Simon Crow

About Simon Crow

Co-winner of the first ever global carp match in 1996, Simon Crow has been a sponsored angler for over 30 years. His main focus is on Carp, and to date he’s managed to catch them from more than 300 different waters, including 50-pounders from six different countries (England, France, South Africa, Austria, Hungary and Romania). He’s the author of four books, including Adventures of a Carp Angler. Simon was editor of Carp-Talk, and lends his expertise to reputable titles such as Carpworld and Coarse Angling Today. At the 2014 Carpin’ On Show in Essex he was inducted into the prestigious Carp Fishing Hall of Fame. Follow Simon on Twitter.

Early Autumn Carping – With Simon Crow

After the recent summer heatwave, cooler September temperatures are a godsend for carp anglers. Here, Simon Crow shares his top tips for early autumn tactics including watercraft, rigs and bait.

How to succeed in September

A big smile and a September-caught UK 50-pounder

A big smile and a September-caught UK 50-pounder
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

Autumn is one of the best times for catching big carp. Perhaps not quite as good as spring, but certainly the next in line. It’s a time when the carp begin to group up. They start to get agitated and competitive amongst themselves. They know winter is on the way and they head towards the areas they know they’ll find food.

The need for plumbing and searching out the hot spots becomes more obvious in September than at any other time of the year. Generally, results can be a bit hit and miss coming out of summer because the fish will have been bombarded with baited rigs in the preceding months. But, if you track down the spots they visit regularly, you can certainly sneak out a few good fish.

A well-planned pre-baiting campaign will help overcome any shyness built-up by the carp, but a good plumb around now will uncover all sorts of new clear areas, especially those which have been covered by weed throughout the summer. These may only be a few feet across. One of the best ways of uncovering them is with a boat and some sort of looking glass, but not all venues allow anglers to do this so it may be necessary to have a good cast around.

I use two rods to do this thoroughly – the first armed with a simple marker float set up, and the second loaded with a baited rig. I’ll cast the marker out to the area I want to check, and then follow it with the rigged rod, taking note of anything I bring back on the hook. I’ll cast all around the marker, giving the rig plenty of time to settle on the bottom, before retrieving it and moving my attention to another area. I will take note of anywhere clean, especially spots which are several inches deeper than the surrounding area, or where the lead comes back caked in clay.

Presentation

You might endure a few blanks before you get the one you want

You might endure a few blanks before you get the one you want
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

September brings a lot of fallen leaves which can cause problems with your presentation. Even when fishing over my pre-bait I generally switch to pop-ups at this time of the year, not wishing to risk having my hookbait hidden underneath an obstruction. Presenting bait an inch or so off the bottom is ideal, usually critically balanced, but occasionally over-shotted, especially if I’m in shallow water and there’s a strong wind.

Generally I shorten my hooklinks for pop-ups, usually down to 6-8 inches. I think carp, especially pressured ones, tend to approach pop-ups by placing their mouth right over the top of the bait rather than hoovering up. A shorter link gives them less margin for error here, especially when combined with a heavy lead of 3-4oz.

Bait

Strong smelling fishmeals are my choice of bait for September

Strong smelling fishmeals are my choice of bait for September
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

Half a dozen or so freebies on a stringer alongside the hookbait would be my first line of attack in September, perhaps with a light coating of pellet just to increase the attraction. I always find mimicking nature is the best option, which is why I like to keep everything as tight as possible (similar to how the fish would find bloodworm beds). Early autumn hot spots tend to be quite isolated, so there’s no need for heavy or broad scatterings of bait just yet.

If you’ve been targeting a venue with the same bait throughout the season, you may have lost a bit of faith with it during August as the catches dropped off. That’s the nature of carp fishing, but have confidence in your efforts because now’s the time that they will really come through. The carp will recognise established bait now, more than any other time of the year.

Stick with it

The pre-baiting pays off with my target northern common of 38lb

The pre-baiting pays off with my target northern common of 38lb
Image courtesy of Simon Crow

Last year I’d been piling bait into my target venue since April, and despite having a rough couple of weeks fishing in August, things picked up in September. It was hard listening to the advice of angling friends that my target prey wasn’t on my pre-bait, but catching new fish boosted my confidence and proved that sticking with it was the right choice. I went on to land the one I most wanted – at a healthy 38lb!

