Category: Bait & Tackle

Deeper Pro +

First impressions with the Deeper Pro +

There are always folk who will say that the use of various electronic aids detract from the nature and experience of fishing. The same could be said for the many developments and ingenious items of tackle that have contributed to modern carp fishing over the past 20-30 years. Just imagine where we would be without them!

All these tackle items are of little use unless we know where the fish are to be found and the best spot to place our baits. It can take a delicate feel and experience for ‘leading’ around to determine the nature of the lake or river bed while the use of a marker float to map out a swim or lake can take considerable time & effort especially on larger bodies of water. So a device that can do both should make things easier – right?

The clever folk at Deeper have managed to miniaturize the electronics for depth measurement and GPS positioning into a neat & easy to cast package weighing only 3.2 oz. This when combined with real time satellite mapping allows the angler the opportunity to map out swims quickly and easily.

Getting started…

After opening the package I found the instructions easy to follow and after downloading the Deeper App soon had my Deeper Pro + connected to my IPhone 5SE. As with any Wi-Fi set up the range that can be achieved will depend on any number of variables. Elevating your phone as high as possible will help maximize the range and switching to Aircraft mode and then switching on the Wi-Fi will also improve signal strength.

The App allows you to select a choice of Sonar Modes but for mapping select the Onshore GPS Mode. The screen then splits to show a Google map on one side and a sonar map on the other. It is then a matter of casting the Deeper unit out and slowly retrieving to build up a detailed map of your swim. The data can then be uploaded and retrieved on-line for more detailed analysis or simply scrolled through on your phone.

Once the map has been uploaded you can access your Deeper map account on-line to review it in either map or satellite view mode.

The sonar screen helps distinguish between hard and soft bottom structure as well as weed growth. There is also a ‘fish’ marker option that can help with location.

So how does it work in practice?

First of all I set off to map a small local pond of about 1/2 acre in size. Casting the 3.5 oz Deeper Pro + device was easily achieved on a 2.75 test curve 12′ carp rod and it took less than half and hour to map the whole pond.

I then set out for another water that I planned to fish. Once again it was a simple matter to pick up the wifi signal being broadcast by my Deeper Pro + and then set the App to record data in GPS mode.  After casting and retrieving the Deeper unit around the swim and looking at the sonar image it didn’t take long to see a few areas of interest. Once the data is recorded it can be accessed bank side or better still uploaded to the secure Deeper Map ‘Library’ site and accessed (using your individual & secure account)  in combination with online maps or satellite overlay.  The latter provides a bathymetric type map that is easy to read. I did notice that my recorded data seemed noticeably ‘smaller’ in area than the displayed map but overall it provided good correlation.

As with any sounder interpreting the data presented on the screen is critical. Key aspects such as the nature of the bottom (silt, gravel, leaves etc), weed density, contours etc requires some interpretation but with a little practice you’ll soon build up a detailed picture of your swim. I already had a general idea of where I wanted to position my baits and the Deeper Pro + helped me find a clear area next to some dense weed. As you will see the narrowing down of this precise location would prove to have a very happy outcome!

The online map feature allows you to scroll through the sonar data to see key features like bottom structure, weed etc.

So how did the fishing work out? I learned from the sonar maps that there were a couple of areas in the swim that might be ideal places to position a bait. The bottom in some shallower areas had a thick covering of blanket weed and nearby depths to 6′ were some taller weeds that grew to withing a foot or so of the surface.  As the depth of the silt increased (shown by the thicker bright orange layer) the tall weed growth decreased and allowed a pop-up to be positioned perfectly. After a few days baiting up with Spotted Fin Catalyst baits it was soon time to see if it would all come together as planned.

After setting up in the swim just after 2:30pm I made my first casts at 3:00pm, hooked up the bobbins and sat back to enjoy the warm afternoon sun. I did not expect any action until nearer 5 or even 6pm but at a little before 3:30pm the right hand rod rattled off. There was no screaming run but this fish set off steadily for about 50 yds before I could slow its progress. It began picking up strands of weed along the way and as I slowly gained line was forced to try and remove it as it threatened to jam the tip ring. After a solid battle & some nervous moments a large fish finally slid into the net. As I looked more closely it was clear that this was indeed a very large fish and after checking the scales a couple of times settled on a weight of 39.04. I was stunned and elated. After some photos and watching this exceptional fish swim off I recast and settled back behind the rods.

39.04 – I was stunned and elated!

The remainder of the session proved to be nothing less than sensational. A 27.08, 21 & low teen followed finally capped of by another beast that capped off an incredible 5 hours of fishing at 35.04.


