How to Accurately Fish up to Features for Carp

by | Carp, Advanced |

Most anglers recognise that location is one of the most important skills to crack in order to be successful when it comes to carp fishing. Most of our waters contain features that carp will naturally be drawn towards. These very ‘carpy’ features might include overhanging trees, snags, lily pads and far margins. In this article, we discover how to fish tight to these features accurately and safely.

Why being accurate matters

Often, getting very tight to these features is essential. For example, carp love to rest below lily pads. It’s simply a natural holding spot for them that offers a level of protection. They are quite commonly actually directly underneath the pads, only occasionally drifting out before darting back beneath them again.

If you want to profit from this and similar situations, you’ll need to get tight up to the pads, almost with a low cast that hits the water by the edge of the pads and then continues to travel slightly under them. To achieve this, you need to be extremely accurate.

Step by Step: How to Accurately Fish up to Features

So, I’ve arrived at a local club lake. I’ve had a good walk around and have located some carp that are held up on the far bank. The fish are patrolling up and down that far margin, but I need to get very tight to it if I want to have the best chance. If I drop a yard or two short, it just won’t be good enough.

Step 1: Make the first cast

Here I make my first cast towards the far bank. At this point I’m just using a bare lead with no rig and I try to purposely drop short, by around a rod length or so.

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Step 2: Peel off and clip up

In this example, as intended I have fallen a rod length short, so I peel a few yards of line off the reel, before putting the line under the line clip.

Step 3: Cast Again

Now make another cast and this time slightly overestimate the distance, as the line clip is going to stop the lead hitting the far bank. In my scenario I’m starting to get a lot closer but have fallen short again.

It’s now just a case of rinsing and repeating the process above, each time peeling less and less line off the reel – slowly edging up to the feature until it’s positioned perfectly.

Step 4: Wrap it around the distance sticks

Now you’ve hit the spot accurately, it’s time to make it repeatable with every cast. This is really useful if you know you’re going to be fishing towards the same spot throughout the session.

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If I get a fish from this spot, I want to be able to hit it quickly and easily with a single cast and if I’m night fishing, then I want to be able to hit the spot, even in the dark; using distance sticks allows me to do this.

  • Take your distance sticks and place them a rod length apart (12ft in this case)
  • Drop your rig to the side of the left-hand distance stick
  • Open the bail arm on the reel and start wrapping line around the distance sticks until you hit the line clip
  • Now you know exactly how far away your spot is, in terms of rod length (more commonly referred to as ‘wraps’). Here the far margin was 12.5 wraps away.

Using this method, I can now simply drop my rig next to the left distance stick, wrap the line 12.5 times around the sticks and clip up on the spool, before reeling the line back onto the spool and making my cast. I know that as long as I hit the clip, it’s going to drop into position just as I want it to.

Step 5: Attach the rig

I have chosen to use a reasonably standard bottom bait rig that consists of the following components:

  • 7 inches of coated braid, with small amount stripped off to just above the hook
  • A size 6, micro-barbed wide gape hook
  • A medium-sized kicker
  • An anti-tangle sleeve
  • Quick change swivel
  • Lead clip
  • 5oz lead

A nice, simple bottom bait rig

The bait

I’m taking the opportunity to test some new bait from BadAngling on this session. It looks and smells fantastic, and I’m sure we’re going to get a result on this if the fish play ball and we fish nice and accurately! This bait has a great colour and texture. It will hopefully be available to purchase in the spring, and I’m sure it’s going to catch a lot of fish.

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Step 6: Make your final cast towards the feature

I’ve wrapped around the sticks, and I’m ready to make the final cast into the swim. I clip on a small meshed PVA bag of crushed Krill boilie and pellet and make a nice steady cast, trying this time to over-shoot the cast by a rod length or so. The line hits the clip, stopping it from hitting the branches on the far bank. As desired, the rig drops perfectly on to the spot.

I now know I can do this time and time again throughout the session, hitting the perfect distance every time.

A nice, simple bottom bait rig

Bite Indication

You don’t want to give the fish an inch when fishing up to features. For this reason, you need to fish a tight line. A slack line will only result in the fish moving too far before you get any bite indication.

The aim should be to get the fish ‘locked up’, which means to set a tight drag on the spool of the reel while it’s in the rests, so the fish takes as little line as possible. For this you need to have tight rear rod rest holders that grip the rod. This way, the rod starts to work for you before you even picked it up!

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The last thing you want is a screaming take and for the fish to strip line from a loose spool before you’ve even reacted. It’s a fine balance, but you need to ensure that the drag isn’t so tight that the rod gets pulled in, but it is set to let out as little line as possible on the take.

Keep the tackle where it belongs

Another benefit to edging up to the feature in this way is safety. For me, a big part of the enjoyment of fishing is the environment and experiencing nature. It’s important to keep this in mind and to do everything possible to fish safely and to protect the wildlife that brings us so much enjoyment.

Leaving rigs and line in trees damages our reputation as anglers. Edging up to features as I’ve described in this article will result in you losing less tackle and looking after the animals and birds that that live in and around the lakes you fish.

Use strong tackle

When fishing to features, you need to use strong tackle and whether you’re fishing pads, snags or over-hanging trees, you must fish safely. Only fish attempt spots that you’re confident that you can land a fish from. Battles with carp are either won or lost in the first few seconds of the bite. That’s why you need strong tackle to pull the fish away from the feature, which it will no doubt be trying to bury back into.

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Stronger mainline, tougher hook lengths, dependable hooks are essential with this type of fishing. Make sure you’re not under-gunned. We all lose fish from time to time but snapping up and leaving fish trailing line is not good at all and should always be avoided. Again, if you’re not confident with this type of fishing, then maybe try a different approach.

Didn’t have long to wait! A lovely winter mirror. It’s not easy catching carp in January, and I do not doubt that fishing accurately to a feature made all the difference. 

It’s been a great day session, and we’ve done well considering it’s January! We’ve fished safely, having not lost a single piece of tackle and landed a stunning carp. I was impressed with the bait I was testing too. I hope this article helps you next time you find that ‘carpy’ feature and hopefully you’ll smash out some stunning carp!