Learning how to fish for carp is straightforward and a simple task with the right guidance, let me explain the equipment, tactics, what to do and what not to do.

It’s possible to get set up with less than £100 and if you are able to remember the fundamental elements of learning to fish, you’ll be a great angler in no time at all.

There are different methods of catching carp, but I will teach you the method I know best.

The things you need to know

  1. List of equipment you need to fish.
  2. How to prepare your fishing equipment.
  3. What fishing rigs you need and how they work.
  4. What bait to use.
  5. How to find an easy lake to catch your first fish.
  6. How to care for the fish once caught.
  7. How to hold the fish for a photo.
  8. How to put the fish back safely.
  9. …..Rinse and repeat.

List of equipment you need to fish

Rod license, Fishing Rod, fishing reel, fishing line, leads, fishing hooks, bite alarm, bank sticks, fishing net, unhooking mat, forceps, scissors, bait, bait stopper, bait needle, lead clips, shrink tubing and swivels, weighing scales, weighing sling, tackle box/bag.

How to prepare your fishing equipment

Before you go to the lake you will need to do the following to make sure you are ready when you get there.

  1. Buy your rod license.
  2. Make sure your rod and reels fit together.
  3. Reel the line on to the spool.
  4. Put batteries in the bite alarms.
  5. Put your equipment into the tackle box.
  6. Learn how to tie the knots you need to use.
  7. Throw away all the other excess packaging.


What fishing rigs you need and how they work

When learning how to fish, there is one critical element that you absolutely must understand, rigs. To make things easy, I will show you one type of rig, it is the easiest and will catch you a fish. Once you gain more experience, you will be able to go on to more complicated rigs to catch the wiser fish, but this rig will do for now. You need to follow my advice to ensure your rig is safe for the fish. If the line breaks (which may happen) the fish will need to be able to get rid of the lead to ensure it doesn’t get snagged up, if the fish gets snagged up, the fish will die. Only use Safe Rigs, it is important you get this right!

The bolt rig is cast out and left until a fish picks it up. The idea is that you cast the rig out and throw a few boilies around the rig. The fish swims along and starts eating the freebie boilies, eventually it will pick up the boilie with your rig attached, when the carp sucks in the boilies to eat it, it will also pick up the hook, when the hook is sucked into the carps mouth, the hook catches the lip of the carp making it startle and swim away, as the fish swims away, the rig is tightened to the lead weight which pulls the hook deeper into the fishes flesh. As the fish swims away the fishing line tightens back to the reel triggering the bite alarm, then you will pick up the rod and reel the line in to take up the slack line. You will then need to point the rod at an angle towards the sky to use the bend in the rod to soften any sudden pulls from the fish. Then the fight is on and the exciting bit starts. As long as you use the rod and reel correctly, you will have caught your first fish!!


Video’s use need to watch before you start

The knot you need is a half-blood knot to tie the rig to the line.


The rig you will be using is a bolt rig.


How to set the drag properly on a reel


How to reel in a fish properly



What bait to use

The easiest option for bait is to get a small bag of 15mm shelf life boilies, use one on the hair rig and throw a handful in the area of where you cast the rig. The boilies will last longer than sweetcorn and other baits and you’ll know for sure that your bait is still on the rig, sweetcorn can come off on the cast and if this happens without you noticing, you won’t have bait on the rig and you’ll struggle to catch a fish with no bait. The “freebie” boilies will look like the one on the rig, then when a fish starts eating the boilies it will also pick up the rig resulting in a catch!

How to find an easy lake to catch your first fish

The last thing you want to do is head off to a specimen lake with huge carp, you will likely spend a long time waiting and nothing will happen, you will not learn how to fish if you do this. The larger carp wise up to rigs and bait, therefore it takes the experience to catch those (most of the time). Go to a lake that has carp anywhere around 5lbs and makes sure you practice there first. It will give you more confidence when waiting for the big fish later down the line.

You need to practice the techniques of casting, catching and caring for the fish, only then should you think about heading over to the specimen lake. Even the pro’s head of to the smaller lake every now and then for a bit of a confidence boost.

Head over to a fishing forum and search the posts for a local lake, be sure to look out for what people call “run’s waters” – this means that it should be fairly easy to catch your first fish.

How to care for the fish once caught

When you catch the fish, be sure to ease it into the net slowly and carefully, you will know when the fish is ready to be netted as it will stop fighting as hard. Remember that the water is carrying the weight of the fish so don’t pull it around too much with the rod; you will cause unnecessary damage to its mouth.

Before you lift the fish out of the water, make sure the fins are tucked back into the body or they will break.

Place the fish on the unhooking mat carefully and support it with your other hand to ensure it doesn’t flip off the mat. Take the hook out of its mouth and place it out of the way.

How to hold the fish for a photo

Once on the unhooking mat, place your hand under its tail and the other under its fin closest to the mat, use the tail as a pivot to turn it towards you and lift it up for the picture. Always keep it as close to the mat as you can in case you drop it (they are slippery). Never ever stand up with it. Never ever take it away from the unhooking mat unless it is in a net. If the fish starts flipping around, just place your hands on the fish to gently pin it down onto the mat until it stops moving about.

How to put the fish back safely

When putting the fish back in the water, remember to tuck the fins back again. Lower it into the water and hold its tail until it wants to swim away, remember that you have taken all of its energy away so you need to support it in the water and give it time to recover, don’t just let it go out it will just float around in the water and not recover.

There are more elements in learning how to fish, but I will cover them in the next few articles.

…..Rinse and repeat



I have made a lot of mistakes during my fishing sessions and don’t want you to make the same mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way over 20 years of fishing most weekends, testing, tweaking, and testing again and now want to help you excel with your carp fishing.

If you need any help, you can reach me at Fishing Again’s Facebook page

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Shane