philadelphia anglers club
fish guy resources
Carp Anglers Group
of Eastern PA
Carp Tactics Demystified:
Carp tactics? That's right; the nerds behind fishguys.org have fished for every species we could find and love carp fishing the most. We think you will too if you give it a try. Despite their bad rap in America, carp are practically worshiped around the world for their sporting qualities. They are also big, challenging, and plentiful in our area. Matt and Louis are PA state chairmen of the carp anglers group, a nationwide association based around the world's most popular sport fish. If you love carp fishing as much as we do, we recommend joining.
Carp find their favorite foods, usually mollusks, shellfish and vegetable matter, such as grains and berries, by tasting their way around the shallows on food patrol.
Carp are timid, and unlike curious fish such as bass, will be wary of food they have not tried before. If you chum properly, fish will become used to the bait you choose, and get used to eating in the area where you fish. They will be much more likely to throw caution to the wind and suck in a hook as they gorge themselves on their way through your chum zone.
Take your favorite bait (most beginners prefer canned corn) and throw a bunch in the water where you plan to fish. The more regularly you do this, the more fish you will catch. Fish will come back to your spot over and over, and they will get less and less cautious about eating your bait. You can throw stale bread, leftovers, failed experimental baits; just about anything. Each time we fish we throw out about a gallon of canned corn, rabbit food, powdered milk and mixed grains.... We got a sweet sling shot from www.wackerbaits.com, that can fire balls of rabbit food chum out of the park. Seriously, throw some food in the water, it will dramatically increase your catch rate.
2) Hook Size.
As mentioned above, due to the mostly vegetarian, nervous nature of carp, they are cautious about what they put in their mouths. The truth is a stark contrast to the typical American view that they are bottom feeders that eat everything. They also have pretty small mouths compared to other local game fish, like bass. You will have better luck with smaller hooks, because they will be less noticeable to the fish, and are more likely to fit in their mouths. Most carp in our galleries are landed using a size 6 hook, or smaller. This can create a problem bending hooks straight, so make sure you choose a really thick, strong hook and loosen up that drag!
3) Rig Style.
Putting a few kernels of corn right on your hook is a fine technique. But if you fish for carp a lot and want to improve your ratio of hookups to fish on the bank, and use a wider range of baits, you may want to try using a hair and bolt rig.
Part 1: "The Hair Rig." The hair rig is basically a way to make your bait dangle just below the bend in your hook on a little loop of extra line or "hair." You have to use a silly piece of equipment called a bait needle. Look below for a method of quickly making your own baiting needle out of a hook. Once you are confident, you can buy a fancy one for $2 at www.wackerbaits.com or Resistance Tackle. Using a hair rig gives you several advantages... Carp have this way of tasting their food over and over again before they actually swallow it. Suck, blow, suck blow. That's why when they are feeding, they often create a huge cloud in the water. The hair rig capitalizes on this by really exposing the hook point, and hooking the fish during the "taste." It is convenient because you will rarely hook a fish too deeply in their throat, where hook removal is tough, and you may injure the fish. The hair rig also gives you the ability to use harder baits such as "field corn" and boilies.
Field corn is rock-hard, dried corn sold as animal feed. It can be soaked, boiled, and flavored to create a much firmer and long lasting corn bait. Boilies are little dough balls that have enough egg in them to become hard when boiled. Canned corn can get pecked off your rig by other little fish, or come off during the "tasting" process. This can leave you waiting for a fish like a baitless chump. Boilies and field corn fix this problem. They are so durable, you can cast out and wait for hours and hours with confidence. You can buy some boilies at Wacker Baits, or Big Carp Tackle, or make your own using recipes found on the Carp Anglers Group Message Board.
If you are looking for a feed store to buy field corn, try
Back to Nature Inc
1176 N Middletown Rd, Media, PA
Tell them you are there for carp fishing.
Part 2: "The Bolt Rig" The bolt rig just means use a really heavy, fixed weight; around 3-4 oz. It may seem silly in water with no current, but here is the deal: When a carp feels the prick from your hook, he will "bolt" immediately. Such a quick jerk of the fishes head combined with a 3 oz weight will set the hook perfectly in the lower lip. There is no need to whip your rod and set the hook "bass style." Watch Your Rods! If you don't have a "bait-feeder" or "bait-runner" style reel, you can loose your rod pretty easily fishing with a bolt rig. I wish I could say it hasn't happened to me.
