Tactics For Shy, Tricky Carp

Have you set your sights on a carp lake where the fish are shy, finicky or just down-right difficult to catch? Here’s some advice that might help…

Trev wrote:

Just wondering if you could help me on my local lake.  When we have put a bed of pellets down the fish are bubbling like crazy and no matter what we put in front of them they will not take.  We have tried 8mm pellets, boilies, pepperami… even sweetcorn; but the fish just won’t take the hook baits.

Please could you give me some ideas as to the problem as I’m sure you may have come across this problem yourself.

Hi Trev,

Not an easy question to answer without being there, but I’ll have a go. Firstly I’d want to make sure it is in fact the carp that are bubbling, as in the past I have wasted time fishing for bubblers only to find out they were bream or tench.

carp fishing for tricky carp

Assuming though they are carp, at this time of the year (you asked this questions in summer) food is very abundant to the fish, so it is a fair bet they are feeding on naturals and even if you are putting pellets out they will not be getting on the bait in any way.

In these circumstances you have a couple of options, you could try putting quite a big bed of bait into the swim to try and compete with the natural food, something cheap like hemp, maple peas or partiblend. These small particles can be introduced in large quantities and get the fish turned onto them. This was a technique I used many years ago and caught a lot of fish. In fact Rod Hutchinson was one of the first anglers so advocate large beds of small particles. You can fish either particle on the hook or preferably boilie.

Another tactic would be to start a bait campaign with a good quality food bait boilie. From the sound of it if you are fishing baits like sweetcorn and pepperami so I assume you won’t have been baiting with any top quality boilies.

I would suggest using one of the top makes of bait on the market to get the fish switched on to this type of bait.

Don’t necessarily jump on the baits others have been using. There are lots to choose from Nutrabaits, Mainline etc, at the moment my favourite baits are the Special Crab and Rahja Spice from Quest Baits, these type of baits aren’t cheap but very effective.

Nutrabaits Boilies

I find them pretty instant as a rule, but you may have to introduce a fair amount at this time of the year to get the fish onto the baits and then looking out for them.

Try baiting up different areas of the lake, doing so even when you are not fishing…. Nip down in the evenings to walk around and introduce the baits in likely looking places. This doesn’t have to be your favourite swim, but simply to get the fish onto the bait.

Once they do start eating it, and they will, they recognise it as food and will mostly likely accept it where ever they choose to feed. Baiting this way you won’t need to put huge amounts in when you fish, as the carp will already be on to the quality boilies in preference to cheap baits and sweetcorn.

Finally make sure your rigs are spot on. You can’t afford to let the fish get away with testing your bait and not giving a bite.

Use a marker rod to be sure of the make up of the lake bed, if it is silt then your baits may be buried, hence one explanation as why you’ve not been getting bites, in this case try a critically balanced bait, a pop up or a snowman presentation.

I personally like the combi-rigs to get the best presentation and hook holds. It is also possible that the fish are in the swim but not feeding in the spots where you have placed you baits. Get your marker rod and map out the lake bed in front of you. You may well find a gravel bar, weedbed, gully or whatever that has been attracting the fish. Sometimes that small change can make all the difference.


2 thoughts on “Tactics For Shy, Tricky Carp

  1. Winter Carp Fishing Baits / Expert Tactics | Specimen Angling News says:

    […] Reader’s Query: Tactics for Finicky Carp (0) […]

  2. Brie says:

    Just a quick note to say I found that really useful,
    Thanks Brie

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