Author: Zach Testa

Dynamite Bait Factory Tour

On a recent trip to England we had the chance to meet our old friends at Dynamite Baits and take a Dynamite Bait Factory Tour of their facility. One of the most impressive places I’ve ever seen. Every bait they produce is made in house including bottling liquids and popups by hand. We’re getting ready for our next container which will have many pallets of all the range of baits from them.

Dynamite Bait Factory Tour

Summit Tackle Distance Sticks!

Being accurate is a crucial part of any seasoned angler’s fishing technique: Summit Tackle Distance Sticks can help.
Our Summit Tackle Distance Sticks have grooves that means your line hugs the sticks to prevent tangles and birds nests, simply measure out your wraps, clip up and hit your chosen spot effectively again and again.
Available in black and stainless steel each with 3 matching small markers and green carry case.

Rippton Bitekeeper Pro Bite Alarms

Rippton Bitekeeper Pro Bite Alarms: Just added some cool little alarms to the website. The Rippton Smart Fishing Gear Bitekeeper Pro alarm sets. They are rechargeable, drop back tone and LED, and they connect to an app on your phone via bluetooth where you can change all the settings, see the battery life, and get bite notifications (a small delay between bite and notification).

Available at:  Rippton Bitekeeper Pro

Guide to entry level “Euro” carp fishing gear

We receive a lot of calls and emails about what gear is needed to start “Euro” carp fishing. There are quite a few terms that can become confusing if you are not familiar with them. The amount of knowledge available on the internet can be overwhelming so I will try to explain the basic carp fishing setup for those interested.

Carp Rods

Carp specific rods range from 9ft– 13ft with the 12ft rods as the “standard” length. They are rated in Test Curve. A test curve is a measurement, in pounds and ounces, of the weight needed to pull a rod tip through a 90-degree angle. The test curve measurement is subjective and different brands 3.0tc rods will perform differently due to the action of the rod.  This normally ranges from 2.5tc – 4. 0tc. With advances in carbon and design most 3.0tc rods are considered all-rounders. Moving to a higher test curve will allow you to cast heavier weights more effectively. Lighter test curves will offer more enjoyment in playing the fish at the sacrifice of casting weights and distance. Cheaper rods will have a blend of carbon and fiberglass.

Carp rods 


Carp reels fall into two categories; bait runner/free spool and quick drag (QD). Bait Runner/free spool reels have a separate adjustable drag that is activated by a lever or switch. This drag is used after setting the rod down on its holder and allows the fish to take line under light tension. When you turn the handle, it will disengage which switches the reel to it conventional fighting drag. Quick drag reels have one drag system that is controlled by the front drag knob. These reels normally require one or two full turns of the drag knob to go from locked up to “free spool”. Choosing the style of reel is more of a personal preference and one style is not better than the other. The standard size of a carp reel is the 5000 or 6000 series spinning reels.

Bait runner/free spool reels

Quick Drag (QD) reels


The choice of mainline is another personal preference. Braid, monofilament, or fluorocarbon line are the normal choices. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, braid has zero stretch, thin diameter for high strength, and a high price tag. Having no stretch can lead to hook pulls if the drag is not used correctly. Monofilament varies in stretch depending on the brand and their specific design. Most anglers use monofilament as it is the cheapest, most readily available option, and high abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon offers excellent abrasion resistance, almost disappears underwater, and is supposed to sink faster than the other two. The downside is the price tag and some handling issues when fishing at longer ranges. I recommend using monofilament when starting out for the ease of use and cost. For breaking strains I suggest using the heaviest you can get away with. If you are not fishing long range (100+ yards) Using 18-20lb mono line will give you the greatest chance. If you are fishing around snags/rocks/rivers heavier line will also land you more fish.


Braided Mainline

End Tackle and Rigs

This refers to rigs, hooks, swivels, weights (leads), and those type items. There are a huge number of variables, brands, and styles when it comes to choosing which end tackle is your favorite and works for you. I have included a link that covers the basic hair rig and the components you need for them.

End Tackle / Rig Tutorial


One of the best baits to start with is regular sweet corn or other particle baits. Most people have maize available at feed stores for a few dollars for 50lb. You need to prepare the maize to release sugars and make it more attractive to the fish. This is done by soaking and boiling or using a pressure cooker. Here is a link to an article by Iain Sorrell about particle baits

Iain’s article

If you have done any research into carp fishing you will have come across boilies. These are basically boiled dough balls. While boilies can be and are very effective they are not something I suggest to people just starting out. The cost and amount normally needed to make them work at their peak is normally not something people just looking to get the rush of catching fish will want to pay. My advice is to find a bait you are confident in and use that until you are ready to expand your knowledge of baits.

Boilies for sale

Bite Alarms

As carp angling has progressed the use of bite alarms has become the standard. They offer you the opportunity to do other things while fishing by not having to focus on the rod tip or trying to hear your drag when you get a run. They are great when taking your family or kids fishing as you can do other things while having the rods in the water. There are many different brands, price points, and features. Some of them have a wireless transmitter that sets off the remote/receiver when you have a run which gives you greater flexibility when fishing.

