How to Set Up Bite Alarms

Bite indication, on occasions, can be a very important aspect of carp fishing, especially when you are hunting for large carp. The wise carp are very well practiced when it comes to staying calm with hooked and just spitting the hook out.

Most of the time you will only hear one bleep on the alarm or see the odd movement of the bobbin, but understanding what these little bleeps and movements mean may be the difference between catching big fish, or never catching big fish.

If you are not sure how to set up bite alarms, perhaps you are also not sure what equipment you will need to set them up properly.

So, let’s start with the basics, skip this section if you have all of the equipment already. To start, you are going to need the following items;

  • Rod pod or bank sticks to screw the bite alarms into.
  • Batteries for the bite alarms.
  • Bobbins or Hangers.
  • Make sure all of the above are compatible with each other, like in this photo below.
How to set up a bobbin correctly

This is what your bite alarms and bobbin should look like if they are set up correctly

Set Up The Bite Alarm

Your bobbin or hanger will feed into the bite alarm thread. Then the bite alarm will screw into the rod pod or bank sticks.

The bite alarm should be facing away from the lake. If you are using bank sticks, you should be able to twist the bank stick so the bite alarm is facing away from the lake. But if you are using a buzz bar or a rod pod, you will need an extra nut on the bite alarm so you can tighten the bite alarm into position without having to over-tighten it.

Ideally, your bite alarms will have a rubber washer on the thread, so that it compresses the rubber instead or stripping your thread if you happen to over-tighten the bite alarm.

Once your alarm is set up, it will be a simple case of resting the rod on to the bite alarm and making sure your fishing line is running through the bite alarm.

With most alarms, you will have adjustments that you can make, normally a volume switch or button and a tone switch or button.

Volume setting

Most anglers manage to annoy all other anglers because they do not know how to use something as simple as the volume switch.

As much as it might be nice for you to let the rest of the lake know you have managed to catch a fish, let them know by other means as opposed to your bite alarm volume being set as high as possible.

The volume should be loud enough for you to hear from your bivvy, but low enough so no-one else can hear it.

If other anglers can hear your bite alarms because you have to turn the volume up so you can hear them, then you owe it to the other anglers to buy a receiver and have that close by on a low volume, and then have the bite alarms volume set to low, or off.

Other anglers don’t want to hear your bite alarms.

The other mistake the majority of anglers make is not turning their alarms down when they set the bobbin.

This can be very frustrating for other anglers, especially if they have the same bite alarms as you because they will think it is their alarm that is sounding. Make sure you turn the alarm volume down, or off if you have to adjust your line.

Tone Setting

The tone setting is most often used to distinguish your alarms from each other, and to distinguish your alarms with other anglers alarms who may be using the same type.

I prefer my tone setting to be on low. Having the alarm setting on low will lower the chance of the sound traveling across the lake to annoy other anglers. The low setting is a lot more elegant than the high pitch squeal of the higher tone setting.

Typically, when fishing with more than one rod and alarms, I will set my left alarm to the lowest tone setting, the middle alarm will be a slightly higher pitch, then the third alarm will be the highest pitch of the three, that way, as soon as I hear the alarm, I know exactly which alarm has been triggered.

Sensitivity Setting

The sensitivity setting is a feature of quite a few new alarms on the market. The sensitivity setting will allow you to adjust the setting according to how reactive you want your alarms to be.

If you are fishing for big fish that may only pull on your line ever so slightly, then you will want to turn the sensitivity up higher then normal.

If you are fishing on a runs water, hearing the bite alarms whizzing off at a rate of knots, it may mislead you as to what is happening with your line.

It’s all about balance and testing the sensitivity at the start of the session. But be sure to test the alarms with the volume down low.

How to Use a Bobbin

Setting The Bobbin

Next, you need to set the bobbin. You will want the bobbin to indicate dropbacks and runs, so your bobbin should be set up around three to four inches from your rod, depending on the height of your bite alarm.

Some bobbins can have the tightness adjusted where it clips onto the line. The bobbin needs to be tight enough to stay on the line but be able to fall off when the rod is lifted. Be sure to not tighten the bobbin too tight or you will lift the whole rod pod up.

Delkim night lights have magnets that attached to the line, which means tightening the bobbin is not necessary.

Korda stow bobbins work in a different way, they clip onto the line itself instead of around the line. This was intentional within its design, the stow bobbin is attached to the line so you can see the bobbin move with the line itself.

With other bobbins other than the stow bobbin, the bobbin clips around the line, so some of the line will pull through the bobbin before you see any movement in the vertical motion of the bobbin.

Why Use a Bobbin in Carp Fishing

Bobbins are used to help you to visually see if your rig is being played with. When the fish moves your lead, it would be difficult to see the line move without the help of a bobbin.

