What is watercraft?

Often over looked but absolutely essential on most waters. Watercraft breaks down into several categories, each equally important.

Feature finding

For this technique you will need a spare rod, with either a shop bought marker float, or a large float, such as pike float.

Set up:

First slide a heavy lead on to your line, next a soft bead (to avoid knot damage) and finally tie the float using a swivel.

Make sure that the set-up works by dropping it into the margins. You should be able to freely raise and lower the float, while the line is anchored to the bottom by the weight.


Cast the set-up into your swim, just further than you intend to fish. Take up the slack line until you see the float start to sink. Keep winding until you eventually feel the float stop at the lead. Now point your rod at the spot were the float landed, taking up any more slack on the way. Disengage the bait runner or drag and pull out 12" (300mm) of line at a time until you see the float again. You can now estimate the depth of water at that particular point.

Repeat this process in several different places and build a mental picture of the depths you find. You can even draw a map and record the depths for future reference. Using this method will help you find raised gravel bars, plateaus, shelves, basins and other features that carp visit to feed.

Determining the lake bed:

This technique is fairly simple to learn. When you are set up ready to fish cast a few times without bait into the swim that you are fishing, feather, (gently slow the line coming from the spool with a finger) just before contact with the water. Now tighten up the line until you feel the resistance of the lead. Raise the rod tip to about 45 degrees and slowly move the rod in an arc to your side, dragging the lead along the bottom. When the rod is at a right angle to your line point it back at the water, reel in slack and repeat process. You can also use your spare marker rod to do this if you have one.

Silt or soft mud: Lead takes a lot of force to move initially if in deep silt Lead glides along smoothly like silk.

Gravel: Lead feels jerky, bumps along and you can feel the rod tremble.

Weed: Lead feels very heavy or sometimes snags up.

Finding the Depth

Once you have cast the marker out, you simply reel in the slack line, and then feed out the line one foot at a time. Counting the depth as you go


After you have found the various depths and features in your swim decide which you think will be the most productive and leave the marker float out at that point. Fire out enough bait for the conditions, making sure that they land near or around the marker, depending on whether you are adopting a tight or loose feeding pattern.

Finally cast out your baited rig to the marker. If you are not as close as you would like to be then try again, make sure that you are satisfied with the cast and retrieve the marker float.

Repeat the process for any second or third rod you are using.

Careful Observation

While at the water's edge take time to examine your surroundings, make mental notes of likely feeding spots like islands, large over-hanging trees, snags and in-lets. These sort of features account for a great deal of the carp's natural diet. Take time to consider the insects, fruit, seeds and nuts that must fall in beneath and around these features.

Don't be afraid to climb the tallest tree around and spend a few hours peering into the waters below. With a bird's eye view you can see fish moving around that you would never see from the level of the bank. Try to find regular routes taken by fish around the water.

Lastly, but no less importantly, don't be afraid to talk to other anglers. Unfortunately, there are still some serious carp fishermen who are very secretive about their approach and results, but in my own experience most are only too happy to share their knowledge with you.

The "Killer" secret

Unfortunately there is no magical secret when it comes to catching carp. No single product that money can buy will put carp on the bank every time, although some do help a lot. The real "killer secret" is us.

We need to adopt a different approach to other types of anglers. Take match fishing for example, it is almost like a mathematical formula: Method + Bait + feeding pattern = fish. But carp are not as obliging as all other freshwater species. If we adopted this approach our carp would merely sneer at our efforts. Instead we need to put a stealthier plan into action. We have to take the fight to the carp, not wait for him to find us. If nobody else is catching, be different. Try not to follow what others are doing, carp fishing does not work like that. I have tried all sorts of methods, baits and rigs. They all catch on their day but not the next. We have to ask ourselves why.

Be diverse, resourceful and never give up.

Most importantly, be confident. If your bait isn't up to scratch don't use it. If that rig tends to tangle, strip it down and make a new one. If you are not happy with that cast, try again until you are. Confidence and the right approach will make you a killer, but you have to open your eyes and co-ordinate your attack with military precision. Good luck.