My observations using an iPhone 5SE  suggest that the typical working range is about 50 – 60 yds. This range also depends on how high the phone or other device can be held relative to the Deeper unit (so standing on top a bank instead of at water level will increase the range significantly). I had my iPhone attached to the rod above the reel which proved a little awkward but workable. I plan on using a tripod or tall bank stick to raise the device to eye level which might help the range and ease of use. An iPad or similar device with better wifi reception than a phone may well provide longer range up to the claimed 100 yd range. Overall I’m very impressed with the ease of use of the Deeper Pro + and it is now a key part of my gear for mapping swims and narrowing down those carpy looking hot spots!


Easy PVA Solid Bags (Video)

This is a basic run through  on how to make simple Rectangular PVA Solid Bags that do not require a stringing needle. I have to emphasize the usage of rectangular bags for this application square bags will not not work quite the same. For detailed images of this technique please see the attached photos!

Here the hook is inserted into the side of the PVA  Solid to avoid piercing any larger pellets, or oats.

A simple loop is made in the hooklink, and fastened around the knot on the top of the bag. There should never be knot formed in the hooklink for this presentation.  In this instance the hooklink is PB Products Jelly Wire.

Finally here is the finished rig! As I mentioned in the video it is VERY simple to make up 25+ bags using this method in less than an hour. As opposed to tying PVA funnel web your time will be drastically cut due to only having to form one knot.

Delkim – 25 Year Anniversary

Delkim Cover 25 years

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to try many of the alarms that have come on the market. One or two have proven themselves to be solid & reliable workhorses while many others, often with too much marketing hype, have promised plenty but never lived up to the expectations on the bank.

One company however truly stands out and that is Delkim. This year the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary and continues to win awards from leading magazine reader votes for the Best Alarm and still remains the choice of top anglers around the world.

So how does technology-vibrationDelkim continue to lead the field?

Unlike ANY OTHER bite alarm Delkim uses its patented vibro technology to detect not only line movement but also vibration – and is found on ALL its alarms (Txi, Standard and EV models). This unique system avoids the need for a rotating ‘wheel’ and instead uses a ‘Y’ shaped friction paddle that the line drags over. Any movement in or vibration along the line is converted into a signal that is output as a series of ‘beeps’ (the familiar Delkim ‘warble’ sound) and flashing LED lights. The rate of line movement is signified by the rapidity of the beeps (cheaper alarms often give just a single monotone output) although a fast run might sound as a single tone it is in fact a very rapid series of notes that you are hearing and can be revealed by reducing the alarm sensitivity.

The ability to adjust  sensitivity over a wide range is an important and often under rated feature of Delkim’s technology. When wind, wave action or line drag result in frequent false ‘beeps’ the sensitivity can be reduced until they are eliminated while still ensuring that a run is never missed. If you’ve dragged yourself out in the middle of a stormy night because your ‘roller’ alarm is beeping incessantly then you’ll appreciate why this is so relevant!  At the other extreme the sensitivity on a Delkim can be increased to a point where the line does not even have to move but the slightest touch or bump will be indicated. This might seem extreme but being able to detect line bites can be vital in discovering the presence of fish moving about in a swim especially when they are not feeding. This is often the case in cold water conditions late or early in the season. If you are looking to find spots where carp are holding up in the winter then detecting ‘line bites’ can be a very effective means to locating them.

This video shows that extra sensitivity in action.

A Session Saved!

My last fish before ice capped off a local water in December a few years back was a case in point. The air temperatures had fallen to 25F as darkness fell and the water was around 35-36F. I was just beginning to pack up, in the expectation of a blank, when I got a single ‘beep’ on the remaining rod still out. Another three or four minutes passed as I waited anxiously in anticipation. The NiteLite remained motionless but another couple of beeps suggested ‘something’ was happening at the sharp end… I hovered close to the rod and after another minute or so there were a few more beeps as the NiteLite bobbin inched very, very slowly upwards. I struck before the NiteLite had moved more than about 4 inches and was rewarded with a solid thump on the rod tip. After a brief battle I landed a lovely winter common that tipped the scales at 27lb 12 oz. Now the answer, of course, is would I have still caught that fish with a different manufacturers alarm? My answer is most definitely not… If only because I would not have had that early detection of a fish in and around my bait. I would, without those few beeps, most likely have wound in that last rod and headed home while ruminating on blank to end the season!


