Carp In The Park 2018

What is Carp In The Park?

The ultimate carp social. Two days of chilling, socialising and learning from the biggest names in carp fishing. Giant screen and slide shows from Dave Lane and Alan Blair, plus many more. Demos and displays from Avid, Chub, Nash, JRC, TF Gear, Shimano, Sonik and a host of other great brands. Live music, outside bar and a chance to bivvy up and socialise with the stars of carping. This is a carp event like no other and you’ll want to be able to say “I was there”!!

Carp in the park

Carp in the park

Dave Lane and the TF Gear team will be on hand to discuss and demonstrate selected products, Including the Airflo Inflatable bivvy, the Airbomb bait distribution device and the unique FishSpy underwater camera.

Carp In The Park: June 30th & July 1st, Billing Aquadrome, North Northamptonshire.

See you there!!!

For more information and ticketing visit www.carpinthepark.co.uk

Dave Lane on using the TF Gear Airbomb for floater fishing

As soon as I saw the very first Airbomb prototype all those long months ago, the first thing that came to my mind was floater fishing.

Apart from all the other obvious advantages of being able to present a spread of bait, regardless of the depth or range, floating bait presentation was the one I really wanted to try out.

Apart from close range catapult baiting or relying on the wind to drift floaters out into the ‘zone’ we had always had to suffer the ill effects of a huge great splash as our spod type devices crashed into the surface right where the carp were feeding. Obviously, this was always a major disadvantage, particularly if the fish were a bit cagy and it was always a gamble as to whether they would return and continue to feed afterwards.

Dave Lane casting the TF Gear Airbomb

Dave Lane casting the TF Gear Airbomb

With the Airbomb you can stop it in flight well short of the ‘feeding zone’ and the baits will continue their flight, landing with the minimum of disturbance right where you want them to.

Recently, on an impromptu trip to the Water Park for a breakfast with the family I had the perfect opportunity to try it out.

The fish were all cruising about behind the café on the main lake and I had all the floater kit in the back of the truck.

I simply fed the swim with the Airbomb before ordering my breakfast and let them get confident while I filled my own face with eggs and bacon. Once I had finished and the fish had cleared up most of the free offerings I was able to keep feeding floaters right on top of them and they just kept on eating them, which was the perfect scenario.

Using a heavy controller to cast way beyond the carp, I then teased it back into position and was soon hooked into a lively mirror of around twenty pounds.

That fish fought like crazy and it was a good five minutes before I got him anywhere near the net, during which time most of the feed had been demolished and the fish were starting to drift off, so I asked Dee, the wife, to have a go at Air-bombing some more out there for me while I was trying to net the fish.

Floater fishing success with the TF Gear Airbomb

Floater fishing success with the TF Gear Airbomb

Despite never having cast one before she had mastered it by the second cast and I just knew there would be another chance in the offing if I was quick.

With the mirror dealt with and the fish still having it out in the lake it didn’t take too long to get a second bite at the cherry and I added a lovely common carp of a similar size before heading for home.

It was every bit as effective as I knew it should be and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to give it a go.

Dave Lane

 

A Complete Guide to Using the Spod, Spomb and Airbomb

A great way to introduce bait accurately and efficiently, many carp and specimen anglers would be lost without their spods and other devices. But there’s so much more to feeding your swim than chucking in a load of bait and waiting for bites.

From a few pouchfuls of maggots, to several kilos of pellets or boilies, there are many ways to do it. Getting it right could be the difference between bites galore and a big fat blank. This month, Dominic Garnett and Andy Parkinson present a handy guide to using spods, spombs and airbombs to best advantage.

What is spodding?

A spod is a special bait-dispensing device, designed to be cast using a rod and line. It’s a cylindrical container with dart shaped fins for accuracy. Fill it with boilies, particles or whatever bait you’re fishing with, before launching to the area you intend to fish. Upon landing, the buoyant nose of the spod rises to the surface, tipping out its goodies in seconds. With practice, and the right gear, it can be great way to bait up.

However, we should also mention a couple of other devices here. The spomb is a great alternative. Rocket shaped and enclosed, it releases bait on impact. Meanwhile, there’s also the new TF Gear Airbomb to consider. Again, a rocket-shaped profile allows the Airbomb to reach huge distances, but this clever piece of kit is designed to open in mid-air, when the angler brakes the cast.

Whichever device you choose, the same tips and principles will apply. For example, the tackle used to cast several ounces of bait is similar whether you use a classic spomb or the latest device.

The pros and cons of spodding

Mirror carp

Andy Parkinson cradles a fine mirror carp, tempted over an accurate bed of bait at distance. Image courtesy of A. Parkinson.

So why use a spod, spomb or Airbomb in the first place? First of all, baiting up in this manner is accurate and efficient when it comes to any substantial quantity of bait beyond a few handfuls. Using a spod, it’s possible to add several kilos of bait in a matter of minutes, should you want to.

Another advantage is that you can bait up at longer range in a manner that can’t easily be otherwise achieved. Even with a powerful catapult, for example, your free baits would tend to scatter over a wide area at long range. The spod, on the other hand, can be controlled to land the same distance every cast, only discharging its contents right where you want them. And while you might be able to fire big boilies 100 yards out, the spod lets you feed even tiny morsels of bait, or those which are the wrong shape or too light to be launched big distances.

When to spod and when not to?

Just because you have the means to dish out a big hit of bait at 100 yards, it doesn’t mean you always should. Spods and larger spombs create quite a lot of disturbance when they hit the water. So when would you bother using a spod, when might you decide to leave it out, and when would an Airbomb make the best choice?

When to use a spod or spomb

  • When you can’t introduce bait by other means. For example, beyond throwing range.
  • When you’re expecting a lot of fish and want to bait up hard (a large shoal of bream or tench, or several large carp).
  • When you’re going to be fishing for a long time.
  • When fishing in deep water (8-10ft plus).

When not to use a spod

  • When you’re fishing at shorter range and could throw or catapult your feed without the extra hassle and splash.
  • When you don’t need to introduce so much bait.
  • When you’re fishing in shallow water (margin fish don’t like a big spod crashing down!)
  • When you’re fishing a shorter session (a lot of bait can take a long time for fish to eat).
  • If the fish are fewer in numbers or easily spooked.

Your decision should be guided by the situation in front of you. If in doubt ask yourself two questions: Do I need to? Will it help make the job easier?

When to try the new Airbomb

The new kid on the block has some definite advantages over its predecessors. The main difference is that the Airbomb opens above the water when the angler checks the cast, as opposed to dispensing bait on impact. Here are some scenarios when the Airbomb would give you a distinct advantage:

  • When you’re fishing shallower water or want to avoid scaring fish at all costs.
  • When you’re casting close to snags such as trailing branches.
  • When you want to loose feed with floating baits.