Bite Alarms for sale

Rod Pods and Bank sticks

These are used to hold your rods off the ground. A rod pod can be used on any surface such as dirt, gravel, mud, or concrete. They normally hold 2 to 4 rods and have adjustable legs and buzz bars giving you different ways of setting up your rods. Most pods do not include front rod rests or butt rest. The front of your rod will rest on your bite alarm or front rod rest. The butt section of the rod is held by a rear rod rest or butt rest. Bank sticks are another option if you are not fishing on rock hard ground or concrete because you push them into the ground. You can also get away with using 1 bank stick for the alarm and leave the butt section resting on the ground. Bank sticks are made with many different lengths and materials.

Rod Pods for sale

Bank sticks for sale

Rod rests for sale

Fish Care Gear

One of the most important and underused gear in the all of the fishing world. Landing nets, mats/cradles, and weigh slings are not only used to keep the fish safe while out of the water they also allow the fish to be free of dirt and debris for great trophy photos. These items, while made for carp anglers, can be used for any species of fish big and small. They work great for Catfish, Pike, and Muskie. We have covered the basics of fish care and handling in the following article.

The Basics of Fish Handling

Hopefully you have learned about the entry level gear for starting your journey into “euro” carp fishing. While you don’t have to have 100% of the items I have mentioned most people that become interested in carp fishing collect them over time.

Classic Carp Fishing Video from Bernie Haines

It has taken me some time to finally get this video uploaded for everyone to see. This was produced in 1995. I had to have it converted from VHS to DVD. It’s quite old and the quality is not the best however it has been enshrined in my memory since it was released. Carp fishing at its finest! Rest in peace Bernie, you are certainly missed!

NEW PB Koi! Suburban Banks (Video)

There are a few memories that stand the test of time and I can remember very clearly. Due to a traumatic brain injury that occurred while deployed to Iraq during my time in the Marines my memory is not the greatest however there are moments that are so impactful they are solidified for the rest of my life.

This is one of those memories….

Monday October 16th. While driving around with Edwin I remembered of being told by my neighbor of a lake that contained a “large orange fish” and decided that we should make the drive to have a walk around. At this time I have walked around it at least a dozen times and have yet to see anything other than turtles and some small bass. After a lap or two around the lake Edwin spots something in the large weed beds which turns out to be one of the biggest koi I have ever seen. The koi had his shoulders pushed up through the weeds and you could make out that it was quite large.  We purposefully spooked it so we could get a better look. In the crystal clear water it has a deep, bright, glistening orange color like I’ve never see. After seeing the entire fish we estimated that it was around the low 20’s in weight.

We follow the orange koi around to see where it likes to hangout and during this we see something else, something even more exciting. A bright gold koi has his back out of the water just like the orange one before. The adrenaline starts to get flowing as we spook this golden koi. The golden koi is quite a bit larger than the orange ones and we estimated it to be a high 20 or scraper 30! I spent the rest of the day and night knowing that I have to catch these koi. We don’t get many chances for “target” fish here in the US and these just became mine.

Tuesday October 17th. Like any other Tuesday I get to work and can’t get the koi off my mind. One of the perks of the job is leaving to go fishing on random days. The weather was beautiful so Edwin and I skip out and head to see the koi. We decide that with the way they are acting stalking would be the best option. Using my 9ft 2.75tc Scope rod I tie on a long hair rig with Nash Combi link, a size 6 Nash Twister, Yellow Korda kicker, and a 15mm Nash Citruz Cultured hookbait. Edwin readies his rig and we agree that we will walk in opposite direction around the lake and depending on which fish you see first that person gets to try for it. After spotting the fish we spend the next few hours going back and forth between them trying to get one to take the bait. They both had their backs out of the water feeding in the heavy weed mats. We were dropping our baits just below the surface into small holes in the weeds and waiting.

The calm before the storm!

The photo above is only a few minutes before absolute chaos erupts! As the golden koi inches towards my rig my heart is pounding and my body is shaking. I watch as the line quickly slides into the gap in the weeds. I raise the rod and connect into the fish. I have never been more thrilled to set the hook than I was at that moment and even more so that it was all captured on film! The fish charged to the bottom off the weeds and stormed off into the lake. I knew I was in trouble so I had to wade out waist deep in the silty weeds to free the line all the while I can feel the power of the koi through the line in my hands. I realized our initial guess on his size was off when he swam only a few short feet in front of me. This was an exceptionally large koi. After a very nerve-racking battle it ends with the koi safely in the net. I stood there for a few minutes in disbelief of what just happened. After calming down we get the scales readied and zeroed. That moment of clarity comes when Edwin reads off….36 pounds,  mere ounces off from my PB. In this few moments with the fish safely in the retention sling we get call David and Jake to come witness as well as my wife and kids. Enough of the story as the video explains the rest! On with the photos!! At the time of writing this we cannot think of a larger koi being caught in the United States.