A December common thanks to Delkim

The vibration detection can also alert you to crayfish or other nuisance species messing with your bait… the extra sensitivity and unique ability to detect ‘knocks’ on the line (not just line movement) gives you a much clearer picture of what is happening in and around your bait. It’s much better to know what’s happening than reel in hours later to find your bait has been whittled away to nothing or discover too late that you’ve been ‘done’ or missed fish thanks to a tangled rig.


Warranty, Service and Much More…

While there are plenty of choices for alarms on the market only one company truly specializes in providing a complete range of alarms and accessories dedicated to giving you the very best in bite detection. In addition to a choice of alarms the range includes the NiteLite and SlimLite bobbin and hanger systems, D-Lock mounts, Snag Bar attachments plus other accessories that can be found at:

Delkim also stands out for its unrivalled warranty and service. In the unlikely event a fault develops within the first two years from buying your alarm Delkim will repair it free of charge. Outside the warranty period Delkim will continue to support and repair your alarm for years to come. Owning a set of Delkim alarms might cost a bit more initially but in the long run they will not only outlive & outperform other alarms but will also retain a higher value making them a truly ‘sound’ investment!








What’s in your box Zach? (Video)

I’ve had a few requests to see what I take on sessions so I made a short video. I said the wrong thing a few times such as the first black box being Ambush when it is NGT. The second was the Solar baiting needle does not include a gated needle. Guess I need to write myself a script! Links are provided in the description of the video to several of the items I personally use.

I have used the Nash Tackle hooks and hook lengths with great success (see my Idaho article). The Rig Station is great as it doubles as a bivvy table with adjustable legs. The JAG hook sharpening kit is vital for super sharp hooks which convert into more hookups.

Surface Fishing with Pellets

With the summer heat and humidity in full swing at the moment I find myself much preferring short sessions or night fishing. As I’m originally from the North of England I am not a lover of the sun, in fact I prefer the winter, which might sound strange but then again I’ve been called much worse over the years!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to nip out for a few hours in the middle of the day. The weather was 92 degrees and very humid so it was not exactly good conditions to catch carp in. However, I headed for a very shallow section of the Blackstone Canal and the plan was to either walk around and stalk a few fish or drift some small floating pellets across the canal and get the carp feeding on the surface.

Now many of you I am sure have used bread; either floating or sinking to stalk and catch carp. I also utilize this method and have caught carp to over 40lbs doing exactly this as it’s a great technique to catch carp that are cruising or feeding in small groups. I’m sure some of you have even used dog or cat biscuits to catch carp off the surface, but I’d bet very few of you have ever used floating pellets.

A Yellow Koi carp that couldn’t resist floating pellets

Why use pellets? I have to go back to the early 1990’s when I was happily catching carp on bolt rigs and boilies. I was visiting ‘The Anglers Workshop’, which is owned by Kev Baines, who builds rods and generally gives out sage advice. He is also well known for telling you where you are going wrong! In this case, he was asking why myself and my fishing partner were wasting our time sitting behind rods. He then proceeded to show us a large bag of floating trout pellets and over the next few hours described how they were best employed. Fast forward to the following week where I saw first hand exactly how effective they can be in the right situation. Let me explain.

Pellet Choice

Originally I was using floating trout pellets, approximately 4mm in diameter. However, I have used various sizes over the years to see if their effectiveness differs. I have found that if you use solely larger sizes (8mm+) the carp will feed very similar to how they do with mixer biscuits; they will come up for one or two baits and then drop back down to cruise around. With the inclusion of 4mm and smaller pellets the carp eventually come to the surface and then stay on the surface! They basically swim around with their backs and mouths out of the water, sucking in the pellets.

A dog biscuit caught carp, before I discovered floating pellets
A dog biscuit caught carp, before I discovered floating pellets

I would be quite happy to fish with trout pellets, but I have found a much better and cheaper pellet that is easily ordered from a grain or feed store. There may be other makes but my own personal choice is Purina Aqua Chow Pellets. They are available in sizes from 200 to 800 and I generally order two sizes and then mix them up. Price wise they usually retail for $30-40 for a 25lb bag. In a typical 2-4 hour session I will use around 2-3 gallons of pellets, but they are very versatile and you can add them to method mixes or scald them with hot water and form them into paste; I have also blended them into a powder and used them as a base mix for fishmeal boilies!

Enhancing your Bait

The pellets on their own are excellent but if you want to give them a boost or if you have any duck weed present a simple dousing in oil will really help. Personally I use hemp or sesame oil. I will also add liquid/flavor to the pellets on occasions and a personal favorite is Nutrabaits Blue Oyster booster liquid. With the oil added the duck weed will disperse and if you have any wind on the water you will also be able to create a flat spot where the bait is located.