Equipment for spodding and spombing: Rods, reels, line, leaders

Casting a great big container full of bait is a punishing job. Sure, you can cast the smaller spombs or feeders on your usual gear. But for anything with a large payload (that’s any spod, larger spomb or the Airbomb), you’ll need to tackle up for the job. Too many fisheries have spods in trees due to ill prepared anglers!

Typically you’ll need a spod rod (or possibly a spare beachcaster or similarly tough rod), along with a meaty big pit reel. Load this with at least 30lb braid, very possibly with a 50lb shockleader. This will help take the strain of each cast without that sudden sickening breaking sound as the line parts!

Tip: When using a shock leader for spodding, pay attention to where the knot goes. To have minimal impact on the cast, it should be positioned towards the bottom of the reel spool.

Choosing and loading baits

bait for spods and spombs

Mix it up. Smaller and cheaper offerings help to stretch out more expensive boilies.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

One key advantage to using a spod, spomb or Airbomb is that they will take any sort of bait. Tiny feed particles such as stewed hemp seed, wheat or micro pellets are a piece of cake – and you can now deposit these accurately at distances impossible by most other means!

However most carp anglers these days prefer a mixed payload, which gives carp and other fish a mix of bait sizes. It depends on where you fish and the species you target too. You may, for example, want to include some baits that are too big for roach, skimmers and other fish to eat. Cost is another consideration, with most of us opting to flesh out the more expensive baits like boilies with cheaper bulk feeds (like vitalin, brown crumb, stewed wheat or beans, frozen sweetcorn etc).

In many ways, a mix of bait sizes also helps with the spod or spomb too, because smaller offerings and groundbait such as fishmeal based crumb are ideal for filling the gaps left by larger baits. In fact, a good way to avoid spillage on the cast is to top each spod-load of bait with a layer of groundbait or sticky pellets. This keeps everything stuck down tidily.

Fishtec: loading a spomb with bait

Spombs (above) are slightly different: fairly spill proof but avoid clogging the trigger mechanism.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Spods are a simple case of fill it up and cast. Spombs, on the other hand, have a special opening and closing mechanism. They need loading carefully, so as not to get in the way of the trigger that opens everything up on impact with the water. Done correctly, this makes for an extremely safe and accurate way of delivering bait into the swim (and the spomb also dives less deep and is much easier to retrieve than a spod).

Loading and using the Airbomb

When it comes to loading the new Airbomb, the principles are similar to the spomb. It’s a locking capsule, basically, so provided you don’t overfill it or gum up the locking mechanism, you can load it up however you like. It’s perfect for boilies and particles of all sizes. Here’s our quick video guide showing you how to set up your Airbomb.

The big difference, however, occurs on delivery because you empty the AirBomb before it hits the water. This is done when the angler brakes the cast by pulling back on the rod. This activates the trigger to open the capsule, releasing the bait in a controlled manner.

With practice you can get wicked accuracy and some different effects. You can release just over the water to land your feed quite tightly, for example, or higher in the air for a wider spread of bait. Indeed, on a lot of busy fisheries the carp can grow a little wary of super concentrated beds of bait.

How do I know which baiting device is right for me?

This could depend on several factors. The spod is simple and effective for great distances and deep water. The spomb is tidier though – and smaller ones are great for anglers who don’t want to fork out for a special extra rod. As for the Airbomb – well, you just have to try it! It’s a great way to deliver a large payload with the least noise and water disturbance – and it will easily fire bait into tricky areas under trees or other tight spots.

Don’t discount old school catapults and other baiting methods though; if your fishing tends to be shorter range, no problem. Our recent blog on feeding methods is well worth a look here!

Casting out with a spod, spomb or Airbomb

Fishtec: casting a spomb

Preparing to launch a spomb – smaller models can be cast on regular gear without needing an extra rod.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

So you’re all tackled up and ready to cast out. What happens next? Well, the first cast or two can be where mistakes happen, so take time to prepare. Firstly, if you’re using braid, it will really help to wet your reel spool. Dry braid is more prone to catching the wind and tangling, so you want it to behave itself.

Start then, by casting an empty spod or spomb just thirty or forty yards and then literally dunking the reel in the water as you reel in under tension. This will help to get the braid damp and sitting cleanly on the spool. Even with mono, it’s worth making a couple of smoother, shorter casts and reeling in, just to ensure your line is laying evenly.

As for the actual cast, it’s a case of keeping it smooth and controlled. There should generally be around half a rod length “drop” between the spod or spomb and the end of the rod. Try to come straight overhead with power but no sudden jerk of force. In many ways, the cast is very similar to casting out a rig with a heavy PVA bag attached – smoothly does it! If anything, you can aim a little higher if you’re casting a spomb, because you want it to land nose first and open cleanly on landing. Of course, if you’re using an Airbomb you’ll want a more direct cast which you’ll need to “break” just before the area you want to target. The Airbomb will open mid-air and fire your bait into the desired spot.

To get your casts to land the same distance each time, you could measure the distance and use the line clip on your reel. Many anglers will literally pace out the distances on dry land. Simply walk in a line along the ground, or use two sticks as distance markers. This way, you can be sure that your spods of bait travel the exact same distance as your baited rigs. That said, you may want to allow slightly more distance to your rig because it will sink to the bottom, while your spod or spomb won’t.

Tip: Feather it down!

It’s easy just to lob out a spod and watch it go splat on the water. However, to make a little less commotion and prevent it from diving far under the surface on impact, try “feathering” the cast down. This simply means dabbing your fingers on the reel spool to slow things down as the cast lands, increasing control and lessening impact. It’s also a good habit to get into for casting leads and PVA bags.

Dom Garnett and bream

The proof of the spombing… one of four double figure bream taken over a bed of bait introduced at range, via the spomb. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

For a quick, simple and visual guide to spodding use our infographic below:

Fishtec spodding infographic

The TF Gear Airbomb – Dave Lane Q & A Session With Total Carp Magazine

In this article by Total Carp Magazine Dave Lane answers some TF Gear Airbomb questions….


TOTAL CARP: WHAT WAS THE THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND PRODUCING THE AIRBOMB?

DAVE LANE: To create a system that could bait a swim in a similar method to a catapult but at any range, rather than just deposit small piles of bait on the bottom of the lake.

In shallow water this is even more pronounced when you are using a spod or similar type of device as the bait has no time to spread out on its descent.

The Airbomb will scatter your bait in a wider pattern and actually create a feeding area rather than individual spots that are impossible to accurately land a rig on top of.

TC: HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN IN TESTING?

DL: I suppose it must be around two years now, since we had the original samples made. Throughout that process we have made a few changes and tweaks to ensure that it performs exactly as we intended at the outset.

Everything was kept under wraps for a long time as we were always aware of just how good this device would be and we wanted to perfect every aspect of it before releasing it to the angling public.

TC: WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?

DL: It will be available around the end of March this year.

TC: DO YOU SEE ANY LIMITATIONS?

DL: Not really, no. In fact there are quite a few ways you can use the Airbomb to create different baiting patterns.

