Author: Evan Cartabiano

Fishing has been my passion since I was two and I caught my first carp when I was eight. Now over twenty years later I am still fishing for carp and my passion for angling has lead me to an advanced degree in Fisheries Ecology and a career as a fisheries biologist. This formal education in ecology has proven to be very useful in understanding aquatic ecosystems and ultimately understanding how carp behave and why. There is a wealth of information in scientific journals and some of it has direct application to carp fishing. I have been writing for Big Carp News since 2013 and have enjoyed taking this knowledge and turning it into articles that I hope help people to catch more fish and understand why things might (or might not) catch fish.
My own fishing is focused on the short session for two reasons: 1) I work full time (yes, being a fisheries biologist is still work!), and 2) I have a young family that requires my attention. Therefore, most of my sessions are overnights with the occasional weekend fishing trip with the family. My choice of tackle and tactics reflects this with the focus being getting on the fish as quickly as possible and getting them feeding as the clock is always ticking. I spend a lot of time when I can’t fish on research of potential swims using all available information to figure out as much as I can ahead of time. I also enjoy taking my children fishing and teaching others about fishing, particularly carp fishing. What it boils down to is this: I’m obsessed with fishing. I am currently lucky enough to be backed by Gardner Tackle, Century, and Rod Hutchinson.

Making The German Rig

The German Rig is a super simple rig to tie and a super effective rig for fishing bottom baits. The stiff boom of the hook link keeps tangling to a minimum and turns the rig well in the carp’s mouth. So, let’s take a look at making one.

My hook of choice for this (and many other rigs) is the Special Edition Continental Mugga from Gardner. Of course, other Mugga hooks will work, as will other patterns, but I’d stick to patterns that are similar to this one.


The Items you need are simple: Trick Link hooklink or other monofilament hook link like Amnesia, hook of choice as we have already discussed, size 12 rig swivel, and a hook stop.


To start the rig slide the swivel onto the hook followed by the stop. The stop has a small pilot hole in it. This is used to align the point of the hook while threading the stop onto the shank. This is likely the hardest part of making this rig!


After you have the stop on, slide it up over the barb and onto the bend.  At this point it should look something like this.


Next cut about 12in of the hooklink and attach it to the hook with a knotless knot or any other snell knot you like.


I like to add a bit of shrink tube to get the angle I like. This is optional and many anglers don’t do this. I personally like the angle with the tube better as it catches on your palm better this way. It’s up to you and I’d recommend trying it both ways and finding out what you like better.


The tube has been shrunk. Again this it optional and is up to personal preference.


Next attach your bait. You can use any method you prefer but I am going to demo the “heavy mono” method. To do this use 5in of 30lb monofilament line. Put it through the swivel and double it over. Then start pulling the bait onto both ends until its about this far onto the swivel. Note: bottom bait is 20mm Rod Hutchinson Strawberry Cream Boilie .


In this example I am using a snowman arrangement. Notice the tag ends of the mono above the popup – these will be turned into the “hair stop”. I am a fan of the snowman arrangement of baits as I feel it gives the fish a bit more of a target. Note: popup is a 15mm Rod Hutchinson Fruit Frenzy.


Once you have the baits on the hair, simply blob the end with a lighter to keep the bait from sliding off. This method works well with boilies, tiger nuts, and plastic baits. Don’t overlook baits such as tiger nuts on this rig – it’s well suited to them!


After you have “blobbed” the mono with the lighter smash it down flat with your finger and it will form a stop that looks like this. As you can see it’s not very obvious and is also fairly large and really holds the bait on very well.


Since the bait is free to travel the length of the hook, I like to trap it down during the cast so it can’t get stuck on the point of the hook. I do this with a small PVA stick with a longer tag end which I wrap around the hook to lock everything down.


The final rig. If using boilies I like to use a small sick or bag of broken or crushed boilies of the same flavor that I am fishing with. Spraying the whole thing with a top quality attractor is never a bad idea either, but I have found it’s best to not go overboard with the flavor if you are looking for a quick bite.


And here is proof of concept! Not the biggest fish but it’s well hooked which shows the rig to be working well.

