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Fish Spy Review

Fish spy review and tips

I’m a big fan of gadgets and when I saw the fish spy I thought this would be another one for the collection. I picked mine up just over a year ago and have used it a few times since. For comparison I also have a couple of Water Wolfs and a Deeper Chirp, you’ll find reviews of these on the site too. Firstly I will talk you through the setup, then some tips and then my opinions. If you are thinking of buying one, have a read of my review further down the page here to see if it the right thing for you.

How to set up a Fish Spy

The setup is the same as setting up a marker float, which in effect it is. Here is how it should look, taken from the Fish Spy website.

Fish Spy set up rig

If you have a marker float setup or rod ready you can just switch your standard float to the fish spy and then you are ready to connect.

Connecting your Fish Spy

All fish spy’s come with a unique number that you need to have to connect the device to your phone or tablet. This is its own WIFI signal. The number you need is in the paperwork, or if you cannot find that then connect your Fish Spy to a computer via the USB connection and it will show the name. It is usually fish spy-XXX where the XXX is your unique number. You have to do this via “add WIFI network” and make sure you add the correct name, there isn’t a password requirement on the connection. Once it is connected once you do not need to reconnect, it will automatically connect when the fish spy is on.

Turning the fish spy on

There are 3 positions to you fish spy, these are unlocked, locked and redirecting. When unlocked you can plug the device into charge or get your footage. The top of the float will be loose when unlocked. For transporting the locked position holds everything in place and waterproof. If the battery has died you can use it as a standard market float in this setting. Then the next setting is for recording, turn it to this and the recording will start. Connect your phone to the fish spy WIFI and open the app. Cast it out and off you go!

Fish Spy Tips

Here are my top tips for getting the most from your fish spy!

1 – Take your time!

As with all new devices, it takes some time to get the best footage from it. Don’t expect to attach it and then launch it as far as you can and get amazing footage. Due to its weight, it flies differently than a streamlined marker float and can be more affected by wind. I would advise taking it to clear water and having a practice with it before you start using it fully.

2 – Let it go down to the bottom

From my experience, unless the water is phenomenally clear or shallow, you don’t get a great stream from the surface. It is better used to target clear spots and then pull the spy down in the water and watch the footage back when it’s on the bank. This will give you a much better view of your clear spot and makes much better use of the device. you can then watch the data back on the app once you have retrieved the spy. NOTE – You need to turn on record on the app or you’ll only get the live footage.

3 – Consider buying something else!

In my opinion, this isn’t the best gadget on the market, but at its current pricing, it’s decent tool for the money.

If you have a large budget consider the newer version that combines the Fish Spy camera with a sonar feature finder. I’ve not had a chance to have a look at one of these yet and with the limitations of the Fish Spy above the water, I’m not sure that I will as I already have a Deeper Pro Chirp.

4 – Use it at the end of your session as well as the start

If you are using it to find spots and features and recording what the bottom looks like then use it at the end of the session. Send it back down to record what the bottom looks like now – how much of your bait is left? Is there anything specific that the carp have eaten or left that you can learn from. This will help you to identify how good the spots you are fishing over and working on your baiting patterns and mixes for your next session.

Fish Spy Review

This review is based on my personal opinions on the Fish Spy. I bought the Fish Spy myself and have not been paid, or been in contact with Fish Spy about this.

In my opinion, the Fish Spy is one of those things that sounds like a good idea but in practice isn’t a major advantage if you do not use it correctly. If you are already handy with a marker float and feeling the bottom then I would possibly stick to that. Whilst it is handy to look at what you are fishing over and this is the best option for the price.

I have a Water wolf HD camera (see review here) which I much prefer. It has a range of other recording options including looking at your rigs and I use these all the time in the winter when the water is clearer. If I want to see the bottom on a spot I can clip up and cast it to my spot and then just take the memory card out and look at it on my phone. I appreciate you can get the images off the fish spy on to your phone from the app, for me it is just that the Water Wolf is more versatile.

In some cases, I did find the Fish Spy struggle with the range and was a pain to reconnect when it had been underwater at distance. On some occasions, I had to reel in to reconnect it and then cast it back out. I do think the sonar and camera version will not have as many issues as it sits on the surface more like the deeper rather than going underwater as much. Although, this could again lead to issues if the water is not perfectly clear.