If you hit the line clip high in the air while the Bomb is still climbing then the bait will spread in a larger circle on impact with the water.

Alternatively, you can adjust your line clip to stop the Airbomb nearer the surface, on its descent, and this will fire the bait in a smaller, more compact pattern.

If you are fishing on very small spots, like holes in the weed for example, you can overcast without hitting a clip and the Airbomb will not open on impact. By doing this you still have the bait inside and if you carefully wind the Bomb into position you can then flick the rod tip and deliver the bait from the surface into the hole in the weed, or whatever other area you
desire.

TC: HOW DOES THE MECHANISM WORK?

DL: On casting there is a retaining clip that negates the firing pin but, on the cast, this
disengages.

The Airbomb is triggered by a sudden force on the line, provided by the line clip on your reel or trapping the line with your finger.

The Airbomb then opens and stops in mid-air while your bait carries on under its own inertia for a short distance before falling into the lake. Because the Airbomb is empty it now has very little weight and makes a minimal splash as it hits the water, but the real beauty
is that the Airbomb falls about 20 yards back from your spot and doesn’t spook feeding fish.

Airbomb projects bait forward over your marker

Airbomb projects bait forward over your marker

TC: WHAT RANGES ARE YOU COMFORTABLE FISHING THE AIRBOMB OR IS IT PURELY DOWN TO THE ANGLER’S ABILITY?

DL: I would be comfortable fishing at any range at all, as long as I could hit the line clip while the Airbomb is still in flight.

Casting ability will figure in the same way it would with a very good spod or similar device.

The Airbomb has an extremely aerodynamic profile and the four finned flight at the back ensures that it stays stable and flies true through the air.

TC: IF YOU WERE  FISHING AN AREA AT SAY 80 YARDS,WHERE WOULD YOU SET THE CLIP AND WRAP THE ROD TO ENSURE YOU BAITED THE AREA ACCURATELY?

DL: This would vary depending on the weight, shape and profile of the bait you were using because 18mm boilies will fly on a lot further than sweetcorn, for example.

As a rough guide I would say about  two rod lengths shorter for particles and three rod lengths for boilies, but a simple test cast with a very small amount of bait will soon give you the range and you can easily tweak this until you have it clipped up perfectly.

TC: FISHING LARGE SPREADS OF BAITS IS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH BOILIE FISHING; WOULD YOU USE THIS BAITING DEVICE WITH OTHER BAITS SUCH AS PELLETS OR PARTICLES?

DL: I totally disagree with that,actually; I always fish particles in a nice wide pattern so that I can get more fish feeding in the area at the same time.

If I was to go out in a boat to bait up then I wouldn’t dream of just upending a bucket over the side, I would scatter it around my mark with a scoop and this is the effect that the Airbomb will give you.

Remember that you can vary the spread easily by the timing of the ejection against the line clip. I can see huge advantages for fishing particles with an Airbomb as there is no other way at the moment of creating that ‘catapult like spread’ at range.

Airbomb can be used with a wide variety of baits

Airbomb can be used with a wide variety of baits

TC: IN WHAT SITUATIONS CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF USING THE AIRBOMB?

DL: Apart from fishing my own margins, where I can bait by hand, I cannot honestly think of any situation where I wouldn’t use one.

Throwing sticks have become a thing of the past because of the sheer amount of terns and black-headed gulls that now live inland and seem to feed almost exclusively on bait.

The existing delivery systems we use all have the same disadvantage of dropping piles of bait in the same way that bait boats do, and this ‘dollop baiting’ has never been a favourite
of mine but, up until now, I have had no other alternative.

Think about the implications here; using an Airbomb, not just for open-water feeding in a nice spread pattern but what about baiting tight under snags, or islands, or an out-of bounds far-bank scenario?

You can stop the Airbomb 10 yards short of the bushes and spray hemp or boilies right on the edge of the canopy, never having to worry about casting into the tree again because the Airbomb doesn’t need to get anywhere near the branches.

TC: CAN IT BE USED FOR FLOATER FISHING TOO?

DL: Floater fishing at range will be completely transformed using this device. You will be able to silently bait up right on the heads of feeding fish and the only sound they will hear is the bait sprinkling down on the surface; the empty Airbomb will be a minimal splash about 20 yards further back towards you, further still when you master the art of flicking it back on impact with the clip while still high in the air.

TC: WHAT IS THE LOAD CAPACITY OF THE AIRBOMB? ARE THERE DIFFERENT SIZES?

DL: I suppose about 30 15mm boilies would be a good fit or a decent scoop of particles, similar to a large spod really. There are plans for a small version a smaller version in the near future, possibly it would also suit match anglers for spraying maggots as well as lighter baiting for carp anglers.

TC: CAN YOU USE IT AS A NORMAL SPOD/SPOMB OR IS IT ALL ABOUT GENERATING LARGER SPREADS OF BAIT?

DL: It isn’t really comparable to either, nor is it trying to be. The whole idea is to remove the huge impact associated with both the methods you have mentioned and bait up in a more silent and effective fashion.

You can quite easily achieve the same results by either hitting the clip just before impact with the water or pulling back slowly from an ‘overcast’ past the area but, personally, I think the effect it achieves when used normally gives a far superior baiting pattern.

The spread of bait is not massive, it doesn’t just scatter randomly all over the place and, in fact, boilies of the same size and weight will usually land within a one-yard circle of each other.

CONCLUSION:

Overall this newly designed baiting concept certainly looks like it will revolutionise the baiting patterns you can now employ at range, and as with any new product on the market time will tell how successful it will become.

The angler looking to keep  ahead of the trends and take advantage of a new baiting tool will certainly see the benefits and we are certainly keen to get our hands on one here and give it a good going over.

Check out the Airbomb tutorial video here:

TF Gear Airbomb’s are available here.

Article reproduced with kind permission of Total Carp Magazine.

Top Baiting Methods & Fishing Gadgets to Feed Your Swim

Fishtec_Guide_to_Baiting_Methods_001

Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

There are lots of methods to feed your swim when fishing, but which is the best for your next session? From the good old catapult to the revolutionary new TF Gear Air Bomb, Dom Garnett takes a look at some of the best devices to buy and most innovative ways to bait up.

Being able to feed your chosen fishing spot accurately can make a huge difference to success. Do it right and you’ll stack the odds in your favour. Do it poorly and it’s not just bait you’ll scatter everywhere; the fish might also end up miles from your hook.

At shorter range, or for small helpings of bait, the angler can obviously throw it in or use a swimfeeder or PVA bag. But when it comes to putting a pocket of bait on a gravel bar at 70 yards, or getting free boilies close to snags, what’s the best way to feed? Here are some of the best solutions, complete with the pros and cons of each.

Feeding your swim with a catapult

CATAPULT_FC-KORDAPULT-L

Models such as the Korda Katapult (£14.99), above, are a quick, hassle-free way of baiting up.