Feed Them before you Fish

On occasions when a fish is close in I will free-line a bait to them without feeding as you can sometimes get an instant result. However, when using the pellets correctly I am attempting to create competition amongst the carp and more importantly, confidence. If the fish are feeding warily they are much, much harder to fool.

The best way I have found to feed the pellets is with either a catapult or a throwing spoon. I will set myself up in an area where I can get the pellets to drift; this usually means you want to be on the back of any wind that is blowing. I will then feed them in regularly, every 2-3 minutes. This may go on for an hour or more until I get the feeding response I am looking for. It’s very tempting to cast in as soon as you see the fish feeding, BUT if you do you will most likely ruin your chances of catching more than one fish.

Once the carp are up on the surface, cruising around and feeding heavily I am then happy to start fishing for them. This does not mean that I will stop baiting. It’s almost impossible to overfeed the carp with these pellets and a bucket of 2-3 gallons usually sees me through a session. I will keep up the baiting every 2-3 minutes and if I see the fish slow down I will increase the feeding! I will even continue feeding as I am playing a fish and it is not uncommon the see fish actively feeding next to a hooked carp as they become preoccupied.

In this shot the fish are taking the pellets but are not pre-occupied
In this shot the fish are taking the pellets but are not pre-occupied


After regular feeding the fish are now up on the surface, feeding very confidently
After regular feeding the fish are now up on the surface, feeding very confidently

After you have landed a fish you may notice the feeding will decrease. Be patient and resume the feeding and in most cases the fish will resume their activities each time.

Equipment Needed

You can certainly use whatever carping equipment you currently have, but I would recommend scaling down. Generally you will be fishing lighter lines and using smaller hooks, so a soft through action rod will be ideal. It does not have to be 12 feet in length and in fact a 9-10ft rod is ideal as it can also be used as a stalking rod. You also can scale down your reel size as there is no need for reels that hold 200-500 yards of line.

A balanced set-up makes surface fishing much more fun
A balanced set-up makes surface fishing much more fun

My own set-up consists of a couple of different options, based on the size of fish I am targeting. For larger fish I will use a 2.25lb rod, coupled with a 4500 Shimano bait runner whereas for smaller fish (under 20lb) I will use a couple of different rods (8-11 feet) which are very soft and have test curves of between 1-1.5lb. I will also use much smaller reels that hold about 100 yards of line.

Traveling light with only the essentials
Traveling light with only the essentials

Line wise you will want to use mono-filament as the added stretch is a major help when playing fish on lighter set-ups. Again the breaking strain depends on the size of fish you are targeting but most times I will be using 8-10lb main-line and a 6-8lb hook-link. With the hook-link I will be using a fluro carbon for the added invisibility; just make sure you take care over your knots as fluro carbon is not forgiving if you kink or damage it.

With hooks you will really need to scale down, but make sure you still choose a pattern and make that is very strong. I used size 8-10 hooks, usually Fox Arma Point SSBP’s.

You will also need a float of some description, unless you are fishing within 15 yards of the bank. Fox, Korda and Nash all make good models and you can also use bubble floats. I will set these up, inline style with a float stop to keep them in place. They also will aid with hooking the carp if they take the bait positively as they have some resistance to them. With a float I will use a hook-link of 4-8ft, depending on the size of the rod.

Hook-Bait Options

This is where it can get complicated!! My choice and style of hook-bait will be very much dependent on how confident the carp feed and if they are wary of bigger hook-baits. Generally your hook- bait will be bigger than the feed so the carp can be more cautious when taking them.

You can choose to hair rig a plastic imitation bait, a mixer biscuit or even a cut down pop-up. If you do hair rig your bait I would recommend that you mount the bait tight to the hook as in this case you do not want separation between your hook and bait; in fact, you want your bait and hook to go in at the same time. When I am waiting to strike, as soon as I see the hook-bait disappear I know the hook is inside the carp’s mouth and this I will hit into the fish, hopefully hooking it.

Terminal tackle and some hook bait options
Terminal tackle and some hook bait options

In some cases the fish will suck in and blow out your bait before you have chance to strike or they may simply approach your hook-bait and then abort the take or back off the bait. In this case the fish knows something is wrong and most likely sees the hook. My approach now would be to side hook a bait and trim it down to mimic the actual feed. However, remember that you also need to see your hook-bait otherwise you are relying on the fish to hook itself!