Overall I would give it 6 out of 10! For the £60 price tag it now has it’s okay, but the price it was first retailing at no chance!

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How to approach a new carp lake

new carp lake tips

If you are going to be fishing a new carp water in the UK or planning a carp fishing holiday in France, then there are some fundamental principles to follow that will increase your chances of putting fish on the bank.

Do your research

Probably the best research you can do before starting your fishing campaign is to visit the water you are intending on fishing. If possible, try to be at the lake for first light or dusk as this will maximise your chances of seeing carp show. Spend as much time as you are able to at the water and make a note of any signs of fish activity. When you do see signs of activity or a ‘show’ then also make a note of the time, as well as weather conditions as this can be valuable information.

If you are not able to get to the lake before you are due to start your campaign, which is almost always the case with carp fishing holiday venues, don’t worry, there is still plenty of useful research you can do. Social media platforms and the internet have revolutionised how information is shared between anglers.

For better or for worse, depending on your view, it is here to stay and it is a valuable tool. You’ll find most lakes or angling clubs have a social media presence, which usually has useful information such as catch reports. Make a note of the dates of the captures and screenshot the catch photos on your phone. When you visit the lake try to match up the photos with the area of the lake to gage an idea of the swims the fish may have been caught from.

This is helpful information to know when you are starting out on a new lake. However, always remember that fish are mobile and their behaviour and location will change depending on the time of year and the weather conditions. Do not assume that the areas you have identified from previous catch reports will always be the most productive areas to fish.

Fish location

Locating where the carp are, is the biggest factor in increasing your chances of success. An angler who knows the carp patrol routes and preferred feeding spots has a huge advantage over an angler that does not.

When you first arrive at the lake, rather than opt for the nearest swim to the car park or the most comfortable looking swim if you are on a week-long session, walk a lap of the lake and carefully scan the water for signs of carp. If there are any trees that look easy to climb then these will give you an excellent vantage point.

As you walk the lake if you come across any marginal spots that look like they may be an area that the carp visit, then scatter a handful of bait in. A good option is to use boilies that have been pre-gluged and mixed in your bait bucket. As you do a second lap of the lake look for any oily slicks coming up to the surface, feeding bubbles or general water disturbance which indicate the presence of carp.

If you can’t find the carp or see any signs as to where they may be, a good option is set up in a central area that will give you good visibility of both sides the lake. Fishing in the middle of the lake means that will never be too far from the fish, but also means that you have really good water coverage and can move when you do see signs of where the carp are.

Feature Finding

When you have decided which swim you are going to fish, the next task is usually to flick a lead out to see what the lake topography is like. If however, you have found a swim and there are fish feeding and you don’t want to spook them, you may want to cast out a PVA bag or a rig such as the chod rig which will give you effective presentation over most lake beds.

When you start feature finding it’s really important that you make a note in your phone or in a note pad of where the feature is and the number of wraps from the bank. Firstly, if you catch a fish on the spot then you want to be able to get the rod out to the same spot again with the least amount of commotion.

Secondly and this is particularly useful for long campaigns, by keeping a record of lake features and depths you will start to build up a picture of the lake. When the temperatures drop and the fish show themselves less, having this knowledge will help you to make an educated guess as to where the fish may be.

Pre Baiting

Pre baiting can make a huge difference between success and failure, especially when it is a new lake that you are not familiar with. Offering the fish ‘free bait’ with no lines in the water will build up the carp’s confidence as they start to feed more freely. If you keep baiting the same areas carp will start to visit these spots regularly, as they come to associate them with food.

On club waters and syndicates where you are permitted to pre bait, it can give you a serious edge especially if you are able to visit the lake in between sessions.

On holiday venues it is of course generally not possible to pre bait. It is also very tempting to cast out soon after your arrival. You will have been planning the trip for months and spent a fair amount of money on the trip, so naturally, you want to maximise your time fishing. However, maximising fishing time does not always equate to maximising the number of fish caught. Some holiday venues see pressure all year round so you need to set yourself out from the crowd.

For these types of lakes, pre-baiting and resting the swim can pay huge dividends if you are brave enough to do it. Bait up your swim, but try to resist the urge to cast your lines out for the first 24 hours. On pressured lakes, the carp will naturally migrate to areas of the lake without any lines. By giving them a free meal and building up their confidence when feeding, the carp will lower their guard making them easier to snare when you do wet your lines.

