Spring Carp Tactics

At this time of year the carp metabolism is still quite slow but also they’re on the move and looking for food, The three different rigs I’ve got to show all play different parts in getting them crucial bites at this time of the year in the perfect carp fishing feeding zone.

Firstly I’m going to start with what I call the ‘cocktail’ its called this because instead of having one hook bait, it has 3 different hook baits. In this case I have a small piece of trimmed tiger nut a piece of real maize and then a bit of fake white buoyant corn. The reason it gets so many bites is personally because of it visual attraction and its also nearly neutral buoyancy because of the fake corn which makes it so much easier for the carp to make a mistake whilst there feeding. The rig I use is the basic blow back rig and its so affective when fished with a small bag of maize and crushed tiger nuts.

Tip – Although I use maize and tiger nuts in my cocktail, try experimenting with chick peas or maples you could be surprised with your results.

This is probably my prefered way to fish at this time of the year, a small 14mm Celticbaits G-nut boilie topped off with a 10mm glugged pineapple pop-up. The reason I find this so effective is once again because of the neutral buoyancy and also because of the quick leakage of the baits; the G-nut 14mm boilie I’ve been using through the winter months has a great leakage rate, and the carp find it easier to track the baits down. I also fish it with a small bag of crushed boilies, just to give the extra boost of attraction.

Now the third and final rig I use at this time of year is the claw rig the reason I use this is because the hook bait ends being quite big. To show you what I do, I’ve got so pictures of me doing it step by step.

In the picture above you can see there is a 14mm beast feast boilie on a long hair this will become clear as when I add the paste on (picture below).

Now as you can see I’ve added the beast feast paste onto the 14mm boilie and now the fishing  bait has doubled in size and if the hair was shorter then you added the paste you would have to mask the hook, and at this time of the year when the carp are feeding cautiously you cant risk the hook being covered at all.

All I’ve done now is grabbed a handful of of 2mm pellets and 4mm pellets and squished them onto the paste. On the lake bed that will all slowly breakdown and there will be a variety of food signals going off and this will encourage the fish to feed and get grubbing, I strongly advise people to try this!

How to tie a solid PVA bag

Firstly I’m going to start with the rig; it’s not too complicated but I would suggest you  use in-line leads for the rig to be more effective, rather than a lead clip set up or helicopter set up, because you want the heaviest end of the lead to bed the hook in the carps mouth.

The components you will need to tie this rig with are:

  • Nash fang twister size 10
  • Fox micro rig rings,
  • TFG putty,
  • Korda shrink tube
  • Korda supernatural 18lb
  • Nash Triggalink

Rig Tieing components

Any other braided material, hook, putty, can be used in this rig, but Nash Triggalink is a must as it is the only stretchy braid on the market that I know of, and is what makes the rig so effective. When the fish picks up your hook bait and feels the weight of the lead, the carp will try and drop the hook – but the stretchiness of the Triggalink will act as a shock absorber and will reduce the chance of the hook pulling.

To tie the rig, you start by cutting off 4 inches of korda 18lb supernatural braid, then tie a hair for your chosen bait and place your bait on the hair. In this case I’m using Celtic baits 14mm Le Crunch boilie tipped with a bit of pink fake corn.

Once this is done, slide on a fox micro rig ring, followed by the Nash fang twister. Do a overhand knot to secure the rig ring in place, then do a knot-less knot; I tend to do 5 to 7 turns up the shank of the hook.

Cut off 6 inches of Nash Triggalink, then grab the tag end of the korda supernatural braid and  tie them together by using a double grinner knot, making a combi rig. Cut off the tag ends to neaten up the rig, then slide a bit of korda shrink tube up the braid to your hook. Tie on your swivel before steaming the shrink tubing,  as the Triggalink will retract when it comes in contact with water and make it difficult to tie it to the swivel.

Your rig is nearly complete, but the Triggalink has poor camouflage. This can be overcome by grabbing a bit of TFG putty and rubbing it up and down the Triggalink, this will make it darker in colour and also give it some weight to keep it to the deck (so making it harder for the carp to detect).

Completed Rig

Solid PVA Bagging

I’ve been messing around with this a lot recently, especially in France, and caught some nice fish whilst using this tactic.

The components you will need are:

PVA Bag Components

My preferred size of PVA bags are 70mm x 200mm; these may seem big, but I prefer them as they give me enough material to work with.

Grab a PVA bag then start filling it. I tend to fill about half an inch to an inch of bait, with a mix of ground-bait, boilie crumb micro pellet (the smaller the baits the  tighter the bag).

Mask your hook with a bit of PVA foam, so your hook won’t get any bait on the point whilst filling your PVA bag.

Hook masked

Next, push your hook-bait down the side of the bag and hold up the lead; continue filling the bag until you get halfway up your rig, then pack it down and place your lead in the bag. Continue to fill and pack until you’re happy with the size of the bag.

The reason I like to use big bag is because it can be fiddly using small bags and tying the bags tight. Firstly spilt the seams down the side of the bag, then do one overhand knot on one side of the TFG leader and another overhand on the other side. One more again on the other side, pull down tight, and cut the tag ends to tidy up the bag and make it as aerodynamic as you can.

Final bag and rig

Perform what I call a ‘lick and stick’; lick and stick the edges of the bag and fold them in tidily so you can cast the bag in a straight line and long distances if needed.