Gardner Braided Hair Needle

I have used a lot of hair needles over the course of my carp fishing career and I can easily say that the Gardner Braided Hair Needle (standard size) is my favorite. There are a few reasons for this but the biggest is that they are versatile. As my baiting needles seldom serve as only baiting needles but rather as multi-function rig tools, I find that the barb on this needle is perfect.

The Gardner Braided Hair Needle comes in two different colors. They both work great but the green one is easier to find in a black rig box.

Since it is not like the barb on a hook but rather more of an indent, it can be used for pulling line through various rig bits without snagging up while doing so. The sliding design is also surprisingly useful as it allows you to push the bait onto the hair just the right distance from the bait but it also keeps the it from snagging on stuff while being stored or in your pocket. While you might think that a needle without a barb might be at somewhat of a disadvantage when using monofilament, it really works just fine on just about all material.

This hair needle is not sharp and has a rounded end – which makes it much safer than the normal ones!

Unlike most baiting needles, this one does not have a super sharp point. I have found that this even works on really hard air-dried baits and had the added benefit of being much safer to use than a normal baiting needle as the lack of barb and sharp point really help to keep it from sticking in your hand!

The construction is durable and the only issue I have had is the two parts of the slider will separate if abused – however they can be easily snapped back together. The hole in one end can be used to put it on a key ring or to tighten knots which is what I often use it for.

So, if this sounds good to you, head over to Big Carp Tackle and get one!


Carp Genetics and Catchability

Have you ever noticed that some carp are nearly impossible to catch? What makes one carp easier to catch than another? Searching to answer this question, I came upon a handful of scientific studies that discussed some of the issues involved. Of course, there are many factors such as the amount of fishing pressure, what the fish are naturally feeding on, location in the water body, and many, many other things that can impact fishing. However, I became interested in one that is less talked about: genetics. Carp have been domesticated for a long time and the result is many different “strains”, much like breeds of dogs or any other domesticated animal. And just like dog breeds these strains have different characteristics that impact everything from appearance to growth rate. While this selective breeding was not with angling in mind, the outcome of it is of major interest to anglers—and not just if the fish is a common or mirror, or how big it can ultimately get. It turns out that this selective breeding also has an impact on how easy the fish are to catch. This is isn’t just a minor difference either, as studies have shown that some strains of carp are much harder to catch than others. Most of these comparisons were between wild type carp (common) and more domesticated mirror carp. Mirror carp have been bred for two things: few scales (obviously) and a high growth rate. These traits were useful in the production of carp for food and set these fish apart from their wild brethren. In order to achieve a higher growth rate these fish have to eat more, which in turn naturally makes them easier to catch as a fish that eats more has more chance of getting a hook in the process.

There is also a difference in what the strains prefer to eat. Both have been shown to prefer to eat sweet corn over pellets (even when raised on pellets) which is likely a combination of the bright color but even more importantly the sugar content of sweet corn (the fish prefer to eat candy). But in another study the wild type carp preferred worms over other food types which can go a long way to explaining why there are many waters in the USA (and possibly other places) where often the biggest carp out of a lake was caught by someone who was not fishing for carp at all but rather by someone fishing for sunfish or catfish – using worms. Iain Sorrel has an article on “Alternative Approaches” that discusses this very topic.

But back to the impact of genetics. Studies have also found that even with the easier to catch domesticated strains there is a relatively high percentage of fish that were never caught at all in experimental ponds. For mirror carp this was about 45% of fish never being caught, and for the wild type this number was 68%! That means that 68% of the fish in a small pond could not be caught in 20 days of fishing. Keep in mind these were fish that had been raised in a hatchery and were used to eating pellets and had never been fished for before. Now think about the fish that you are fishing for and it makes you wonder how you ever catch anything!

The impact of angling pressure was similar for both strains as they become harder to catch the more they are fished for. This means that the carp get better at not getting hooked – which is no surprise to anglers on heavily fished waters. Even if you can see the fish feeding over your baited area it doesn’t mean that you will catch any: a study using tagged fish showed that even when fish are feeding directly where angler’s baits were located, it made little difference on whether certain fish were caught. The interesting thing is that it has been found that the carp kept feeding similarly but more slowly and with more inspection of the food. Not only did they use sight, though, the carp were likely able to detect the rig by feel as well.