This fish took a cut down boilie
This fish took a cut down boilie

Other Necessities

Without a doubt make sure you have a decent pair of polaroid glasses, which will help you both see the carp and also see your hook-bait. A peaked hat or baseball cap will also help you vision. Stay off the skyline where possible, but more importantly be stealthy. Do not stamp around the bank and make slow deliberate movements. I have been within a foot or so of feeding carp and not spooked them, even when moving but sudden noises or movement will see them disappear.

A baseball cap, a decent pair of polaroid glasses and a catapult are all essential tools for the surface fisherman
A baseball cap, a decent pair of polaroid glasses and a catapult are all essential tools for the surface fisherman

Another little trick you can use is to grease your line with a small dab of vaseline which will help it float and thus make controlling the float and hook-bait much easier.

Recent Results

Lets go back to the Blackstone Canal where I was out for a few hours. I arrived to find a shallow section covered by duck weed, which was also acting as a cover for lots of small carp. As soon as I introduced the pellets the carp were feeding, although knowing this spot I was not fooled as they are usually very hard to tempt off the surface. As an example I also had a feeder rod with me and on several occasions while I was feeding pellets I cast out a couple of pieces of corn to a different area and had to wait less than 5 minutes on each occasion before I was winding in a carp.

Over the course of the next hour I tried a few different hook-baits and each time was frustrated. In the end I resorted to fishing my hook-bait 1 inch under the surface on a 12″ hook-link (basically a short zig rig) and this really solved the problem as I landed 4 carp in quick succession before I decided to go home to the AC.

Little Blackstone mirrors like this one are a challenge to catch on the surface
Little Blackstone mirrors like this one are a challenge to catch on the surface

Lets move forward a week or so and after fishing a night session with little success I decided to drop into a pond filled with Koi carp on the way home. I knew these fish had been fished for heavily over the past 5 or 6 years and I wasn’t expecting the fishing to be easy. I was not disappointed! I got the carp feeding confidently relatively quickly but getting them to take a hook-bait was not quite that simple. They clearly knew they were being fished for and they clearly knew the difference between the feed and the hook-bait.

I persevered and kept the feed going in and finally hooked one…..unfortunately it was a greedy Grass carp which although weighing around 30lb’s only took 5 minutes to subdue before it went mental in the net.

This 30lb+ grass carp couldn't resist the chow pellets
This 30lb+ grass carp couldn’t resist the chow pellets

After releasing the grassie I then fed the fish again for around an hour before they got their confidence back and I was able to get one to take again. This time it was a koi carp and it was a nice golden specimen.

I left, vowing to come back with more pellets and a better presentation in order to fool these wary koi carp. A week later I arrived just after noon. Conditions were far from ideal but I got on the back of the wind and started to introduce feed. It was about 20 minutes before I started to get a good response with around 6 fish feeding competitively. Over the course of the next hour I tried several hook-bait presentations, all of which were rejected by the koi’s. They would approach the hook-bait then either abort the take or sink under it, both of which told me they could see the hook-bait was not right!

Scratching my head I decided to go back to a simple presentation and side hook a boilie. With this method the hook is partially buried in the bait with the point exposed. I also trimmed the bait down a bit so it was not sitting too high in the water, another reason the carp were most likely aborting. Within 5 minutes I had two koi’s in the net and I knew I would get a few more chances.

Two koi carp caught in quick succession
Two koi carp caught in quick succession

I ended with 4 koi carp before I headed home and although I still had some missed takes the chances I did get were much more positive. The fact of the matter is that these carp were very, very wary and are pressured most days of their life as the pond is probably less than an acre in size. I’ll be going back in a few weeks to try my luck again and as it really is a very exciting way to catch fish. What ‘s better than watching your quarry take the bait. It’s definitely a great opportunity to watch and learn and even if you are not that successful you’ll learn a lot from just observing.

A cracking orange koi
A cracking orange koi


Creating your own leadcore leaders

There have been several inquiries on creating a how-to on creating leadcore leaders and how to splice different materials. This is something I do quite often as I do like using leadcore when the situation calls for it. Purchasing the leadcore in bulk spools can help save a little bit of money as well as letting you create longer lengths than the pre-tied leaders.

First step is to get the items you need together. For splicing leadcore or other materials you will need a gated needle. Using a regular gated baiting needle can work however using a specific splicing needle makes it quite easier as they are much finer than a regular needle. For this demonstration I used the Solar Micro Splicing needle which come 2 in a pack.

leadcore 1


Next you need to pull back the braided material to expose the leadcore. The amount of lead to cut off will be up to you and after some practice you will find what works the best for you.