Catapults come in various shapes and sizes and are excellent for projecting freebies beyond throwing range. Some are ideal for small baits and accuracy; others have special pouches and thicker elastic to launch a ball of groundbait or cluster of particles quite a long way.

Pros: Catapults are cheap and with a bit of practise you can be very accurate. Perfect for short to mid range.
Cons: At longer range, catapults get less practical. Accuracy goes down and you might fall short or rap your knuckles.

TIP: For maximum catapult precision, try “locking” your arm straight and holding the catapult on its side. Softer pouches can be gently squeezed for tighter bait placing.

Feeding your swim with a throwing stick

Throwing_Stick_TFG-FIRE-

Old school they might be, but the TFG Firestick (£9.99), above, project boilies a heck of a long way with impressive accuracy. Do pick the right model to match your typical boilies sizes.

A favourite old school carp fishing device, the throwing stick turns you from noddy into baiting ninja… well, with a bit of practice. Various models are available and they do a grand job of peppering freebies around your baited rig. And it’s undeniably good fun too.

Pros: The baiting stick allows you to launch boilies further and more accurately than you could ever throw them by hand.
Cons: Limited to boilies and similarly aerodynamically shaped baits. Only introduces baits one at a time, so not ideal for heavier baiting up (you could be there a long time!)

Feeding your swim with a spod

SPOD_FC-SKYRAID-NEWW

Korda’s Skyraider Spod (£7.50) is ideal for heavy baiting at distance.

The spod is a castable bait funnel that’s rigged up to a heavy carp rod (or indeed a dedicated “spod rod”). They have a fair capacity and are popular with carp and specialist anglers who like to introduce a substantial bed of bait. Although not the most subtle way to feed, the spod gets a lot of fish food out there fast.

Pros: Accurate and ideal for long distances and large amounts of bait. Quicker than most other methods when you want to really build up your feed. Works with any kind of bait you can fill it with.
Cons: Tends to require an additional, heavier rod. Creates a lot of disturbance on impact, which could scare off the fish for a while (less of a problem on longer sessions than quick trips).

TIP: Mix up some groundbait and add a little layer on top of each spod full of feed before each cast; this stops your boilies, particles and other bits spraying out on delivery.

Feeding your swim with a spomb

FC-SPOMB-W

Want to bait accurately at range without the hassle of carrying an additional heavy “spod rod”? The spomb (from just £9.99) is just the thing!

The spod’s baby brother, this bait rocket style device is a similar concept but delivers smaller amounts of bait more tidily. It’s just as accurate and makes child’s play of getting a decent bed of bait out there. With a trigger in the nose that makes this special bait capsule split on impact with the surface, they spill less of your free offerings mid-cast and are easier to retrieve than a spod.

Pros: You can usually cast a spomb on your normal rods, without having to pack a special “spod rod”. Easy to use and very accurate. Less disturbance than a spod.
Cons: A limited load capacity means that the spomb isn’t as quick as the spod when it comes to introducing larger amounts of bait.

Feeding with the TF Gear Air Bomb

The Airbomb from TF Gear

TF Gear’s Air Bomb (£13.99), above, looks to be a real game changer this year. The best solution so far for baiting up at distance.

Carp and specimen anglers are already getting excited about the huge potential of this clever new device. It is cast on a rod and line, much like a spod or spomb, but could well eclipse both. With a rocket-shaped profile, the Air Bomb will reach huge distances. But here’s the interesting part: these gadgets actually open in mid-air when the angler brakes the cast. The result? A lovely spread of bait without as much fish scaring commotion.

It works by stopping short of the mark to “fire” the bait forward, so there is also little risk of losing the Air Bomb. And while your bait will be sprayed a little wider than say a bait boat or PVA bag, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is especially true on busy waters where carp grow wary of finding conspicuously neat helpings of food every weekend.

Pros: Easy to use and casts miles. Big payload like a spod, but creates much less disturbance. Better for getting bait into and under cover of trees and bushes, as the angler stops the device short to “shotgun” the bait into position. Little risk of losing it. Brilliant for surface baits, such as chum mixers and bread.
Cons: Not quite as tight baiting as a spomb or baitboat.

The best way to see what all the fuss is about is to read our recent blog post or watch the YouTube video here.

Feeding your swim with a bait boat

FC-PROCAT (1)

For distant or awkward swims, it doesn’t get much more precise than a bait boat, such as the Angling Technics ProCat Mk3 (£475.00), above.

Love or hate them, the bait boat is about as accurate as feeding gets without actually swimming out there yourself and delivering the bait on a tray! Critics may scoff, but anglers use them to introduce bait and position their rigs in the trickiest of swims.

Pros: Incredible accuracy, with the ability to put your rig right in the middle of the feed too. Excellent for awkward and distant spots.
Cons: The most expensive baiting aid on our list by some distance. Banned on some waters.

Further reading…

Need further advice on how to bait for success on your next fishing trip? It’s well worth keeping an eye on the Fishtec blog for expert tips and advice every month, as well as our archives. Previous posts have included our guide to Cracking Carp Baits, Dave Lane’s Guide to Particle Baits and Top 10 Ways to Feed Your Swim More Effectively.

Carp Tackle Buying Guide

Dave Lane carp

Beginner, regular carp angler or pro – here’s your ultimate buying guide.
Image source: Fishtec

Whether you’re a beginner trying to kit yourself out for carp fishing or an experienced angler looking to overhaul your existing gear, the Fishtec team has everything you need.

But with such a huge variety of carp fishing tackle on offer, how do you determine what you need and how much to spend? Here’s the ultimate guide to getting tackled up, from basics and budget gear through to fishing equipment for the lifelong carp addict.

What kind of carp angler are you?

Before we launch into kit, it’s important to know what stage you’re at. If you’re just starting carp fishing, for example, you won’t want to spend too much until you get going. We’ve broken things down into three categories to help you make decisions:

Carp Angler Categories
Beginner
You might be new to the sport, or someone who knows the ropes but can’t get out every week. You could simply be on a tight budget. Whatever the case, you’ll want functional gear that offers excellent value for money.
Regular
You know your stuff and fish fairly often. You wouldn’t class yourself as a die-hard, but you’re keen enough. You might not have cash to burn, but you want decent kit that can handle more than just the basics.
Expert
You live and breathe carp fishing and spend a lot of time on the bank. Your gear has become more specialised over the years. You like kit that’s not only practical, but a joy to use. When you can afford it, you have no hesitation in buying the best.

You won’t necessarily fit neatly into one category – you might fall between two. For example, you could be your first year into to the sport but coming on fast and needing better gear. Or, you could be a carper with bags of experience who needs to watch the purse strings.

Top tip: Carp fishing can get technical at the best of times and some of the kit isn’t cheap. But it’s not a fashion contest and the most important thing is that your gear works for your budget and style of fishing. Many anglers with expensive rods have been out-fished by someone with cheaper kit and better watercraft (or better luck!). If you’re a beginner, start at your own pace. You don’t need the best from the word go, so let your tackle evolve as you learn.