Added to all of the above are individual differences between carp in the same lake, from food preference to handling of that food. This also makes some easier to catch than others. Feeling overwhelmed? Some take home messages for carp anglers include this advice: keep your rigs concealed. The fish can and will learn to avoid the rigs. This is not “smart” so much as the same conditioning they use to avoid other predators. Try alternative baits. There are potentially a lot of “wild” fish out there that are never caught because they prefer to eat wild food. Make sure your hooks are sharp. When the carp can feel the rig, you’ve got a much better chance of hooking them before they reject it if you aren’t making it easy for them with a dull hook!

Gardner Pro Line

There are so many lines on the market – and so many make fantastic claims about their abilities. So what about Gardner’s Pro line?

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The color of the line is really nice and looks super carpy on the reel.

It is a fairly limp line and behaves it’s self very well. There are so many claims about line being limp and tough and this line comes as close as any to being 100% accurate about this. I have put it through some very demanding situations (huge tangles with weeds and the like) and it has never let me down. Casting is good and it will allow you to flick out very light baits a good distance. It is also a very reasonable price which completes the package and makes it a must try for every carp angler.

Go get some at Big Carp Tackle by clicking here.

ATT Alarms (thoughts after some use)

There are lots of bait alarms on the market and I have tried some of them. While I started off wanting all the knobs and buttons and adjustments, I realized that none of these things really matter as much as reliability. Having the ability to change the sensitivity of the alarm on the fly means nothing if the alarm won’t sound if it gets rained on. So, when I was looking for new alarms I wanted reliability above all else (it  helps to keep off the bad dreams as well – the one with a 50lb fish taking all my line and getting snagged because the alarm did not go off).

The ATT alarms and reciever
The ATT alarms and receiver

After doing some research I decided on the ATT alarms from Gardner. These compact little alarms are super simple and yet offer exactly what I was looking for. There are no buttons at all and they are super waterproof. This did not mean that the alarms were not adjustable however and simply swapping the roller wheel is all that is needed to change the sensitivity. Having your cake and eating it too is always nice.

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I was at first a bit worried about one of the most unique features of these alarms  – the fact that they don’t have speakers and all the bite indication is accomplished by the receiver. I should not have been concerned however as this arrangement works perfectly and is actually preferable to the normal speaker in the alarm arrangement as you don’t have to broadcast to the whole world you have a run if you don’t want to.

There are a number of models of the ATT alarm – even a clear one! I choose the under lit wheel version that the whole wheel lights up on. I wanted this as it allowed me to see a run better from various directions. This has worked out well and it’s easy to tell which alarm is going off even if you can’t see the indicators.

The cover of the alarms also serves as the on/off switch and keeps them safe when not in use. I found this to be one of my favorite features as it kept me from forgetting to turn on the alarms which was another subject of paranoia. Also having a case that comes with the alarms is nice as you don’t have to go out and buy a separate one.

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The cover of which acts as the on/off switch

The receiver is programmable to each alarm on its own channel and you can change the color of the lenses can also be changed to match you alarms. Programming the alarms to the receiver was simple and the included instructions were easy to follow.

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The ATT Deluxe Receiver comes with spare lenses and they can also be purchased separately.

The receiver range is excellent, and while I have not measured it I have been as far as I was comfortable being from my rods and it still picked up great. The switch for the receiver is located on the top and I have not accidentally turn it off or on yet. If you are worried about it there is a case available that will keep it nice and safe!

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So far I have been using them the better part of a year and have have not changed the batteries and they still seem to be going strong. I have been in some torrential rain, snow, sleet, and 90+ degree weather and have had no issues what so ever.  Can’t ask for more than that I say!

Rain has no impact on the ATTs performance.
Rain has no impact on the ATTs performance.

I will update again after a year with more thoughts about these alarms and to let you know if I have had to change the batteries yet!

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There are lots of features that I did not have room to talk about here. Click the picture above to see them all!