Leadcore 2


I will create 2 different connections that I use. The first is attaching a swivel/link clip to one end. You will now take the splicing needle and tread it onto the braided section which is now hollow from removing the lead from the center. Like before this will become easier with practice and you will figure out the best for you situation. Leadcore 3


Next is adding the swivel to the tag end of the braided section. You then latch the tag end with the needle and start to pull the tag end back through the hollow braid with the needle.IMG_2317IMG_2318


It takes a little bit of work to pull the tag end though the rest of the braid. Just continue to work it until the tag end is fully inside the braid. Depending on how long the tag end was you may be able to pull it back through the hole that the needle created where you inserted it.IMG_2319


The final step is to tease the material so that you get a smooth transition from the thicker section to the main part of the braid. This connection will have the swivel directly in contact with the leadcore and there will not be a loop for free movement. This is how I prefer my connections to the swivel.



The second method I will show you will create a loop in the end. You can still attach a swivel with the loop or create it to have a loop to loop connection with your mainline.

Everything you need will be the same except you will need an item to create the size of loop that you require, most of the time I use a tail rubber. The first few steps are the same. Remove the inner leadcore and thread the needle through the braid.



As before latch the needle to the tag end. This time you place your item, tail rubber in my case, into the looped section and pull the tag end back through the braided section.IMG_2324


Tease the tag end through the braid once again until you can pull the needle out and finish the splice. Now you have an open loop to use for a loop to loop connection. If you wanted a swivel/clip attached to the loop you would thread it onto the tag end before placing the tail rubber and pulling the tag end though.IMG_2325


I hope this article will help you if you ever need to splice leadcore. It’s something that is very easy and once you do 2 or three of them you’ve pretty much got it figured out.

Tight Lines,


JAG Hook Sharpening Kit Review by Josef Raguro

Well I’m retiring my Berkley hook sharpener. After seeing Zach retouch his hook points on the bank I decided to get a JAG hook sharpening kit. It comes in a small pouch. The kit includes a vice , jeweler file ,2 polishing stones , jeweler’s eye / magnifying glass and the solution marker for coating the exposed hook.
I like sharpening my hook trokar style for one reason. I don’t want the tip of the hook breaking off in the fishes mouth. By doing this style the hook will actually go through with less resistance. It’s like a hypodermic needle.
How I sharpen the hook. I get my hook of choice which is a size 2 Korda wide gape hook for demonstration. Put on the supplied hook vice. I start out with the jeweler’s file .I tilt the vise up and start doing passes at a 45°angle on both sides of the hook point till I get my desired trokar style shape . Then I finish I up with the two polishing stones. Afterwards I’ll coat it with “the solution ” marker to make it rust proof again. Most manufacturer’s use water proof coating from paint to teflon. Or you can use petroleum jelly or chap stick. Do your self a favor and get one. It can give you a better “edge” on fishing.


Rueben Heaton Scale

Weighing In

Spring Bar Scale
Spring Bar Scale

In the late 70s, when I first fished for carp, the most common method of weighing my captures was with a plastic bag and bar spring scale.

These scales are still sold in huge numbers for anglers.

Their popularity being due to a very low cost and widespread availability. Their disadvantage would be accuracy. The spring has a tendency to relax over time and it’s elasticity can be affected by temperature. The display readout has very limited granularity.






Over the last 30 years products have advanced significantly to enable the carp angler safely, securely and accurately weigh their captures, from the latest technology in digital scales to dedicated weigh slings, tripods, crooks and bars.

Today, the most common style of scale used by the modern carp anglers would be the hanging scale, either mechanical or digital. With prices ranging from but a few dollars, to hundreds of dollars, a very high level of accuracy can now be achieved in weighing your trophy capture. When selecting a scale, look for models that include a “tare” feature to zero out the scale, minus the weight of your wet sling.

Reuben Heaton MicroWeigh Scale
Reuben Heaton MicroWeigh Scale
Fox Digital Scale - 60 kg with Case
Fox Digital Scale – 60 kg with Case












Reuben Heaton 60 lb Scale - Korda Edition
Reuben Heaton 60 lb Scale – Korda Edition
Reuben Heaton Flyweight Mk2 Scale
Reuben Heaton Flyweight Mk2 Scale











When it comes to actually weighing the carp, never lip-grip weigh the fish; place the carp in a sling, make sure all the fins are flat against the body, then weigh both together. Make sure all surfaces the carp comes in contact with are wet first and free of abrasive or sharp objects. Keep the fish as low to the ground, or above the mat as possible when weighing. If you are using a sling, and it has zippers on each end, use them to prevent the fish from sliding or wriggling out. There are many weigh slings available at all price points, many of which can also be used as a retainer to keep the fish out in the water, safe and secure before handling.

