Picture the scene - I’m sitting in an office in the centre of London, bored out of my skull, wishing I was sitting behind my carp rods anywhere and then I stumble across your website. Wow is all I can say! As an experience sea angler, who only took up carp fishing two years ago, I have been glued to your website for the past two days. In fact I have read every article from start to finish! I would like to congratulate you on such a detailed, informative and easy to use website. The pictures are just fantastic and make it such a comprehensive guide to someone like me who is frightened of using pop up baits. I can only imagine the effort that must have gone into it!
Anyway, I have a question if I may…
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 techniques.
Well done Russell (UK).
Sorry for the delay, I've just got back from a fishing trip. Thanks for the positive comments on the site. I'm due to add more content soon, and actually looking at doing video content on the site and on YouTube to drive traffic. Well done on your ideas, if you're out-fishing your mate constantly then you must be doing the right things more often!
To answer your question...I would guess 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 buoyancy so the hook can fly deep into a carp’s mouth. Having the hook go further into a carp’s mouth gives the hook plenty of chances to grab a hold before it 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 when they test baits. 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, so I can try to assess what colour they tend to go for in the lake I'm fishing. Also, the foam can be soaked in different glugs 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, won’t 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 simply because they can still lay on top of the silt and be visible to 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, when fish swim close to soft silt it will cause particles to waft up and cloud up the area, thus a pop up may not look like its balancing mid-water 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 get 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. Will help cover parts of the rig’s end tackle, to a certain degree.
All these points together probably help to make PVA bags a very good 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 a 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 for the reasons explained above. 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 Team
Russel replies back…….
Thank you for your reply - it was most interesting. The reason being is that you have confirmed my suspicions by saying that you use pop ups only 15% of the time. I have used pop - ups a few times and never caught a single fish on them but would agree that there is a time and a place when they should work.
As a hardcore fisherman I have all the gear to make the pop up rigs, but lack the confidence to ever use them. After your email, I’m still not sure... Your email has though added to my confidence in bottom baits as I never fail to catch on them.
I agree with your benefits of PVA bags, and I would also add that they are very good for weedy lakes (like my syndicate) with a 3 inch rig as they smash through the weed and present the bait perfectly. Short rigs work fantastically well in weed because as soon as the fish levels up, bang they are hooked in the bottom lip. In fact, I have had over 250 fish this year on bags which consists of many high doubles, thirty five 20lb+ fish, three 30lb+ and a 61lb catfish. Because the longshanks are just so sharp and I think quite awkward to eject as soon as they prick, the fish just bolt. I have also caught tons and tons of bream and tench using this method! The funny thing is that the biggest fish I have caught this year and only the fish not on a bag was a 38lb 14oz (lake record) on a PVA stringer, with half a pineapple bollie and a piece of pop up corn on a normal size 8 longshank hair rig. Adding to this I would say that 99% of my pick ups were screamers but funnily enough the only notable exception was my biggest, which gave me one bleep! I watched the bobbin slowly moving up and down an inch, so I hit it and it was fish on! From this I strongly agree with you that the older/larger fish are more weary/intelligent, as she had defiantly felt the hook prick and was sitting stationary trying to spit the hook. Shame she had just spawned otherwise she would have gone 40!!
I also agree that a method ie bags can become like a warning beacon if they are used regularly, but I think that if you use a quality bait, most time they just cant resist!! I think that due to the high cost of the PVA bags and the 3.5lb test curve rods generally needed, I have seldom seen them used at the lakes I fish. All in all, I have totally fallen for carp fishing even though I do fish some extremely pressured waters which are fished 365 days a year which can be tough. The thing I really hate is where anglers turn up, spod for 2 hours and then fall asleep behind their rods. Saying that, I managed to have 6 twenties and 2 thirties in a 48 hour session on bags while at one of these places recently. I firmly believe that the spodding just ruins your swim for the day and pushes them into other swims . I am more than happy for you to put my question up on your site - I would be grateful if you could take my surname off though. With regards to the site, could you put a properly explained zig rig up there? Never really used them, but would like to when the suns up and they are on the top. Due to the quality of your pics, would love to see how you do it.
Kind Regards Russell
PS - here’s my tricky 38 mentioned above... before you say "shame he’s not hold in up right" - my excuse is that I had the two head bailiffs taking the pictures!!! PPS - I take it you go to France in pursuit of the monster carp - anywhere you can recommend?