One of the carp caught in France with solid PVA bags (34lb 6oz)

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at dan@celticbait.com, or visit www.celticbait.com.

First Carp on a New Venue

After almost 12 months travelling around, field testing my baits at different venues and having amazing results, I decided to sign up to a club water. This happened to be the Fendrod in Swansea. With the excitement to get fishing, I left the house without a kettle; luckily it was a pleasant night and the weather was fair.

I arrived at the lake and was amazed by the beauty of a local authority lake. As it was my first time fishing the venue, I had no knowledge of the place, so I decided to fish far enough away from the other anglers and found a peg I liked the look of and put my bivvy up.

I began with a few casts using my TF Gear X-Plus Marker rod, and found it was pretty flat and gravely in front of my swim; but it was also shallow which explained why all the anglers were to the right of me in the deeper water. So after a good hour of searching for a spot to fish, I decide to clip all three of my rods up to a spot of gravel at around 80 yards out.

My Rod set up at Fenrod

My Rod set up at Fenrod

My plan of attack was to spod 8mm and 4mm pellets maggots and some Beast Feast 20mm and 14mm boilies, then dust the whole mix off with Beast Feast stick-mix.

The reason there is a variety of sizes of bait and colours is for the visual attraction, and also because the carp are picking different weights of baits which keep them guessing.

Mixed bait

Mixed bait

The rig set up was kept as simple as possible with my own little twist. The components you will need to tie this rig are all available from Fishtec: a kurv shank hook of any size you choose to use (in this chase I’m using korda size 8 hooks), a korda flexi ring swivel pair of sharp scissors (ideally braid scissors), a puller tool to get the knots tight, medium sized rig rings, a slice of shrink tube, a needle , TFG putty, a spool of thread and – last but not least – 20lb soft gravel brown korda braid.

Items used to tie the rig

Items used to tie the rig

Once you have all the components, firstly take off about 9 inches of braid and then strip of two inches of the coating. Tie a rig ring on to the stripped bit using a half blood knot, then pull a bait over the rig ring so you can get you desired length of hair. Once it is to the length required, tie a knotless knot onto the hook. Slide a strip of shrink tube on to the hook to act as a blow back rig, then shrink it by placing it over steam (watch your fingers!). The final step is to tie a grinner knot onto the flexi ring swivel and as you tighten this knot make sure you moisten with a little saliva so it does not strip any of the coating off near the swivel and make sure it will not slip bye giving it a final tug with the puller tool. Place a little blob of putty on the non-stripped bit of braid and the rig is ready to go.

Completed rig - without bait

Completed rig - without bait

As you’ve probably noticed, there is only one thing missing from this rig: bait. I only use this rig when I want to fish a single boilie and maggots at the same time ,and this is where the needle and the thread come into play. Firstly place your chosen boilie on a gate latch needle and gently push it over the rig ring.

Placing the boilie onto the rig (1)

Placing the boilie onto the rig (1)

Boilie fixed to the rig ring

Boilie fixed to the rig ring

Grab a decent sized needle and some thread – cut off a 7 inch strand, then push through the needle eye. Slowly begin to put maggots on the needle and slide them down onto the thread (if you put the needle point through the bigger end of the maggot they will survive longer therefore being far more attractive under the water).

Sliding maggots down the needle onto the thread

Sliding maggots down the needle onto the thread

Once you have put maggots on the thread (10 to 15 is usually ample) slowly take the thread of the needle and then bunch all the maggots up as illustrated.

Maggots bunched up on the thread

Maggots bunched up on the thread

The final stage is to put one end of the thread through the rig ring, followed by two over-hand knots to secure the maggots in place. You’ll left with a presentation (illustrated below), and there’s no doubt you’ll soon be saying, “that’s a bite.”

Maggots secured to the rig ring

Maggots secured to the rig ring

The final presentation

The final presentation

And a bite it was! I topped up the swim later in the evening, as I had problems with ducks diving for the baits during daylight. At 5:30am the next morning I had a screaming take; after a long fight I managed to land this beautiful 20lb 4oz common. This made my day as it was the first fish I had caught on the Fenrod.

The end result - a 20lb 4oz Common Carp

The end result - a 20lb 4oz Common Carp

Fishing in France

I recently did a week fishing in France (3rd to 9th April 2010) with my fishing partner (who happens to be my dad / taxi driver!).

We have been using TFG gear (supplied by Fishtec) for quite a while and we decided to put the gear and my bait to the ultimate test. We did this in style. For a lot of the week the wind was in our faces, heavy rain and heavy frost, but equipped with the TSI and X-Plus carp fishing rods and vanquish reels, we hit our baited areas with ease.


The rods tamed over 2,648lb of fish, with 25 carp over 30lb, 66 fish from 20 to 30lb and 10 fish over 10lb.

Carp (1)

Carp (2)

Carp (3)

When photographing the carp, they were well protected by the TFG unhooking mat, and also safely returned in the TFG weighing sling.

Our accomodation for this trip was the TFG Lok Down Bivvy. I’ve been using this for a few months now and have had no problems; in fact, it kept me warm and comfortable during the sub-zero temperatures, with a little help from the TFG Comfort Zone fishing bed chair and TFG Force 8 Sleeping bag and cover.

TFG Lok Down Bivvy

The bait used to tempt all the carp were on Celtic Bait G-Nut, Le Crunch, Beast Feast and The Heat, all of which have been performing well in UK waters for the last 8 months – and proved their credentials with their final test in France.