Author: Iain Sorrell

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!


Prologic Windblade Indicators

North American waters are challenging for many reasons. The larger lakes and rivers not only require a step up in tackle but can be especially problematic when trying to set up your alarms and indicators. Strong currents and undertow will often result in ‘bobbin creep’ which will invariably trigger false beeps which are particularly annoying if you are trying to get some rest and even more so if it means you are simply not registering that initial interest from a fish in your swim.

Tension wire indicators have proven popular in Europe over the years for big water carping especially at long range. However adjusting the tension or adapting them for smaller waters and greater sensitivity is a limitation. Heavily weighted swingers & bobbins require continual adjustment and subject to swinging around in windy conditions.

In early 2014 I was about to head to Romania for the Big 5 Carp competition and was in the market for something better suited to big waters. As luck would have it I saw a set of the just launched Prologic Windblades at a European carp show and realized these would be an ideal choice.

Windblade 001

The clever design allows them to function either as a ‘swinger’ when minimal weight is required on the line such as in margin fishing or with a twist of a thumb screw set-up to act as a tension style indicator to combat excess current or drag typical in windy conditions. The tension can be set over a reasonable range to ensure the optimal resistance.

Windblade 002The heads come in a choice of colors and each has a spring ball line clip that can be adjusted for tension with a small side screw plus there is a slot for a small isotope. The Windblades drilled mount sits easily around the alarm bolt or D-Lok screw and have a quick disconnect clip so you can easily detach and store them safely at the end of a session or when you want to revert to a traditional bobbin style or other indicator.


I’ve now been using them now for over 3 years and they have truly proven themselves as ideal for North American waters. As many of you know I’m a long time Delkim alarm fan and in combination with the Windblades I’ve been able to get the best possible set up in some of the most adverse conditions.


On the last night of the 2016 CT Carp Tournament a sudden and violent wind kicked up sending gear flying everywhere. Amazingly, after reducing the sensitivity only slightly, my Delkim’s only beeped when I got a drop back as a carp picked up my bait on its journey upstream. I’ve repeated this on numerous occasions and found that undertow, wave action and wind blasts can be neutralized from giving false beeps while any fish activity can be instantly detected. While friends have been up and down all night checking their lines due to incessant beeps I’ve been able to sleep peacefully with my receiver next to me confident that when it does go off it will be a fish and not a false alarm!

Here Enrico Parmeggiani describes the background and design.

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!








The Italian Job

Parco Del Brenta Sept 2016


The carp mecca of Parco Del Brenta can be found an hour’s drive to the North West of Venice not far from the famed walled city of Citadella in the Padua region of Italy. This 35 acre gravel pit is fed by the cool waters of streams originating in the Dolomite region of the Alps to the north. The high mineral content and alkaline pH result in a remarkable environment that provides the ideal conditions for carp to reach immense size. I first heard about this extraordinary venue from my good mate Frank Warwick after he first fished there last year. The photos he shared of some of the incredible inhabitants plus his enthusiasm for the lake were truly infectious. Frank’s kind invitation to join a group of anglers he’d put together to rent the whole lake for a week this past Sept was too good to miss.

All I had to do was get there!


Finally after weeks of anticipation I’m desperately weighing and reweighing my bags to squeeze in every last item of tackle before heading off for my flight to Europe and arrival at Venice’s Marco Polo airport. Once I’m checked in my only concern would be a not insignificant amount of carp gear going AWOL…

As I emerged from passport control into the chaotic crush of the baggage claim area I was relieved to see some familiar faces. After anxiously waiting on our bags and with everyone’s present and correct we made our way outside to meet up with our hosts and mini bus driver. Our first (and last) night would be spent at a nearby farmhouse B&B before heading to the lake the following morning. After settling in and grabbing a shower it was to time to head in to the local town for dinner followed by a good nights sleep.


We woke refreshed and ready for the week ahead. But  first things first… Guy Aitkins and myself jumped aboard Chris Thompson’s van for a run to the local supermarket to get some extra supplies. Suitably loaded with beer, rum, soft drinks, snacks, cans of tuna & sweetcorn aboard we headed off to Parco to join the rest of the crew.

After months of anticipation we’d finally arrived and promptly set off for a walk around the lake perimeter. At each of the swims Frank and local expert Nicholas Holzer gave us their ideas on how to approach them. Even though we’d all studied the lake map and pestered Frank for details in advance there still seemed to be a load more questions to ask! The Parco water is a chalky blue green coloration and the banks are lined with bushes and reeds as well as some quite large overhanging trees in a few places. Many of the swims are suitably reinforced along their edges as the bank drops down steeply to depths of at least 12-14 feet and in the southern part of the lake to around 30 ft.  In the warm afternoon sunshine the lake looked stunning and I couldn’t wait to get started!



As most of us had chosen to ‘pair up’ and with 22 swims to divide up among 15 of us it was agreed that a peg draw was the fairest way to decide who would fish where. All our names went into a bucket and the first drawn would get their choice of swim and so on. Guy Warwick’s name was first out so he and dad Frank naturally went straight for Peg #1 – a peninsula that has a commanding position and is known for doing very well.  And so the draw continued until finally Guy Aitkins and myself chose peg 20 from the few remaining. I’d been looking forward to sharing a swim with Guy after first fishing with him and Frank in Romania. He’s not only a first class angler but more importantly a pleasure to be with, plus he might just come in handy making cups of tea and netting my fish…

It was almost 4pm by the time our gear had been transported around the lake and dropped into the swim. However we soon concluded that fishing six rods from #20 would be a potential nightmare with so many lines in the water plus it was likely to put us in conflict with the swims immediately to our right. In the end we agreed that it would be better if I moved further down the bank and set up in #21 and hopefully we could still socialize and help each other land fish etc.

Swim #21 Looking across to the peninsula. The bay to the left and the tree and roots in the margins clearly visible.

If you look at the lake map you’ll see that Peg # 21 has a bay to the left which is well known as a ‘refuge’ for bigger fish, especially at night. There are two water inlets at the end of the bay that flow in from an adjacent stock pond. The entrance to the bay is about 100 yds wide and is bounded on the opposite side by the peninsula which has peg #22 half way along and Peg #1 on the end. The tip of the peninsula has a submerged bar at 12-14 ft deep that extends across the lake to the opposite bank. Since Frank & Guy had their lines out along the other side of the bar I decided I should put a couple of rods close to my side of the bar and then also place baits across the entrance of the bay in the hope I might be able to intercept any fish coming in and out with my left hand rod. The dense bushes, trees and submerged roots to my left would mean that it could be a big problem if I hooked a fish that decided to run into the bay as there would be no way to follow it!

By now it was getting dark and with only two rods out I decided to leave the third till morning and make myself comfortable for the night. I soon had the bivvy up, gear & bait stowed and then, receiver in hand,  I wandered up to chat with Guy were we sat back to enjoy the very tasty ragu pasta delivered to our swims as part of the meal package. Sunday morning arrived and as the sun rose I looked out over Parco and saw several huge forms break the surface before crashing back into the depths. Sadly these fish were nowhere near my baits!

Guy Aitkins, Nicholas Holzer & Frank Warwick



The morning soon gave way to a hot sunny day and I figured it was time to get on with the game plan. Guy & I made up a stick mix with 4mm pellets, tuna, hemp oil, sweetcorn plus some finely ground hemp seed along with a few other ‘goodies’. Once we got going it didn’t take long to knock out a couple of dozen PVA mesh bags each. We also got some 10mm halibut pellets from our good friend Henrik that would soon prove to be hugely attractive to the carp in Parco!

Back in my swim I began to catapult out the halibut pellets toward the left hand side of the swim in a line starting from the margins out to about 50 yds. I set up a #6 PB long shank rig complete with hair and line aligners on an 8” hook length of 25lb PB Jelly Wire. On the hair went two pieces of Enterprise washed out pop up corn balanced out with some tungsten putty. A 2-3” PVA 35mm mesh bag of our stick mix on the hook bend completed the deal and was cast out about 15yds. I didn’t want to fish any closer to the margins as the fish could all too easily hit the snags.

On the middle rod went a blow back rig with one of Guy’s special home made pop-ups while on the other a 20mm Spotted Fin Catalyst bottom bait. These were cast out about 85 yds to the near edge of the gravel bar in about 20 feet of water and free samples scattered over the area with a throwing stick.

As the heat of the day receded and welcome shadows made sitting by the rods more comfortable I began to look forward to getting stuck into my first fish. At about 4:30pm the left hand rod beeped once then slammed round hard. I was on it immediately and even with the clutch wound down tight this fish kited straight into the near margin. I could feel it ploughing through the tree roots etc and despite trying all the usual tricks for a couple of minutes it became clear that it was gone. I wound back in, checked the line for damage and put on a fresh rig before casting back out. A couple more pouches of pellet went in and I sat back hoping I’d be luckier with the next fish. 30 mins later and the same rod went off again and this time the fish tried the same trick as the first but I clamped my hand hard on the spool and backed up the bank hoping that everything would hold together. I could feel the line rubbing against the roots but finally the fish did the decent thing and headed out into deeper water. The power of this fish took me quite by surprise and I was truly relieved when Guy turned up and did the honors with the net. After weighing and photographing I gently released a stunning mirror. At 37lb it was not big by Parco standards but a good start and a sign of bigger things to come… I hoped!

At 37lb this was my first Parco fish!


There were already reports of some cracking fish being caught around the lake. Guy had had two mirrors to 46lb while Mark Brain had scored big time with his first Parco fish at almost 68lb. Steve Briggs had had a 45lb fish on his first, but as it sadly turned out, only night before having to head back to England. Meanwhile Frank & Guy in #1 and Henrik & Chris in #13 were starting a run fest of big fish!

Guy Aitkins getting it done with a stunning 46lb mirror



In the dawn mist an encouraging sign over my baits..


10mm Halibut Pellets
10mm Halibut Pellets

As Monday morning broke I watched several fish crash over the left hand rod and at around 7:30 am it was away. Sadly I lost two fish in quick succession as they kited hard left and once again buried themselves in the margin roots. Eventually I landed a couple of fish in the low to mid twenties before the heat of the day brought the action to a close. The late afternoon bite started with another run on the left hand rod and I found myself connected to a fish that simply tore off 50 – 60 yds of line with contemptuous ease as it powered towards opposite bank. For the next 20 minutes we did battle and at no point did I believe I was anywhere near getting the upper hand. It would simply peel of 20 -30 yds of line whenever it wanted and all I could do was work it back towards me before it took off once again. The 3.50 rod was continually bent hard around and I could feel the rod butt digging into my thigh. There was something about the raw power of this fish that was truly remarkable. Just as Frank came around from his swim to see what was going on it turned to make another run and the hook pulled. There was a deathly silence and all I could do was drop the rod in utter frustration and walk away. I was simply gutted. Guy and I saw this fish a couple of times and while our estimates of its weight varied we both agreed this was indeed a very big common of around 48” in length.

Once I’d regained my composure and re-rigged (this time with a #4 instead of a #6 hook) I got the rod back out and catapulted out several more pouch fulls of the Halibut pellet. Another run soon followed and after a rather less intense battle I was rewarded with a stunning common that went 39.12 on the scales (It measured 39” in length which gives some idea as to what the fish I lost might have weighed).

A cracking common at 39lb


Tuesday morning passed quietly so I decided to wind in, grab a much needed shower then take a wander around the lake. Chris Thompson and Henrik Hansen had been working their swim with almost non stop Spombing and had been well rewarded for their efforts. Chris had also landed a new PB common of 69lb – just one of four fish he’d had over 50lb! Meanwhile Frank and his son Guy were continuing to land some cracking fish to just under 50.

Henrik Hansen & Chris Thompson enjoying non stop action on #13

I returned to my swim around 2:30pm and Spombed out some bait over the two right hand rods then catapulted more pellets over the left. Over the next 4 hours I had a 23 mirror on guy’s special pop up at range near the bar as well as a 29 lb mirror plus two more commons at 35 & 37lb on the left hand rod. It then went quiet for a couple of hours before another run on the left hand rod produced my fifth fish of the evening and the first at 40lb plus – a picture perfect near scale less mirror. I was elated!

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When I woke up on Wednesday morning I reflected on the advice from both Frank and Nicholas that I should move swim. While #21 was producing some nice fish they thought I should move to #22 as Nicholas had had some proper beasts from there in the past. A quiet morning with no further action finally convinced me and I was soon loading up the gear to make the move. Nicholas warned me that the action only started after dark so once he’d helped me move my gear and set up my bivvy (properly this time… as Nicholas is quite a perfectionist!) I went to chat with my new neighbors, Frank & Guy, who were continuing to haul some impressive fish. They would cast out 8-10 Spombs of bait and often before they’d finish one of the rods would be away and quite often two more would roar off while one fish was being landed. It’s one thing to be enjoying the action on a ‘runs’ water but quite another when the fish are mostly in the 30 – 50lb range!

Swim #22 The bait was being cast to just a few feet out from the bank just to the right of the weeping willow.

As the evening drew in Nicholas returned and brought me a couple of Fox tri-lobe method feeders. I’d already passed the test on making up a pellet method so now it was just down to finding a suitable rig. In the end I borrowed one of Nick’s which comprised a supple 5-6” braid hook length tied to a #6 Fox SSBP Arma Point with a piece of neutral buoyancy imitation corn on the hair. The key would be casting the loaded feeder with the hook buried in the side to a spot on a narrow shelf just a few feet from the reed lined bank. A couple of casts soon had the distance worked out and a piece of electrical tape on the line with a distant tree top as a background marker would ensure that it would be easy to clip up and recast in the darkness. I walked along the path behind the bank I would be casting to and gently tossed in a few handfuls of the halibut pellets. Now it was time to wait. Nick advised I hold off until after 9pm before casting out so we sat back, chatted and enjoyed our Lasagne dinners. Finally it was time and I nervously lined up the tree marker and fired the heavy method feeder into the inky blackness. I swept the rod over to my left and allowed the tip to be pulled back gently as the line tightened on the clip and everything landed nicely on target. At around 10:30 pm my Delkim began to beep intermittently as the nitelite bounced up and down. This seemed to continue for at least a couple of minutes before finally the nitelite rose steadily and the rod bent around. I wound down and immediately felt everything go solid. I was convinced the fish had buried itself in a snag but slowly, very slowly I began to feel it move toward me. After about 5 minutes of slow progress I finally had the fish in the depths in front of me where it proceeded to make some powerful runs for another 10 minutes and giving me some extremely nerve wracking moments, especially once I’d caught a glimpse of its immense bulk in the light of my head torch! Finally, and with typical professional efficiency from Nicholas, it was in safely net and I could breath again. After zeroing the sling we lifted it carefully into position and watched the dial hover just a fraction over 55lbs to record my new PB mirror. The sheer bulk of this fish was astounding and I struggled to stop it toppling over as I tried to balance it for the photos. As we watched it swim away into the dark depths I thanked Nicholas for his help and we celebrated with a large & well deserved tot of rum.

A new PB mirror (just a few scales along either side of the dorsal) at 55.02lb

At around 2:30 am with fish crashing along the far bank I had another run that resulted in yet another stunning mirror. This one at 40:12 – what an amazing place! At 4 am and with no further activity I reluctantly wound in my rods and slept soundly till past 8am.


