How to Hook a Carp on Bait

by Paul Argodale

Derided by some as a trash fish, prized by others for its cautious eating habits, and the main dish at Christmas Eve dinner in the Czech Republic, the carp is full of contradictions and surprises. The carp is known for its soft mouth and sensitivity, and dedicated carp anglers have put much thought into outsmarting their aquatic nemesis. Choosing the right bait, presenting it in natural manner, and setting the hook in its paper-soft mouth are the keys to hooking carp.

Items you will need

  • Dough bait
  • Hair rig
  • Medium-sized rod and reel
  • Sinker
  • Quill float
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Preparing the Bait and Hair Rig

Step 1

Mix 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of white flour, 3 cups of cornmeal. Add water until you have achieved supple, yet solid, consistency. Work the dough into ball 1 inch in diameter. Place the dough balls in a boiling bag and boil for 20 minutes.

Step 2

Tie a size 2 to 6 hook to a 12-inch length of 25-lb. monofilament with an additional loop of monofilament extending from the eye of the hook parallel to the shank. Thread your bait through this "hair," not on the hook.

Step 3

Tie your hair rig to the end of your fishing line. Attach a lead sinker about 2 feet up from the hook, and attach a quill float 3 feet from the sinker.

Hooking Your Carp

Step 1

Cast your bait into waters frequented by carp. Leave the bail of your reel open so that the carp is free to run with the bait before committing to it. Mount your rod and reel in the "English" style, on two Y-shaped sticks about 18 inches off the ground so that your rod is parallel with the ground.

Step 2

Keep an eye on your quill float. It will lie flat on the surface of the water, but when a carp takes your bait, the quill float will first stand up in the water and then disappear below the surface.

Step 3

Close the bail on your rail and set the hook with only the natural resistance of your rod. Allow the carp to run until tired, then reel it in slowly and carefully, bearing in mind the fish's soft mouth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Double your chances by setting up two rigs and fish them at the same time, provided local fish and games laws permit this.
  • Never use bobbers when carp fishing. Carp are very sensitive to the resistance of bobbers and routinely spit out bait at the least resistance.
  • Carp are very bony fish. Eat with extreme care.
  • Their long lives, bottom-feeding habits and high fat content contribute to the carp's assimilating many contaminants. Don't eat more than one carp meal in one week.

About the Author

Paul Argodale has written for the "Village Voice" in New York City, as well as several specialized academic journals. He holds a Master of Arts in applied linguistics and a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and philosophy.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images