How to choose a carp rod

It’s the most popular impulse buy of all, every angler loves to own rods. But which is the best for your needs? These days, quality carbon blanks have never been better value. The calibre of carp rods available for less than £50 would probably have cost several times that a decade or two ago! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Rods
Beginner: Daiwa Black Widow G50 Carp rod
Serious rods that still give you plenty of change from £50! These are anything but toy models though. A great range of options too, from 2.75 to 3.5lbs test curve.
Buy now from £39.99
Regular: Nash KMX Carp Rod
For a sleek finish and superior build quality, these rods punch above their weight in the mid-price range. Durable blanks, with a spod rod as part of the set for those who need this option.
Buy now from £69.99
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Expert: Free Spirit “S” Lite Carp Rods
For ultra light, beautifully sleek rods, this range is a joy to use. A comprehensive selection that really push the standards of design and performance beyond expectations.
Buy now from £159.99
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Which carp rods will suit you best?

Most rods sound great on paper, but how do you decide the power and length you need? Test curve rating (the amount of strain required to pull the rod tip over by 90 degrees) is one key factor to look into. 2.5 or 2.75lb test curve rods are more forgiving, for example, to play fish at close to mid range. If you’re punching out rigs and very possibly PVA bags at longer range, 3 to 3.5lb test curve rods have greater power.

Length is another consideration. There’s a reason most rods are 12ft; it’s a versatile all-round length for most scenarios. A 13ft may be better still for long casts, say on a tough gravel pit. However, for many anglers who fish smaller waters, the reverse is true and a 10ft rod is great for close quarters and swims with trees and limited casting space.

Finally, how many carp rods do you need? For most beginners, it’s enough to get the hang of using two at first. In fact, on the smaller waters which are ideal for getting the hang of things, a third rod might be overkill. Too much kit makes you less mobile, while an extra lead splashing down and another line through the swim can make it less likely you’ll catch.

Top tip: Rather than just buying the rod(s) you like the look of, think about your local or regular fishing. Although many anglers get hooked on identical rod setups, this isn’t always sensible either. For example, you might want at least one rod in your arsenal that is specifically designed for margin fishing, with a lower test curve and a more forgiving action.

How to choose a carp reel

Ok, so reels are not quite as sexy as the latest rods, but they’re just as important. In fact, as a rule they tend to cost a little more than rods of similar quality. Most reels are measured in numbers, with sizes between 4,000 and 6,000 typical for most carp fishing. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Reels
Shimano Ultegra CI4 Plus XT-C Reel A Beginner: Korum Rodiac Freespool
Basic but reliable and really smooth, this is a solid starter reel. Excellent value for money for those just starting out or watching the pennies.
Buy now from £34.99
Daiwa Windcast BR 5500 LDA Reel Regular: Daiwa Windcast BR5500
If you intend to fish every weekend, or want slicker long term performance, it’s worth spending a little more. Daiwa reels have top quality gears and parts, and the Windcast is no exception. With a larger “big pit” spool, this model is a good mid range option for those who need to hit longer casts.
Buy now from £79.99
Korum-Rodiac-Reel-A Expert: Shimano Ultegra CI4+
There’s a bloody good reason hardened anglers like Shimano reels. They have the best gears in the world (they also produce gears for top spec bikes). Perhaps this is why they keep going year after year. The Ultegra CI4+ is not just a workhorse – it’s a Rolls Royce. Large spool for long casting, fantastic quality.
Buy now from £219.99

Top tip: standard or “big pit” reel?
Standard model reels are fine for most regular fishing… until you get into long distances and specialised applications like spodding. “Big pit” reels are a bit larger and more cumbersome, but hold more line and are ideal for throwing a heavy lead or spod for miles on venues like large gravel pits. If your typical venues are small to medium day ticket lakes, whether you’re a beginner or regular angler, standard reels should be fine.

Main lines for carp fishing
The best kit in the world is no good if you use a poor quality fishing line. Indeed, even if you buy the cheapest carp fishing rod and reel going, we’d advise you to spend decent money on your line. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Main lines
Daiwa Sensor Beginner: Daiwa Sensor
Looking for a great value line that will fill up at least three reel spools for under a tenner? This is it. For the money, it’s solid stuff – the 12lb or 15lb options are tough enough for most of your carp fishing needs.
Buy now from £8.99
Maxima Chameleon Regular: Maxima Chameleon
Maxima line has been trusted by anglers for generations, owing to its consistency and quality. It’s not the most ultra fine, but boy is it tough and reliable. A single 200m pack should fill one reel spool.
Buy now from £8.99
Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon Expert: Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon
Experienced carpers are now increasingly experimenting with fluorocarbon main lines. Not only are such lines less visible to fish, they also sink and hug the bottom better. However, they take some getting used to and don’t come cheap, so invest with care.
Buy now from £19.99

Choosing hook links and hooks
Now we’re really getting to the nitty gritty. Like main lines, even if you’re a total beginner, there’s no way on earth you should count pennies here because bad hooks and poor rigs cost fish.

The world of hooks and rig materials is too big and complex for a simple summary here. Experienced anglers will seldom want to fish with anything tied by someone else. However, for beginner and regular anglers, ready tied carp rigs can save time and get you going in no time at all. Take our advice, and keep it simple to start with. There are a hundred and one clever setups, but a basic hair rig will still catch. Here is Fishtec’s top pick:

Hooks and hook links
Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs Timed poor angler: Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs
If you want to save time and hassle, these are straightforward and efficient. An aggressive hook angle makes it  likely your next pick up will result in a reel-screaming bite. You might not have the experience of Danny Fairbrass yet, but this is the next best thing to pinching his favourite all-round rig, just as he ties it.
Buy now from £1.99

Which rod pods and bank sticks?
Now that you’re tooled up with rods, reels, and rigs, you’ll need somewhere to rest your gear, primed for a bite. But where should you start? Do you need a rod pod to go carp fishing, or are bank sticks fine?