Pellet Method was devastatingly effective!
Only a 40:12 this time…



As there was no likely hood of a day time bite I relaxed, showered, caught up on some emails then wandered around the lake. I spent the afternoon chatting and taking photos for Frank & Guy as they continued to haul at an amazing rate. Since I was only fishing one rod in #22 I also baited up the swim #2 immediately behind me (on the peninsula). I positioned one rod just in front of a gap between two overhanging trees and the other at about 60 yds to the right.



The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… Guy Warwick with a stunning common


BBQ Social

photo-sep-29-12-55-45 photo-sep-29-12-51-48


At 6pm everyone wound in and gathered for a social and BBQ under the awning of the ‘club house’ hosted by owner Antonio Pettenuzzo & his family. We were treated to some first class ribs, sausages and pork steaks cooked by Riccardo and of course there were plenty of new PB’s to be toasted & celebrated! At around 9pm I dragged myself away from the partying and got ready to take advantage of the night time bite in my swim. I’d already baited up in the afternoon with some more halibut pellets along the margins and again before casting out. I soon had a method ball in place and the indicator began twitching almost immediately. Barely two minutes later I was into the first of 7 fish that were to come over the next 5 hours which included four twenties, a 33 mirror, 33 common and a 43 mirror. At around 3:30 am with no further action I wound in and was soon fast asleep. I woke just before dawn to an alarm sounding from #2 and found myself attached to a solid feeling fish from the margin swim. This turned out to be an immense American channel catfish – one of several that have been stocked (along with a few sturgeon to over 50 lb). In my haste to get back to sleep I slid this beast back without thinking to take a photo. A little after daylight I caught a second much smaller cat that weighed 16lb so I can only guess that the first was easily around 25lb!

Struggling with the 43 mirror
The smaller channel cat at 16 lb


With just one more day and night remaining I decided to spend the afternoon fishing a couple of rods back towards my old swim (#21) from the side of Frank & Guys Peg #1 as we’d seen some serious fizzing over the area I’d originally been baiting. I was casting almost 90 yds to place the bait just off the far margin and after a couple of hours I saw the line tighten and was on it just as the alarm sounded. A battle royal ensued with the fish making a desperate attempt to reach the snags. I finally managed to drag it away from the immediate danger and thought I had everything in hand as it kited back and forth about half away across the entrance to bay. Then I felt something seesawing on the line and realized the fish had taken me around an obstruction of some sort. I tried everything but after several minutes it was obviously deadlocked and was finally forced to pull for a break. After re-rigging I was back in action and soon had a second run that took me straight in to the snags and came off. Fortunately it proved to be third time lucky on the next take and after another epic battle I happily steered a lovely photogenic mirror into the net that went 32lb.




A truly photogenic 32 lb mirror glows in the late afternoon sun


Giorgio collecting dinner…

As the day wound down Frank, Guy and myself sat back and enjoyed a fabulous sunset as we reminisced on what had been a truly incredible week. After yet another memorable supper, this time a risotto made with the wild mushrooms collected by Giorgio earlier, I prepared myself for a final night of action with a double espresso followed by a tot of rum in an effort to keep me going till dawn. On peg #22 it was back to the single rod fishing imitation corn & pellet method while on the other side from #2 it was the same method plus a 10mm wafter in the margin and a 20mm SF bottom bait with one of Frank’s soon to be launched special pop-up range as a snowman on the distance rod. At around 10pm the single rod on #22 came to life with the nitelite doing its familiar dance as a fish plucked and sucked at the method ball. After a couple of minutes the Nitelite fell still and remained motionless for a couple minutes more. As I bent down to pick up the rod for a bait & recast it was quite suddenly and violently pulled around. Fish on! Another battle royal ensued with this fish absolutely refusing to give up. I struggled to get it into the net on my own but after a couple of attempts and some anxious moments it was finally in. Yet another cracking fish. This time a two tone mirror that tipped the scales at 42.02. Sadly this was to be my last fish from #22. Instead of the usual fish crashing of previous nights it became ominously quiet and my only other run came from the distance rod on #2 which turned out to be a small mirror of around 17-18lb. The one & only fish I’d had under twenty pounds all week.

The two tone mirror at 42.02 lb


And so my week on Parco had come to an end. As the dawn heralded in a new day it was time to pack up and make way for another group of lucky anglers to enjoy this extraordinary lake. Over the past 22 years living in the USA I figured there was no way a European fish could possibly match some of the long, lean & mean carp we encounter, especially in the big rivers. But I’ve gained a totally new respect as a result of how hard these Parco carp can do battle. They simply don’t want to give up – Ever! In the end I landed 8 twenties, 8 thirties, 4 forties and a new PB at 55lb and captured a host of memories that will last a lifetime. But best of all and as with all great angling adventures I got to share time on the bank with some great friends, both new & old.

A visit to Venice – a great way to finish the trip to Parco!



The anglers…

Frank & Guy Warwick, Guy Aitkins, Chris Thompson & Henrik Hansen, Bill Rawlins & Mark Thompson, Dayle Davenport, Mark Brain & Garry Turner, Chris Hoppley & Derek (Dez) Bell, Steve Featherstone, , Steve Briggs, Iain Sorrell.


The details…

Once you arrive at Marco Polo airport in Venice the folk at Parco have everything organized. Our package included transport to and from the airport plus two nights at a local bed & breakfast. On top of this I added the food (which included a cooked breakfast and evening meal delivered to your swim) and tackle rental options. The amount will depend on the number of anglers fishing the lake but you can expect to pay (in Euros) somewhere in the region of US$ 1,000 for everything.

The tackle package certainly makes traveling a breeze. It included a set of three Free Spirit CTX 3.50 rods plus a matching Spomb / Marker Rod, landing net, weigh sling, mat or cradle, a very nice Nash Bivvy, Bed Chair, Sleeping bag, even a regular bank side chair & table. They even give you a box with a kettle, stove, gas canister, mug, knife, fork & spoon plus condiments, a water container & cooler (on request). So in the end I only had to take a set of reels (loaded with a minimum 0.35 mm monofilament line) a spomb/spod reel, my Delkims, bank sticks, Spomb, marker float together with a selection of rigs, end tackle plus some leads & back leads. One item I did not bring that was certainly needed… a set of scales! Hopefully Parco will make a few sets available in the future.

A spacious & properly erected (thanks to Nicholas) Nash bivy  – complete with mozzy mesh, vents etc.

The folks at Parco also give you a bag of 15mm hook bait boilies, 12mm boilies and some pellet to get started. You can buy additional bait as needed which also includes prepared hemp and maize. Fortunately some of our group were driving to Parco and offered to bring extra bait which included some of the excellent Spotted Fin Catalyst range that Frank is helping to develop.

A trip to the local supermarket to grab, snacks, milk, fruit and some beers added another $40 plus I also bought a few tackle items, coffees and beers on-sight.

Lastly it would be crazy not to visit Venice when you have such an ideal opportunity. After our last night at the B&B we arrived back at Marco Polo airport mid morning and dropped our bags (6 euro each) at the luggage storage. It was then a short 5 minute walk before hopping on a water taxi for a 15 minute ride straight into the middle of Venice for the day. We ate lunch by one of the canals, wandered over bridges, around the local stores along the maze of narrow lanes and admired the architecture that surrounded the many squares before heading back for our flights home.





Particles – the forgotten baits?


It’s always exciting to see peoples enthusiasm for the coming season. The arrival of new tackle, personal goals and targets being set as well as baiting campaigns and preparation. However some of the preparation and planned baiting strategies that have appeared on line in recent weeks, for particles in particular, have prompted me to put this article together.

How Much, When & Where

There seems to be a generally accepted notion that a well targeted boilie campaign will produce bigger fish than particles. This might be true in some instances but I don’t think it is always the case. Particles have been responsible for some truly extraordinary catches over the years. While most came as a result of well executed baiting campaigns others simply arose from opportunistic moments during stalking or short sessions.

One of the key benefits of a particle campaign is its relatively low cost compared to boilies. 100lb of Feed Corn for example will cost you less than $25 instead of the $500 – 600 for a similar weight of boilies. That’s a huge difference!

Here in North America, unlike most European waters, the carp are almost entirely dependent on natural food sources. As a result a particle bait will often produce an ‘instant’ result compared a boilie as the carp are more likely to readily accept them as a natural food item. Even just a few handfuls of sweetcorn, tigers or chick peas can soon have carp feeding vigorously – especially on a water that has seen little or no carp fishing. When considering a longer term baiting strategy the relatively low cost of particles allows much larger quantities to be used (just not all at once). If it is used in combination with a baiting pyramid approach ( ) over a long period then the chances of catching the bigger fish are greatly increased.

Baiting Pyramid

Once water temps rise above 55F there is no doubt in my mind that particles really begin to work their magic and over 70F they truly excel. Twenty years ago, shortly after moving to the USA, I was fishing a popular swim on the CT River in MA. It was mid August and unbelievably hot, humid and overcast. I’d arrived late morning around 11:30 am and intended fishing into the early evening. I set up with two rods (1.75 test curve – yes that’s ONE point Seven Five!) fishing 2-3 kernels of feed corn on a simple hair rig. I began by catapulting out a couple of pounds of corn and settled back hoping to pick up the typical 3 or 4 fish that might be expected from such a session. By 1pm I’d had a couple of aborted takes and was quite disappointed that I’d not landed a fish as yet. I was certain there were fish in the swim so I catapulted out a couple more pouches of corn and before I’d been able to load a third one of the rods was away. A mid teen soon came to the net and as I released it the other rod registered a solid run. This time it was a better fish of around 18lb. And so it continued. After every fish caught I would simply put out 1-2 catapults of corn – a little but often as they say. The fish kept coming and soon I could only fish one rod as the bait would barely settle before I got another run. At 6pm I packed up, earlier than planned, simply because I was completely exhausted! In a little under 5 hours I’d had over 30 runs and landed 22 fish including 5 going over 20lb with the biggest going 26lb.

How much bait should you use really depends on where you are planning to fish and for how long. Rivers with a big head of carp like the St Lawrence or Senneca can clean out a swim in no time before they move on in search of other areas. However dumping in 5-10 gallons of bait and then hoping to catch immediately is a very shortsighted approach. It is usually far more productive to start slowly and then build up the amount & frequency of feed as the fish demand. On ponds & lakes with smaller stocks of carp you can bait up with perhaps just half a gallon and keep fish coming back for more on a regular basis.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in the use of particles is when fishing rivers. Small, light particles such as hemp seed or millet will sink very slowly and can soon end up a long way below the area you are fishing. The fish will likely follow and you’ll be left scratching your head as to why you are not catching! I avoid using mass seed mixes in rivers for this reason as it can be very difficult to predict the outcome.  It is also vitally important to determine the depth you are fishing and the flow rate. Throw a few particles in and ‘time’ how long it takes them to sink a foot or two and then adjust accordingly when throwing the bait in upstream of where you are fishing so that it hits bottom around your hook baits. If you ‘bind’ your particles into a method or pack mix you can be more certain of them getting down to the bottom with less risk of them being swept downstream.

Near margin fishing is often overlooked by angler’s intent on demonstrating their casting prowess. Here in North America the abundance of unpressured waters means that carp are less likely to be driven offshore by the bankside activity found on many water in Europe and the UK. If there are overhanging trees or dense bankside vegetation that limit access to the water then there is a good chance that carp will feel comfortable patrolling and feeding in these areas. While you can in some cases fish directly over the top of some vegetation such as reeds etc it is often best to put in some bait and make a cast from a nearby swim parallel to the bank. A couple of pieces of imitation corn fished on a blow back or multi – rig with a supple braid hook link are very effective for such situations. Baiting up could not be simpler. A bucket of particles and a baiting spoon are all you need to quickly & easily spread bait in a few spots along the margins.

A big difference when baiting particles versus boilies is in the spread of the bait. When fishing boilies it often pays to spread them out over a wider area to encourage the fish to move about in search of the next bait. A few boilies around the ‘sharp end’ are all that is then needed to help the carp home in on the hook bait. The opposite is true with particles, especially mass baits. Ideally you want to keep the baited area as tight as possible to encourage more competitive feeding. You can spread the bait out a little when pre-baiting but once you have homed in on a more precise location it’s important to stick to your chosen spot. This requires accurate work with a Spomb or catapult as well as precise casting with the baited rig to ensure you are continually ‘on-target’. If you spread particles out over a large area you’ll end up with the carp meandering around slowly picking up the potentially hundreds, if not thousands of baits, with little competition between them.

If boilies are still high on your priority list then why not try fishing a wafter or pop-up presented over a bed of hemp & sweetcorn? It’s simple to do and only requires a PVA bag or mesh to ensure everything is delivered to the same spot. It is one my favorite ways to fish the margins or to intercept a fish seen rolling at intervals as it follows a patrol route while feeding.

The Golden Rule…

“A little bit often” is a well known phrase for baiting up while fishing and nothing is truer of fishing particles. If you throw too many particles into a swim at the beginning of a session then your hook bait is going to be buried and it will be like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. It is much better to start slowly and then build up as the swim develops. A half to a couple of pounds of particles (half as much for mass baits like hemp) should get them started. Another Spomb or couple of catapults after each fish will keep the swim topped up and help keep their heads down. Another trick that I’ve seen work remarkably well when carp seem to be intercepting the bait before it hits the bottom is to fill a spod or spomb with gravel. The carp will respond to the noise of the spomb hitting the surface but since there is nothing to ‘eat’ will be more likely to feed on the bottom and pick up your hook bait. Remember that once you’ve put it you can’t take it out!


Enhanced baits

IMG_3723There is almost no limit to the choice of flavors or additives that can be used to enhance particles. Almost anything sweet, salt, spicy etc can work. Some favorites include the huge choice of fruit flavors available from bait suppliers or check out the various kool aid and other powdered drink options at your local supermarket. Cinnamon, Clove & various oils such as sesame, hemp and peanut are well known carp attractants. Curry or chili sauces like Sriracha as well as garlic based versions add another flavor dimension to baits. On the sweet side try molasses, condensed milk, milk or malt powdered drinks and don’t forget Betalin that now comes in Blackcurrant & Sweet Almond versions as well the regualr. Natural or enhanced fermentation (added sugars etc) in particles results in a breakdown of various proteins & carbs to produce amino acids and sugars that are irresistible to carp. But perhaps the most overlooked is natural germination. As the seed begins to sprout it converts its stored carbohydrate into natural sugars to support the new growth – and the carp love it!


