Margin fishing is an excellent way to catch carp and you can improve your chances greatly by learning to understand the margins better and the areas to target. Margin fishing is something I’ve been focusing on for years and I have been prolific in these areas. The important thing to remember is that not all margins are created equal, learning to understand them and find the betters spots will help you land more fish long term.
My top 7 margin tips
Here are my top 7 tips
1 – Find the clear hard spots
This is exactly the same as if you have a marker rod out in the middle. The margins are made up of a very similar consistency and depending on the lake you may find a lot more debris, twigs & breaking down leaves, in the margins. There will, however, be some very hard clear spots where the fish will have been feeding and keeping clear.
To find these spots I get a braded marker rod and add a 2.5oz lead and just bounce it around on the bottom going up and down the margin. I’m feeling for clear areas where the lead almost bounces on the bottom – these are the spots I want to find. Once I have found an area I’ll move the lead around and judge the size of the spot. If I think its a good spot I’ll get some bait on it at this point and carry on. Over time I’ll make up a picture of the margin on either side of me and where to target.
Once a spot has been identified I’ll try and drop my rod straight on it and walk my rod back to ensure I’m on the exact spot I’ve found. Once I have a rig on I like to drag it across the spot just to check for any debris and make sure the bait will present perfectly on it. If the spot is not that clear I sometimes use a boilie crumb mix on the spot a couple of times to see if the carp will feed and clear it.
Depending on where I’m fishing I like to have two or three margin spots that every time I’m at the lake I can drop some bait on and keep them feeding on the spots – as long as I’m not impacting anyone else who is fishing there. On a syndicate water, I’ll sometimes do this even when I don’t have time to fish if it’s a quiet lake. I continue this throughout the winter and have found winter spots that work really well even though they are shallow and close to the bank (You can see all my winter fishing tips here)
2 – Look for new reed growth
This is one more for the spring. Reeds are always a great spot to fish in the margins as the carp will often hunt them for food. Finding clear spots in front of them will usually result in a bite with the right bait on a spot.
In the spring I find these areas are particularly productive, this is just as the reeds are starting and may not have broken the surface of the water. Get a decent pair of polaroids on (Like these from Fortis) and find the reed or other plant growth.
3 – Washed out baits & small amounts
Most places you fish have bait being knocked in and dropped in the margins, but not in large amounts. Most places say to take unused home with you but a lot of it ends up in the water. To stop the carp from being wary, fish small amounts of bait – a small handful of boilies will do (8-12 boilies).
To wash them out place them in some water mixed with a matching glug for a couple of days first. This will take the colour out of them but leave the attraction in. This will make the bait look like it has been in the water for a long time and make the carp less wary. Fish a washed-out hook bait in with it for an amazing presentation.
4 – Get in the lake (If allowed)
If you are allowed in the lake in waders, get in and have a feel around with your feet. I’ve learned a vast amount about margins and features from walking around in waders. If you are not allowed in, in general, then make sure you are there for any work parties. Alternatively, especially on club waters, offer to tidy up the margins and remove the debris, this will give you a chance to clear the area you fish and find some spots at the same time – win-win!
Again, make sure you consider your own safety before getting in the lake. Check the depth with a landing net pole to make sure it is safe. It is always a good idea to have a mate on the bank in case you start sinking, get snagged, or drop into a deeper spot!
5 – Lay a trail
When you’ve found your spot then start thinking about where the carp will be coming in from. The basic idea is that it’s preferable having them coming from the other direction to your line. This does depend on a lot of factors and knowing how the fish move around the lake.
With margin fishing, I always think that the carp are more patrolling looking for food than going for big beds of bait. I like to lay a small trail of bait coming to my hook bait. I’ll go an extra 5 to 10 meters down the bank and drop the odd boilie in and build them up to the spot. This gets them taking bait without being spooked as they work their way around to your bait. It also increases the trail of scent for them to follow.
6 – Hand place your rigs
This is one of my ultimate fishing tips – as long as it is SAFE to do so – don’t go falling in a deep margin trying to be clever!
If you are really tight in the shallow then leaning over and placing your rig means you know it is presented absolutely perfectly. You can even hand place your free offering around it if it’s a really tight spot. If it is safe to do so have a feel around the spot for any debit or hook snags and clear them out first. Then place your rig exactly where you want it to be, you can try and find a lump or bump to hide your lead behind.
7 – If you see them, feed them!
I’m often at lakes when I spot fish near me feeding right under your feet. In these cases, I try to get them feeding before a rig goes anywhere near them. If they look to be feeding then there is already some food down there. I start off with just a couple of pellets or boilies and try and get them in as quietly as I can. If they take them or stay in the area I’ll add a couple more and build them up to get the carp feeding confidently. Once they’re taking the bait I’ll then very quietly and gently lower a rig in and sit back and wait for the run.
If there does not appear to be any fish in the margin try dropping a small amount of bait in and keep your eyes peeled for any signs of action!
I hope my tips were helpful. If you have any questions about this or carp fishing in general please get in touch on social media –