I have never caught a single fish on a pop-up but have had quite good success on good quality bottom baits. I like to keep it simple and stick to my old faithful (size 8 longshank on Mantis hinged hair rig in a small PVA bag with pellet) while my friend uses pop ups and I normally out fish him at least 6 -1.
I just wondered what ratio of your fishing time do you spend using pop-ups compared to bottom baits and generally what are your results? Also, what is your favourite/most deadly rig? I look forward to trying some of your fishing techniques.
Well done - R (UK).
Firstly, well done on your chosen fishing tactics, if you're out-fishing your friend consistently then you must frequently be doing the right things!
To answer your question...I would estimate that I use pop ups about 15% of the time. I do sometimes use them for balancing a heavier hook with a bottom bait (as in a snowman rig). Otherwise, I mainly use bottom baits, or bottoms with small pieces of foam to create good rig buoyancy so the hook can fly deep into a carp’s mouth. Having the hook go further into a carp’s mouth gives it more time to turn and grab hold before the fish blows the rig out of its mouth. I think many people would be shocked at how many times their hook bait is picked up and spat out as many carp test foods before eating them. A rig needs to be designed to give the hook maximum chance to grab a hold in the flesh as this will improve catch rate for carp. Using the foam with bottom baits is great because I can cut different coloured pieces of the same size, and try to assess what colour they tend to go for in the lake I'm fishing. Also, the foam can be soaked in different glug flavours for extra attraction.
Pop ups can be great but they need to be used in certain situations, such as in, or between weed beds. Pop ups presented on gravel just wont look natural to the majority of passing carp, and as a result, wont catch as many as a bottom bait presented on a hard bed like gravel. We could say the same for fishing on silt. Although, in very soft silt, they may work better than on gravel simply because the bait can still lay on top of the silt and be visible to any passing fish, whereas a bottom bait may be dragged into soft silt from the weight of the lead and rig and thus, rendered invisible to fish. Also, in soft silt, the current or even the fish themselves will cause silt particles to waft up and cloud the area which does affect line and end tackle visibility, thus a pop up may not look like its a few inches off the bottom in that situation, but will still show up very clearly to fish.
You may well find that your method of PVA bagging with a bottom bait has many benefits:
1. Hardly ever causes tangles
2. Always gives good presentation
3. Provides a larger, and easily visible baited area from having a small mass of bait close together
4. Tight bundles of bait will help cover parts of the rig’s end tackle.
All these points together probably help to make PVA bags a very good fishing tactic. Although, be aware that many other anglers will probably be using this type of fishing method, therefore, it may be harder for you to hook into the bigger fish in the lake. I think the bigger, wiser fish will have been used to seeing these small clusters of bait patches and learned to associate them as possible danger. In such a case, it may be better to chase after the bigger fish using single hook baits, especially if you have someone close to you who is baiting heavily. Many big carp will watch fish feeding on big baited areas from a small distance away, assessing the level of danger. This is why many anglers will catch the bigger fish away from baited areas.
I have caught some big twenty pound carp using single bait tactics when fishing a peg next to a guy who was boating out huge amounts of bait. He caught plenty of small fish and I only caught two carp, but they were twenties!
My favourite rig would be my balanced hemp rig or a similar type. One that has a supple braid end that sinks very slowly so there's less chance of it catching debris and the buoyancy allows the bait to be taken into the mouth easily. Although, I would always make sure the braid hook link and all other parts match the bottom in my swim. This is more important than most other things. Or if presented in a PVA bag, I sometimes try to match the lead/braid/links to the colour of the bait being used.
I hope this carp fishing advice helps you for the next trip out to catch those tricky carp!
Carp Fishing Tactics Team
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Common Baiting Tactics When Fishing
The Various Carp Bait used to Catch Bigger Carp
When to use Pop-ups or Bottom Bait for Carp Fishing
How to complete a Baiting Campaign on Lakes & Ponds
The Basic Carp Fishing Baits Used to Catch Large Carp
Fishing Tactics when Fishing for Carp during Long-stay Sessions