It’s cold, it maybe snowing, but does that stop us catching carp? NO!
Here’s my top winter carp tips and tactics to get more fish on the bank this year. Read on to find out how to catch carp in winter.
Other winter guides
Winter carp bait
Winter carp clothing
Winter carp – Top 7 tips!
1 – Be prepared
As the boy scouts motto goes you need to get yourself prepared for winter fishing. Whether its a nice commercial water you are going to or a lake in the middle of no where make sure you get ready before you go. In the summer I’m all for chucking it all in the back of the car and sorting it when I get there, but not the winter.
Preparation is the key to success and not freezing your you know whats off!
Make sure you have plenty of warm clothing, hot drinks and if your crazy enough for a winter night session a decent warm sleeping bag.
2 – Start late
On the colder days the carp are more active in the later parts of the afternoon until a couple of hours after dark. It’s best not to rush off out to catch them at 7am as you’ll be hitting the wrong time and freezing by the peak time. Again this goes back to planning your sessions to get more carp.
3 – Keep going
This is one of the best winter carp tips I can give. Keep the rods going in and out of the water to try and find the fish. They don’t move as much in the winter so take a view of your swim and keep moving your hook bait around to find some fish.
You may even find a few holed up together and after a fish it’s worth probing the same spot again. I’d say cast in every 30-45 minutes moving slowly around the swim looking for bites. A zig rig can work well in winter too, I personally only use these as a back up on really tough days but they can entice the odd fish out.
4 – Watch the water
It’s tempting to download the latest game of thrones and just watch that on your tablet while fishing but watching the water can have good long term results. As soon as you see any sign of a carp then get some bait over in that direction.
As mentioned above carp tend to hole up together so it could be leading you to the best spot on the lake. Once you’ve found the right spots in the swim then kick back and watch game of thrones!
5 – Smaller baits
I’ve got a full blog on the best winter baits here (link to follow). As a general rule size down on the tackle and baits – especially the free offerings. There’s no need in winter to spod out a load of bait, try smaller baits – boilies of 10mm and 12mm work well even for the bigger carp. These work well fished with just a couple of freebies in a PVA bag – I’d add a glug of something stinky just to improve the attraction.
6 – Zig it up!
Some people seem obsessed with the idea that in the winter carp just sit on the bottom in the same place, but I don’t find that to be the care. Ignoring the zig rig is a big mistake in winter carp fishing in my opinion. It’s not the first method I’d try on arrival at a lake but is one I’ll use throughout the day. Get a glugged popup on and try and different levels in the water and see if it gets any bits.
7 – Glug, Glug and more Glug
I’ve mentioned this a couple of times already but a top tip is to make sure you keep glugging your baits on every cast and mix the flavours up. In winter you can’t just nail a load of spod mix in to attract the fish so adding extra attractants to the bait is essential.
Winter carp tactics
As well as my top 5 tips I’m sharing my favourites tactics for winter carp too. These are ways that I’ve caught in difficult sessions. I do find winter fishing tough and I’ve had a few blanks over the years but it’s best to persevere and not get down hearted by the odd blank!
Tactic 1 – 12mm Dynamite boilies, pva string – Crab and banana glug
As mentioned above this is all about keeping it small scale and these 12mm boilies on a PVA string do the trick perfectly. I’ll only string 2-3 extra boilies and then give them a good glug of the crab and banana flavouring. This really helps to enhance the bait and get those all important bites.
You can get these bits here –
Complex-t boilies – 12mm here
Korda total dissolve – PVA braid here
Carp signal booster – Crab and banana here (There’s a good range of flavours to pick from so mix it up and try other ones)
Tactic 2 – Dead maggots
A massively overlooked tactic in winter in my opinion. Depending on the range I’ll either fish a clump of these on a size 12 hook or use a maggot ring. Pour boiling water over the maggots or freeze them over night to kill them. If you’ve never fished this way for get ready for a smell sensation! (not in a good way!)
Tactic 3 – Popup over pva bag of pellets
I’d again go for a popup of 12mm or 10mm in this and often use ringers white shellfish which are a great bait. These are fished with a really small PVA bag of low oil pellets along with some glug again. If them bites are quiet this is the method I’ll turn to to try and get some bites.
If your looking for an alternative to the glug then Korda goo works quite well for a bit of variety.
New for this season – Ive been enjoying using this bait spray (see below). It’s one that help make the hook bait stand out more and can get you quicker bites in the summer. I’ll be testing it our more over the winter and will update you on how it goes. It is PVA friendly so you can spray you free offerings and bags in it.
Tactic 4 – Small boilies, spod mix and maggots
This is one that I’ve seen some good catches on Instagram (like our page – Casual Carper) and is a good one for the winter – obviously your bait could get obliterated in the summer on these tactics. You scale down the bait to a 10mm boilies fished over a very small amount of bait including (or a mix of) spod mix, corn, pellets and maggots. You can then fish the small boilie on the hook with a corn stopper – or with a fake corn popup for a critical balance.
Tips – A good tip for catching carp on this method id to use a popup over the bed of bait. Then add a small amount of tungsten putty and just let it popup about 1-2 inches rather than a full hook length worth.
Tactic 5 – Ground bait
In winter getting the smell of attractants into the water can be tricky, as you don’t want to pile in masses of bait. A good trick is to use a bread crumb ground bait mixed purely with liquid additives and not many, if any, free offerings. The smell will do the job of attracting the carp to and area where they’re find your hook bait. As its winter the smaller fish won’t pick off the ground bait like they would in the summer.
Best winter rigs
In winter everyone knows to scale down as mentioned above, smaller baits and smaller hooks work but being flexible with your rigs will really help you catch more carp too.
Rig 1 – Micro chod mk2
This one comes from renowned angler Adam Penning and was featured in Carpology recently. This is a rig I’m a big fan of in winter. The hinging of the hair keeps the bait presented nicely away from the lead core and works well with small popups and wafters. Here’s how the rig looks –
You can read how to tie this rig here. This is one well worth checking out and playing around with to see how to get it setup to suit your fishing. I like to mix it up with a slightly longer hook link to sit it more prominently in the water depending on where I’m fishing and what the bottom is like.
Rig 2 – Single maggot on the hook
Whilst this isn’t specifically a different rig it just gives you another option. Take a hook link with out a hair and a hook size or 10 or 12 and feed the maggot onto the straight of the hook. Fish with a pva bag of dead maggots on a standard ledger rig for great effect. In winter you won’t have the problem of smaller silver fish and perch taking the maggot like you would in spring/ summer.