Tiger (chufa) Nuts

cc_moore_hi_viz_pineapple_tiger_nuts_Another great bait that is often over or improperly used. You can buy bulk bags of ‘Chufa’ here in the USA or buy some of the imported, large sized nuts available from the commercial bait companies. I’ve done very well on some waters with tigers but less so on others. The key is not to overdo it with the free samples as carp will ingest and vent out pieces of tiger nut that are then picked up and eaten by other fish – ad infinitum! You only need a handful or two of chopped tigers to start with and a pound or so should last you for a weekend session! Over do it and you’ll end up with a big spread of chewed up tigers that detracts from the hook bait being picked up. Preparation is simple but takes time if you want top quality results. Simply place a couple of pounds of tiger nuts plus 1/4 pound of sugar in a bucket, cover with boiling water and then seal the bucket and leave for 3-4 days. Transfer to a large pan & boil rigorously for 30-40 mins making sure they don’t boil dry or burn.  Some folk will use them after this stage but I like to store them once again in a sealed bucket for a few more days to allow some fermentation to develop. You can then use them or freeze for future use as needed. I rarely bother flavoring them but some folk swear by soaking them in Red Bull, Coca Cola or even in cinnamon or clove spice. If you want them a little sweeter then try something like Betalin or Talin. A small drill allows them to be easily mounted on a hair rig and you can easily pop them up using a bigger drill and plugging the hole with foam or cork or create a balanced rig with an imitation and real tiger combo.

Tiger Nuts: 25% Protein, 25% Fat, 50% Carbohydrate. Potassium, Vitamin E & B6,  Iron, Magnesium



Still one of the best carp baits – ever! Straight out of the can a couple of grains on the hook over a few handfuls thrown in as chum are as instant a bait as can be found. One of my favorite ways to fish sweetcorn is to wander around a lake and throw or catapult in a few handfuls in likely looking spots. I then return a little while later armed with a float rod or light ledger set up and look to see if any carp are feeding in the pre-baited spots. It’s a great way to stalk fish and sometimes produces some real beasts if you are stealthy. A few drops of your favorite flavor or some Betalin can make sweetcorn even more attractive but there is no need to overdo it. A mix of sweetcorn and hemp seed is another deadly combination.

Sweetcorn: 14% Protein, 5.2% Fat, 81% Carbohydrate. Potassium, Vitamin C,  Iron, Magnesium



A much underrated bait but its brilliant white color really makes it stand out. It comes from a process of de-husking feed corn with a strong alkaline solution. I usually add it to a mix of sweetcorn & hempseed when float fishing and alternate it as a hook bait.


Sunflower seeds

Since they float naturally they are a very effective surface bait for carp. An effective bait but unshelled seeds need to be boilied or hulled if you plan to fish them on the bottom.  The shells absorb dyes and flavors extremely well so you can have fun experimenting.


Feed Corn

Cheap, easily available and too often underrated. A 50lb bag usually costs less than $12-15 and when prepared & used correctly can produce some stunning results for a fraction of the cost of other baits. I prefer to spend a few extra dollars on buying top quality feed corn as it usually has bigger grains and has been washed and separated from bits of husk, dust and other debris. Its bright yellow color really stands out and carp seem to become very preoccupied once they get on it. There are a number of ways to prepare it:

#1 Quick & Simple. Soak in water for 24 hours and then boil for 40 mins. I like to let the corn cool slowly after boiling as I like to see many of the corn kernels begin to split open. If you like you can add your choice of flavor or coloring or both at this time.

#2 Germinated Corn. Place the corn in a shallow container and cover with water (check daily to ensure it does not dry out) and leave until it begins to sprout. This can take 2-3 weeks depending on the ambient temperature. As the seeds germinate the stored starch in the grain is converted into maltose a natural sugar that carp love! However the grains will still need boiling for 30-40 mins to soften them sufficiently as hook bait.

#3 Vomit Corn. As the name suggests this is not for the faint hearted! Follow the instructions in #1 and then fill 5 gallon buckets 4/5 full making sure it is covered with liquid. Then close the lid firmly and leave it in your garage or basement for a minimum of two weeks (I have some from last Fall ready to use this Spring!). The fermentation process will help create a wealth of sugars, amino acids and an aroma that will knock your socks off but seems to be remarkably attractive to carp.

K1 STB CornYou can also buy any number of commercially prepared baits which come in a wide variety of flavors & colors. These are usually too costly to use in any large quantity but do make excellent hook baits that will stand out nicely from the free samples.

Feed Corn: 10% Protein, 5% Fat, 74% Carbohydrate. Sodium, Potassium Vitamin B6, Iron & Magnesium


Peruvian Corn

These quarter sized grains really stand out. They are prepared just like regular feed corn and make excellent hook baits. I usually make up several batches with different flavors and store them in vacuum bags in the freezer until needed. You then have plenty of hook baits and can also add some to a bucket of regular feed corn for chumming. They are also available prepared as Hominy which can be dyed in various colors so it really stands out.

40+ Common on Peruvian Corn


Maple Peas

Sprouting Maple Peas
Sprouting Maple Peas

One of my personal favorites. They are not usually an instant bait but once carp are established on them the results can continue for several weeks with regular baiting. Rod Hutchinson suggests they are best suited to fishing over silt or where there is prolific midwater weed and are especially effective in colored waters where carp rely more on smell than sight when feeding. There is no need to color or flavor them. While they work very well simply soaked for a couple of days I prefer to get them sprouting as it really enhances the natural sugars and flavor. Once the maples have been soaking for 24 hours I simply spread them out on a tarp in my garage. You must, however, keep them lightly dampened with more water so they don’t dry out. After a couple of days they will begin to sprout at which point I use them straight away or bag them up and freeze till needed.  I use them on their own rather than mixed in with other particles.

Maple Peas: 25% Protein, 1.5% Fat, 66% Carbohydrate. Sodium, Potassium, Calcium & Iron


Peanuts & other Nuts

Blackstone030816 001Another under rated but highly effective bait. A lot of carp have been caught on brazil, cashew and other nuts. The oilier the better which is why the distinctive aroma and oils in peanuts make them very attractive especially when fished over silt or weed. On some waters it can be as deadly as sweetcorn while on others you can end up blanking! They can be used straight from the bag or blanched in boiling water overnight to release more of the oils. Two or three half kernels can be drilled and then mounted on a hair rig. I personally use an Enterprise Tackle pellet ‘cup’ mounted on a hair and trim the peanut so it sits well inside the cup with 1/8-1/4” protruding.

Peanuts: 26% Protein, 49% Fat, 16% Carbohydrate. Potassium, Calcium Vitamin B6, Iron & Magnesium


Chick Peas (Garbanzo)

A hugely popular bait in its day but too often overlooked. Available dried (soak for 24 hours and boil for 30 mins) or buy them precooked in a can. They can be used with or without flavoring and can also be dyed a variety of colors. I like them for float fishing as a hook bait as they can be catapulted out a long way if needed. I usually drill them first before mounting on a hair to avoid them splitting.

Chick Peas: 19% Protein, 6.5% Fat, 64% Carbohydrate. Potassium, Vitamin B6,  Iron, Magnesium


Aduki, Black Eye, Lima, Kidney, Soya bean etc

All of the above beans have proven successful carp baits over the years. They are rarely if ever used her in North America which might just be a good enough reason to give them a go! Soak 1lb of beans overnight, boil gently for 30 mins and you should have plenty for a session or two. They often work very well without pre-baiting or adding flavor but don’t let this stop you from experimenting or thinking outside the box.

Soya bean: 36% Protein, 20% Fat, 30% Carbohydrate. Calcium Potassium, Vitamin C & B6,  Iron, Magnesium


Mass Baits

Tiny seeds which are usually too small to conventionally mount on a hook or hair fall into the category of ‘mass’ baits. These include hemp, rice, millet, cracked corn, grits etc and carp will often become totally preoccupied on such small baits rooting through weed, silt or soft mud in an effort to pick up every last morsel. It is important to recognize the difference in this feeding pattern versus a carp searching out a boilie or natural ‘live’ bait (such as worm or crayfish) here and there. You should not over feed mass baits and ideally keep them focused in small tight areas rather than spread all over the place. Most folk will fish a boilie or other larger particle on the ‘hook’ but even tiny seeds can be fished by super gluing them around a cork ball or you can use the Kryson ‘Bogey’ particle fixer.


Cracked Corn

Another very cost effective addition to your chum / ground bait program. The small pieces of feed corn create a mass of particles that will keep carp occupied for hours. Preparation is simple. Carefully pour boiling water over the cracked corn until is well covered and leave to soak for a couple of days. I like to add it to my feed corn chum mix but only if I’m fishing a lake or cove on a river. In faster flowing water the cracked corn will quickly get washed down stream taking the fish with it!


Hemp Seed

Hemp 001A fantastic bait that can produce spectacular results but can also leave anglers scratching their heads. Hemp seeds are incredibly nutritious. They are a rich protein source and contain over 30% fat especially in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). There have been many times I’ve seen carp rolling over a swim baited with hemp seed with barely a beep registered on the alarms, let alone a hook up! As a result I now only use hemp seed in much smaller quantities. One great way to use hemp seed is when fishing boilies or imitation corn as a hook bait.  Pack the hemp seed (you can also add in some sweetcorn) into a PVA mesh or bag so that the hook bait sits on top of a bed of hemp. The Hemp Seed available to buy in bulk in the USA has been irradiated to stop it from germinating so tends not to look quite as nice as the commercial bait preparations you can buy from Europe. Measure out one cup of hemp seed to four cups of water and boil for 30 minutes. You can add chilli or other flavors at this stage and some folk also add a teaspoon or two of Bicarbonate of soda to the cooking process as it helps to darken the seeds and make the white core stand out more. You should start to see the seeds beginning to split open at which point you want to turn of the heat. Drain off but keep the liquid (reduce it with further boiling to add back to the seeds later as it contains lots of oils and flavors) and then cover the seeds in cold water to stop them cooking any further. Once cooled drain off the cold water and add back the reduced original liquid they were cooked in. I make up 5-10lb at a time and pack into half gallon zip locks and freeze until needed.

Hemp Seed: 36% Protein, 46% Fat, 6.6% Carbohydrate. Potassium, Iron, Vitamin E, Magnesium


Bird seed / Pigeon mix

A classic mass bait that depending on the variety can be made up of many different seed mixes. As a result they will end up with differing protein content levels ranging from 10-20%. As with most mass baits it’s better to use too little rather than too much. Soak overnight and then boil for 20-30 minutes to help soften and release some of the oils etc.



Anyone who fishes or follows the success of pack baits will know how effective rice can be. Packbait anglers use instant rice mixed with tomato ketchup but regular rice lightly cooked will also do the trick as a mass bait. Flavor or color as you feel necessary.


Wheat, Barley, Millet, etc

Often under rated these seeds can produce some stunning results. Wheat & Barely are particularly effective when allowed to ferment in a bucket for a few days before stopping the process by boiling for 15-20 mins. You can then add them to other particles and fish in the same way as you would with hemp.



Acorns Sprout

I’ve added this category simply to highlight the range of particles that carp might find naturally in their local habitat. It might take some extra effort in collecting them but for the more adventurous angler looking to do something a little different it can be a very rewarding exercise. Overhanging trees or bushes will drop seeds, nuts or fruits into the water. Carp are well known for eating cotton seed, acorns and mulberries when they are in season. I’ve also come across several waters here in New England that sit along side farms that grow field corn. A few husks and grains have clearly ended up in the water where I’m sure the carp have taken advantage of this free food supply.





Imitation Baits

Tiger Pop UpThere are now several different brands of plastic imitation baits available but none in my opinion can match the quality and range from Enterprise Tackle.  The choice includes Tigers, Lupins, Sweetcorn, Maize, Maples, Hemp Seed, Peanuts and so on, many in both buoyant or sinking models and even some pre-soaked in the more popular flavors from the likes of Rod Hutchinson, CC Moore, SpottedFin etc. These imitations can be fished very effectively in combination with the real thing or even fished just on their own over a bed of particles. The buoyant imitations allow critically balanced or popped up baits to be created as needed, plus the choice of colors (take a look at the new Enterprise ‘Washed Out’ range) allows you to either match the natural bait or use a bright or contrasting color to help the hook baits really stand out.


PVA Tricks

One problem with particle baits is the water content they are infused with in preparation and storage. If you want to present particles in a PVA bag or mesh then it’s vital to remove any excess liquid (save it for method or groundbait mixes). One of the most popular ways is to remove any excess liquid and then coat the particles in salt. The easiest way is to place the particles in a sieve and then sprinkle them with plenty of salt. The particles can then be loaded into the PVA without it melting.

Another excellent way is to drain off the liquid and then coat the particles with dry bread crumbs (panko), oats or similar absorbent material to help dry them.

Once dried or salted they can also be mixed with a little oil such as hemp, peanut, sunflower or even the oil from a can of tuna or salmon if you want something a little different. This will not only prevent the PVA melting too quickly but will also help dissipate the particle and oil aroma through the water column. If you prefer something other than using oils then mixing the particles with molasses, honey or condensed milk will work brilliantly especially when the water temps are higher in the summer months.

Best Rigs for Particles

While a lot of folk like ‘blow back’ rigs for boilies I’m not a big fan of these for particles as the chances of the hair tangling around the hook seem to be greatly increased. Instead I prefer to go with Frank Warwick’s long shank rig for 3-5 kernels of feed corn when fished as a bottom or balanced bait. Then for popped up particles I like something along the lines of either the Multi or KD rig and my own version of the Shot-On-Hook rig. It is easy to pop-up or critically balance a particle bait when combined with one of the buoyant plastic imitations available or with a piece of rig or similar foam. It is also possible to drill a hole in tiger or other nuts and then insert a piece of correspondingly sized cork or foam.

Frank Warwick shows you how to tie his favorite rig.

Joe Morgan with a KD rig for Pop-Up Corn, Tigers etc


Iain’s ‘Shot-On-Hook’ presentation

Drop Shot Rig Ent Corn
Shot-On-Hook Rig

I’ve been playing around with various alternatives to the traditional blow-back rig for popped up particle baits. This one uses a wide gape hook with a ‘ringed’ rig swivel positioned between two hook beads. However its the tungsten rubber bead positioned between the bend and the hook barb that catches out the carp. This rig is usually fished with a PVA bag or mesh full of particles. When the carp sucks up the small bed of particles this rig flies up into its mouth. However once there it sinks like a stone with the hook point settling just behind the lower lip and making it very difficult for the carp to eject.

Components: PB KD Curve #8 hook (for sweetcorn sized baits but use a #6 or #4 for larger baits like Feed Corn) tied to 6 – 8″ of Chameleon soft braided hook link plus a Short Shank Hook Aligner. The Ringed #24 Bait Swivel is positioned between two hook beads and a PB ‘Shot-On-Hook’ tungsten rubber bead placed as shown in the picture. In this instance I’ve added two pieces of Enterprise Tackle ‘washed out’ pop-up sweet corn by looping a piece of 12lb mono through the swivel and pulling it through the corn. I then use a lighter to melt the mono to create a ‘blob’ to keep it in place.You can of course substitute the corn for real or imitation tiger nuts etc. I almost always fish this rig on a light 1-2oz running lead along with a PVA bag or mesh of hemp seed & sweetcorn.


Pellet Cups 001-1

Pellet Cups & Corn Skins

Originally designed for fishing pellets and pastes I’ve since found that the Enterprise Tackle Pellet and corn skins make ideal ‘holders’ for a wide range or particles. This saves a lot of time trying to drill baits (without them splitting) and then thread them on a hair. The cups are easily mounted on a hair (even directly on the hook shank) and will securely hold a peanut, chick pea etc pushed inside. You might need to trim the bait a little to get a tight fit but it is much easier and quicker than messing around with baiting needles and drills.

