How to start carp fishing – beginners guide

Carp fishing is an enjoyable and addictive hobby which allows for healthy competitiveness. For anyone considering starting out, we highly recommend you do, its an amazingly fun sport and past time, trust us you won’t regret it!

That being said, we have put together some of the most important things you should know when starting your carp fishing adventure.

A decade ago when we started fishing we made our fair share of mistakes. We want to share our knowledge and experiences with anglers who are starting out. The basics we recommend are to:

  • Start of simple
  • Learn rigs
  • Build up gear slow
  • Keep your budget low
  • And most importantly have fun!

Get a fishing license

Well, the first thing you need is a course fishing licence, weather your fishing salmon, trout or carp, you need a fishing licence. Its free for kids (under 18’s), but above that it does cost around 30 quid a year, the last thing you want is the bailiff asking to see your license and you’ll have to pay a hefty fine.

Start of simple with rigs

Carp fishing can be easy to get the hang of and you don’t need to know how to tie 100 knots all of a sudden.

We recommend if you are starting to try something out like float fishing for carp. It is one of the best ways in which you can get experience and a feel for playing smaller fish as well as this you will know how to use your equipment effectively and safely.

These rigs consist of the hook, shots, and  a float. You are able to move the float to the correct depth when measuring how deep your swim is, you know you have the correct depth when the tip of the float is just above the surface of the water. When the float disappears into the water you have hooked a fish so you want to lift your rod up to get a good hook-set and start playing the fish. 

We found that if your starting out from scratch and want to ensure your rig will work then picking up a pre-tied may be something worth considering, we definitely found these simple yet effective rigs help you gain a better understating of float fishing in general. Here’s a link to some pre-tied float rigs if you’re interested, 12x Deluxe Pole float Rigs For Coarse Match & Carp Fishing Tackle. Yes these rigs are technically for pole fishing, however, we found them to work so well when learning the basics so just had to recommend them

Alternatively, you could try method feeder fishing, this is a very common rig used mostly by match fisherman on small commercial waters, its a great way to get started as its almost impossible not to get a bite on the method feeder. It’s awesome for building confidence and learning to cast with. The rigs for the method feeder are usually pretty simple, the only thing you have to change is the size of the lead depending on the size of water and fish your after. This is the rig we use for most of our feeder fishing on most waters. If you’d like a more in depth guide to feeder fishing then feel free to check out our article on method feeder fishing for carp. There we’ll walk you through exactly what you’ll need as well as the ins and outs of feeder fishing.

Build up your gear slow

One of the big mistakes we made when we starting fishing is that we were a little over ambitious! We’d push ourselves to use the best gear and tie the best rigs and use all sorts of different tactics and tips which was very expensive, time consuming and difficult to implement.

It’s easy to get carried away when you see these monster carp online but first, you need to understand the basics and build up your game before you can attempt this kind of fishing.

Start off with more basic and affordable gear and slowly build up your knowledge, experience and understanding then upgrade your tackle accordingly. If you’d like to know more about what you’ll actually need to start carp fishing and why then check out one of our other articles on what gear do you need for carp fishing. However, we will be briefly going through what you’ll need later in this article.

Why is Float fishing is great

Float fishing is one of the easiest and effective ways to fish for carp, this is how we started our fishing and still to this day find it enjoyable and exciting way to fish.

The first thing you need to do when float fishing is to plum your depth, when doing this you sometimes have to adjust the float up and down the line to insure that when you cast your rig out into the water the tip of the float float is above the water allowing you to accurately know when you get a bite. You will know when you have a bite as the float will suddenly go beneath the surface, at this point you will need to pull on your rod just enough to make sure that the hook is secured in the mouth of the fish. This will mean that you will have less chance of a fish falling off.

The simplicity of float fishing is why we fell in love it, its engaging and you have to be alert and ready for when that float shoots under. Its a very active style of fishing and defiantly one of the most fun, I personally would always choose couple hours with the float rather than a few days sitting behind a set rods.

Basic equipment you will need

We don’t want to show you list 3 pages long of all the gear there is in carp fishing and tell you “If you  buy this you’ll catch more”, because you just won’t. Yes, there is an infinite amount of tackle out there but you only really need a few things to get started. Here are generally, the most important things that you’ll need to get started for carp fishing.

  • Rod & Reel
  • Landing net 
  • Unhooking mat
  • Hook-link material 
  • A lead system 
  • Baiting needle


Here is a short list of baits that work great:

  • Sweetcorn
  • Bread
  • Pellets
  • Boilies
  • Pop-ups
  • Maggots

All of these Baits are known to work effectively, but you don’t need expensive baits to catch big fish, we’ve caught 15lb+ fish on just a sweet corn hair rig. 

Adding a bit of spice is a great tactic as well, Carp love spice, its very pungent and it adds massive attraction to your hook-bait. Last time we went fishing we lightly coated some boilies with some spicy sauce which worked really well. 

Spices that work well:

  • Turmeric
  • Paprika 
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Salt – don’t add in excess, too much salt is bad for the fish

Simple Tips

1) Pick the right swim

Take a walk around when your fishing a new lake, look for splashes and ripples in the water and try to spot where the fish are. It is sometimes time-consuming but can be very rewarding, especially on long sessions. It is so surprising how many anglers just park themselves in the swim closest to their car and complain about not getting bites, you can have the fanciest rig in the world and all the best baits, but if there aren’t fish in your swim, you won’t catch any. Simple as that.

Polarized sunglasses make spotting carp much easier

2) Present rigs well

Whenever you’re fishing a new swim on a lake with lots of weeds and snags, its good to check your rig isn’t dragging in weed. If it is then recast and find a better spot where it’s clear, this will mean that your rig is well presented on the bed and gives you a better chance of bringing a fish in.

If your line snaps you can tell if it was due to overstrain or a poorly tied knot if the line is cleanly snapped it was due to the strain if it has curls, in the end, it was due to you’re knot so that means you didn’t tie it correctly.

3) Persist

Learning to fish for carp isn’t hard. It just takes practice, so many novice anglers become frustrated over small things and give up on the lake their fishing. A switch of bait or a change of swim can completely change your fishing session, if you keep persisting at a fishery, you’ll eventually be successful.

So there you have it, a quick insight into how you should start carp fishing, if you found this article helpful feel free to check out some of our other

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