If you can resist fishing when you first arrive at the lake, then another option is to rest the swim for a few hours during the middle of the day. On pressured lakes where the fish often see the same tactics every week of the year, these small changes to your approach can make the difference.

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Water Wolf HD review

Casual carper underwater camera review promo graphic

**Update** The Water Wolf HD is not currently available in the UK. If you are looking for one the best place to try is eBay.

The Water Wolf HD is an underwater camera designed so you can film your rigs and the fish under the water. I’ve been using one for my carp fishing for over a year now and have added some videos and a full review of the product here. If you have any questions about it then add a comment at the bottom of the page or send me a tweet to @casual_Carper.

I’d recommend buying one but read the review for the limitations of what you’ll see on the recordings. There is a lot to learn from using one, but don’t expect perfect videos of you catching monster carp!

Update – I now have 2 of these so I can do a film on 2 rods at once! You can see the videos on my Youtube channel here or on Instagram – search “Casual Carper“.

Water Wolf – Carp fishing review

The first thing to point out from my experience of using this in UK lakes – Ignore the very sexy youtube videos on the product. Unless you fish a flat bottomed, gin-clear lake that has an abundance of big carp you won’t get videos like that! But if you use this device for learning about the bottom conditions and how you’re rig looks then you’ll learn a great deal.

To fish with one you’ll need the camera and the bottom filming kit – I’ll show you how to set that up further down the page.

You can buy them here from Amazon with next day delivery

Here’s how a decent video of a carp taken in spring. (Carp comes up on 43 seconds)

How to set up the Water Wolf

To get started you need to get the top off to get it charged – it’s seriously tight the first time you do it! Put some strong monoline (not braid) through the hole at the top and pull, keep the pressure on and wiggle the line side to side and it will eventually come loose. Then plug the charger in and it will take a couple of hours to full charge – when the blue light goes off it is done.

Next, add the memory card, there’s only 1 way to add it so it clicks in place. Make sure the memory card is clear when you put it in as it can cause problems with the recording if not. To test add the memory card and turn the Water Wold on to start recording. If the red light flashes intermittently then it’s fine and recording. If it flashes for 9ish seconds and then goes off you’ll need to wipe the memory card completely and start again.

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Setting up the bottom kit

What you’ll need

Water Wolf underwater bottom filming kit

Lead core looped at each end (like this below from Gardner Tackle)

Your rig (For ideal recordings you’ll want to be around 5 inches from the device – this is why you won’t catch much with it on!)

Here’s my latest YouTube review to getting the most out of your Water Wolf

Tips for using the Water Wolf for carp fishing

  1. Be prepared to have to use it a few times to get it right. Depending on the clarity of the water you may need to close/ further away from the camera. Sometimes on an uneven bottom, you can end up with videos of nothing so it’s good to keep moving it about.
  2. Remember you won’t get sexy videos – use it for testing different rigs, baits and areas of the swim to see what’s there. It’s great for checking out how wafters work underwater or popups – especially if you tie and tweak your own rigs.
  3. It’s best used in spring when the water is a little clearer.
  4. Have 2 memory cards – That way if you take a computer/ tablet with a card reader you can watch some of the footage whilst taking some on the other card.

Here’s a video I took last year of a pellet banjo feeder underwater. (You can see the blog – beginners guide to fishing for carp on the method feeder here)

Recently I’ve been getting some better videos from the wolf by concentrating on waters where the water is clearer. Whilst I think I’ll get fewer bites with the Wolf on the bottom compared to a standard lead I’m still getting some good footage. As mentioned above you need to see this as a learning tool about how your baits are presented on the bottom rather than getting sexy videos of you catching 30s!

Here’s a recent video I took using a popup and losing a carp (keep watching to see the carp!

Things I’ve learned from using the Water Wolf

  1. Without rig foam my rig gets tangled around 1 in 7 casts – So now I’m not lazy and use rig foam every cast if I’m not using a feeder. (like this from Gardner Tackle)
  2. The quality of your popups really matter. I’ve found some cheaper ones act much more like a wafter.
  3. Using tungsten putty on the rig gives a much better presentation to get more bites (in my opinion). Especially when you just use it to sit your hook bait around 1 – 2 centimetres from the bottom.
  4. Roach often swim around with the carp looking for smaller bait they stir up. Not sure if this is lake specific, but when the roach come into the camera there’s usually a carp around too.