Trakker Sanctuary Retention Sling
Trakker Sanctuary Retention Sling
NGT Weigh Sling and Case
NGT Weigh Sling and Case

Have your weighing solution setup in advance and ready to go. I usually set mine up before I even cast out. I keep a bucket with water close and refill it on a regular basis to keep the water fresh and cool. Always be thinking of the safety of the fish and the amount of time it is out of the water.

Cygnet EasyLift Weigh Bar
Cygnet EasyLift Weigh Bar
Gardner Power Lifter Weigh Bar
Gardner Power Lifter Weigh Bar















When it comes to lifting up the scale to weigh the fish there are a number of options available. For the most accurate weight you don’t want to be using your hands touching the scale. A simple 10-12″ metal weigh bar, with handles and a hook to attach the scale, works well – the larger versions allow a couple of people together to lift a really big fish.

There are crook/bar solutions, a long metal rod, one end can be anchored on the ground (against your foot), the other with a hook to lift the scale. This gives you a very good lever action to offset the weight and lift right over the mat. These work really well, especially for heavy fish.


Cygnet Sniper Weigh Tripod
Cygnet Sniper Weigh Tripod

Finally there are weigh tripods, with a hook atop to hang the scale from. I have been using the Cygnet Sniper Weigh Tripod for the past few seasons, a very effective and solid solution which meets all my needs. Ensure the tripod legs are stable and secure before use, especially on uneven ground or in high wind. If the legs have feet, which can be pegged down, use the pegs!









Whatever the weigh solution you choose to use it is important to regularly check the calibration of your scales. A simple method to do this yourself is to take a 5 gallon bucket, hang it from the scales and zero them. You can then add progressively gallons of water and check the reading. In the US, one gallon of water weighs 8.34 lb’s, and for each additional gallon; 16.69 / 25 / 33.38 and finally 41.7 lb’s at 5 gallons. You could use bags of sugar, 3 lb, 5 lb’s, or weight lifting weights – basically, any known weight quantity in the bucket.

In the USA, scale certification is now available on any scale purchased from Big Carp Tackle, free of charge when purchasing a new scale. If you have a set of scales that you would like to get ICFA (International Carp Fishing Association) checked and certified, you can send them your scales and get them certified for a fee. The certification is typically good for 1 year before needing to be re-certified. The certification is printed on a weatherproof label and placed on the back of the scale.

ICFA Scale Certification
ICFA Scale Certification








I would highly recommend you watch Brian’s Wingard’s step-by-step carp care series of videos, where he shows you all aspects of carp care; from netting the fish to taking photographs of your captures!


Carp care starts from before you even cast your line out into the water, from the location you fish to the tackle you use, to landing the fish and unhooking, to weighing the capture and returning it safely to the water.




Review: Solar Mega Big Shots for big baiting.

Currently there is no shortage of flavors, additives, dips, glugs, sprays, and enhancers available to the American Carp angler. The selection is overwhelming, you have the option of sticking with old familiar favorites such as strawberry and upping the complexity to Scopex to Ambergris and Vetiver for all I know.

With full shopping baskets and smiling faces pleased with this never ending cornucopia of flavoring there is one thing all Carp anglers contend with in the US at some point and that is QUANTITY. It’s highly unlikely I am the only person who has used their favorite flavors in such moderation that it felt as though it was a bottle of champagne being cracked open only for special occasions. Fortunately the Solar Mega Big Shots have put an end to this conservative usage of flavoring.

30 carp

A 30lb Common Caught on a Candy Floss Pop-Up


With 1 litre of flavoring you no longer have to be savvy with your baiting applications. Most carp fishermen I speak with fish a variety of waters requiring different amounts of bait going from a few balls of groundbait to half a dozen or more 5 gallon buckets filled to the brim with particle. Speaking of flavoring 5 gallon buckets of particle it seems as though one full cup of the Big Shot flavors will flavor this amount just fine, and if more is needed there is still plenty to spare.  If you’re feeling adventurous I highly recommend taking a look into the new Candy Floss, and Chili Club flavors. The Chili Club is a mild spicy/fishy smell where the Candy Floss is incredible and hard to put a finger on what it is composed of, but it’s certainly a potent creamy, and nutty flavor very unique and original, and sure to be a favorite in the US.