The answer to this probably depends on where you fish. Rod pods are rock solid in the wind and ideal on hard surfaces where you can’t insert a bank stick. That said, if you’re able to get single sticks into the ground and point your rods at your rig and bait, this is often preferable to a pod. You can space your rods out a little more this way – and get better bite indication too. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Rod pods
TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod Beginner: TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod
Although this is a sturdy, dependable bit of kit, it’s also one of the cheapest rod pods for carp fishing you’ll find. We’ve sold hundreds of these and they’re a popular best-seller.
Buy now for £29.99
TF Gear Cross Pod Regular: TF Gear Cross Pod
This light, but strong and sturdy pod is a versatile choice that can be adjusted really quickly and easily from a standard pod to two sets of posts. It even comes with a free carry bag worth £14.99.
Buy now from £39.99
JRC Contact Rod Pod Expert: JRC Contact SQR Rod Pod
Rock solid and with adjustable height and frame length, this is a tough but refined pod. With a detachable frame, you can also use this as a “goal post” set up (i.e. without the connecting horizontal pars) for further versatility.
Buy now from £59.99

Prefer bank sticks to a pod? If your local venues have soft banks where you can push in rod rests, you might find them a better option. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bank sticks
Cygnet Bank Sticks Beginner/Regular: Cygnet 20/20 Banksticks and Buzz Bars
With the small “Sniper” bankstick starting at just over a fiver, this range is durable and high spec, but not too pricey. That said, they will stand up to regular use and abuse too.
Buy now from £5.50
Korda Singlez Bank Sticks Expert: Korda Singlez Bank Sticks and Buzz Bars
For the serious carper, these components are not only stylish, but optimum quality. Stainless steel and super tough, they should last as long as you do!
Buy now from £12.50

How to choose the right bite alarm
Just like rods, reels and hardware, you get what you pay for with bite alarms. An occasional weekend away is very different to night after night of use from rain to frost to baking hot sun. Unsurprisingly, models with tough components tend to cost more. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bite alarms
Leeda Bite Alarm Beginner: Leeda Rogue Wireless Bite Alarm
Cheap but fully functional, a pair of these will get you off the mark for under £30.
Buy now at £13.99
Nash Siren Regular: Nash Siren S5R
For regular, no nonsense use, these alarms come with good sensitivity and bomb-proof construction.
Buy now at £49.99
Delkim TXI Plus Expert: Delkim TXI Plus
For the best performance of all, these Delkims have awesome features. Using no moving parts, these actually use vibration to indicate bites – and even have an anti-theft alarm!
Buy now at £122.50

Top tip: Bite alarm etiquette and proper use
Why do you need a bite alarm? Well, these devices were originally developed by the great Dick Walker for night fishing, when the angler couldn’t see the bites. They’re also handy on long sessions though, because obviously staring at bobbins for hours isn’t a lot of fun.

They’re not always necessary, so don’t let technology prevent you from trying other methods like float fishing, stalking and using buoyant baits. They can also make an unwanted racket, so do keep the volume down when other anglers are around.

Bed chairs – budget to best
Take it from us, if you intend to night fish regularly, you’re going to need something to sleep on. That old camp bed or inflatable mattress won’t do! Thankfully, bed chairs start at less than £100 these days. Get as comfy as you can afford; your back will thank you! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bed chairs
TF Gear 3 leg bed chair Beginner: TF Gear Chill Out 3 Leg Bedchair
This is about as affordable as it gets for a really functional, comfy bedchair. At under 20lbs in weight, it’s not drastically heavy to carry either.
Buy now at £69.99
Trakker wide flat bed Regular: Trakker RLX Wide Flat-6 Bed
Need a bit more space? Anglers who are a bit bigger will appreciate some extra width and comfort. This tough model fits the bill and will keep going for many seasons.
Buy now at £129.99
Nash Indulgence SS Bed Expert: Nash Indulgence SS 5 Season Beds
Featuring top spec materials, sturdy design and an integrated outdoor duvet, this is just about as good as it gets. The only drawback? You might prefer it to your bed at home!
Buy now at £399.99

Carp landing nets – what to look for
Obviously you’re going to need a good-sized net for your fishing. It pays to be generous too, because a big fish might fit in a small net, but the reverse isn’t true! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp landing nets
TF Gear Banshee Landing Net Beginner/Regular: TF Gear Banshee Landing Net
A serious sized 42” net, complete with handle, this is a reliable set up for under £30 that would suit beginners or regulars alike. Hard to beat in terms of value.
Buy now at £29.99
DL Specialist Carp Net Expert: DL Specialist Carp Net
With a sturdy 6ft handle, quality build and ample space for the biggest carp, Dave Lane’s own brand net is a great option for the experienced carper.
Buy now at £49.99

How to choose an unhooking mat
With virtually every carp fishery in the UK insisting on a decent unhooking mat, you need one of these before you start fishing. A good one will last years, protecting every fish you catch from danger. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Unhooking mats
TF Gear Unhooking Mat Beginner: TF Gear Unhooking Mat
Need a good-sized, well padded option that won’t break the bank? This is one of the best carp unhooking mats for under £20 you could hope for.
Buy now at £16.99
Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Mat Regular: Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Cradle
With padded sides, this safely cradles a large fish while you unhook it. Also a good idea for those with bad backs who may not like stooping right to the ground to handle fish. And it’s good for photography – kneel behind the cradle and support the fish just inches from a safe landing.
Buy now at £39.99
TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat Expert: TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat
Designed by Dave Lane, this option is not only the ultimate in carp safety, but doubles up as a handy way to store and carry some of your kit to and from the bank.
Buy now at £79.99

Carp fishing bivvies
If you’re a day session angler, a brolly might be enough to shelter you from the elements. But for most carpers, night fishing is a must and you’ll need a decent home from home to tackle cool conditions and the elements. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bivvies
TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy Beginner: TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy
This spacious set up is as practical as it gets on a budget. A carp bivvy for under £100, that will see you through several seasons of use.
Buy now at £99.99
Trakker Cayman Bivvy Regular: Trakker Cayman Bivvy
For a bivvy at less than £200, Trakker’s Cayman is ideal. A breeze to set up and sturdy enough for the roughest weather.
Buy now at £179.99
Nash Double Top MK 4 Bivvy Expert: Nash Double top Mk 4 Bivvy
This bestseller from Nash is a cracking bivvy for just about anything the British climate throws at you. Among a wealth of high spec materials and features, the extended “hood” of this design makes it easy to go about your fishing and keep an eye on rods in heavy rain.
Buy now at £359.99

Other essential carp gear checklist
Anglers invariably spend the most money on rods, reels and kit that is used to play and land fish. But there are other items that are just as important. From delivering bait, to storing tackle and keeping dry, here are some of the essential items most carpers won’t leave home without:

TOP TIP: Save yourself hassle on your carping trips by getting organised. Why not compose your own list of kit that you need every session? A checklist avoids stress and makes it less likely you’ll turn up without a crucial item!

Introducing the TF Gear Airbomb – The Future of Baiting!

We are excited to announce a brand new product from TF Gear! It’s called the Airbomb and it’s a mid-air bait distribution product that we feel is going to be a game changer.


How does it work?

Unlike a Spomb or the Fox equivalent, Total Fishing Gear’s Airbomb does not open upon impacting the water. Instead it opens in mid air, spraying the bait out in a wider pattern that is perfect for creating a nice bed of bait. It works by hitting the reel clip on the cast. This triggers a pin that opens Airbomb. The force of the cast disperses the bait in a forward arc, several yards beyond the cast. Should you not hit the clip (or choose not to) the Airbomb will land in the water and remain shut. You can trigger it to open anytime you wish by yanking your rod tip sharply.

The Airbomb from TF Gear

The Airbomb from TF Gear.


