With this inexpensive carp bait, a generous feed campaign is also possible without getting poor. It is important that you boil the corn and then let it stand in the brew for at least half a day. Then the originally hard corn has the right consistency: it can be pulled onto the hair with a bait needle or boilie needle and is relatively resistant to white fish attacks. To prevent the grains from slipping off the hair, secure them with a boilie stopper.

Whenever I fish with corn, I put at least three kernels of corn on my hair to get a fairly large bait that the whitefish cannot easily handle. Another catchy particle bait are tiger nuts. The nuts, like the corn, must also be boiled before use. Another good carp bait are Pelletsthat slowly dissolve under water, releasing odor and flavor substances.

Besides corn is also loaf an excellent carp bait that is not only cheap to buy, but can also be pepped up with various ingredients. You can easily make a catchy and inexpensive dough yourself from white or gray bread. Simply remove the edge of the bread slices and knead the whole thing well. Fresh bread is preferable because it can be kneaded well and makes a smooth dough. You can find canned corn in every supermarket. It is soft, aromatic and very noticeable in the water due to its color.

You don't necessarily have to fish with boilies. Especially for beginners in modern carp fishing, inexpensive and easy-to-prepare particle baits are a real alternative. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

Job choice in carp fishing

A sophisticated assembly and a catchy bait are useless if you fish in the wrong place. Therefore you should look for a good place before ejecting the assembly. Edges and plateaus are hotspots in the lake. Because there is natural food here, these places are frequented by fish. But you shouldn't ignore the shore zone either. Especially when the bank is inaccessible and the fish have their peace there, flat areas are great spots.

Image: BLINKER / G. Bradler

This is what a hotspot looks like on the echo sounder display. A plateau is clearly visible. Here you should present your bait. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

In the river, calm areas, deep zones or depressions where food collects have proven to be very promising. Feeding increases the chances of a catch because the fish are used to the food or the bait. The weevils quickly notice that there are always a few tasty bites at a certain place and will remember the place. It is important that you always feed at the same time.

How often you feed depends on the water and the population density. But the site should be prepared at least two days before fishing. Dare to try modern carp fishing. It is not that complicated, at the latest when the first capital bends the rod, the carp fever has gripped you - guaranteed!

Carp: the trend fish

The carp is one of the most popular fish species among anglers. Not because it would taste good, but because it grows really big. There are always heavier specimens in carp fishing and the records tumble almost every year: 15 years ago a 50-pounder caused a sensation, now even 80-pounders are reported. The carp are getting heavier and heavier in many bodies of water - and there is no end in sight to this trend.

One often hears that the summer months are the best time for carp fishing. But that's not true. Spring and autumn are the best times of the year because at these times the supply of natural food is not that large or is getting smaller. Then the carp can be attracted better by our feed. Photo: BLINKER / G. Bradler

Carp fishing: find hotspots and catch carp

Nowadays, with technical aids such as boats and echo sounders, it is very convenient to find the most promising spots in a body of water, especially underwater. From the boat I always have a large-scale overview, which is often denied to me from the shore. However, even at lakes where the use of boats and echo sounders is not allowed, you can find promising spots on the shore or recognize them from there.

Image: BLINKER / G. Bradler

This is what a hotspot looks like on the echo sounder display. A plateau is clearly visible. Here you should present your bait.


There are places like this in all the lakes that I have fished in recent years and where I am still a guest. Once found, it quickly becomes apparent whether it is actually a promising spot for carp fishing or whether we were wrong with our assumption. Then, besides the where, the how is also decisive. What do I offer the fish with which assembly?

Food paradise riparian zone

Big carp like to pull away from obstacles into open water.


From the time of my sport fishing exam, which was a long time ago, I remembered that the bank and edge zone is also the food zone. This is where the fish eat. Where the waves break on the shore, mussels, remains of crabs, snails and similar animals usually remain.

Even insects that fall into the water from overhanging branches and bushes inevitably end up in the bank area. Thanks to this accumulation of food, the bank is generally interesting, especially the bank opposite the angler, which is cast on depending on the distance or on which, if allowed, the assembly can be comfortably deposited with a boat or bait boat. The fish are often caught less than a meter from the edge, even if the water there is less than half a meter deep. In muddy and cloudy water, I have often caught good carp in less than 50 centimeters of water.

From the boat, carp can also be drilled from overhanging trees


In general, it is advisable to choose the weight of the lead as heavy as possible, depending on the equipment, because the hooked fish cannot escape forwards or into the open water. Thus, after the bite, the carp usually swim towards the angler. The result is a drop bite that often has no contact with the fish when the rod is picked up.

With a heavy lead, the self-hooking effect is significantly improved, and even barbless hooks stay securely in the carp's mouth. Even our own bank, on which we set up our tackle, is always worth trying. Especially when it gets deep there quickly and there is a pronounced bank edge, fishing in front of your own feet can be very successful. Of course, in this situation you need a lot more peace and quiet at the fishing spot in order not to startle the fish.

Remains of former footbridges and footbridges

Anyone fishing for the remains of former jetties should be convinced of the quality of their line.


The remains of former jetties or jetties in the water are also very interesting places, for example in the Bärensee near Rheinböllen, where there are several such pillars of a jetty that is no longer in existence in the lake. Mussels, snails, larvae and many other animals gather here.

Since the pillars are close to the bank, food is always added from the outside by walkers and park guests. In such places the line should be chosen with care, as it can rub against the obstacles during a fight. Fortunately, the carp cannot settle there and is therefore relatively easy to land. It looks different with completely sunken bars. Here the landing of the weevil is made much more difficult.

Trees and branches that lie in the water

Trees that have fallen into the water are carp hotspots. Attention: The fish like to flee into the branches during the fight.


Trees and branches that lie in the water exert a strong attraction on our scaly friends. Here, too, the carp find a rich supply of food. Snails in particular gather at these places, and triangular clams also often settle here. Although the number of bites in these areas is often high, the circumstances demand a lot from the angler.

Hooked carp flee into the branches and often find hardly comprehensible ways to get stuck there and ultimately to free them from the hook. In addition, triangular mussels cause visible and noticeable damage to our cords, which can repeatedly lead to tearing.

Carp fishing in the herb

Herb fields exert a magnetic attraction on carp.


When fishing for carp, herb is a magnet for the fish. We regularly find fish here and, depending on the condition, only have to decide how we want to fish. Vacancies in the herb field, so-called holes, are always worth a try. These holes are also created by carp that are actively eating. The bottom of the water is harder than muddy.

Places with gravel on the bottom in such fields are also hot addresses and almost guarantees a bite, as they are also created by carp digging for food. If food is deposited here, it will usually have disappeared a day later. I have observed several times how carp only came out of the herb to half their length and ate in such stony places.

After a bite, the fish usually settles in the herb and can be easily approached and drilled out by boat. Vacancies in water lily fields also have their charm. Since water lilies are usually deeply rooted, the bottom in such places is usually hard. Our bait can be optimally presented here. If the body of water has apparently hardly any hotspots to offer, the bank on which the wind is blowing and bays on the windward side are often a good choice. Wind and wave movements carry feed of all kinds to such places. The carp, which eat here and can be found and caught regularly, also know this.