September is a brilliant month to go carp fishing. You might experience a few blanks along the way as it’s very much a transition period between summer and autumn. However, stick with it and believe in what you’re doing. The results are there for the taking if you put in the graft. It‘s the start of one of my favourite periods of the year, when the fish are beautifully coloured and the big ‘uns love to have a feed.

To Infinity And Beyond – Simon Crow On Carp Fishing Gadgets!

There are lots of gadgets in carp fishing today which divide opinion, but I’m one of those anglers who embraces change, making use of the latest products if I think they are going to help me catch a few more fish.

I’m a short session angler whose time is very precious so I don’t see the point in making hard work of something if there’s a new tool which will make life easier.

Bite alarms

Bite alarm

It might seem hard to believe, but many years ago bite indicators were frowned upon by lots of anglers

When I was a lad I remember the older guys looking at my bite alarms and giving them a right slating. Now buzzers are viewed as an essential part of the carper’s kit, and there are upwards of a dozen companies making more than one model each.

Bite alarms now range from the very basic type which clip onto the line, to ones which operate with digital technology. We can now get different coloured LEDs on our alarms, vibration modes to assist deaf anglers, high and low pitch tones, as well as remote boxes which sound when we’re several yards away.

Bait boats

Bait boat

Bait boats aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they will certainly help you catch more fish

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone slag off bait boats, I’d be a rich man. One of the best excuses I hear from the moaners is that anglers use them to put baits in unsafe areas. Well the same could be said about line in trees and carp towing cracked off rigs because someone has just gone for the ‘big chuck’!

Who’s right and who’s wrong? My advice is to embrace them both. Casting allows us to use our judgement to ‘feel down’ a lead to the lake bed, while bait boating gets rigs quietly into position without excessive casting.

Echo sounders

Echo sounder

Echo sounders are brilliant for checking the depth but not so good at finding the fish

Echo sounders get a bit of stick because, apparently, they take away the skill of watercraft. I know where the detractors are coming from with this one because the day we’re told where our target fish is swimming is the day we become trappers not anglers.

But today’s echo sounders aren’t even very good at deciphering whether an echo is a snag or a fish, let alone capable of picking out individual carp, so we’re a long way off them being a substitute for traditional watercraft skills.

I use echo sounders for depth finding and looking for clear spots, mainly because they reduce the amount of casting (aka carp spooking) needed. They’re also great when I’m on a big water where boats are allowed and even the best casters in the world won’t get beyond the margins.

Underwater cameras

Underwater camera

Life below the marker float, what a great way of checking your baited spot

This moves me onto the underwater camera, a piece of kit which is fast becoming a common sight at venues where the water is nice and clear. You can attach them to bait boats or normal boats and even floats like FishSpy which then send the image back to your smartphone.

Using them for finding fish is a hassle, so their main advantage lies in helping you check out the bottom, especially once you’ve cast out and want to know that your hookbait is sitting right.

I really rate the cameras on floats although their cost needs to come down a bit before they turn into ‘must have’ items. Just the thought of cracking off with £150 on the end is enough to stop many an angler from becoming a convert. (Editors note: FishSpy underwater camera’s are now £129.95)

Droning on

drone

A bird’s-eye view without climbing a tree
Image: Shutterstock

Last but not least we come to the latest craze – drones. Yes folks, believe it or not, carp anglers are starting to use drones with cameras to help them find fish, as well as to identify features. Climbing trees to get a good view is a thing of the past as nothing quite compares to getting a proper bird’s-eye view.

You can even leave your drone hovering in the air while you cast out, keeping an eye on your phone screen to check that the cast has landed ‘spot on’. A decent drone with a camera and smartphone app will cost about £500 and believe me it’s worth every penny, unless that is, you end up dumping it in the lake when the connection cuts out!

So there you have it, a look at a few of the latest carpy gadgets on the market. You can take or leave them – fishing will always be a sport which leaves the choice entirely up to you.

Simon Crow

Thank you to Simon Crow for permission to use these images.

How To Catch Carp In Silt

big lin carp caught in silt

Big Lin weighing 37lb from Tyram Hall, caught from a silty depression

Silty water offers a great deal of carp fishing potential. You can almost guarantee that if there’s silt in your water, the carp will know about it and feed there. The only determining factor is that where silt is sparse compared to the surrounding bottom, it is sure to be very obvious to the angler as well, putting the fish very much under pressure.

On the other hand, where silt is abundant, the coin is reversed and the task of locating the feeding areas is somewhat harder. In fact, it can be so difficult on some waters, it’s one of the main reasons why I think the silty meres and estate lakes are the hardest venues to fish.

