Like most people, my angling journey started with not chasing any specific species - I was just grateful if I caught a fish. From float fishing for silvers, lure fishing for pike and spinning for perch to feathering for mackerel and beach fishing off Dungeness when I was much younger. Whilst the excitement of seeing a float dip under the water will never fade, sooner or later a lot of people get the bug for Carp angling!
So if you’ve been fishing for a while, you know the basics on using fishing gear, you know the knots and now you want to tailor your approach to catching big carp.. here’s some of the key terminal tackle items you need to get started, and what they’ll help you achieve.
Targeting any species will require a slightly different pattern of hook. Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ hook for carp angling, there are a few tried and tested hook patterns for different tactics. We’re going to focus on a couple of simple but proven patterns that are versatile enough to help you get going. I’d recommend anyone who’s just starting Carp fishing adds these two patterns to their tackle box to cover most scenarios.
The Wide Gape
I think of the Wide Gape as the most versatile hook pattern. It’s simple, but the space between the shank and the hook is extra wide (hence the name), which aids hooking. It’s ideal to use with any hook link material, from fluorocarbon to braid and coated braid. Typically, like our Aptus Wide Gape Hooks, they’re made from a strong steel wire, so they’re strong enough to handle big fighting carp. If you want to create a more aggressive hooking angle with this hook, it’s easy enough and we’ll come back to that later.
The Curve Shank
Another simple pattern, but one that many anglers feel gives various benefits. The angle of the eye and the curve of the shank work together to ensure there’s a good hooking angle even with the simplest rig. My go to rig is incredibly simple and involves using the Curve Shank, tied to a 6-inch fluorocarbon hook link with a knotless knot, and a small piece of silicone hook tube on the shank to position the hair. I leave just under an inch of space between the bait and the hook, and don’t use any shrink tube, I feel the hook creates the perfect angle on its own. I may use a small amount of tungsten putty halfway along the hook link to keep it bedded down.
Yes, Swivels! Basic, but they’re an absolutely essential bit of kit. For connecting your mainline to your hook link, creating helicopter rigs and many more. All the Aptus Swivels are designed to provide an ultra-smooth rotation and are non-reflective. I would recommend you purchase the following Swivels to keep in your tackle box:
- Size 8 Rolling Swivel - These fit in lead clips and are the ‘standard’ size swivel.
- Size 8 Quick change Swivel - Again, the standard size, and fit in lead clips, but have a Quick Change connection to allow you to change your hook link easily and quickly without having to re-tie knots.
- Size 11 Ring Swivel - If you venture into Chod rigs, or helicopter rigs, these are ideal for creating a strong link to your mainline, whilst remaining small and giving your hook link the movement it needs to be effective.
Like I mentioned on Wide Gape Hooks earlier. Shrink tube enables you to create a more aggressive and effective hooking angle. Whilst tying your rig, slide a short length of shrink tube down to your hook (size is preference but let’s start with 2cm), have half covering your knot on the hook shank and half on your hook link. Then carefully steam the tubing over a boiling kettle (don’t put your hands in the steam!). As you see it shrink, carefully bend the tube so that the hook link now points away from the eye of the hook at a 45 degree angle. You can and will change this angle over time as you find more effective methods, but 45 degrees is a good place to start and will definitely increase your hooking ratio.
Anti Tangle Sleeves
The worst feeling is getting in the sleeping bag at night wondering if your rig is tangled. Using these minimises that risk, and pushes your hook link away from your lead system – thus reducing the chance of a tangle!
They’re the last thing you should slide onto your hook link, and will fit over a swivel, QC swivel or link loop. Available in Green and Brown to keep your rig hidden.
You can’t cast without a lead! And the fish is going to struggle to hook itself without a weight giving resistance to the hook when it picks the bait up.
There are so many different shapes and sizes of leads, designed for different lakebeds, rigs and distances – but to get started I would always recommend going for a Flat Pear Swivel in 2oz. It’s a tried and tested lead. Over time as you start to fish different methods you’ll want to change your lead, but this is a great place to start.
Top Tip: if you know the lakebed is silty, choddy or covered in debris, use our rough coated leads which will stick to lakebed debris and look super natural.
Lead Clips & Tail Rubbers
The number one rule with fishing is that we never have a solid connection between the hook and the lead. In the unlucky event of losing a fish or the line breaking, we want to know that the fish can discharge of the lead and remain safe. So we recommend you use some of our Lead Clips and Tail Rubbers.
These are available in Green and Brown to help you camouflage your rig, and are extremely effective at discharging the lead when required.
Our lead clips come with a pin, which you can use to lock in your swivel and create a more effective ‘bolt’ rig.
The tail rubbers are smooth and a bit longer than others to reduce the chances of getting tangles.
Top Tip: Never push the tail rubber as far as it goes down the lead clip. You always want to leave a slight gap to make sure the lead releases easily.
Tungsten Rig Tubing
Some people fish with a naked line, which essentially means there is no leader or tubing over their main line. This can be effective, and I’ve had great success using this method myself.
But I also like to know my rig is pinned down so there’s no line floating around that can spook Carp - specially when using slack lines like I do whenever possible. To do this I’d recommend the use of our Tungsten Tubing. Its heavy, so will reduce the chances of spooking fish. It’s easy to thread, so you can get fishing faster! And it’s supple enough to fit to the contours of the lake, keeping you rig hidden and primed for an unsuspecting Carp.
Another (and very important) benefit of using tubing of any kind is that it protects carp whilst you’re playing them in. The tubing acts as a kind of shield so the fish doesn’t get harms or lose any scales, which is a risk when using a ‘naked’ set up.
Top Tip: when fishing tungsten tube, fish with slack or semi slack lines where possible (not recommended fishing next to snags). This will ensure the tubing can sink the mainline and perform its job. If you have super tight lines, the tubing will just be suspended mid water and defeat the object of it!
Want to Learn More?
These products will give you all the items of terminal tackle you need to create an effective carp rig, without overcomplicating things. Over time, you’ll adjust your approach and use more complex rigs – but I have had and continue to have great success on the most straight forward of rigs.
If you want any advice of further help getting started, we’re available on live chat during the day. Pop up on there and say hello and we’ll be glad to help you.