Beginner Bait Needle:
To put bait on a hair rig, you will need a bait needle. A simple quick way to to make a bait needle is to straighten a big hook with a pair of pliers. The barb is perfect for placing your hair loop. You may need to flatten the barb a little bit to keep it from damaging your bait.
I don't know how it got the name, it's just a ball of food fixed around your weight. Sometimes people use a special cage, called a Method Feeder, or a hair curler to keep the food from flying off when you cast. The method is an easy, cheap way to get you a killer presentation. It can really increase your catch rate. Your hook ends up sitting in a pile of free food, that can be seen and smelled from farther away. It will stand out in a field of chum, and fish will be more comfortable diving right into it. There are plenty of recipes. Here is one: Mix powdered milk, traditional oatmeal, and canned sweet corn. Mash up the mixture enough that the moisture from the corn wets the conglomeration making it clay-like and moldable. Squeeze it around your weight as shown, and cast it carefully. The advantages of a fast or slow break time change with the water you fish. One thing is for sure: you want the fish to be able to get the bait in its mouth. If your mix is too wet, it will be like cement and never break down. If it's too dry it will probably fly off in the cast. There is plenty of artistry that comes into play here. You can find numerous recipe variations or ask a question on the Carp Anglers Group Message Board.
PVA (poly vinyl alcohol) is a clear, non-toxic material that dissolves quickly in water. PVA is sold in bag, tape, stocking and string form just for carp fishing. Using PVA, you can achieve presentations as good or better that using the method. Elements in a PVA bag do not need to break down before they are loose in the water. Picture food pellets, canned corn, powdered milk, and even oils in a perfectly loose pile around your hookbait only seconds after it hits the bottom. Available from Resistance Tackle, Scorpion Tackle, Wacker Baits, and Big Carp Tackle.
You can read more about all of this, and even ask us a question in our forum.
Carp Anglers Group
The BEST place to learn about carp and make carpy friends. Matt and Louis are PA state chairmen.
American Carp Society
A great organization that runs big tournaments in the US. There site has lots of great info including the history of carp in America, lots of tackle and tactical tips.
Big Carp Tackle
Previously the ACS E-store, BCT has the BEST selection of high quality European tackle, as well as many choices for the budget angler.
A great online tackle store with a wide selection of carp gear at competitive prices. Resistance has made several cash and tackle donations Fishguys/ Philadelphia Anglers Club Events. Support those that support us!
One of the very first and still one of the best online US carp tackle stores.
A UK store, with a branch in the US on the St Lawrence River in NY.
Here you can find some of the best deals going in carp fishing tackle, including super prices on PVA.
Don caught this 21 lber right in Center City Philadelphia.
Here is a whole milk crate full of special recipe chum balls and a carp specific slingshot from wacker baits. The balls fall apart once they are wet. Casting your hookbait into the middle of an area you have lined with free food will catch you far more carp.
Mirror carp are a genetic variation of common carp. Their scales are irregular, creating unique patterns and often leaving big patches of bare skin. They are a rare catch in the Philly area. Here is matt with a nice 18 lber. A great thing about carp is that you can catch them right through the winter. Matt caught this fish in late December. I caught the same fish a few months later. It was easy to identify.
After I forgot to engage my bait feeder, Donnie was nice enough to dive in after my rod, He tried to hand it back to me, but I insisted he earned that fish. Here he is, soaked.
Here is a typical "hair rig," and a diagram of how to tie one. click to learn how it's done.
Matt's "on-the-spot bait needle," made from a straightened hook.
a super fancy model bait needle, a card of "bait stops" for keeping bait from sliding off the hair, and two rigs. a tiny stick is fine for a bait stop. click to enlarge.
a simple bolt rig with a 3 oz weight attached with a safety clip. read more about this rig and even ask a question in our forum. click to enlarge.
here is an example of a method ball molded around a rig like the one above. it will quickly break down leaving the hook bait in a pile of attractive food.