Ramblings of a Carp Angler – Dropping Lead

Should I set up my rigs to drop a £1 plus lead on every take, or not? This is a subject that again is becoming a controversial issue amongst the carp angling community.

Carp Fishing Leads

My usual set up

It appears to be the fashion to set a rig up so that if you get a take the lead is released immediately. I know that we all talk about fish welfare but is it really necessary to throw money away just because everyone else is doing so?

My answer to this is no!

I am sorry if this offends some anglers principals but I do not believe that dropping a lead is always necessary. I fully believe that the most important issue is the welfare of our beloved carp, but sometimes there are other methods that are safer than dropping lead.

Lets look at some fishing situations that we all come across when fishing different venues at different times of the year.


Carp Fishing Leads

Rig-Marole Freefall System

From around the middle of October through to the beginning of May the following year, most waters, not all, are generally weed free. There are some exceptions such as the growth of lily beds which will start to grow a little earlier. Where the weed does start to show during the warmer months then, yes, set up your rigs to dispose of its lead on a take. Dropping the lead will make it easier to bring the carp to the surface and over the weed beds and reduces the chances of locking up a fish.

Snags and over hanging margins

Snag fishing is dangerous at the best of times when it comes to the welfare of the carp. Most sensible anglers will avoid fishing too close to the snags, but you now find that most British, German and Dutch anglers that visit French lakes have the use of a bait boat. Because of the ease and accuracy that can be obtained from the use of a boat, some can be tempted to get closer and closer to dangerous snags.

Carp Fishing Lead Release

Safety clip with pin

Situations like this would require a lead to be dropped immediately on a take, and possibly also using barbless hooks with tubing, and no leadcore or leaders. It is imperative that the carp has the best chance of freeing itself if it does manage the safety of the snags.

Open water fishing with no weed or snags

I personally do not see the need to drop a lead when fishing open water. I always set up my rig, so that if a carp does encounter a problem when I am retrieving it, a shake of it’s head will release the lead. I believe that this is all that is needed in this situation,  however, more and more lakes are enforcing the leads to be dropped no matter what, on every take.

Just think what our lake beds will look like in a few years from now, with 3 and 4 ounce leads scattered in the popular feeding areas about the lake. If there are 30 runs on a lake in a week, that would be 5.6 pounds of lead dropped. If you look at the most productive times of the year, April to mid-October which is approximately 28 weeks, that would amount to 840 leads weighing around 157 pounds or 70 kilos.

Carp Fishing Leads

MCF dumper rig

For years now, we have been trying to reduce lead pollution from fossil fuels, so what are we doing now, introducing lead to out water ways. The only answer to this is to ban lead altogether from our fisheries, using natural products such as small rocks or stones. I know that there some such products on the market, but they are not popular, as they are not anywhere near as dense as lead. Even if we convert to other metals, none can work out as cheap or as dense as lead, and we shall carry on littering our lakes with more and more debris.

So what is the answer. Educate anglers. More rules and banning of certain terminal tackle. I don’t know. But we do need to look after our carp and also try and reduce the amount of tackle that we are depositing during our fishing sessions. Maybe a weighted substance that breaks down after a few weeks in the lake, but again it would have to be non harmful to fish, invertebrates and bird life.

Paul Cooper

Carp Fishing Leads

Pebble weights. Are these the answer?

For over 40+ technical carping videos from Paul and others follow the link – Carp Fishing in France


6 thoughts on “Ramblings of a Carp Angler – Dropping Lead

  1. Shaun Harrison says:

    I only set my rigs to drop the leads off on the take if I have to (fishery rules) or if I deem I really need to.
    For most angling situations I favour systems that drop the lead when there is a problem – when it has caught up on something. All this about dropping fish because of the lead being on the line makes me smile. It is a wonder we ever landed anything before lead clips!
    I had one memorable winter session with Mark Hutchinson where we landed almost 50 doubles in a day between us just after the water had thawed. I don’t think either of us dropped more than a couple of leads off all day and we only suffered one single hook pull each.
    I am more concerned about dumping toxic lead week in week out, year in year out than worrying if the hook will fall out with the lead on the line.
    If you play your fish correctly the hook won’t fall out if your rigs are right in the first place. I would urge all anglers to use systems that allow the lead to drop off in the event of a problem but not that loose that they drop off on the take. It isn’t necessary other than to the lead suppliers.

  2. David Keep says:

    Totally agree Shaun… this fad of dropping leads for every take must be one of the daftest yet. How can anyone justify leaving lead in the lake when it’s not necessary? Bonkers!

  3. Linda Latham says:


    I only use safety rigs which allow the lead to drop off when snagged in heavy weed or lillies etc. It does seem mad to have a rig which drops the lead on the fish take. I do wonder what some lake beds look like below water with the cast off tackle when fishing my local waters I find some swims with so much rubbish left by anglers (line, end tackle broken bits and bags) do we need any reason to start leaving the lake bed in a mess (but that’s another ‘bug bear’ subject .

    I do like the look of the pebble weights but they are usually more expensive than the lead ones 🙁 they at least look more at home in the water than the lead ones. I normally find the weight of the lead is the only thing keeping the hook in the fishes mouth while it jumps and cavorts around the lake and have found when in the net often the hook comes out without any help from me when the pressure is off. Leaving unnecessary leads on the lake bed is a no no for me and I can’t see the carp being too happy having to push then aside to get to the bait :-). I wonder if they would pick them up with the bait (one way to make your fish heavier) !!

    It is interesting reading all the different comments from a large range of anglers. 🙂


  4. Pat Gillett says:

    Couldn’t agree more, I always set my rigs up to drop the lead only if there is a problem. Dropping the leads on every take is not just daft from a cost point of view, but also most definately from an environmental point of view (as Paul quiet rightly points out in the article).

  5. Ron Key says:

    Looks like we all agree on the lead dumping issue


    Cheers Ron

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