Anyway enough of writing – it’s time for me to get off and get some baits out. I hope you enjoyed this insight to fishing and using particles. As always Tight Lines.

Copyright (04/30/2016) by Iain Sorrell

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.

2015-08-13 10.43.45
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


030816 001
Success on a Peanut!

Understanding Carp Rigs Part II (updated)

Here in part II we’ll explore some of the rigs that have proved effective here in North America and when and where you might want to use them. One of the advantages we have in North America is an abundance of carp catching opportunities which allows us to properly test different rigs. It should be no problem to fish two different rigs or slight variations of the same along side one another and make notes on which is proving more effective.  If you pay close attention to which rigs produce more hook ups vs missed runs etc you should be able to figure out the best for that swim, bait or even a particular session.

Blowback Rig

Blow Back Rig

The blowback rig comes in many forms and was originally created to outwit fish that had supposedly ‘seen it all’. The hair is tied to a micro rig ring that can slide along the hook shank or even a ‘D’ section of monofilament.  The mechanics suggest that when the carp tries to eject the bait it simply slides up the shank or ‘D’ and then the bait movement helps the hook point to become embedded. The hair length is up to the angler but when the bait is tied tight to the rig ring it will help minimize the risk of the hair fouling the hook.

Hook Style: Curv style or Wide Gape

Hook Link Material: Various (Flourocarbon, Braid, Combi)

Bait: Bottom Baits, Balanced or Pop-Up Boilie or Plastic Maize / Corn

Benefits: Less risk of hair tangles and when bait ‘blown out’ helps set hook point.

Ease of Tying: **

Comments: Quite a simple rig and one that has proven effective in many locations and with a wide variety of baits. It is one of my favorite rigs to fish in Spring or early Summer before the weeds really start to grow. It can be fished with a variety of baits but I really like a critically balanced particle bait. A split shot or piece of tungsten putty a couple of inches up the hook length from the hook will  help add some resistance to the hook point once its been picked up and make it more difficult for the carp to shake loose.


43lb+ Mirror caught in the Spring

Dean Brookes with a stunning 43lb mirror taken on a blow back rig




Steve Clow with a December 30+ taken on a Chod Rig

Steve Clow with a December 30+
taken on a Chod Rig



Chod Rig popped up
over bottom debris

The ultra short hook length, springy material and aggressive hook angle make it very difficult for carp to eject.  It was originally designed to present a popped up bait over bottom debris such as leaves etc.  However it works equally well presented at the end of a regular hook length to present a bait over weed. Note the 45 degree angle of the hook point. You should aim to adjust any pop-up rig presentation to achieve this ‘claw’ like effect to optimize the angle of entry into the carp’s lower lip.

Hook Style: An out turned eye or specialist Choddy hook.

Hook Link Material: 1-2″ Stiff 20-30lb fluoro or any of the specialist Choddy materials.

Bait: Pop-Up Boilie or Other bait.

Ease of tying: *  (Can prove ‘fiddly’ and getting the curve and mechanics right takes practice and patience). The modern choddy rig bins make it easy to steam and keep the curvature ready for use.

Comments: There is no doubt this is a deadly rig. In Fall or early Winter when leaves, small twigs and other debris litter the bottom the chod stands outs as a real winner. Carp always seem to have a hard time losing this rig once they’ve picked it up.  A couple of top anglers also found success fishing bottom baits on the ‘chod’  – Give it a try!



Chod Rig Options:

Chod mounted at end of
a fluorocarbon hook link.

#1 When mounted on a Helicopter rig it can slide up and down the weighted leader or leadcore which maintains tension and makes it difficult for the carp to eject. The range of movement can be adjusted using an upper rubber rig bead however make sure the bead can be pulled off the leader to prevent a carp being tethered to the lead in the event of a break-off.

#2 Fished at the end of a fluorocarbon hook length over weed. This is a near ‘invisible’ set up ideal for shallow, clear waters.

#3 Tied on the end of a regular stiff hook length material it creates a very effective pop-up rig.



KD Rig

KD Rig

Named after its creator Kenny Dorset. The hook is whipped on at such an aggressive angle that carp find it near impossible to eject when sucked in. Since the hair protrudes from directly beside the hook’s eye it moves the ‘balance’ point so transferring more weight toward the point. The outcome is that the hook point drops faster and more effectively into the carp’s lower lip and ensures a nice solid hold. It’s imperative to add the balance shot or weight to the hair in between the bait and the hook.


Hook Style: Curve style hooks

Hook Link Material: Soft or Coated braids work well.

Bait: Critically balanced & Pop-Up Boilie, Particles or Plastic Maize / Corn.

Benefits: Aggressive hook holds

Ease of tying: * * (you need to make sure the hair does not get pulled around when tightening the hook link material).


The ‘Muzza’

KD Rig ‘Muzza’ Style

The KD can also be fished ‘Muzza’ style, an innovative variation created by Tom Dove. Here the bait is critically balanced in such a way that it sits ‘upside-down’ with the hair-stop resting on the bottom & the hair sticking upwards from the ‘bottom’ of the bait.  In this picture a regular boilie has been partly drilled out (about halfway) and a piece of rig cork or foam inserted to ensure it sits ‘upside down’. This adds more effective ‘weight’ to the hook point further increasing its chances of catching in the lower lip.

Comments: On hard, clean sandy or gravel bottoms the KD is a simply devastatingly effective bottom bait rig. It works really well with particle baits such as maize, tiger nuts and chick peas. When popped-up using a boilie or plastic bait it can be used over a variety of river or lake beds. Tied Combi Rig style it works very well with method or other mass particle style feeds around the hook bait.


Combi Rig

Combi Rig

There are many different styles of combi rig but what they share is the use of a ‘combination’ of  different hook length materials. Usually a stiff material such as fluorocarbon connected to  a supple braid.  In the regular Combi rig the stiff section of hook length material acts like a boom to help ‘kick’ the hook length away from the lead or feeder to avoid tangles. Meanwhile the supple ‘flexi’ section allows the bait to behave naturally and be picked up easily from any direction. The beauty is that almost any style hook rig can be used (blow back, KD etc) to suit the bait and swim conditions.  In the past making these rigs has required careful knot tying to connect the two materials together securely but the introduction of the ‘stripable’ coated hook lengths (Korda N-Trap etc) and mono-core braided materials (Rigmarole HydroLink etc) have made creating Combi rigs a breeze.

Iain Sorrell returning a 30lb Mirror taken on a Combi rig

Iain Sorrell returning a 30lb
Mirror taken on a Combi rig

I also believe that the ‘stiff’ boom acts like a ‘spring’ and can make it more difficult for the carp to eject the hook.

Hook Style: Various

Hook Link Material: I like the strippable coated braids such as Korda N-Trap or the flouro core hollow braids like Hydrolink. They make creating the combination of stiffer and supple sections of a hook length a breeze.

Bait: Bottom baits, neutral balanced Pop-Up Boilie or Pop-Up Plastic Maize / Corn

Benefits: Fewer tangles and more natural presentation. Ideal for method or pack set-ups where the stiff section helps kick out the hook length to avoid tangles.

Ease of tying: ** (Not a difficult rig to tie but only gets ** as it is more time consuming than some).

Comments: The introduction of the modern hook link materials like Kordas N-Trap and Rigmarole Hydrolink have made tying these rigs much, much easier and more reliable.  A couple of top anglers, including Shaun Harrison, have found the reverse combi to be highly effective when fishing for buffalo.


The Multi Rig

Multi-Rig Presentation

Multi-Rig Presentation

If I had to choose just one rig to fish with it would have to be the Multi-Rig. It was originally conceived by Mike Kavanagh but then popularized by Johnny Mac. Not only can it be adapted to a wide range of bottom and pop-up baits it is also incredibly simple to tie – just tie a loop, thread through the hook eye, add a ring and pass the loop over the hook point and voila! The rig ring (I prefer larger 4.5 or 5mm Ashima rings) on the loop creates a perfect blow back effect while the doubled over material between the hook eye and single hook length material creates a natural line aligner. The result is a hook position that is very aggressive and if you look at the shape of it in the water it actually hovers like a claw – thus making it extremely difficult to eject once sucked in. If the loop is pulled back tight to the hook eye and a hair tied off the ring it creates an effective KD rig. Not only is it practically tangle free (especially if you mount baits in PVA mesh as shown) it can also sit over the choddiest of lake beds. And best of all the hook can be changed in just a few seconds by simply un-looping & replacing with a new one.


A snowman rig on a Multi Rig - Nailed!

A snowman set up on a
Multi Rig – Nailed!

Hook Style: Choddy or Curve shank

Hook Link Material: Any of the popular strippable coated hook length materials.

Bait: Balanced Pop-Up Boilie, Bottom Bait, Particles, Plastic etc

Conditions: Any and works especially well popped-up over lake bed debris and light weed.

Benefits: Easy to adjust bait position by moving the loop on the hook to create the most aggressive hook angle. Difficult for carp to eject.

Ease of Tying: *** (If you can tie a couple of loops then you are done! The rest is just basic assembly).

Comments: This rig has produced over 95% hook up success for me over the past 3 years. Single or double (snowman) boilie presentations have been incredibly effective when fished on 5-6″ hook lengths.




Frank Warwick’s “Go To” Rig

There have been a lot of variations on the original rig pioneered by Frank Warwick but like so many imitations they rarely live up to expectations. The key to its success remains the use of a long shank hook and two sections of shrink tubing (rather than silicone) that cater for two very different purposes. The first piece of shrink tubing is steamed over the eye of the hook and the hook length ideally pushed through a hole in the underside as shown or pulled into a small slit cut in the shrink tube. This ‘line aligner’ encourages the point to flip in the carp’s mouth, thus allowing it to catch hold in the bottom lip.

The second, smaller section of shrink tubing, is placed over the hair and then over the bend of the hook. This not only keeps the hook bait in place but more importantly prevents the hair from wrapping around the shank on the cast. As an additional benefit it also acts as an ‘indicator’. So if a fish has sucked in the hook bait and blown it out without getting hooked, the silicone will have slid up the shank towards the eye and you’ll know you’ve been ‘done’! Frank Warwick uses this rig for 80% of his carp fishing so there is no doubt it is effective!

FW Rig003

Hook Style: PB or Solar Long Shank

Hook Link Material: PB Jelly Wire or other quality semi stiff coated braid

Bait: Any including Pop-Ups, Regular or Neutral buoyancy (wafter) Boilies.

Conditions:  Almost any.

Benefits: Reliable hook holds, tangle free and indicates if a bait has been ‘done’.

Ease of Tying: ** (Not a difficult rig to tie but does take a little bit longer than some).

Comments: I have to admit to getting this rig all wrong for a couple of years… and suffered the consequences of some frustrating hook pulls as a result. When I sat down with Frank and he pointed out where I was going wrong (I was using regular length shank hooks and silicone sleeve on the hook bend instead of shrink tube) it all started to make sense. I’ve also found that ready made PB Long Shank aligners work a treat in place of the shrink tube. It certainly tops the list  for reliability – especially with bigger baits. If you use a Delkim alarm the vibro sensitivity for detecting almost any activity at the sharp end means you can check those few beeps to see if you’ve been done and adjust accordingly!


The 360 Rig

360 Rig

A devastatingly effective rig for pop-up presentations. It is also simple and quick to put together. No matter what direction the carp approaches the bait the hook can simply spin around to get a solid purchase in the bottom lip. The rubber hook beads also allow critical positioning of the bait to achieve an aggressive hook angle together with a nice blow back effect. There has been some discussion about the 360 rig and potential damage to a carps mouth. One criticism is that the rig can somehow go through a carps lips twice closing them shut and secondly that the hook eye can get caught more easily in the landing net and result in mouth tears if the carp thrashes around. I’ve never experienced this myself and have found nothing in writing to substantiate the rumors. One issue to bear in mind is that the hook eye can force the swivel eye to ‘open up’ after playing a couple of fish. I now add a small rig ring to sit between the hook and swivel eye to prevent this happening.

Iain's 360 modification

Iain’s 360 modification

Hook Style: Curve Shank or Long Curve Shank

Hook Link Material: Fluorocarbon or any coated braid material

Bait: Balanced or Pop-Up Boilie (or two Snowman style) or Plastic Maize / Corn

Benefits: Fluoro hook link is very difficult to see and the stiffness prevents tangles

Ease of Tying: ***

Comments:  I really like the fact that I can tie this rig with a range of hook link materials to suit the nature of the swim I’m fishing. It has worked really well for me on rocky lake beds with a snowman pop-up presentation that the carp seem able to find and inhale with ease.


The Zig Rig

Adjustable Zig Rig

Adjustable Zig Rig

After many years this rig has finally caught on in Europe but is still overlooked here in North America. A real shame as it can prove even more effective over here since the carp depend so much more on natural food! While carp often feed on the bottom there are many times when they are either cruising or feeding somewhere between the bottom and the surface.  At such times they are usually focused on a natural ‘hatch’ of insect larvae or water snails.   However presenting a natural bait ‘mid water’ is sometimes difficult to achieve reliably. Happily carp can usually be fooled with a simple imitation created from a piece of foam or buoyant ‘fly’ (Zig Bug) creation tied on a fluorocarbon hook length. Casting a long hook link length of several feet can prove awkward and I now prefer to use one of the commercially available adjustable rig set-ups.  This set up uses running rig and a ‘float’ to which a 3-6′ fluorocarbon hook length is attached. Once cast into position it is relatively easy to wind the float down to the lead weight and then give out line until the required depth is achieved. Slow sinking particles etc can be spombed or catapulted over the area to attract carp into the area

Hook Style:  Size 12 – 8 Wide Gape

Hook Link Material: Fluorocarbon in 6 – 12lb test

Bait: Imitation of natural bait. A small piece of foam or a ‘zig bug’ mounted on a short hair.

Benefits:  Carp focused on natural hatches or cruising mid water or just below the surface can be targeted.

Ease of Tying: ***



Comments: Years ago I used to fish zig bugs just below the surface over weed beds fly fishing or using a controller style float with varying degrees of success. Now with the modern adjustable rigs it is really quite simple to adjust to almost any depth and range. If you’ve not tried fishing a Zig then make the coming season the time to give it a try… I promise you won’t be disappointed and don’t forget clear, moon lit nights can be a real winner!




So that’s it for Part II…

In Part III we’ll get down to the real nitty gritty of tying rigs and more importantly how to make those key adjustments to fine tune the rig for maximum effect…

Catching the biggest and wariest carp!

2015 Connecticut CARP Open

The Tournament… my view

As many will know I’m primarily a short session angler fishing 4-6 hour sessions plus a few overnights. In the past decade I’ve fished only two week long tournaments (Baldwinsville & Big 5 Carp in Romania) plus a just a handful of multi day sessions. So it was with some trepidation that I made the commitment to fish the 100 hour long 2015 CT CARP Open Tournament this past October. What follows is simply the tournament seen from my perspective. As I hope you will learn it goes beyond (certainly in my case at least!) any hopes of winning and is more about my experiences and the fun I had taking part.