Although, keep in mind that it isn’t always necessary to use the bobbins all of the time.

Even when you do use bobbins, you should be watching the tip of the rod to judge as to whether you have a fish on your line, or better still, to watch where the line enters the water and watch for unusual movement.

Swingers vs Hangers

The swinger can be used for almost all situations due to having a wire between the bobbin and the bite alarm instead of a chain, and there are many different choices of length, size, weight, and colors to suit your needs. There are also clip on weights to help when the wind gets up. Although the swingers are not as accurate as stow bobbins, as the line will pass through the hanger before reacting to the bite.

This is also the case for traditional hangers, although wind can have an effect on the bobbin which will mean you’d need to turn the sensitivity down on your bite alarm, you wouldn’t need to do this with the swinger.

Various swingers types are available the longer armed swingers are used for slacklining as the swinger will rest on the floor and then lift when you get a bite. The short-armed swingers are generally heavier and should be used with the tighter line when fishing at long distances.

You will see hangers more often on the lakeside due mainly to the marketing skills of the carp fishing product manufacturers.

How to Sink Fishing Line

There are few occasions when you won’t want to sink your line, such as for surface float fishing. But, for most other styles of fishing, you will need to make sure your line has sunk properly.

If you are fishing with a slack line, your fishing line could take up to ten minutes to sink depending on what type of fishing line you are using as some sink quicker than others.

  1. To sink the line, you need to cast out and feel the lead down to the lake bed.
  2. Then left put the bail arm on and take hold of the line with the other hand and pull the line so there is tension on the line, but not too much as to move the lead.
  3. Then place the tip of your rod under the water and you will see the line slowly sinking.
  4. To encourage the line to sink faster, you can pull on the line a little tighter, or pull the rod tip away from the rig ever so slightly until the line disappears under the water.
  5. Then, pull the rod tip deeper under the water and let go of the line from your other hand.
  6. Let off the bait arm and walk back to rest your rod on the rod pod or bank stick, then put the bait arm back on.
  7. Then its a case of waiting for around 3-5 minutes before tightening the line and putting on the bobbin.
  8. If you are fishing slack lines, you don’t tighten the line, you will just put the bobbin on and take up the slack with the reel so it doesn’t fall off of the spool.

How to Fish Semi Slack Lines

To fish semi-slack lines, you will follow steps 1-6 from above, but you won’t need to wait as long for it to sink.

When the full line is just disappearing under the water, walk the rod back to the rod rest and place the rod on the rest.

Then, let the clutch off and turn the spool around to tighten the line so it enters straight into the water without slack.

Clip the bobbin on to the then let a little more line out so you have a small drop on the bobbin.

By fishing a semi-slack line, you will get a faster bite indication, but there is a chance the fish will come into contact with your line.

This method is best suited for casting between 50-80 yards.

How to Fish Tight Lines

Tight lines are best suited to anything over 80 yards as your line should be at a smaller angle, relatively parallel to the lakebed when fishing further out.

When fishing a tight line, you will simply cast the rod out and feel the lead down.

Once the lead hits the lakebed, tighten the line down onto the rod rest giving it barely enough time to let it sink.

Your bobbin will be tight on the line.

When to Strike Using a Bite Alarm

You need to try and resist strike into liners and odd bleeps unless you are sure there is a fish on the line.

When you hear the alarm beep, watch not only the bobbin but also the rod’s tip and where the line enters the water.

A single beep could mean a smart carp has been hooked, but knows not to panic and is trying to figure out how to get rid of the hook.

If you see the line moving in a peculiar way where it is entering the water, or the bobbin is moving up and down (even if it is slow), then you should strike the line.

You should also strike if the alarm is going nuts and your reel is peeling off the line at a rate of knots, obviously!

Rod Tips Up or Down

The rod tips up method stem from beach fishing but not required for the majority of carp fishing.

You will mostly see rod tips up in European rivers when the anglers have cast out a long way and want to keep the line out of the water as much as possible to avoid weed.

Personally, I would only fish with the rod tips up if there is lots of weed in front of me that I am trying to avoid, but this is very rare. The other reason to fish with the tips up is if there is a gravel bar close by and you are trying to keep the line from draping over the top over the bar, and instead of sitting over the back, then rising towards your rod tip.

I fish with my rods tips around a foot above the water for 99% of my fishing.

Carp Fishing Without Bite Alarms

Carp fishing without bite alarms is possible. When I am on a runs water, I don’t need my alarms switched on, I just use them as rod rests.

This is because I am always watching my rod to see if the line moves, and can hear when the clutch starts to go if I take my eye off the rod.

When feeder fishing and float fishing, bite alarms aren’t used. This is because the float is used as the bite indicator for float fishing, and the rod tip is used as the indicator for feeder fishing.