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Myth Busting for the Starter Carper
If you're new to carp fishing or have only been doing it for a few years, it can seem very daunting and expensive - especially if you start off by watching loads of content on YouTube or the free DVD’s you can pick up from your local tackle shop.
This can be an excellent way to learn something about how to catch a carp but remember these DVD’s may be packed full of great tips and content on how to catch your next PB carp, but they will come at a price. That price will be the shopping list you take to your local tackle shop to buy all the new items you’ve been told you will need to catch more carp.
Now don’t get me wrong, I own a tackle shop, and yes, it’s nice when we see lads and ladies coming in with lists buying what they think they will need. However, I’m against the ones that feel that if they don’t have this particular product, they won’t catch and the younger carp angler that loves watching their heroes on the DVD’s but can’t afford the gear they think they need. Also, there’s the ones that do have the money, and you can see the items they are putting on the counter are a complete waste of money!
For example, I had a lad come in our shop, and after 10-15 minutes he put some items on the counter he said he needed and it came to around £70. The lad was shocked as he only had £40 on him and was a bit embarrassed, so I stepped in. I asked him why he needed all this end tackle, and he replied, it’s the best. He said he trusts it, and it’s what he’s seen them all using on the DVD he’d just watched. It was mainly all Korda gear, and I’m not even going to get into who’s is better than who’s.
So I looked at his shopping, and I first picked out the two packs of Korda KamaKura hooks and asked why he’d chosen those, and he said they are the best hook on the market. So I asked him why he thought this, and he responded that they are the most expensive hooks, so they must be and were the only hooks being used on the DVD. I told him that I’d never used them, and I’ve always used Nash Twister Hooks since I was a lot younger, and I’d caught a lot of fish. So I showed him where they were but also showed him the Korda Wide Gape hooks that we sell lots of also. I then asked why he needs a size 6 and size 8 hook, and he said it’s because if the fish spook of the size 6, he can change to the smaller size 8 hook.
Anyway, this went on, so I pulled the lad to one side, and we both went through the items he’d put on the counter. I listened to him and got the gist of what he wanted to do, and I knew where he was fishing. I took him around the shop showing him what I would use, and once it was put through the till it came to just over £30. In the middle of the week, the lad came back in our shop with his mom to show me the fish he’d caught, and his mom thanked me for the time I spent with him and the money I saved him.
Now I haven’t said all this to blow my own trumpet, and perhaps if I was a proper businessman, I should have just sold him what he wanted. But that's not me, and I get a bit fed up with how some products are sold and how anglers think that if they don’t use it, they won’t catch carp.
Take colours, for instance. How many of you reading this have bought weedy green everything because that's the colour of the lake bed where you fish, but you’ve also got gravel brown rig components because another water you fish has a brown bottom. How do you know the lake bed is the same colour? It may be a similar colour down by your feet but have you checked it on the spot you are fishing? Perhaps you are fishing a water where there's a bit of silk weed, and you’ve found a firmer spot, so you got your weed green end tackle on rigs and all fishing on this fantastic firm spot you've found that you believe is a feeding area for carp. Let's say it is, and the carp have cleared the spot out by feeding on it. This now means the spot you're fishing on is the clay under the weedy silty top layer. Does this mean you won’t catch because you haven't got clay coloured end tackle? The answer is NO. If those carp come in feeding on that spot and you have a rig on it, you’ve got a very good chance of catching a fish no matter the colour of your rig and rig components.
Think of it this way, if you join the army, will the clothing you wear be just one colour say olive green, like the main colour of fishing hoodies and joggers? No, it will be a camo with flecks of different colours to help you blend in. So why use all the same colour or those colours anyway? Is it because someone on a DVD has told you to because you will catch more fish? I’m not saying that blending your end tackle into the lake bed is wrong because it isn’t. What I’m saying is, if the colour you are using doesn’t slightly match, don't worry about still fish confidently. Also, when you are using, say a gravel brown set up and you hook a branch that’s been sat on the lake bed. Look at its colour, and if it's been down there a while, it will be black. So does this mean the fish will be used to thin long black objects on the lake bed because small sticks and leaf stems will be everywhere? Not many angler fish with silt coloured rig components, so why not?
Just like using a size 4 hook to a size 6 hook unless you are using the size of the hook to balance your rig with a pop up or wafter, just use the size 4 hook. How does the carp know the difference in size - they ain’t that clever! Also, look where the carp’s eyes are set in it’s head. Yes, it may see your hook from a distance, but when it gets close enough to suck in your hook bait, I really don’t think it can see any of it. Let's say it does see your hook. How does it know it’s a hook? A mouse sees the trap but still gets caught, and his mate watches the trap kill his mate, and that mouse gets caught next by the same trap once reset, so why? Just like the hook you’ve just reset the trap!