Carp Tournament SponsorsOver the years I’ve been involved in helping the Fisheries folk at Connecticut DEEP understand more about the opportunities to develop carp fishing in our State. In addition to supporting catch & release record claims for carp and a recent regulation change to allow the use of three rods they have embraced the idea of turning, in their words, ‘Trash to Treasure’. This simple statement underlines a commitment to introduce more anglers to carp fishing in Connecticut and to promote the catch & release of larger specimens. As part of this commitment David Moore, founder of the Carp Tournament Series, and myself approached Pete Aarrestad, Director of Inland Fisheries, with a proposal to host a carp tournament on the CT River. There were some key aspects that would need to be reconciled to ensure the tournaments success which in particular required securing permission for anglers to fish allocated swims with bivies etc for the duration. The enthusiasm and support given by Pete, Bill Gerrish (Senior Fisheries Biologist) together with their colleagues at the CT DEEP Fisheries division along with help from State, local towns, police, park and other authorities was simply incredible. This coupled with the professionalism of Kathy Kelly – Ori and the team at CTS would ensure the event ran like clockwork.



The Count Down…

2015-09-25 08.25.25Two weeks to go and I’ve barely had time to even think about the tournament. I’ve heard about how other competitors bait and tackle preparations are in full swing wtih several local CT anglers and even some from out of state looking at prospective swims, to check depths and so on. A state of panic descends and I look over my tackle to see if I even have enough leads, rigs and other bits and pieces to last beyond my usual sessions of 4-6 hours. An order to Big Carp Tackle hopefully covers the several gaps I’ve noted and then a phone call to K-1 baits and a reassuring chat with Mihai & Bogdan ensures I’ll have plenty of their new Concept fishmeal boilies on hand. While boilies will be my preferred bait choice I figure that it will be prudent to have several gallons of maize on hand to ‘feed off’ any large shoals of smaller fish. So 50lb of maize goes into soak and 24 hours later I’m boiling batches and loading them in to 5 gallon buckets with some ‘special’ additives for added attraction.


One week to go and David Moore rolls into town. He is kept busy on the usual attention to detail for the tournament and working with Bill Gerrish to finalize & mark swim locations. My first view of the swims is two days before the tournament when I get a chance to make a quick sweep but still have no time to plumb depths etc. However I do look carefully at any swims I don’t think I can fish alone and look up others on Navionics charts to get an idea of depths and contours. After 20 years of living and fishing in CT I’ve tried to help David with suggestions for swims together with input from the likes of Mike Hudak & friends but perhaps more exciting is the number of new swims that have been discovered or made available through access to State land!

Two days to go and its 6am Saturday morning. I meet Pete Aarrestad at the Channel 3 news studio. We’ve been invited to talk about the tournament and our 5 minutes of fame just before the 7am news flashes by. Thanks to the wonderful world of on-line media the moment is captured and spread across Facebook etc for anyone (everyone?) sleeping in or watching other channels.

WFSB Iain Pete


The Draw.

In spite of introductions and good humored banter everyone seems more than a little edgy. We are all gathered in the meeting room at Cabelas making small talk and while some feast eagerly on the snacks thoughtfully provided by our hosts others like myself feel sick to our stomachs with nervous anticipation. We line up to sign in, complete the waiver and acknowledge that we’ve read the rules (which as it transpires not all did…). Once the sign in is completed we sit to hear a couple of words from CT DEEP Fisheries folk, key sponsors and finally David highlighting key rules including any last minute changes such as the minimum weight (22lb) to qualify toward the Big 4 Fish… Did I mention checking the rules????

Draw Crowd

Second go...
My second draw attempt…

The procedure starts with each individual angler or team pulling a number to determine the order of the peg draw. The tension grows and finally the peg draw starts… each Team or Individual draws two pegs and then have the option of choosing one or returning both and going to the back of the line for a second and final chance. When my turn comes I pull pegs 7 & 8 – Hardly a choice! I put both back and like several others go to the back of the line for another go. When my turn comes around again I pull pegs 6 & 34. I know 34 is not a swim I feel comfortable fishing alone due to its steep and rocky bank while peg 6 in East Hartford actually won the last tournament 5 years ago for the Jackson brothers. So decision made and peg 6 it is!


Day 1 (Columbus Day).

LT: 9.33 AM               HT: 2.06 PM (2 feet)

LT: 10.02 PM            HT: 2.29 AM (2 feet)

The truck is already packed so I’m up and on the road at first light. Fishing does not start until 10am but I’m scheduled to talk to a local news channel at my swim so want to get everything set up ahead of time.

At first light I see a few fish, presumed to be carp, topping on the far bank but as the sun comes up the activity ceases. The CT river is tidal all the way to Windsor locks a few miles north of Hartford and since the water is beginning to drop I choose to put out only a few chopped boilies (to stop them rolling away) and a couple of Spombs of my maize ‘soup’ mix until I can figure out if there are actually are any carp in the area.

City of Hartford from Peg 6
City of Hartford from Peg 6

A cameraman along with reporter Sujata Jain from WFSB Channel 3 News arrive just before 9am so the next 40 minutes is taken up finding some decent camera angles, scenic views of Hartford and talking about carp tackle and the tournament. It’s good to see carp fishing get some good exposure and recognition!

PEG 6 Channel 3 NewsFinally its 10am and the tournament is on! While three rods are allowed here in CT the out going tide makes it difficult to hold bottom even with 5 oz leads so I chose to minimize any risk of tangles and only fish two rods. As the day progresses the alarms are ominously silent and my time is spent reeling in every half hour or so to remove the large amounts of weed and grass that continually collects on the line despite using back leads. The long Columbus day weekend coupled with warm fall weather has resulted in a lot of boat traffic churning up the river & dislodging weed and debris (so don’t blame it on the carp!). As the day continues several carp groupies appear and find the picnic table I’d reserved for laying out rigs etc a convenient spot to hang out… Oh well! I’m always happy to chat about carp fishing but I’m also trying to stay focused on keeping my lines clear and plan ahead. Fran Slasinski, a longtime friend and the section weigh marshal, stops by and it’s good to chat and get an update on what’s happening at other pegs. Apparently not much yet… Oh well! I’m always happy to chat about carp fishing but I’m also trying to stay focused on keeping my lines clear and plan ahead. Fran Slasinski, a longtime friend and the section weigh marshal, stops by and it’s good to chat and get an update on what’s happening at other pegs. Apparently not much yet…

Weed was a problem...
Weed was a problem…

As darkness falls the carp groupies disperse and I’m left to prepare for the night ahead. There have still been no carp caught as yet along the East Hartford section and only a couple of small fish from the Charter Oak section on the west bank just a bit further downstream. As a result I trickle in only a few more baits rather than ‘filling it in’. I eat early, heating up a home made chicken curry, before settling down to get some sleep in anticipation of more action through the night. Unfortunately this being East Hartford I’m soon awoken by the sound of loud bass speakers thumping. It appears that this river side street is where the local kids like to hang out in their cars. As the night draws on the kids finally head home and a couple of police cruisers make re-assuring sweeps in the early hours. Meanwhile my alarm receiver remains ominously quiet and my only activity is to get up and check my lines, clear more weed and make several cups of tea.





Day Two – October 13th

LT: 10.43 AM (Hartford)

Hurd HT: 12.23 PM (2.9 Feet)          LT: 7.27 PM (0.2 Feet)

Jump StartAs daylight and light rain greet me I’m already resolved to take advantage of the tournaments ‘move’ option. There has been no fish activity in over 20 hours and only a couple of smaller fish in swims down river. Plus the amount of debris coming down river and fouling my lines is proving extremely frustrating! The key question is where should I go? There are several ‘open’ swims that look like attractive propositions. I make a short list and determine to get in place in plenty of time to secure my chosen swim when it opens up at noon. Disaster – I have a dead battery! Are you kidding me? One of the carp groupies kindly comes to my rescue with a set of jump leads but with the long days ahead I’m forced to make a detour and get the battery checked before going on to the next swim. Almost 90 minutes later I’m back on the road with the same battery but now fully charged… I must have left something switched on overnight – duh!

A call from Mike Hudak in Peg # alerts me to a swim at Harbor Park in Middletown opening up. I’m not sure why anyone would give it up as it has produced some excellent fish in the past. Now I’m really facing some tough choices. Do I go with Harbor Park or perhaps another Middletown swim or go for somewhere idyllic but unknown like Hurd State Park? I arrive at Harbor Park and talk to Mike and Chris. They are beginning to catch but mostly only at night. I’m hugely torn then learn that Pannayotis, the only other angler at Hurd, has been getting into some nice fish. so that’s it – Decision made I’m on my way! As I drive by I see Mike Hudak bent into a fish. If I’d known that fish would weigh 33 lb I might just have turned around!

The 33lb fish Mike landed as I left Middletown!


Hurd State Park – Peg 40

Hurd State Park sits alongside the CT River and is usually only open for single night camping for boaters during the season.  Thanks to the State and the DEEP we’ve been granted unique access for the duration of the tournament. Setting up in my new peg I’m struck by the peace & tranquility of this beautiful location. It is truly a privilege in being able to fish here.

2015-10-13 17.37.04

Hurd Park Bathemetry


The banks are built up with local Portland stone blocks. This was in an effort to raise the water lever and make the river more navigable through the treacherous Sears shoals at this point. My swim has a stone peninsula that sticks out about 75 feet into the river just above Hurd Brook (which is barely a trickle due to the summer drought). The main current flows just off the tip and leaves a protected area in its ‘lee’. The tide is ‘in’ when I arrive and the margins look way too inviting not to toss a bait in immediately. I grab a rod, bait up with a handful of maize and go about setting up the rest of my gear. Only 20 minutes later, while I’m pruning back some of the vegetation and over hanging tree branches the Delkim bursts into song and I’m into a very hard fighting fish. Luck is with me and I slide the net under a stunning common but at only 20 lb 8oz its just short of the 22 lb minimum needed to get me on the scoreboard. After almost 29 hours it’s my first fish and hopefully a promising sign!

2015-10-15 17.20.22
Shallow margins

As the tide recedes I discover that the margin spot is soon uncovered and was probably less than 2 feet deep at high tide where I hooked my fish. It’s a firm sand covered in a thin layer of silt but shows signs of freshwater clams and mussels.

As evening approaches I have two rods positioned on the edge of the main current while the third is held in reserve until the tide comes in and once again covers the margin area. However I take the opportunity to wade out while there is just a few inches of water to drop some scoops of maize in strategic margin spots in preparation. I also trickle in some bait just off the main current every half an hour to encourage carp coming up stream to hopefully linger a while.

Since high tide is not due until after midnight I’m not expecting much to happen until around 10pm. So I settle down to enjoy the stunning sunset with a very nice, homemade, chicken curry and a couple of pints of Guinness to wash it down!


2015-10-14 17.59.33

Day Three – October 14th

HT: 12:47 AM (2.4 Feet)                    LT: 7:31 AM (0.4 Feet)

HT: 1:03 PM (2.8 Feet)                      LT: 8:06 PM (0.2 Feet)

The night delivers several more fish but unfortunately they are all between 18 and 21 lb and still not big enough to get me a place on the leader board. The dawn breaks with a stunning sunrise but my optimism slowly wanes as the day passes by with very little action other than a couple of quite large catfish.

2015-10-14 08.26.00

As the sunsets I’m finally into a hard fighting fish and I’m sure this one will finally put me on the leader board… but at 21.14 it misses (yet again…) by just 2 oz! Only one more fish comes before midnight, a low teen that I slip back immediately.

21.14 Oct 14
2015-10-14 18.07.13 Just under…

The End Game…

Attention to detail is critical when choosing which rigs to use and especially making sure they are tied correctly. If you are missing bites or dropping fish, especially during a tournament, then something is not right! If you want to learn more about rigs then take a look at my “Understanding Rigs I, II & III” series here on Big Carp News. The top three rigs in the photo are based on Frank Warwick’s ‘go to’ rig using a long shank PB hook in size 4 or 6 with a shrink tube hair aligner and PB long shank line aligner. A 9″ Hook link made with 25lb PB Jelly Wire with the coating stripped 1/2″ behind the line aligner. The lower two rigs are set up for fishing maize with Enterprise pop-up large corn kernels. The rig is made with a #4 PB Anti-Eject hook with a ‘shot-on-the-hook’ bead (note the bead should be positioned at the bend just below the hook point and not as shown the photo) plus a PB short shank line aligner. A 6″ hook link tied using PB Skinless creates a super stiff link to help kick the sharp end away from the lead or method feeder. In both cases a figure ‘8’ loop was created to slip over a Speed swivel clip which is covered over to keep it in place with an anti-tangle sleeve. You can always substitute your own choice of hooks and hook link material but don’t try and save a few cents when buying end tackle. It amazes me how some folk will spend hundreds of $$$ on rods and reels but then go ‘cheap’ on hooks, line etc. These rigs are simple to tie and incredibly reliable. I very, very rarely drop a hooked fish.

Oct 15 Rigs
Preparation – Ready baited rigs


Day Four – October 15th

HT: 1:28 AM (2.4 Feet)                      LT: 8:08 AM (0.4 Feet)

HT: 1:43 PM (2.8 Feet)                      LT: 8:47 PM (0.2 Feet)

I settle back into my bivvy until woken at about 3:30 am by my receiver mirroring a screaming Delkim somewhere in the darkness. As I know I’ll need to clamber of the rocks into the water to net the fish I’m already prepared by wearing my chest waders and cleats. After picking up the rod and winding down into a fast running fish I grab one of my head torches (always have a spare) from my pocket and switch it on. The reflective tape on my landing net plus a couple of marker posts stand out in the darkness, the latter to show my ‘safest’ route over the rocks to the water edge. After an initial long run I maintain steady pressure and work what feels like a better sized fish against the current. Finally the fish is framed in the light from the head torch and I breathe a sigh of relief as its golden flanks are surrounded by the net on the first attempt. There is no doubt this will fish will finally get me on the leader board and my scales register 24.02. I slip it into a sack and make sure it is carefully tethered out of the main current but in an area that won’t leave it high and dry at low tide. Thanks to the quick change swivels on my PB leaders the rig is quickly swapped out for a freshly baited one and cast back out. I catapult out more boilies and loose particles & feed before settling back in a chair by the rods. No sooner have I sat down when the same rod screams off and I’m into another fish. This one weighs just over twenty pounds so goes back but as it swims off another alarm screams out. This time I have to clamber out of the water, grab the rod and back in again. A slow steady battle ensues and I’m quietly confident this is another one for the leader board. At 26.02 lb it too goes into a second sack to await the weigh marshal. Three more runs produce a couple of fish just under 22lb and a high teen that must have been on steroids as it never stops fighting – even in the net and on the mat. As dawn breaks and the tide ebbs the action ceases and I’m finally able to grab cup of tea and a quick nap.

2015-10-15 07.03.58
At last I have two on the leader board!

David Moore arrives to weigh my two fish and I’m encouraged to see that not only do my own and his tournament certified scales see eye to eye but neither fish has lost any weight after 5 hours in the sacks.

