So many carp anglers use static setups these days that you could be forgiven for thinking that float fishing for big carp is a lost art, amazing really as it can be one of the most adrenalin filled methods for targeting big fish at close quarters there has ever been!
I have heard of many a carp angler who is become bored with the current trend for fishing static set-ups at extreme distances in some cases not even casting a rod but using a bait boat to ship out a lead and hookbait to some distant location – no wonder the heart has stopped pumping – that alone would be enough to make me fall asleep! All I would say to such anglers is break out a float rod and have some fun!
As methods go, they do not get much simpler – all you need is a float and a hook! Forget your bite alarms, rod pods, swingers and suchlike – this is proper fishing designed to put your heart in your mouth every time the float twitches! My standard float fishing set up for big carp consists of a light action carp rod of around 1.5lb to 2lb test curve, which provides exciting sport when playing fish at close quarters, twinned with a lightweight coarse reel – there is no need for big pit reels or baitrunners – so long as it has a drag facility which allows you to adjust the tension during the battle it will do just fine. Spool it up with a quality monofilament line, my personal choice is Daiwa Sensor. The breaking strain will depend on the water you are fishing; if it is free of snags, weed and other submerged obstructions you can use a lower diameter, say between 8lb and 10lb, or increase it up towards 12lb or more if conditions dictate.
Again, on a personal level I like to keep things light as this increases the enjoyment factor when playing fish close in, so most of the time I will use 10lb or below. There are countless floats available for carp fishing, but to be honest I only have about five different types in my tackle box which I find cover me for all eventualities. To fish a standard float set up I like to use a self weighted carp float, not only does this save time when setting up but it means you can swap and change easily when faced with a different distance rather than having to take off or apply different shots to the line each time you want to change distance and depth.
As most of my float fishing for carp is carried out stalking fashion I am never going to be casting huge distances more likely just dropping the float out to marginal features like weedbeds, lily pads or reedmace in the margins. As such I only need enough weight to cast the float a few yards so a pre-weighted float is perfect for flicking out the hookbait. If I want to attract carp on the drop or if I am fishing for spooky carp I won’t attach any shot to the line at all, but if I want to get the bait on the lake bed quickly I will add a small shot or a chunk of rig-putty about three inches from the hookbait to help it reach bottom quickly.
Hook size is critical as you need to match the hook to the size of hookbait. Too many anglers think you need huge hooks to bank carp, which is simply not the case. Most of my stalking and surface fishing for carp is carried out using hooks between size 12 and 16 and rarely do I lose a fish due to the hook pulling! You don’t really need hair-rigs, just mount your bait on the hook and away you go! Just remember to carry an unhooking mat so you can deal with a big fish safely on the bank.
Try to fish to obvious features where carp might visit and keep trickling in loosefeed on a “little and often” basis in order to grab their attention when they do come along. My personal preference for bait is something that moves, something that stops the carp in its tracks when it passes by – and as such I usually favour maggots or worms.
It really is as simple as that, the adrenalin rush on seeing the float slide away before having the rod bend double just can’t be beaten and I can assure you you’ll never be bored again! I have bagged countless lumps recently on the methods and tactics described above. So why don’t you get out there and do the same.