The main problem here is people on DVD’s are teaching you how to catch fish in the waters they fish and know. Just like the first Korda underwater DVD there’s a part where a carp rests down by the rig ( stomach flat to the bottom ) then bolts off, and one of them is heard saying, it knew it was a leader, I turned it off, and that was me done. HOW, how does that carp know what it was? For all, we know it could have been something sticking up out of the lake bed that pricked the fish, and that’s why it shot off. Now I’m not saying that anyone from Korda is trying to mislead anyone else because they are a great bunch at Korda, and Danny gets as much passion out of seeing others catch fish as he does catching them himself. But it affected me so much that I turned it off. How many people would buy into the fact that the carp definitely knew it was a leader or line.
Many years ago, the great Kevin Nash, Rod Hutchinson, Terry Hearn, and lots of other amazing carp anglers were catching many amazing big fish. They didn't have any of this new modern gear to use. They listened or overheard other carp anglers on the lake saying what they’d seen or know about how the fish responded to certain things. They would do lots of homework on the lake they were fishing to give them the best chance of catching on their water. A lot of the things we use today no doubt they would have loved, but not because if you use it, it will guarantee you will catch a fish. It’s because it makes fishing so much easier and safer for the carp.
I can remember as a kid, I used to fish a pond outside a pub, and I went to see a mate fishing up there. He’d been there a few hours and hadn’t caught anything. I saw some carp on the surface and asked if he’d got a rod, I could borrow, he had but he didn't have another reel. I went around the pool and by the pub was some of that white nylon string on the ground about six feet in length. I took it back around to where my mate was, threaded it down a couple of the eyes from the tip eye, tying it to the fourth or fifth eye down. Remember, these were just float rods, not carp rods. There were a lot more eyes. I then got the biggest hook he had, untwisted some of the string so I could get enough strands to thread through the eye of the hook and tied it to the end. Then I hooked on a piece of bread crust, dampened it with water to add a bit of weight and swung it in front of a carp swimming towards me. It came straight up inhaling the bread, and after a short battle, I landed a carp of around five pounds.
So in today's standards, how did I do that because I was using nothing that was the same colour as the water, but I did use something the fish loved, bread crust. I believe that if you can get a hookbait to feeding fish without them knowing, you will catch them. I was using hideous white string and a big hook, but that didn’t bother the fish because they love the bait I gave them.
One of the main things I see is that anglers spend lots of money on terminal tackle they may never use but buy the cheapest bait they can. When you watch the lads from Korda or Nash, Fox, ESP and other companies showing you all the latest end tackle they use to catch fish.
Let's be honest, it is well thought out gear and makes our fishing so much easier, but some of you miss the key product of all, the bait they are using.
It is not the cheapest on the shelf or in the freezer, but it is proven to catch fish. I’m not saying that cheaper boilies won't catch. I know they do because I use them, and I catch lots of fish, but perhaps you are looking at it all wrong.
Everything about doing any sport well is confidence, so start with a bait you know goes in a lot of waters, then you will sit confidently knowing that if a fish does come across it, there's a very good chance it will eat it.
Then the rig, the hook and the rig material you use. Make sure it’s strong enough to catch the biggest fish in the lake, and you know the hook is strong enough to land it. Once you've got the right bait and rig, you will start catching fish and catch lots, so you are confident that the bait and rig work. I've used the same style of rig for most of my fishing and tweaked it slightly, but I’m so confident in it. It's my go to rig, especially if I fish a new water because I know it works and I’m confident using it. That's what you need too, a go-to rig and bait you are confident using.
Don’t get me wrong. You may need to change it slightly because someone is catching a lot of fish on a different bait to yours, but you know the rig and bait has caught you fish everywhere else, so it's a great starting point. The other is you've heard or been told what someone else is catching on so you can change to the bait they are using and perhaps your catch rate on that water will go up but if you change waters revert back to your go-to rig and bait and start again. No DVD will give you better knowledge than local knowledge.
Catching carp can be as hard or as easy as you want to make it, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s all about you trying, making your own mistakes and learning from them. So if you're using your go-to rig and it's not working, think about it, is it the rig or have you got it in the wrong place. Just because you're not catching doesn't mean the bait and the rig you are using are rubbish. You just may be fishing in the wrong area. So learn about the feeding habits of the fish in your water and don’t think they will do the same as on the DVD you are watching, but one thing they will all like is a good quality bait!
If you want to learn more, get in touch.