The day passes with just a couple more fish under the 22lb cut-off. Meanwhile Pannayotis at Peg 38 a couple hundred yards upstream continues to produce some nice fish including a solid thirty that puts him in a tight battle for 3rd place.


Day Five – October 16th

HT: 2:09 AM (2.3 Feet)                      LT: 8:48 AM (0.5 Feet)

Plenty of Natural Food
Plenty of Natural Food

Just before dawn I’m awoken by a solid run. The river is shrouded in a mist. As I’m about to enter the water I’m aware of something cruising along the surface and at first think it might be an otter. A loud ‘slap’ quickly followed by another and then another reveal it to be a very large and apparently rather aggressive beaver. It is clearly upset at my presence and repeatedly swims toward me before slapping its tail and diving underwater. After hearing about a fly fisherman who was bitten in the thigh (almost fatally…) by a beaver while fishing the local Farmington River I’m now quite wary of them! Ethan one of the weigh marshal’s appears and while he keeps his torch trained on the beast while I nervously slip into the water to net the fish. The fish is a mid teen and I quickly release it. As I make it back to the shore my second rod goes off and is followed moments later by my third. The usual panic ensues along with some considerable confusion as the lines seem to have somehow become entangled. I finally manage to reel in one rod but find its attached to the other via a small pike that has somehow become wrapped up in both lines. I manage to release the pike but untangling the mess of lines with a carp still attached to one is almost impossible. I make a quick decision and like a bomb disposal expert cut what I hope is the correct line. Luck is with me and I manage to land another fish of about 12 lb as well as the rig from the cut line.


Around 11 am I’m videoing a large Coastguard launch headed down river and throwing out a massive wake. Suddenly one of my rods arches over and line streams off against the baitrunner. The fish continues to power off downstream taking 50, 60, 70 and almost 80yds of line before I can eventually stop it. I ease off the pressure and true to form the fish turns and slowly begins to swim back up stream. I manage to recover a lot of line just as the first waves from the launch crash into the bank. The fish turns and surges off again as wave after wave rolls in against the shore. As I turn the fish once more another wave throws a huge clump of weed against the line and the rod is pulled down sharply with the sudden extra weight and then springs back… the line is slack and the fish is gone. I’m gutted. As always it’s the fish you don’t see that feel the biggest. River fish invariably fight hard and this fish was no exception. But it just ‘felt’ big from the get go. I’ve caught plenty of fish to well over thirty pounds from the river to know that this was probably up there… I park my disappointment and frustration so that I can re-rig and put the bait back out hoping desperately that the incoming tide might still throw up a couple more fish.


As I pack my gear away I keep willing one of the rods to go off but as the minutes count down everything stays ominously quiet. The clock on my phone rolls over from 1:59pm and that’s it, it’s all over. So I finally wind in the rods, break down the nets and pod and load them into the truck. As I drive back towards Hartford and the presentation of awards at Cabela’s I have some time to reflect on the past 100 hours. Of all the fish I caught only two counted so I was never in contention for a front runner spot for the BIG FOUR or as it turns any of the other prizes (Big Fish, Big Mirror or Big Fantail). In the end I more than enjoyed this tournament especially being able to fish such an extraordinary spot on the Connecticut River.  So much so that I’ve already entered for next year!

Winners & Award Presentation.

Presenting Craig Welch with the Big Fantail Award
Presenting Craig with the Big Fantail Award

At the awards presentation everyone entered had a chance to win  some great prizes generously donated by the various tackle sponsors in a free draw before the overall tournament winners were announced. A Cygnet rod pod and a pair of Diawa rods were among the most sought after prizes together with a host of bait and other items. Huge thanks go to Cygnet, Tracker, Diawa, Big Carp Tackle, Saxon Tackle, Nash & CC Moore for supporting the event.

The $ 100,000 prize for the capture of a new CT State record carp went unclaimed. I was actually surprised as there seemed every chance that Mike Hudak’s 43lb 12oz record from 2012 could come under threat during the tournament… who knows maybe next year!



2015 CT CARP Open Winners

Big Fish Winner: Norbert Samok/Miguel Perez (NY) 36 lb 06 oz – $3500

Big 4 First Place: Norbert Samok/Miguel Perez (NY) 124 lb 06 oz – $3500
Big 4 Second Place: Chris Chiodo/Derek Shibles (MA) 119 lb 01 oz – $2000
Big 4 Third Place: Attila Horvath (NY) 114 lb 13 oz – $1000

Big Mirror: Mike Hudak/Chris Gastringer (CT) 27 lb 2 oz-  $500

Big Fantail: Craig Welch (OH) 23lb 13oz – $250 Saxon Tackle Voucher

Daily Big Fish $500

Day 1 – Norbert Samok/Miguel Perez 36 lb 6 oz
Day 2 – Chris Chiodo/Derek Shibles (MA) 32 lb 12 oz
Day 3 – Attila Horvath (NY) 32 lb 9 oz
Day 4 – Craig Welch (OH) 33 lb 2 oz

Thanks & Kudos

Once again a huge thank-you to everyone who helped organize and support the 2015 CT Carp Open. In particular the tournament sponsors & partners, Ted & Sally Carrier, Pete Aarrestad, Bill Gerrish and their colleagues at CT Fisheries & DEEP, Craig Mergins Assistant Director of Community Relations & Park Operations for Riverfront Recapture, The Cities of Hartford, East Hartford, Cromwell, Middletown, Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau ,State Parks officers and the State of Connecticut, local police and DEEP enforcement officers, David Moore, Kathy Kelly-Ori and the dedicated team at CARP Tournament Series, Cabelas, Andy Nicholls at Fishing Factory 3, Volunteers & Weigh Marshalls, Competitors & Supporters some of whom drove hundreds of miles to take part, the many folk who stopped by and chatted and as always the ever patient news and camera crews from local media outlets who helped provide excellent coverage of the event.

For more information plus entry details for the 2016 event visit: Carp Tournament Series

Craig Welch 23.13 Fantail
Craig Welch with his award winning 23.13 Fantail









Understanding Carp Rigs – Part III (updated)

Understanding Carp Rigs – Part III

This is where it should all come together… no matter what rig you choose it must work correctly to make sure the hook ends up securely positioned in the fishes lip.

Rig Mechanics

In a recent carp forum exchange someone stated “EVERY RIG is nothing more than a PERSONAL opinion..” Well there are certainly plenty of opinions on carp rigs and all too often they are based on a total lack of understanding as to how or why they work or when and where they should be used. Even here in the near virgin waters of North America the carp are simply not as naïve as some would believe… If you take the time to watch any of the excellent underwater videos (especially those made by CAG member Jerome Moisand) you’ll see that  carp can suck up and eject a rig with remarkable ease.  In most cases this is simply a function of the way carp feed.  Over method, pack or small multiple baits like particles carp typically ‘graze’ the area by repeatedly sucking in a mixture of bait particles together with bottom materials (sand, gravel etc) and after a few ‘chewing’ type motions spit out any unwanted items. This I consider a more random feeding process where the hook bait is picked up along with other free samples. Conversely when feeding on single baits like boilies spread over a wide area the carp will be searching around and selectively picking up each bait in a more methodical manner.  Understanding and tailoring  your bait and rig to match these different feeding behaviors is critical to ensure you maximize your chances of a hook-up.  Talk to any of the anglers who consistently catch bigger fish and I’m sure they will tell you that paying attention to rig selection and mechanics is vital to maximizing your chances.

Here is just one example of Jerome Moisand’s excellent underwater video work.  If you watch carefully you’ll see some fish pick up the bait at random while ‘grazing’ the bottom and then others that clearly ‘zero in’ on it. Irrespective of the choice of rig in this video I can tell you that I’ve seen carp eject plenty of other well tied and set up rigs just as easily as you see in this video!

The Golden Rule!

Always check your hook points...

Always, Always, Always check your hook point!

It may not always be immediately apparent, especially if like me you need to wear glasses to see anything closer than about 3 feet away! The right hand hook in the photo has the tip bent over only slightly – but enough that it would probably not fully take hold in a carps lip. The one on the left has been sharpened with a diamond file and drew blood like a hypodermic needle! It is also worth noting that once the coating has been removed from the point during sharpening then the metal is exposed and the hook can rust. A thin coat of nail varnish or vaseline will help protect it.

So remember unless you’re hook point is super sharp then the  odds are already stacked against you!

Check Your Bottom…

Almost any properly tied rig will work on a nice clean sandy or gravel bottom with hungry fish competing for the bait. But even then you might be surprised at just how often the bait is picked up, mouthed and ejected with out you even knowing or just registering a few beeps on your alarm or bumps on the rod tip. If you then throw in some debris on the bottom, a few rocks or zebra mussels together with a good helping of weed or silt then you’ll more than likely be lowering your odds of a hook up unless you choose the right rig together with the right bait presentation.

Hard, Clear Bottoms

On sand or gravel bottoms where there is little or no debris then fishing a bottom or critically balanced bait on a simple hair rig, KD or Frank Warwick ‘go to’ will do the trick. If distance is not an issue then I would tend to go with an in-line lead especially in rivers.  Flatter leads will hold the bottom more effectively in fast flowing water rather than ‘roll around’. A flat or square sided lead can also be used to hold a bait in position on the side of a gravel bar or other sloped feature. Pinning down the hook link and using a leadcore or ready made safety leader can help limit false bites from the fish bumping into the line or being spooked. If the water is shallow and clear then using a fluorocarbon hook link will help camoflage the rig. However make sure you use an out turned chod style hook with fluoro to create the best hooking mechanics.

Soft Weed or Silt.

Fishing silt and weed demands a whole article on its own  but if the weed or silt is just covering the bottom then a pop-up or critically balanced bait on a longer 12-24″ combi hook link should do the trick.  However silt or weed deeper than a few inches begins to present a few more problems. In deeper silt a helicopter rig allows the baited hook link to slide up the leader without it being pulled down by the lead. The depth can be adjusted with a rubber stop bead but make sure it can be pulled over the leader mainline connection so a fish is not tethered to the lead if the mainline breaks. When fishing silt you should always check its depth and also how it smells. If your bait comes back smelling of rotten eggs (sulphur odor) then it is unlikely to hold any food items (bloodworm etc) that will attract carp. An easy way to check the depth of silt is to tie some white cotton or wool thread between the lead and leader / main line connection. The wool will be stained by the color of the silt to indicate the depth of the silt and therefore determine how long a hook length is needed or the set-up for a helicopter rig.


On one water I fish the bottom is strewn with 4-6″ sized rocks creating cracks and crevices where the bait can all but disappear. There is no doubt that carp can quite easily move rocks in their quest to get a crayfish or other bait but I’ve found a critically balanced snowman set-up on a 360 rig has proven to be an ideal choice. Not only are the two baits less likely to ‘fall’ between the cracks as it were but the 360 rig will spin around to ensure the hook point is ideally positioned when picked up by the carp. When fished on a heavier than usual hook link material (25-30lb instead of 15lb) and a TFG Safety leader it seems less prone to get stuck in between the gaps in the rocks to reduce the risk of getting snagged or broken off.

Debris (Leaves, Sticks etc).

A nice buoyant pop-up on a Chod, Multi-Rig or 360 rig would be my favorite rig choices. As the water temps drop late in the season I would tend to opt more for the chod set-up. It seems that the ‘springy’ hook link material makes it very difficult for the fish to eject as they move around more slowly. It is also vitally important to protect the hook point from being fouled by any debris. This can be critical in the Fall when leaves etc are floating over your swim. The impact of the rig hitting the water can easily snag a twig or leaf stem on the hook point. A PVA foam nugget around the hook or carefully protected in a PVA bag or stick etc will ensure it is ready for action!


Ready tied & baited rigs allowed the capture of three big fish in just 30 mins


Hook Size

The choice of appropriate hook size is usually determined by the size of the bait you are using and how big a carp you are likely to catch.  I rarely use anything less than a size 8 hook for carp unless I’m float fishing for fish that are unlikely to go over a few pounds. In my opinion a hook can only penetrate as deep as its gape (the distance between the point and  the shank opposite). The result being that a bigger hook will penetrate deeper and therefore be less likely to get pulled out by an aggressive, hard pulling fish like most of the wild fish here in North America. The following table is only a guideline showing the most typical hook size I would choose highlighted in bold type.  You can substitute the boilie diameter shown in mm for the size or number of particle baits. For example three kernels of maize would approximate a 16 mm boilie while a couple of pieces of sweetcorn a 10-12 mm size.  If I was expecting smaller fish then the smaller hook might be preferable, especially if I was missing bites. However I would not hesitate to use a bigger hook if I was fishing near snags, expecting bigger (25 lb + ) carp or fishing a double bait set-up such as a snowman.

Boilie Diameter         Hook Size

10-12 mm Size          10 – 8 – 6

14-16 mm Size            8 – 6 – 4

18-20 mm Size           6 – 4 – 2

20 mm +                      4 – 2 – 1


Hair Length

Adjusting the hair length can be one of the most critical determinations for achieving solid hook-ups. If the hair is too short then the bait can interfere with the hook ‘turning over’ correctly or if too long the hook might not be taken in far enough to catch properly. In either case the result is likely to be a dropped run or a hook pull shortly after.

Several anglers, including leading experts like Shaun Harrison, prefer to use a #8 or #6 hook and then adjust their hair length to match the bait size. They will match the gap from the hook bend to the bait to be the same size as the bait. So for example with an 18mm boilie they will use a 36mm hair and for a 20mm boilie a 40mm hair and so on. This will ensure that when the bait is ejected it will ‘swing’ clear of the hook and not impede the hook catching correctly in the bottom lip.

Clearly ‘hair length’ does not apply to rigs where the bait is tied to a swivel or rig ring on a ‘D’, Blow Back or similar set-up. However it is important to recognize how it should function so that the movement is not impeded or shortened in some way.


Hook Link Length?

“What is the ideal hook length?” is a question often seen posted on various carp forums. The easiest answer is either short or long depending on how you are fishing.

If you are fishing over a bed of particles, pellets or method then the carp will invariably be heads ‘down’ and moving relatively slowly. In most instances the hook bait is picked up at random along with the surrounding chum or ground bait so a shorter 3 – 5” hook length will help ensure that they get hooked even with the minimum of movement.  This shorter ‘leash’ will also keep the hook in place as it tightens against the weight of the lead and especially when they ‘tilt’ themselves back up to a horizontal position to spit out waste items or in an effort to rid themselves of the hook. In cold water conditions when the carp are moving more slowly a shorter, stiffer material hook link can make all the difference, especially if you are prepared to watch your rods and ready to hit even the most tentative of takes.

In contrast with baits, such as boilies, that are spread out over a larger area the carp are generally moving around more quickly as they go from one bait to another.  In this case longer hook lengths of 8 – 12” seem to work better allowing the carp to move a little further before picking up the weight of the lead. Longer hook lengths can work well with brightly colored or high contrast baits popped-up over a bed of ground bait where the bigger carp will sometimes hang around the edge of the baited area and then move in with a ‘smash & grab’ style take.

Finally don’t be afraid to go really long, even up to 2 -3  feet,  if you are fishing soft silt or weed – that way the bait will sit on top of the weed instead of being pulled down into it. But if you think fish are picking up the bait and managing to eject it with out getting hooked then shortening the hook length is usually a good start.