Find your mark

silty carp lake

A shallow silty estate lake with big carp

Getting to know the lake bed is where success at silt fishing really lies, especially on those waters which hold a great deal of it. I firmly believe that not even the pressure cycle can make some gravel pits as hard as the heavily silted venues, which have an awkward nature about them.

The reason for this is that not all silt is the same. It varies in depths as well as in age. It is formed in a number of different ways too, more often than not by deposits of leaf matter which are then broken down by organisms in the aquatic environment.

In a newly dug gravel pit (twenty years old or less), silt may be found in very isolated patches. These may be a couple of centimetres deep. Finding them could lead to the gold mine we all dream about. The leeward side of a gravel bar may be one such area, or perhaps the windward end has a bay which is surrounded by trees. Naturally occurring weed areas may be silty too – the silt is often why the weed roots have established there.

silt forms from leaves

Silt is formed by fallen leaves being broken down by organisms in the water

At an old estate lake, the silt is likely to be much deeper and different in composition. The depth of the water may only look a couple of inches but underneath there is four feet of silt. The older the silt, the deeper it usually is, but the important thing to remember is that age does not affect the richness of the food found among it. A lot of the nutrients a water needs are locked up in the silt, which is why fisheries add lime to silty areas to assist with nutrient control.

Stinky silt

a handful of silt

Silt might appear horrible, but the carp most definitely love it – as long as it’s not rank…

You may also find really smelly silt. These are usually in the deeper windward areas. This kind of silt stinks and is very black in appearance. It sounds strange, but the best way of finding it is after you’ve fished. Where it is present, your hookbait will turn black after soaking up the deposits of it. It will have lost all attraction and will smell of rotten eggs, and in my experience these areas aren’t very good.

Bait for carp in silt

particle bait

My first choice bait for silt is particles

The ideal in silt is to discover the natural food larders. These are the spots which the carp visit to feed on a regular basis. A rolling fish in the same spot may be a sign of one, as might fizzing making its way up from the bottom, or coloured water. The food larders are sometimes locked up in the silt as much as a couple of feet down, because this is where the larvae feel safest depositing their eggs. Once they’ve been discovered by the carp, there will almost certainly be a difference in depth.

One of the best types of bait for silt is particles. I’ve had so many memorable sessions over silt using tiny seeds, it’s usually the first bait which comes into my mind when I’m confronted with it. Small seeds which excite the grubbing instincts of carp would be my first choice because they resemble the types of food that carp feed on in these areas. They tuck away into little crevices and get the carp rooting around which prolongs the feeding spell, as the fish need to work to achieve satisfaction.

Of course boilies also work well over silt. However, I tend to use them only where the silt is much firmer as I don’t like the idea of burying them, making it hard for the carp to find them. On the hook I prefer bottom baits when I can get away with them, but there aren’t many types of silt that are hard enough to keep this type of presented bait visible. I therefore have a tendency to use pop-ups more than anything when confronted with silt. A lot of silt has at least an inch or two of suspended surface layer, so I usually go with one of about two-inches up off the deck, critically balancing it on a fairly long link of at least 8-inches.

Which rig to use in silt?

align the tubing properly with the hook

A basic hair rig should suffice here

For the rig I use the same basic one I looked at last time. I will take into consideration that the lead may sink into the silt, so if I’m using a preferred length of hooklink, say 8-inches, I will add a couple of inches to allow for the sinking of the lead. This applies to both boating out hookbaits as well as casting. If I’m boating out, I’m usually fishing at extreme range, in which case I will be using a heavy lead to keep the line tight.

So there you have it, a short and concise look at how I tackle silt. I’ve had some great catches down the years from silty waters and you too can experience the same if you tackle it in the right way.

Tight lines!

Simon Crow

All images courtesy of Simon Crow

Beginners guide to carp rigs

simple carp rig

Image source: shutterstock
A simple carp rig – you can make this!

Every carper will have his own opinion on rigs, and the topic can get quite complicated. It’s important, though, to avoid getting caught up in the potential minefield that rigs can be.

It’s much better to keep things simple at the early stage of your carping career, and in this article we’ll outline a couple of very basic carp rigs which will get you started and catching carp in very little time.

What is a hair rig?

The hair rig is the simplest form of rig used today. It was designed by the late Lenny Middleton, who was trying to gain better hook holds from the straight onto the hook. In the carp fishing boom of the 1980s anglers became aware that carp can very easily single out hookbaits. It was clear that there was a need for a rig which helped overcome the poor hookholds which the traditional methods offered.

