Catching Carp in Weedy Lakes

Showing Another Weed-caught mirror from Gloucester Lake Bradley'sThis Bradley's Carp Caught in Thick Weed Growth!

Many of the anglers I have met lately seem to avoid fishing in weed, they often prefer to find the clear patches and present a bait. However, I think they’re losing out on some big carp catches as fishing in weed will generally produce more big fish than any other fishing situation. 

Carp love weed and will happily spend most of their time in the green stuff. Weed contains tons of natural food items for carp to eat, such as numerous tiny insects. It also provides some shelter and security for many targeted fish. During the day, weed will provide fish with plenty of oxygen, and as a result, carp will often be located in weed. As the weed provides carp with so many benefits, as well as being a big obstacle for anglers to fish, it’s no wander that they are less cagey when feeding on baits in the weed beds.

When fishing on gravel or a clear patch in between weed, the end tackle, and especially the main line can show up like a sore thumb. This is because the line will have to come through the weed beds awkwardly, and often it comes out at acute angles, which clearly exposes the line for the carp to see. The line is often tight because the weed strands catch it as the weight of the lead falls down onto the clear patch. If you happen to solve this problem by finding a much bigger clear patch then the carp may be too cautious to even approach your nicely presented hook bait. The carp may opt to stay in the safety of the thick weed beds. 


It may seem tricky to fish in the weed itself, but often a bigger risk produces a better reward! When hook baits are presented in the weed, it is much easier for the end tackle and fluorocarbon line to blend in with the surrounding weed so a fish will find it difficult to assess potential danger, and therefore more likely to take your bait.

I wouldn’t fish for carp in the weed during the night. Weed doesn’t provide oxygen in the dark, and as a result, many carp will leave it and probably patrol the margins for food. I always prepare for a different tactic for carp fishing during the night.

Test the Weed Before Setting the Rigs

The trick of fishing for carp in weed is to prepare for how the rig should be designed before casting it into thick weed. It’s not as simple as just placing some rig foam around the hook of any old fishing rig. Effective weed rigs can work much better if you find out more information about the actual weed in front of your swim. 

Try to find out how high, and how thick, the weed is before tying the rig. This can be done by casting in a heavy lead with a big, blank hook tied on the line, and try to pull out a bunch of weed strands. Roughly measure the average length of the weed. You want to create a rig that will allow the hook bait to sit on top of the weed, so the hook link needs to be slightly longer than the weed strands. This will stop the weight of the lead dragging the bait down further into the weed and causing it to mask around the hook point, as well as hiding the bait from sight.

Also, think about how hard it is to pull the lead back out through the weed bed. The thicker the weed, the more you’ll need to use pop-ups for presenting a hook bait. Plus, you’ll probably need to use more PVA foam to slow down the rigs decent. 


Baiting to Catch Carp in Weed

With thick weed, I like to use light particles in a PVA bag so the majority of them rest on top of the weed helping to attract any passing fish. I have also used a pop-up with PVA bagged bottom baits surrounding it. This weed presentation may sound strange, but not many people do this as they believe it’s wrong to have a pop-up over loose bottom baits. However, you’ll be surprised at what you can get away with in weed!

I often use pop-ups for fishing in weed for two main reasons. The buoyancy of the bait helps stop the hook point from digging into the weed itself, and also causes the bait to enter the mouth easier as the carp sucks at it. Also a pop-up won’t fall down and become hidden at the bottom of the weed bed where carp find it difficult to see. 

General Carp Rigs for Fishing in Weed

I would tend to use a supple braid over any kind of stiff material when presenting a bait in weed. I believe a stiff link may cause the bait to catch in the weed rather than settle nicely on top. The only consideration is when I use soft supple nylon line, like a fluorocarbon. This is a great line for blending in amongst the weed.

The length of the hook link will depend on the type of weed present. If Canadian pondweed is abundant then I’ll often use smaller hook links if fishing in small clear patches between the weed. This way there’s less chance of the hook catching on any strands of weed as the rig falls through the water. If fishing INTO Canadian pondweed, then I’ll go for a longer hook link of supple material or mono line, but I’ll make sure the hooklink is longer than the weed depth by doing the test explained above. I will also make sure to surround the hook with PVA nuggets so it doesn’t fall heavily on top of weed.

If silkweed is present I’ll generally use longer hook links so the bait will come to rest nicely on top, especially if I use some rig foam to slow its decent. 

When fishing for carp in weed it is important to keep trying out different presentations until you find something that fools the carp. Do not be afraid to try out new ideas when it comes to hook types, different hook link lengths and materials. If you haven’t received a take for 2 or 3 hours then try a new type of bait presentation. If you know there are carp in the area, then you should be getting action within an hour or less. If this is the case, then you may need a different weed bait presentation immediately. 

Safety Rig in Weed

Always tie a safe weed rig that has the ability to give carp a chance to rid the tackle if the line ever snaps. Carp will often attempt to dive into thick weed once hooked, and if the line breaks they can easily become tethered if a lead weight is hanging down from its mouth. I tend to use lead clips for 90 percent of my weed fishing. I want the lead to fall out when a carp is hooked. This causes a hooked fish to rise to the surface of the water making it much easier to control it over the weed beds and safely into the landing net. 

I have read about some top carp anglers that prefer to use a helicopter style when fishing in weed. One prefers to set the top bead much further up the line and use this with a short link of 2-3 inches with a pop-up boilie. As the lead sinks through the weed, the link remains on the top of the weed bed presenting the boilie nicely on top of the weed. The benefit of this set up is the lead is away from the hook. However, I feel this is wrong way to fish in weed because when a carp takes the bait, the lead cannot release easily and will get caught up in the clumps of weed. If you can find a way of releasing the lead on the take then it would be worth a try. 

My idea would be to tie the lead onto the helicopter using very thin line, about 1 or 2 pounds breaking strain. Then enclose the lead in a strong PVA bag with a few food items. This would allow a long cast and the strong PVA bag wouldn’t melt completely until the lead in secure at the bottom of the weed. The light line will then hold the lead secure but would easily break when a fish takes the line quickly. The lead would then be free and the carp can be played easily through the weed bed to land. 

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