Hook Pulls & Dropped Takes?

Keeping a note of where your fish are hooked can help solve problems more readily

There can be nothing more frustrating than knowing there are fish feeding in your swim but only getting aborted takes.  If this is the case I would first check the hook point and if all is well then take a close look at how the bait sits in the water or when it gets picked up. If you lift the rig up by the bait does the hook sit angled like a ‘claw’? If not adjust the position of the hair coming off the hook to create that aggressive 45 degree angle. Next pull the rig across your palm.., does the hook turn and catch in your skin? If everything seems to be working up until this point then and only then is it time to play with the hair or hook link length.  There is no point in only making small changes so instead of lengthening a 5″ hook link to 6″  or so I would try doubling it first  and if that does not work try changing the hair length.  Hopefully by now you’ll start getting some results but if not and you are fishing two or three rods then try fishing a different rig or baits (a critically balanced bait can often produce startling results when a regular bottom bait is continually rejected) in the same area. If you take a methodical approach to any changes and make notes of the outcomes you will not only resolve the issue more quickly but gain valuable knowledge for the future.

If you are dropping fish through hook pulls or find they are being hooked too deeply in the mouth then, assuming its not through over aggressive playing of fish, changing the hook size, adjusting the hair length or hook length may help solve the problem. A few years ago while going through more than my fair share of hook pulls I created the Rig Evaluation System (see photo) which allowed me to quickly record where in the mouth or lip the carp had been hooked.  On several of the fish landed I noted that they had been hooked further back in the mouth and often had a small tear suggesting the hook was at risk of pulling free. In this instance a change from a #6 to a #4 hook improved the outcome considerably.  In most cases bigger baits require larger hooks and I use anything from #8 for small particles up to a #2 for 20mm boilies.   I’m not generally a fan of long hairs since there is a greater risk of them tangling around the hook although some PVA string or a PVA nugget can be used to keep things tied in place. PVA nuggets are also useful to ensure the hook point does not pick up a leaf or other debris as it drops and settles on the bottom and can also help to minimize the risk of rig tangles. The brightly colored ones also serve as a temporary marker for baiting up when they float to the surface. It also helps to ‘feather’ (using your finger to slow the line coming off the spool) your cast just before your rig hits the water. This not only helps straighten out the rig and hook length but also forces the lead against the loop of the safety clip to prevent it being dislodged on impact with the water.

The ‘Bolt’ Rig…

In the days before the hair-rig even the slightest resistance from the line or lead (usually only 1/2 – 1 oz) could result in the carp ejecting the baited hook. Since that time most carp anglers have combined the hair presentation with a semi-fixed (using a lead clip or silicone sleeve connector) lead of at least 3 oz to create a ‘Bolt’ effect.   This set up causes the carp to ‘panic’ or ‘bolt’ as soon as they feel the hook and as they drag the weight of the lead it also helps set the hook. Invariably the angler is nowadays woken from his day dreams by a screaming run with the fish well hooked before he even picks up the rod.  There is no doubt that the bolt rig has helped put a lot of carp on the bank and made carp fishing a more relaxing pastime. However there are some limitations and safety issues to consider.

First safety… there is nothing worse than a carp breaking the line and being condemned to death by having to trail a rig with a lead weight still attached. A carp rig must be set up with a lead clip or other device when fishing a bolt rig to allow the lead to be released in the event of a break off. I personally do not subscribe to having to ‘drop’ the lead automatically each time you hook a fish. Firstly it simply is not practical or economical here in North America as the numbers of fish caught would soon bankrupt most of us! Secondly the only time I feel it is necessary to drop leads is when fishing near snags or over weeds so that the fish comes up to the surface to fight instead of staying down deeper.  So if you are not using a ‘lead clip’ then you need to be certain that however you set up your bolt rig that the lead can come free or slide off the leader if the main line breaks.

A lead in the 2.75 – 3 oz range seems to be the most popular choice and their is evidence that the heavier the lead the more difficult it is for the carp to shake a hook free. However there is often no need to use more than 1 – 2 oz unless you need to cast more than 40 yds or hold bottom in a river. A lighter lead not only creates less disturbance but will also allow the carp to be battled higher up in the water column so avoiding snags and weed.

While many anglers  wait for a screaming run to develop I’m quite convinced they are missing fish (B-I-G ones at that) as a result! Instead of running many of these bigger fish will actually try and rid themselves of the rig first. There are many who will assert that this only applies to the educated, rig wary fish in Europe but I know for a fact that it happens on this side of the pond as well. The fish over here are certainly not ‘educated’ by any means but it happens and way more than most anglers believe. Instead of waiting for a screamer it sometimes pays to ‘strike’ those small 1-2″ lifts of the bobbin or rod tip knocks and trust me you might be surprised by the size of fish you end up hooking!

Tying Rigs

A lot of the tying instructions and videos posted on the internet assume that you will be tying each rig up, with a fresh bait, on the bank. They show the bait being mounted first and then the hair length determined before tying the hook link material on to the hook. While there is no doubt that this will provide the ‘perfect’ result it does not seem practical for the numbers of fish likely to be caught here in North America. I simply cannot imagine tying up a freshly baited rig for each and every fish I catch! There have been plenty of occasions when after a quick check of the rig and hook point I’ve cast the same bait back out and landed several more fish before the rig or bait needs to be replaced.

For most practical purposes tying up several rigs ahead of a fishing trip is not only good planning but saves time while fishing. Almost all my rigs have loops to allow them to be connected  quickly and easily to a swivel or kwik-clip mounted on the end of a safety leader. This means that I can have a rig baited (including a PVA bag or stick) and ready so that when I land a fish I can simply swap the rig out and re-cast with in just a matter of minutes. This ability for a fast turnaround has helped me bank  two or three big fish in quick succession before they have had a chance to move on. If you are fishing a Multi-Rig you can even tie baits onto the ‘blow back’ ring in advance then simply swap them out by “unlooping” the hook.

A neat 'jig' that can be adjusted for hair and link length makes tying rigs easy.

When tying rigs it is vitally important to tighten any knots carefully. Make sure that the knot looks neat and the coils evenly distributed before pulling them tight between the line and the tag end. Once the hook and loop or swivel are tied in place then I like to use a rig tightening tool to ensure everything is pulled firmly into place. It’s better to have a rig fail at this stage than see a potential PB lost at the net! A word of warning… I would always use a tool of some sort to hold the hook when tightening rigs. Most of the accidents involving ‘hooked’ fingers happen right about this time!


Fox Chod bin makes it easy to 'steam' a curve into rigs

Tying ‘chod’ rigs used to be a pain but with the modern hook link materials and storage bins they are much easier to create and keep their ‘curve’ in place ready for use. However it’s worth noting that the original chod rigs used a straight rather than a curved piece of mono and still caught plenty of fish. The modern ‘bristle’ materials also seems to be an improvement on the regular fluorocarbon monofilament once used.  Always make sure the swivel you use can turn freely as this is a critical component of the Chod’s success!

I’ve seen all sort of hooks used to tie Chod rigs but in reality an ‘out turned’ eye ensures the best presentation. A regular hook with the eye turned in towards the hook point when tied to stiff monofilament closes the gap available to effectively hook the fish in my opinion. When tying chod’s I find a shorter hook link of 1 – 3 inches to be the most effective. If I want to extend that then I would use a ‘stiff link’ set-up rather than lengthen the chod itself.


Bottom Baits

A 'stiff' hair created with some shrink tube helps prevent tangles

I usually know in advance which rigs and baits I will be using on any particular water or swim. However it also pays to have them tied with different length hairs to suit different size baits or number of particles that might be threaded in place. When tying bottom baits on rig rings mounted to blow back, Multi-Rig or KD set ups I really rate the use of ‘stiff’ hairs. Not only do these avoid any unnecessary tangles but they seem to ‘pivot’ out of the way when the carp tries to eject the rig. You can either stiffen up regular braid using super glue or pass a piece of stiff tube or shrink tube over the hair as shown. The other alternative is to use a piece of shrink tube to hold the hair along the length of the hook shank (see the photo of Frank Warwick’s rig in Part II). If you wind in and find the sleeve has been pushed back towards the hook eye it will also indicate if you’ve been ‘done’ by a fish.

Critically Balanced Baits

A Hair Gauge helps make consistent rigs

Also called ‘Neutrally Buoyant” or “Wafter” baits they often prove more successful than regular bottom baits since they move freely and are easily sucked up with other baits or particles etc. The key to their success is fishing them on slightly longer hairs and softer or more flexible hook links which can also be part of a combi rig if desired so they move about enticingly. Adding pieces of foam, cork or buoyant plastic imitations to a hair alongside  particles such as maize or tiger nuts can be deadly especially when fished along side a pile of method containing free samples of the same bait. While adding shot or putty to pop-ups can work I really like to take a regular bottom bait boilie and drill it out then puch in a piece of rig foam or cork. Careful trimming of the bait or the foam will bring them to the perfect ‘balance’ point. Try it fished ‘Muzza’ style on a KD rig.


When mounting pop-up boilies on Choddy, 360 and Multi Rigs I want the bait tied ‘tight’ to the rig ring’ and the hook. This avoids any chance of the hair tangling around the hook and since the bait will ‘blow back’ along the hook or the ‘D’ it won’t interfere or prevent the hook from taking hold in the fishes lip. In these cases the baits are either threaded onto dental floss or the floss tied around the outside of the pop-up (to prevent it soaking up water through a hole created by the baiting needle) and then tied in place to the rig ring.

Popped Up Perfectly with the hook point at a 45 degree angle.

Deciding how high to pop the bait off the bottom is an important consideration and how much weight to use as a counter balance another.  In most cases 1-2″ is usually enough to make the bait ‘stand’ out. However if the bottom is covered in light silt or weed then you might want to increase the distance between the hook and the counter weight. On one occasion a buddy cast out his pop-up rig and then remembered he’d forgotten to add any weight to the hook link. Before he could wind in he had a screaming run and landed a cracking 32lb common.  The pop-up was still attached and when we tested the rig in the margin it was floating almost  two feet off the bottom… Think Zigs! As for the amount of counter weight it should certainly be enough to anchor the bait but can be trimmed to create an almost neutral buoyancy bait. Split shot in various sizes work fine but I find tungsten putty allows more critical set ups and if rolled firmly between thumb and forefinger around the hook link material usually stays on better.


pb-products-downforce-shot-on-the-hook-beadsOne of the more interesting modifications to rigs is adding weight to help improve hook-ups. We’ve already talked about adding weight to counteract the buoyancy of a pop-up but adding tungsten putty or split shot on the hook length can help keep the hook point pointing down and into the carps lip. Even with bottom baits.

After many years the shot-on-the-hook rig developed by Frank Warwick is making a comeback. It was originally developed to overcome some rig shy fish while fishing critically balanced & pop-up baits on Birch. Frank used a split shot tied in place on a piece of braid just behind the hook barb. The idea being that the hook point would always be pointed downwards so that it would easily catch on the carps bottom lip. Now specially designed tungsten rubber beads like the ones from PB Products make it very easy to create this rig and to devastating effect!


Finally the angle that the hook sits when popped-up is probably the most critical aspect and should always be tested before casting out. The hook should sit so the point is aimed downwards at a 45 degree angle. This creates a ‘claw’ effect that positions the point perfectly to catch the bottom lip!

Tying baits on with Floss



1. Make a loop with a single over hand. 2. Make a second smaller loop and pass one of the tag ends through it and the large loop in a second over hand. Pull the tag ends to tighten the small loop. You now created a slip knot! 3. Place the boilie inside the big loop and pull the tag ends tight. Most Pop-Ups are slightly softer than regular boilies and I like to tighten the loop so it just ‘dents’ but does not cut into the surface. 4. Tie the bait to the rig ring on your hook rig with a couple of over hand knots and tighten. Trim the ends to leave 1/4 inch or so. 5. Carefully flame the tag ends so they melt into a ‘blob so the knot won’t come loose’. I like to tie up a few baits ready for use and soak them a few minutes in water. The baits will swell up and the tighten the loop making them nice & secure. Job done!

Testing Rigs

The 'palm' test...

I’m not sure how effective a test dragging the baited rig across the palm of your hand might be in reality but it should at least give you some idea of how your rig will work in practice. If the rig is set up properly then it should ‘flip’ and turn so that the point catches in the fleshy part of your palm as you pull the hook link over the edge of your hand. It is also vitally important to see how your rig ‘sits’ on the bottom.  If the water is clear and not too deep you can simply drop your rig in at the waters edge and see how it lies on the bottom or pops ‘up’. If not then a bucket or bait bowl of water will usually suffice. Take a look at how the bait is presented and how the rig lays on the bottom. A few minutes spent making a few adjustments is time well spent for the hours sat behind the rods waiting in anticipation.

Going the Distance and Preventing Tangles…

Fishing at range presents a number of issues not least of which is ensuring that your baited rig ends up sitting on the bottom with the correct presentation. The longer the hook link length then the more risk there is of the whole thing getting tangled during the cast.

There is nothing worse than winding in a rig and finding the hair wrapped around the hook or even around the lead… especially if you’ve been getting a few beeps and bumps and wondering why they’ve not developed into full blown run. The same can happen if a leaf or the debris gets caught on the hook point (often a problem if leaves etc are floating on the surface or in the water column as the rig sinks to the bottom).

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help

TripleBoiliePVAmesh1. Always ‘feather’ the cast just before the rig hits the water. This will help straighten out the hook link material away from the lead and prevent the lead be ‘knocked’ out of a safety clip. It will also minimize the risk of the lead hitting and damaging the hook point.

2. Wrap a PVA nugget around the hook and hook point or use bait samples in a PVA mesh wrapped around the hook (make sure the hook point is still exposed ).

3. If you use a PVA stick the hook can be lightly pushed through the mesh and back out again. I avoid ‘burying’ the hook in the stick because I don’t want the point to get stuck in one of the pieces of bait!

4. Stiff hook link material and / or rig tubing will help ‘kick’ the hook out and away from the lead.

5. I now remove the swivel from most of my leads and use a kwik link attachment covered with a piece of silicone tube. This not only makes changing or removing the lead quick and easy but also reduces the chance of the hook link getting caught. And before you ask I have not noticed any issues with line twist as a result of removing the swivel!

Helicopter Rigs were designed to maximize long distance casts without tangles. The term ‘helicopter’ came from the idea that the hook link could spin around the leader without becoming caught up. Almost any ‘rig’ can be used but ideally it should use a stiff hook link material so that it creates a ‘boom’ to keep the hook away from fouling the leader.  It is critical to ensure the rig and any bead. can slide off the leadcore or heli-leader in the event of a break off otherwise the carp could be condemned to suffer a lingering death while dragging a heavy lead around. One aspect of heli-rigs that is often overlooked is placing some tubing or one of the ready made buffer tubes between the lead and the rig swivel ring.  This will not only stop the hook point hitting the lead but also provide a cushion when playing a fish.

Make sure the hook point does not get covered by a piece of your stick mix!