Big Shot

Enterprise Tackle Pellet Skins

Enterprise Tackle Pellet & Corn Skins

Enterprise Pellet Skin

Over the past couple of year’s I’ve found that the Enterprise Tackle Pellet & Corn Skins have increasingly become an invaluable part of my carp fishing armory. I first used them to help present dog chow (chum mixer for the Euro’s) as a surface bait for some nice koi that had become especially wary of floating bread. Since the chow soon soaked up water the cups ensured that the pellet did not disintegrate or sink too quickly. After a while they would eventually begin to sink slowly so I found soaking the pellets in a little vegetable or hemp oil helped to make them remain buoyant for a while longer. Adding a small split shot to the hooklink an inch behind the hook also allowed them to be fished as a pop-up creating yet another presentation option.

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A nice koi free-lined off the surface on an oiled pellet

It didn’t take me long to explore some other ideas that also proved the potential for these simple but clever pieces of kit. Since then I’ve found that the pellet & corn skins can be used to present a wide range of baits. The choices are almost limitless and I’m sure my list can easily be expanded upon. This past winter I fished an area that had seen a lot pressure from anglers. As many were fishing sweetcorn on the hook it was inevitable that the carp soon wised up which resulted in lightning fast bites and empty corn skins. This gave me a good opportunity to use the pellet cups which meant I could quickly and easily change between different baits. While sweetcorn was taken only hesitantly a change to peanuts, pepperami, dog chow or other baits soon had the tip on the feeder rod being pulled hard around in some solid hook-ups. As soon as the bites slowed down after two or three fish a quick change soon had them going again! This success also gave me the confidence to try some other novel bait ideas including a couple that were more on a whim but worked way better than expected. This included stuffing a piece of gummy worm candy into a pellet skin which the carp simply inhaled!

Rig Options…

Pellet Cups 001-1It’s really very easy to mount the pellet skin on a hair. Just form a hair loop and pull it through the pellet cup before adding a hair stop to keep it in place. Now all you need do is simply push in your bait.

In the photo on the right I show three different rigs. #1 Top right is an ‘oiled’ Dog Chow pellet in a Cup mounted on a soft braid hook link (PB 15lb Chameleon) with a hair aligner on a #8 PB Anti Eject Hook. Typically I would add a small split shot or piece of tungsten putty just behind the hook to counter balance it when fished as a pop-up. #2 In the middle is a Pellet Cup with a piece of foam (its actually the round green window insulating foam you can buy at hardware stores in a coil). I made a simple loop from some braid, looped it around the hook and back through the loop and then mounted the pellet cup. The hook is then tied to 6 or 8lb mainline depending on the size of fish I expect to encounter. I’ve used this very successfully when fishing chum (dog chow) mixers as floaters for surface fishing. #3 Bottom right is just a simple mono hair & hook link tied on a PB #8 KD Wide Gape hook. I’ve trimmed down and inserted a dry roasted peanut into the cup and when fished with a feeder packed with dry bread crumbs and ground peanuts its an absolute carp magnet!

Get Creative!

ET63-corn-skins-adSome baits like peanuts need a little trimming to make sure they sit securely in place. It’s also easy to make a variety of flavored pastes that can then be smeared or pushed into the pellet cup creating a deadly presentation. A few bread crusts or dough pastry from the freezer section at the supermarket can be mixed with cheese, peanut butter, Nutella, Marmite etc to create a firm but pliable texture. If it is too dry just add a little margarine or vegetable oil and work together till you get a nice consistency. Luncheon meat is a deadly but often little used bait for carp. It is difficult to keep on a hair or hook but squeezing some into a pellet cup keeps it in place for ages. Peperami sticks are very easy to use and a small section can be cut off and pushed into the pellet skin while a few free samples are thrown into the swim. Lastly the ‘skins’ & ‘cups’ can also be mounted directly on a hook making them ideal for float or feeder fishing.


Just a few of the baits I’ve tried successfully…

Pellet Cup BaitsBoilie Paste

Cored out boilies

Halibut & Other Pellets

Dog Chow

Peanut Butter, Nutella etc

Marmite or Vegemite

Raisins, Sultanas – can be soaked in flavors or alcohol.

Cheese & other pastes

Peanuts – Plain, Dry Roasted etc


Chick Peas & Various Peas & Beans

Luncheon Meat & Spam

Cheese – soft or hard

Gummy Bears or Worms – carp love the fruity flavor!

Foam Inserts to create a pop-up or floater


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Success on a Peanut!