How to make a hair rig

It’s very easy to make a simple hair rig. The material used to make the hair can be made from a number of different products. Some anglers prefer to use line, whilst others use braided material. Each will have their own advantages, and with a bit of experience and experimentation you’ll doubtless make your own mind up as to which you prefer. For now though, we’ll run you through what is known as the knotless knot hair rig, which combines the hooklink material into the hair.

The knotless knot hair rig is one of the most widely used methods of attaching your hooklink to the hook. All you need to make it is your favourite hooklink material, a hook and some scissors. Here’s how you tie it up, in pictures:

cut hooklink

1: Cut a 15-inch length of hooklink

thread hooklink onto hook

2: Take one end of the hooklink and thread three inches of it through the rear side of the hook eye.

rest hooklink beside hook

3: Rest the three inches of hooklink (known as the hair) along one side of the hook. This is the part which will form the hair.

start to wrap around the hook

4: Holding the hair in place, wrap the longer length of hooklink around the shank just below the hook eye ensuring that it is kept tight.

continue to wrap around the hook

5: Continue to wrap the hooklink around the hook in the same way as in step 4, working your way down the shank.

give at least ten wraps round the hook

6: It needs to be wrapped around the hook at least ten times for it to hold firm. Ten wraps normally ends up finishing opposite the point of the hook. This is a good position for the hinge of the hair.

loop through the back of the hook eye

7: Keeping the wraps in position, loop the long hooklink end through the back of the hook eye and pull through.

tighten gently to bed the knot down

8: Bed the knot down by tightening gently. The knotless knot has now been tied.

now put a loop in the end of the hair

9: All that is needed to complete the rig is to tie a loop in the end of the hair, to which you can now attach your hookbait. Many anglers make the hair long enough so the top of the bait just touches the bottom of the hook bend.

slide bait onto a needle, then onto the hair

10: Slide a bait onto a needle and then onto the hair. Secure the bait in position with a hair stop.

When the hair rig was designed it produced some amazing captures. Indeed, it still works today. If you take this simple example to your local day ticket pond, I guarantee if you fish well, it will catch you plenty of carp.

Next steps – the line aligner

Thinking anglers are always looking at ways to improve success, and one of the most widely used advancements of the hair rig is the line aligner. This incorporates a piece of silicon tubing onto the rig, which is pushed over the eye of the hook to protect the knot. It also helps the hook twist when inside the mouth of the fish, increasing your chances of hooking.

The line aligner can be used with almost all carp rigs. To avoid confusion, in this example we’ll simply add it to the knotless knot hair rig which we made earlier. Scientific tests have shown it to be 15% more successful at hooking when compared to the standard knotless knot hair rig.

How to make a line aligner

To make an effective line aligner, you need a pair of scissors, a fine baiting needle, some 0.5 silicon tubing and a finished knotless knot hair rig. Here’s how you set one up.

Cut a small length of 0.5mm tubing

1: Cut a small length of 0.5mm tubing (this will be pushed over the eye of the hook so must be of the soft or shrink type). A good length is one which just fits over the eye of the hook (approximately 0.8cm).

push the baiting needle through the side and into the central cavity

2: Approximately ¼ of the way down the tubing push the baiting needle through the side and into the central cavity until it exits the end.

attach the hooklink to the needle latch

3: Attach the hooklink to the baiting needle latch and pull it through the tubing cavity so that it exits through the side wall.

Thread the tubing down the hooklink

4: Thread the tubing down the hooklink towards the eye of the hook.

push the tubing over the eye

5: Now push the tubing over the eye. Be careful not to split the side when doing this or you may have to start again. A good tip is to work the tubing through your fingers for a minute or two to make it warm and more manageable.

align the tubing properly with the hook

6: Make sure the face of the tubing where the hooklink comes through is in line with the point of the hook. The line aligner is now complete.

Is it worth the effort?

Scientific tests have shown that the line aligner will hook 18 times out of twenty, when compared to 16 out of twenty with the knotless knot only set-up (as documented in Strategic Carp Fishing). It is without a doubt the most advanced hooking arrangement of the modern day carp scene. If you still have reservations, here’s some proof of the effectiveness right here!

simon crow and carp

The author, Simon Crow with a recently caught 30lb common on a simple line aligner hair rig

Happy carping!

Simon Crow

All images courtesy of Simon Crow unless otherwise stated