A float rod and line is all you really need to catch even difficult carp.
We arrive at the lake around 10am, the day looks promising with a light S/W breeze, and no rain planed. I explain, we are to do a circuit of the lake taking just our hats, sun glasses and some bait, today it’s pellets and a few handfuls of corn and hemp . You comment on how few other anglers are fishing the lake, and I explain, it’s because there are five lakes and all are a lot easier to catch carp on. Today just one angler is set up fishing for roach and skimmers, we say hello as we pass, he responds by saying; “good luck with the carp gents.”
There are around 30 swims on the water, all are individual and none encroach on the other. It’s surrounded with trees and bushes that overhang the water. We see no fish in the first swim I show you, but put a little bait (20 pellets and 50 grains) under a tree to our left. You mention on it not being much bait, I tell you I’m not really trying to feed the fish, but just get them to stop, and head down, I’m not feeding them as such. Pellets leave a sent trail even after they are gone I’ve discovered (match-men know this) its a kind of dust off them that lingers.
You notice a fish a bright ghost carp in the weed as we move to the next swim, as we watch we see several carp a mirror and two long golden common, this is a swim I’ve had a few fish from in the past, so we give it a little bait, but not too close to the fish and move on. Each swim we pick (six today ) gets a little bit of bait, those fish you spotted were the only fish we have seen on our circuit. Back at the car we make a coffee as I set up two rods, both 10′ Free-Spirt 2.75lb, ideal for float fishing and ledgering, today we go with a float on one, and a simple large size 6 hook on the other, noting else. One rods has 20lb fluorocarbon on the other 17lb of the same line, it becomes clear why I choose fluro over nylon or braid as we fish.
I put a small 2/3 Guru inline lead on the line after 2 float rubbers have been added, the float is 7” of white peacock quill with a red painted tip. I tie on a size 8 ring swivel that just pushes into the inline lead snugly, but pulls off easy when a fish takes. This in turn becomes a running lead if snagged in the weeds. The little lead also has a small stem that helps prevents tangles. I rarely overhead cast this outfit, but under-arm it and feel the lead down every time. We go to the swim we saw the fish earlier, and I stop, we both crawl to the place I site my chair. I explain the MOST IMPORTANT thing today is, not letting the fish know your fishing for them, its simple, but essential if we want to catch on this intimate little water. I set the float at about 4′ deep and drop it in the edge about one rod length form us, I feel a bump so know the large 14mm pellet should be fishing ok. The float cocks then lays flat being about 6”8” over depth. This is John Wilsons classic flat float method, sadly so underused these days of bolt rigs and bite alarms. The hook-link is formed with a coated braid cut back and a KD rig made with a small size 10s Korda wide gape hook, super strong, but light too.
Nothing happens instantly and after 45 minutes I’m thinking of a move when the float cocks, and dips, its a small tench of about 2lb, nice but not what we are after. It’s often the case on this little water that the small bream and tench encourage the carp to feed. So I drop a tiny handful of pellets on-top of the float and settled back to give it another half hour. Ten minutes later, the float buries and the rod tip and rod is pulled along the grass where I rested it, no need to strike, the carp had hooked itself against the little lead and rod tip. The fish tries to get us in the lilies, but our tackle is just too strong for it, as it turns and rolls we see a bright gold flank of a mirror carp, we guess its around 11lb as we sip it back, the little size 10s barbless coming out in the net. Time for a cup of tea I think? Proper tea, tea-pot and digestive biscuits.
You ask about the fluorocarbon as we have our break? I explain it’s only something I have come to over the past 10 years in truth. I’m persuaded its invisible to the fish, strong, and I can fish it sunk when required, like when I’m ledgering. With a slack line I can watch as it sinks, and I don’t need any additional leaders on the line, it seems to work for me and my rigs/end tackle are super safe for the carp. As its now very hot, I suggest we sit in a swim with shade for a little while, then try a swim I’ve had some success in. This is another margin swim, but a bit deeper. It’s a swim most anglers walk passed, but if you fish with a float, you understand the bottom is clear and slightly deeper.
We get a good hard drop (maybe six feet) second cast and I bait with just few pellets and corn. It’s cooler in the shade now, and we take on liquid, a pint of orange juice and a pot noodle for sustenance. We see carp come in, some swim around our float, cautious but not scared, it’s a good sign. The float knocks and dips, the bream and roach have found our baits. Often I catch a bream or two I explain, and while they can be a bloody pain they are another anglers fish of choice, so all get put back with great care. I recast after 40 minutes finding half the bait being chewed off by small fish. This time an 18mm pellet bait, and that goes down with a good drop too. As soon as the bait settles the float dives, and the tip is pulled around.
This fish seems much bigger, and kites to our left, I reel like crazy trying to keep as tight a line as possible, in-case the little barbless hook falls out. Once under the rod tip it dives and fights like a demon, I fear it could be foul hooked it fights so hard, but finally I see the line is in fact in the mouth. Once landed, I smile with glee as its maybe one of the prettiest carp I’ve ever caught, a true yellow, white and black koi carp of 15lb. We take a quick picture for the blog and our memories then slip it back.
15lb of stunning koi mirror carp, maybe my best ever carp?
As we make our way back to the car, (its 7pm and you have a long drive in front of you) we discuss the days fishing. You tell me that a float is going to be in your tackle box now all the time, and how fishing the one rod, without a buzzer or over-complicated rigs, small hooks and tight leads, could be the way to go on your local carp water. We agree I’ll come with you next time on your water, I’m ever open to learn new tricks and methods.