The second part of this story is Edwin’s as he, later the same day, captured the orange koi!

Order of The Carp – 2017 Austin Team Championship

With another great event in the record books and a sliver of free time, it’s time to put together my (Zach) 2017 Austin Team Championship experience. This year I was teamed up with fellow Big Carp News contributor Evan Cartabiano. Having never fished with him before is a little nerve wracking as you never know how you’ll get along with someone on the banks. I feel that we hit it off pretty well and I’ll enjoy further time on the bank with him. The Big 6 format I think is a big improvement over an overall weight as it give everyone a chance to pull out a win or upset/comeback. It’s not as daunting going into the second day with only 1 or 2 fish on the board because a good second day can put you right in the top!

Due to family commitments I was not able to get down a day early so that left me driving straight thru and arriving after 5 pm on Wednesday the 22nd. Here’s a tip for anyone that is heading down. DO NOT go to the Walmart that is near the hotel to get your fishing license!!! I do it every year and I now average probably over 2 hours to get a license. This year the system was “down” and I had to go to a different store. Last year it took over an hour to find someone in the store that knew how to do it. Every year I think I’ll be fine going there and every year I get the same results and next year I will not be trying it! After securing my license and getting back to the hotel it was time to mingle and partake in a few drinks before hitting the bed for the early peg draw in the morning.


Day 1.

1st peg drawn. We pull the old power plant, a peg I have caught fish before (broke my pb 35lb 9oz) and if worked can produce some decent fish. 2nd peg drawn is 18. The is a down from I35 bridge and is in a pretty unassuming area behind some luxury apartments. This is the peg we return and ends up being put back a handful of times. It also ends up producing the big carp and 1st place in the event for the team that finally chose it!! Talk about upsetting. We grab our stuff and head to the old power plant. It’s not a long haul to carry any gear and the car is withing 50 yards so it is convenient. As the sun rises Town lake returns to its river roots and is ripping current. The issue with this peg is that it’s a narrow area and we needed 6+ ounces to hold bottom as well as being loaded with snags. I lost more tackle in the first few hours than I lost all of last year. Evan managed to pick up a few grass carp from out of the current while I caught a lot of tree limbs and rocks. He struck with the first carp of the day at a lovely 23lb even. After having a bit of time to think I decided to take a rod to place it on our far right next to the old power plant building. There was an area of slack water and we knew it would have to produce a fish. After placing my rig and some bait in the area the wait was on. The rest of the afternoon was pretty quite by us and while we were sitting on the grassy hillside chatting away we hear a faint bite alarm and had forgotten that we had put the lone rod just at the edge of hearing range. The area the rod was in was quite tight for 12ft rods and I had regretted not leaving my 10ft Nash Scopes in my van. After a pretty stressful fight we got the carp netted and weighed in at 21lb even. It sure felt good to get a fish on the board and know now that I would not blank (unlike last year!).

We did the normal BCT thing after the first day and headed to the Clay Pit with a few friends. Luckily this was a pretty easy, hilarious (thanks to Mark), and sober evening which is not always the case at the ATC. We managed to get our heads down relatively early for the next morning.

Day 2.

This morning we pulled Peg 18 again, which we put back the prior morning, and was 1st place after day one. We also drew one of the I-35 swims which had zero action the day prior. It was obvious which one that we would choose. Peg 18 is a nice easy peg to fish. Located behind a luxury apartment complex with a nice running/walking path makes for easy access. The 2 “issues” would be the lack of a bathroom unless you went quite a walk to the gas station and the kayak rental place down the bank which could be a hassle if it were the weekend. We only had one lady get into our lines which for Austin is amazing. We had a few fish crashing at distance while we were setting up and we managed to hold a few in the area when we started baiting. I had the first run of the day pretty quickly. Just as Evan scooped my catch into the net his rod peeled off. Now I had to scramble to unhook and retain my fish while Evan battled his. We were totally prepared with only setting up one net as well. In quick time we had Evans fish netted and retained. We were lucky because as we netted the second fish Kevin just happened to be walking by so we were ready for photos. My fish definitely had been eating bait while swimming around as it decided to relieve itself not only inside the cradle but all over my arm when I raised it for the photo. The morning looked quite promising with a brace of 20’s. Unfortunately no matter what we tried we could not get another run and spent the day watching the scenery and talking about all things carpy and some things that weren’t.


The fishing had come to an end and we headed back to the hotel to regroup and freshen up for the banquet. The restaurant was pretty awesome and I’ll have to go back one day. The hospitality is one of the selling aspects of the whole event as everyone feels like family. I wish I could have more positive things to say however I started to suffer from an extremely painful migraine and headed back to the hotel to crash as early as I could. I am positive that everyone had a blast at the banquet and after, I unfortunately could not join them.

All in all it was another awesome year at the ATC and the organizers were top notch again, like always! We hope to see you down there next year!