I’m not a fan of ‘slack’ line fishing and unless I’m fishing over weed much prefer to keep at least some tension in the main line. That way I’m in direct contact with the fish and there is no chance of it kiting off and into a snag before I can doing anything about it. However there is no reason you can’t use a back lead or that the hook link and leader should not be either pinned down or at least following the bottom contours. The reasons are, in my mind anyway, relatively simple. When carp are feeding over the hook rig I don’t want it spooking them or being ‘blown’ around all over the place and potentially tangling. Even with bottoms baits I like to add some tungsten putty in a couple of places along the hook link. If you imagine the principals of securing a boat to an anchor where a length of chain helps the anchor stay in place then using leadcore or one of the ready made tungsten coated leaders you will ensure everything stays in place. It will also help minimize the risk of a carp bumping into the line and being spooked or giving false bite indications.

Only One Choice?

Just a couple of ways to fish the Multi-Rig

So if I only had the choice of one rig… it would have to be the one shown above. It has not only accounted for an incredible number of big fish but has resulted in very, very few hook pulls or dropped fish.  In the photo the Multi Rig is tied with a #6 hook with a 16mm pop-up boilie tied to a 6″ combi-rig link. If I was using a bigger or double hook baits then I’d certainly opt for a #4 or even #2 hook. Of course the beauty of the Multi Rig is the ability to fish it with a variety of baits and set-ups. With a bottom bait a stiff hair can be tied to the rig ring and fished blow back style or pulled tight to the hook eye like a KD rig. It is also easy to swap out a hook or change baits pre-tied on rig rings by simply passing the loop back over the hook point.

The loop connection on the hook link rather than a swivel makes it easy to thread on a PVA stick if required & I invariably have at least 4 rigs ready baited ready (for two rod set ups) to swap out when I land fish or need to recast.  The silicone sleeve cover that goes over the kwik link will likely be replaced with one of the tapered sleeves now made for the purpose and helps ‘kick’ the hook link out and away from the lead. Speaking of the lead… I cut off the swivels from most of my leads and use a running rig clip covered with silicone sleeve. This helps minimize tangles and the lead can be easily removed for storing the rods at the end of a session. I’m a big fan of the ready made safety and helicopter leaders and for 90% of my fishing use the 36″ fast sinking (tungsten coated) models. They really pin everything down on the bottom and keep the mainline away from feeding fish.

ET12-Snag-Safe-Lead-ClipInstead of a bolt set up I now prefer a sliding lead of 3.75 oz (on a 3.25 test curve rod) with a Korda Run Rig Rubber or Enterprise Running Lead Snag Safe Clip. This set-up gives me a lot more feedback at the bobbin and the confidence to hit even the smallest line movement. When fished on a relatively tight line (rather than a ‘slack’ line) any run is ‘on’ the bait runner almost immediately (once the fish feels the bait runner drag it creates an immediate ‘bolt’ effect) which not only helps prevent the fish going too far but also drives the hook home.  Over the past few years it has resulted in well over a hundred thirties and while most dutifully tore off  line there have been enough, especially in the colder months, that gave only slightest movement at the bobbin to convince me of the effectiveness of this set-up.



So there you have it. This is just a summary of the rigs that I’ve used successfully here in North America. It is by no means an extensive list and you will find many more rigs on the internet and in carp magazines with all manner of complexity and claims. As I’ve already said before, the more simple the rig is to tie then the less chance there is of making a mistake. But no matter which rig you end up using it is always important to tie them correctly and to think about how it applies to the bottom you are fishing and the bait presentation you need.

And of course once you have got them hooked that’s the hard part done right?

Tight Lines!

Record Carp in North America

Just how big do carp grow in North America?

That’s a question Steve Broad (editor of UK Carpworld magazine) posed to me while we chatted at the Zwolle back in February 2015. Carpworld’s International section had just carried a picture of Daniel Slaby’s stunning 56lb 4oz common caught from a lake in Michigan. Steve mentioned he had also received photos of another 50lb plus fish purporting to be the new USA carp ‘record’ and it was this which had prompted our discussion.

Daniel Slaby 5604
Daniel Slaby’s stunning 56lb 4oz common
Adam Cieplik with a 53lb 8oz common
Adam Cieplik 53lb 8oz common

Unfortunately there is no easy answer. In many respects we, as carp anglers, have barely scratched the surface of the extensive & often vast waters over here. When I moved to New England and Connecticut in 1994 I was simply overwhelmed by the number of places that held carp. Only a few were being actively fished by just a handful of expats and some dialed in local guys. We simply didn’t have time to scout them all out! In fact it took me almost 15 years to fish a 160 acre water barely 20 minutes from my home because there were so many other options to chose from. In those heady days an upper twenty still created plenty of excitement but it wasn’t long before a few of us found some waters that would consistently produce thirties and even a very occasional forty. This size range is still typical for many waters however a few areas have been ‘discovered’ that produced some truly exceptional fish in recent years. While some reported captures and weights have been rightly questioned over their accuracy there are now several authenticated captures of some stunning mirrors approaching 50lbs and a handful of commons that have come close to or even broken the magical 50lb barrier.

Pawel Salomon 55lb 6oz
Pawel Salomon 55lb 6oz

However we have still not seen anything approaching the size and numbers of 50, 60 and even 70lb plus carp that appear on a weekly basis in the European angling media. There have been no formal stockings (with a few exceptions of some escaped or transplanted Israeli carp raised for live bait) since carp were originally distributed through out North America in the mid 1800’s. At that time these early introductions were intended to be bred and raised to feed the rapidly growing population but poor aquaculture practices and a preference for other food sources soon saw people grow tired of the idea. Since then carp have spread through out North America and become naturalized in many river systems and adjacent lakes. These wild fish are almost entirely dependent on natural food sources so are rarely found in the sizes or stocking densities typical of many European waters. Even with the growth in European and other styles of carp fishing in North America over the past decade I rarely, unless planned, encounter other carp anglers and usually find I can have an entire body of water to myself.


One man’s trash is another mans treasure…

Unfortunately the carp’s amazing ability to spread its range through floods and interconnected water ways has resulted in it being labeled ‘invasive’. Although after 200 years, and as has been applied to other introduced species like the brown trout, ‘naturalized’ is a more accurate term. If you combine this spread with a remarkable ability to survive polluted or altered waterways as a result of the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century then it is no wonder that the humble carp became the scapegoat for the demise of native species of fish, water plants and even wildfowl. Even in more recent & supposedly enlightened times several state fishery bodies continue to blame carp for increased turbidity and loss of vegetation while other environmental factors such as agricultural run-off and increased silting from water abstraction or dams remain overlooked.

North America possibly has a larger biomass of carp then the rest of the world combined. The culmination of decades of misinformation and their supposed impact on the environment has lead to open warfare on them in many USA states. Almost 1.5 Million pounds of carp were landed commercially for sale as food or fertilizer in 2013 alone and the state of Utah has already removed more than 13 million pounds of carp from Utah Lake in an attempt to return to its once ‘pristine’ condition. However it’s worth noting that this lake was impacted by the damming of the Jordan River in 1872 (shortly before carp were introduced) and suffered significant water abstraction, pollution from raw sewerage effluent until the 1950’s as well as industrial and agricultural run-off since. Even the claim to carp ‘muddying’ the water in has been subject to question as the shallow depth of Lake Utah makes it prone to wind & wave action stirring up the silt. So it’s no wonder it is no longer pristine or able to support anything other than the remarkably hardy carp!

In most states commercial netting operations together with spearing, snagging and shooting with bow and arrow are all legal methods of ‘fishing’ for carp further serving to denigrate its status in many folks eyes.



Bryan-Foote-lake Nacimiento-CA-Carp-6704
California bow record at 67.40 lb

Retail hunting and fishing giant Bass Pro Shops once again sponsored the US Open Bowfishing tournament in June of 2015. This three day event centered around their store in Springfield, Missouri where 275 teams of 4 persons took to the water at night in boats equipped with high power lighting to spot & shoot fish in up to 5 feet of water. In addition to various sponsors prizes there were also cash payouts for the biggest 20 fish killed including $5,000 for the biggest fish and a $10,000 side pay out for a state record. As the outcome focused on the biggest 20 fish it was estimated that each team will shoot & kill between 40-50 big carp which means they will be slaughtering a staggering 12,000-14,000 specimen fish from just 5 waters. At the previous tournament over 32,000 pounds of fish were killed in just one night. This is just one of many tournaments that take place every year around the USA and since bowfishing literally ‘targets’ the biggest fish the impact on a potential record fish water can be devastating. The biggest carp killed was a 60.8 pound grass carp and the overall champions 20 biggest carp weighed 393.66 pounds winning them $25,000.




USA Record Carp?

Paul Hunt's 50lb 9oz St Larry common
Paul Hunt’s 50lb 9oz St Larry common

As for the official recognition of a USA national record carp the simple answer is that none exists. Each of the US 50 states maintains its own list of record fish. Some like Oregon, New Mexico and Maine do not even recognize carp while others do not draw a distinction between fish caught on rod & line or those killed by other methods such as spearing or bow-fishing. In many US states claiming a record requires the fish to be killed or transported to an official weigh station which for responsible catch & release anglers is simply a non-starter. While traveling the world in search of big carp Tony Davis-Patrick (‘Globetrotter’) captured a 52lb common while fishing with the legendary Bernie Haines on the St Lawrence river back in the late nineties. Amazingly Tony’s fish would still hold the record today had it been claimed . Fortunately forward thinking states like Connecticut have responded to our requests for a change in regulations to allow potential records to be weighed at the place of capture on certified scales and the claim submitted together with independent witness statements and photographs. That bold decision has allowed two records to be claimed by catch and release anglers since 2011 including the current record caught Mike Hudak’s 43lb 12oz common from the Connecticut River in 2013.


USA State Carp Records:

USA Carp Records 2014

Matt Janiszweski with his 53lb common
Matt Janiszweski with his 53lb common

The biggest carp on any state record list is a 75lb fish caught by Curtis Wade from Pelahatchie Lake in Mississippi back in 1963. Unfortunately there are no photographs or details to determine if this fish was actually a Cyprinid carp rather than a grass or Big Head carp (which are known to reach weights in excess of 90lb). There are three other state records which have carp listed in excess of 60lbs. These include a 67lb 10oz 47” long common which was killed by bow & arrow in 2011 from C.J. Strike Reservoir, Idaho; a 61lb 8oz common which was speared by Dale France in Wolf Lake Michigan in 1974 and lastly in Virginia the records show a 60lb common was killed with an arrow from a private pond in 1970. There is also a remarkable You Tube video that shows what looks like a large, very spawn bound mirror caught (then released) on rod & line in Idaho that was claimed to have weighed 65lb although there is no official verification of the weight. States like Wisconsin even have two sets of records. One for rod & line (57lb 2oz) captures as well as other methods such as bowfishing (59lb 2oz). One of the more recently authenticated big carp was that killed by a bow-hunter in California in 2013 and weighed in at 67.40 lb.



Idaho ’65lb’ Mirror Video


Unofficial Records…

The Carp Anglers Group of North America maintains a list of ‘unofficial’ catch & release records that have been reliably verified by its members. Since these fish have been caught & released most will never be documented as official state records. However as this list grows it will serve as a more up to date and likely more accurate indicator of the true size of common and mirror carp being caught on rod & line in North America.

Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the official state record carp data is the number of 50lb plus carp (blue and red colored areas) that have been caught or killed the in states bordering the Great Lakes and the connecting watershed rivers via the Illinois such as the Mississippi, Wabash, Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee.

The growth in catch & release carp fishing in North America is still in its infancy by comparison to the recent rapid growth in Europe.  In the past few years however the number of carp anglers has probably more than doubled in the United States and Canada. The result has been more waters discovered and at least six 50lb fish landed in just the past couple of years. However it is worth noting that three of those six came from the same location in NJ and are most likely the same fish. That leaves just three other documented fifty plus fish from PA, CA and MI. A recent Facebook discussion on where to find 50lb plus carp highlighted several of these areas and also sparked much speculation on just how big carp in North America might grow. As with all things fishing related be ready for a few surprises as the number of carp anglers grows steadily in the next few years!



Food for thought…

While North America hosts some huge expanses of water such as the Great Lakes it is worth remembering that size isn’t everything… A small 3 acre ‘pool’ in Great Britain produced two British records before the mass baiting era became fashionable and helped carp grow way beyond the natural biomass.  Dick Walker’s 44lb and Chris Yates 51lb (1980) commons came from the legendary Redmire at a time when most other waters rarely gave up fish half those sizes.  It is also worth noting that while everyone talks about the huge amounts of bait going into waters in Europe, that can potentially help carp grow bigger, the most recent UK record caught in January 2106 of 68lb 1oz (from 20 acre Cranwell Lake) was only ONE pound heavier than the previous record caught in 2008. Food for thought when thinking about searching out the potential big fish waters here in North America.


Record Payouts!

The 50+ from the CT River.
The 50+ from the CT River.



Owner of Big Carp Tackle David Moore has been involved in hosting some of the earliest catch & release carp tournaments in the USA. These include the World Championships held on the mighty St Lawrence River won by Lee Jackson & Ian Chilcott in 2011 and Tim Paisley & Steve Briggs in 2005. In 2006 Al St Cyr fished one of David’s tournaments and won $250,000 for landing a new state record from Lady Bird Lake in Austin Texas. A year later Al was broke having reportedly spent it all on wine, women and travel to fish exotic places…

In October 2015 David will be organizing a 5 day tournament on the Connecticut River that includes an optional entry for anglers to win $100,000 if they land a CT state record during the event. About 15 years ago a 50lb common was illegally taken and killed (see photo) from the river so the potential vertainly exists to beat the 43lb 12oz current Connecticut record. If it is broken it will be interesting to see if the winner can match St Cyr’s record spending achievement – watch this space!



December 2016 saw yet another fifty added to the North American list. This stunning 55lb 11oz common was caught (and released) by Luis Montes in California.

Luis Montes with his 55lb 11oz common


As of February 19th 2017 the ‘bar’ has been raised even higher… Luis Montes posted photos of this incredible 62.04lb California common he caught and released. It is certainly one of the biggest ever common carp ever to be caught in North America.

Luis Montes 62.04 003 Luis Montes 62.04 004


Current World Record… Updated Feb 16 2016

When I first wrote this article I simply did not believe a common carp could reach more than about 70 – 75lb in North American waters. There has never been a properly documented fish of such weight being killed or captured over here and little evidence to suggest that a carp of such proportions could attain such a size without the right conditions and a lot of food (i.e. bait) going into the water. However the recent posting of a 43+ Kg (95lb) common caught by Dutch angler Vincent Keetman has certainly given me pause for thought. This stunning fish was caught late last year from Lac du Der in France about 130 miles east of Paris. What makes it particularly interesting is that this is not some small, heavily stocked syndicate water but a very large, publicly accessible man made reservoir of some 11,680 acres created by damming the river Marne in 1974. So while I’m still not convinced that a fish this size might ever exist in North American waters it does not stop me from dreaming…


In the meantime the World current record still stands at 105lb 13oz from Euro Aqua in Hungary caught earlier in 2015 by Thomas Krist from the Czech Republic…. Such a ‘well fed’ venue might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it does serve to show how big carp can grow.