What are the advantages over other baiting products
?

There are multiple advantages, but the main one would be you can create a uniform spread of bait that you can build up quickly. Carp find this extremely attractive, and importantly will feed confidently. Other baiting rockets and baitboats cannot spread the bait as widely when they release their payloads, making the Airbomb unique.

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait.

What can it do?

Quite a lot. And there are probably a lot more things that haven’t been thought of yet!

  • Airbomb releases payload in mid-air, creating a shotgun effect bait spread
  • Stealthy no spook baiting operation – Airbomb falls well away from baited area
  • Aerodynamic design maximises casting range
  • Total accuracy every cast
  • Massive load capacity
  • Easy and quick to fill
  • Create vast beds of bait with speed and efficiently
  • Precision bait by drawing over weed gaps and localised feeding spots then jerking rod tip to open
  • No spillage or wasted bait
  • Suitable for all carp fishing baits including boilies, particles and floaters
  • Buoyant and effortless to retrieve
  • Heavy-duty and robust construction – will withstand extreme casting
  • Spreads bait forward in a scattered pattern well beyond the reach of your cast
  • Bait up far margins, snags or islands with no risk of losing Airbomb
  • Confuses nuisance birds and bait eating pests
  • Perfect for floater fishing – release floating baits with no risk of spooking carp

Check out the official video:

When can I buy one?

Airbombs are available to pre-order now, although physical stock will not be here until late March. You will be able to order here. Please note, the first batch is a limited stock delivery, so demand will be extremely high. Therefore we cannot guarantee your back order will be fulfilled from the first stock delivery.

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait.

Women who cast

More and more women are getting into angling, which is great news for the sport. And as they do, ladies are beginning to make an impact in the professional and commercial sides of the sport too. Here’s a run-down of just some of the female angling stars from across the internet.

Marina Gibson

Marina-gibson1

Marina caught the fishing bug from her mum.

“The fin was a riot of greens, pink-reds and yellows, with distinct lines stretching to a metallic finish on the flanks.” Can you guess what fish Marina Gibson caught when she headed for the headwaters of the Orvis Kimbridge beat during the offseason? Her first Grayling of course. Read all about her experience as she targets the “Lady of the Stream”.

A lady herself, Marina is woman on a mission to change the image of angling and, having given up her career in the City to move to Yorkshire, she now fishes, blogs and guides – ever accompanied by her Romanian rescue dog, Sedge.

To follow Marina, check out her website or Facebook page.

Anne Woodcock

anne-woodcock-new

Fancy a spot of angling ladies? Anne will help you get started.

“I thought my line had got stuck! It was the start of 10 minutes of salmon heaven” writes salmon angler, blogger, business woman and guide, Anne Woodcock, of her fishing adventures on the Dee. If you’re a lady who’d love nothing better than to catch her own tasty salmon, then Anne will help you achieve your goal. The driving force behind Ladiesfishing, she runs not-for-profit fishing days for ladies in both England and Scotland.

A strong voice in women’s angling, Anne is marketing director of Fishpal, the award winning online fishing leads service, and she also contributes to community radio station CVFM’s angling programme, “Gone Fishing”.

To follow Anne, check out her website or Facebook page.

Beverley Clifford

bevclifford

Here’s one I caught earlier.

Determined to do something about the lack of angling instruction events solely for women, angler Bev Clifford set up the Ladies Carp Academy which runs at Pool Bridge Farm Fishery near York. It’s a great opportunity for women to “meet and learn from one another in a social, fun and relaxed environment”, says Bev.

The daughter of a specimen angler, it’s no surprise that Bev grew up to become one of the UK’s top female anglers. She says she “grew up in a house with fishing magazines, books, pictures, stuffed fish everywhere”. A truly inspirational lady, she’s also a team angler for DNA Baits, a member of the England Ladies carp team and works in advertising and marketing for angling magazine, Carp Talk.

To follow Bev, check out her website, instagram or Facebook page.

Bex Nelson

Bex-Nelson

All I want for Christmas is…

Another female angler on the up, Bex Nelson was introduced to angling several years ago by her boyfriend. She says “I’ve really grown with skill and knowledge in the last year or so. I’ve fished for all manner of species but the carp bug has taken hold.” Her best catch so far, 29lb George – an “old warrior”, as Bex puts it, she was hoping to break the 30lb barrier before the end of 2017 – better hurry Bex! Check out her Facebook page to find out if she managed to beat that PB.

To follow Bex, check out her instagram or Facebook page.

Katie Griffiths

Katie-Griffiths

Katie loves her carp.

A designer at Total Carp Magazine, Katie Griffiths has also achieved the honour of gracing the magazine’s coveted front page spot. Pictured with title boss, Dan, she shows exactly what she thinks of his catch! She says: “You know you love carp fishing when you see someone catch their target.”

When she’s not working at the magazine, Katie loves nothing better than to wet a line – something she’s been doing quite a lot since she was first introduced to the sport two years ago. Check out some of the photos on her instagram account and you’ll see that her hobby has grown to become a passion – she says angling always “makes me smile”.

To follow Katie, check out the Total Carp Magazine blog or her instagram account.

Lucy Bowden

Lucy-Bowden

Why not let Lucy help you realise your dream of learning to fly fish?

Always dreamed of learning the art of fly fishing? What are you waiting for? Whatever your age, race, gender or ability, Lucy Bowden will teach you to fish. Dedicated to encouraging girls and women in particular into the sport, since she set up Fishing for Everyone in 2005, Level 2 UKCC Game Angling Coach Lucy has inspired many women to give the sport a try.

From “learning how to set up your fishing tackle, performing basic casts, retrieval techniques, to hooking, playing and safely landing fish,” Lucy aims to help everyone acquire the skills and confidence they need to get the most from fishing.

To follow Lucy, check out her website or Facebook page.

Casting for recovery

Ladies kicking in wellies

Casting for Recovery offers fly fishing retreats for women who’re suffering, or have suffered from breast cancer.

“It was the first time since my diagnosis that I had time to myself to realise the impact of my illness on me, and also to be greatly inspired by everyone there who has survived and recovered.” This is just one of the comments from women who’ve experienced the joy of learning to cast at Casting for Recovery, the charity that teaches fly fishing to women with breast cancer.

If you’d like to find out more about Casting for Recovery’s all-expenses-paid fly fishing retreats, or if you’d like to lend a hand helping to raise funds, just get in touch using the online contact form. The full list of retreats for 2018 can be found here.

To follow Casting For Recovery, check out their website or Facebook page.

Do you know a female angling fanatic who you’d like us to tell the world about? To let us know, just drop us a line on our Facebook page.

Winter – Carping Thoughts by Dave Lane

Out with the old and in with the new, Auld Lang syne, New Year’s resolutions or hangovers.

However you choose to greet the new year it is generally accepted that it is a time of reflection and a time of planning, of looking ahead and considering how you might make the coming year better than the one you are leaving behind covered in streamers and half-drunk glasses of punch.

In carp angling it is probably less of a turning point than it is in normal life, that accolade is reserved for April the first, or June the sixteenth in some cases but still; it doesn’t hurt to be prepared now does it.

A winter pearler

A winter pearler

So, assuming you have your new rods, or sleeping bag, bivvy, FishSpy, toasted sandwich maker or whatever it was that Santa shoved down your chimney, you will definitely be gagging to get out there and give it go but where to, that is the question.

If it’s a quick bend of the new rods in winter you need, and you haven’t been for a little while, then staying realistic is the best option.

There is nothing quite as soul destroying in the cold weather as a blank trip on a lake where you soon realise you have no chance whatsoever; much better to lower your sights and have a quick day on a productive day-ticket lake.

Even if it’s just a small double or two in the bottom of the net at least you are back out there fishing and shaking off the winter blues and the excess mince pies.

If, like me, you are a winter stalwart and keep on angling regardless of the time of year then you probably have your venue already chosen and underway, hopefully you have chosen well and taken into account it’s previous winter form, stock levels, size and age of the fish and the realistic chance of actually catching some of them before April.

I have wasted so many months of my life, a scary amount, chasing smoke and mirrors around venues that were never, ever, going to do a winter bite. Lakes that had zero winter form, had never even seen a fish jump during the colder months let alone produced a bite. The reason for this madness was always the same, the fish were huge and the rewards if I did catch one would be beyond belief.

Nowadays I tend to be a little more rooted in my daydreams and I add a touch of reality to the mix, choosing venues that have some fantastic fish but also those that hold enough back up carp to make a bite a distinct possibility and not just a pipe-dream.

The last couple of winters I joined the Quarry syndicate in Essex. This is sort of a halfway house if you like, it’s not easy by any standards but there are enough fish to make it viable, which is good enough for me.

The first year I landed my biggest ever January carp in the form of ‘shoulders’ a huge mirror of forty-four pounds and I had a couple of other good hits with a few blanks in-between but the good times made up for the bad.

This year I am a bit more undecided on a particular venue, so I have chosen to dot about a bit instead, mainly social sessions with mates on various waters across the country.

Next week, for example, I have two nights booked on Yateley Pads Lake with Mr F, I am really looking forward to that one and hopefully a big old January carp in the net.

A winter social and fish on the bank

A winter social and fish on the bank

In years gone by I have targeted lakes such as Lynch Hill, Hunts Corner, Linear’s Manor Farm and Monks Pit, all venues that I probably wouldn’t dream of fishing in the summer or autumn but all holding enough carp to make them decent winter waters, once the bulk of the anglers drop off.

I personally think that January and March are the hardest months of the entire fishing calendar, with December coming a close runner-up. Any carp caught during these months has got to be worth it’s body weight in gold and even a little gold is better than none at all.

A perfect winter fish

Any carp caught during these months has got to be worth it’s body weight in gold

A bonus like Shoulders is great, it’s a winter fish of a lifetime but it’s the others that made the entire winter enjoyable, and every other successful one before that as well.

Mates can make all the difference to a bit of winter fishing and make the whole episode far more bearable and, sometimes, that is just what you need to get you through.

In the Spring and Summer, I would rather not see another angler; nothing personal but I love fishing on my own but during the winter that all changes.

It’s also a good time to plan ahead a little further, to look into more detail what is available for the spring and summer because it will be here before you know it and lakes are not as easily accessible as they once were.

Hanging up the rods in the garage for winter, and falling out of touch with all things carpy, will make you rusty and slower to get going once the better weather does arrive and, of course, you are never going to land a winter carp if you aren’t actually on the bank trying to.

Like I said above, it doesn’t even need to be a full session, not even an over-nighter really, if you pick the right venues you can travel light, pack a flask and some sandwiches and just do a few hours to keep your hand in.

Don’t be afraid of January by Dave Lane

Well its mid-January and the weather is as expected, cold, damp and generally miserable but that is no reason to be the same yourself.

Most of the lakes are deserted, as they usually are at this time of year and even the hardiest of anglers are looking for excuses not to venture out, but the fish are still there and on the right venues so are the chances for a bite or two.

A winter social and fish on the bank

A winter social and fish on the bank

I think the main reason people stop fishing around now is the cold; nobody likes to get cold and I am no exception but there is really no need to if you look at the portable comforts available to us nowadays, especially when compared to yesteryear.

Yes, you may have to trudge the barrow through a bit of mud and the odd puddle or two to reach the swim but, once there, you can be almost as comfortable as you can at home, but with a much better chance of catching of course.

Bivvies have come on in leaps and bounds with thermally insulated twin skins or overwraps and even an inflatable version like the TF Gear Airflo that I have been testing out; a complete house that goes up in under a minute with built a in groundsheet and a rigidity that will withstand anything even the harshest conditions can throw our way. They now do an overwrap for this one, providing even more winter protection.

Bedchairs are so comfortable now that I honestly think my Flat Out is better than the bed I have at home, with a sumptuous thick memory foam mattress and topped with a fleece lined winter sleeping bag that keeps me warm regardless of the temperature outside.

Obviously though, outside is where we want to be a lot of the time, particularly if it involves netting a carp or two but, even then, a decent set of thermals under a proper waterproof outer layer and boots and there is no excuse for getting frozen to the bone.

I understand that the fishing is harder at this time of the year but, most of the time, you only have the carp to compete with and not the usual hoard of other anglers and anything you are lucky enough to catch will be in tip-top condition worth its weight in gold.

Darkness is another factor in the winter as there just seems to be so much of it, but I am a firm believer in having a decent bivvy light and maybe even an I-Pad or Kindle or something to offer a few home comforts during those long winter nights. Laying tucked up in a comfy bag and watching a film on the pad is not exactly a hardship now is it, as long as you are prepared to leap into action should the alarm belt out your favourite tune.

I had a couple of nights on the bank earlier this week with my old mate Marc Coulson and although we didn’t actually catch anything we still had a great time and ate like kings. I created a whole Tandoori chicken on my new Cobb cooker the first night and followed it up on the second night with sirloin steaks and a vegetable stir-fry, hardly what you would call slumming it.

A winter feast of Tandoori Chicken

A winter feast of Tandoori Chicken

I quite often take the barbeque along with me in the winter as well, not only is it something to keep you occupied for longer than just a pot-noodle but fire of any sort is always a natural draw and warms you up nicely in the evening.

As long as you pick a decent venue that has a very realistic chance of a winter bite and banks that aren’t submerged in the mire then there is no reason to shy away from winter angling. You won’t need a ton of bait either, in fact I usually catch more on single bright pop-up’s than anything else with the odd fish on a zig during the day if I am lucky.

I’ll be out there myself again in a few days’ time and probably the week after that as well, it sure beats sitting at home every day staring at Facebook, the telly or dreaming my life away waiting for spring.