Clear Water Carpin' - Rob Willingham

Fishing for carp in clear water has both its pro’s and cons. We are able to use the clarity to our advantage, as it’s much easier for the fish to locate our hook baits, however, it’s also a lot easier for them to spot our end tackle. It’s a double-edged sword but with a little thought the angler can come up trumps, here’s how.

As always, location must come first. Spend time searching for your quarry before you attempt to fish for them. Clear waters offer you the chance to actively hunt and spot the carp. Use things like the trees, carefully, to your advantage. Once you have found the fish, by whichever means necessary, only then should you think about casting out. Of course, it’s not always possible to see signs of carp, especially in winter. When faced with this scenario, you can use the clear water to your advantage, by roaming single, hi-visual hook baits around until you find them, a tactic I am going to cover today.

When fishing a water that boasts great water clarity you need to think a little harder about the end tackle you’re going to use. Today I am tailoring what I use in order to suit the venue, and the spot the rig is fished on. This is very important, especially on the more pressured venues where the carp are constantly on edge. A lot of people underestimate quite how good a carp’s eyesight actually is - it’s very good. Sometimes, what seems like the smallest of things can make all the difference.

One thing that I always pay special attention to is my main line. This can be the biggest give away of them all, and in clear water, it’s even easier for it to do so. Your main line has to travel a long way from the rod tip to the spot and it is important that as much of this line is concealed as possible. Whilst Carp are relatively simple creatures in the grand scheme of things, they are not always as stupid as we sometimes think and they may well be put on edge if they are to notice the lines in your swim. I like to use the Kontour fluorocarbon when I am fishing clear venues, for several reasons. Firstly, fluorocarbon appears almost invisible once submerged in water, which has obvious benefits when fishing clear lakes. Not only is fluorocarbon almost impossible to spot, it also sinks extremely well. Combine these two factors and you have a very inconspicuous main line, hard to spot and pinned down, well out of harms way. No monofilament will sink or appear as discreetly as fluorocarbon and this is why I opt for Kontour.

With my main line hidden as well as possible, it’s time to think about the business end. It has been said many times before but the last six feet is what matters most when it comes to rig/line concealment. I pay great attention to disguising my main line but even more to the rig itself. After all, it’s the rig that I need the fish to pick up.

I am an avid fan of leadcore, I always have been and always will be. I fish primarily for big fish and the leadcore offers a sense of security, unrivalled by any other form of leader. Leadcore isn’t the most inconspicuous stuff in the world but I have to use it, it’s a confidence thing. Instead, I try to make sure that I use the right leadcore for the job, matching it to the lakebed. Today I am fishing amongst the silt and in turn, I am using the weed/silt Kable, which blends in perfectly. If I’m fishing over clean, hard ground, then I will of course switch to a leadcore that suits - clay/gravel Kable.

It is also important to match your hook links as best you can too, every little helps. There are a wide variety of options out there these days, which enable you conceal your rig almost perfectly. Today I am fishing with the hinged stiff link, and in turn, I have chosen to use a boom section made of 20lb IQ Soft. This does the job perfectly, ensuring that my hook bait is kicked out and away from the lead every single time, whilst appearing almost invisible in water too. Fluorocarbons really are the king of clear water disguise and I would advocate their use whenever possible.

Using the hinge rig allows me to concentrate almost solely on my location. I know that I can cast this rig pretty much anywhere and it will present my hook bait perfectly. This is an extremely important part of the opportunist style of angling that I’m adopting today. My number one priority is to get on the fish. I will then use the clear water to my advantage, placing a hi-visual bait amongst them. With my end tackle and main line well hidden, the fish shouldn’t hesitate in taking the hook bait, which they should spot with ease.

I have a few colours that I favour when it comes to pop-up choice; pink, white and yellow have all served me well over the years. Today I am using pink, a colour that stands out incredibly well over the top of a drab lakebed such as the silt that I am faced with on this occasion. As you would expect, the most important thing about a bright hook bait is that the carp can see it and I will always try to use a bait that is the polar opposite to the spot it is being fished over. It is because of the visual aspect that this single hook bait method can work so well. If I were to use black hook baits in the same flavour profile as my bright ones, I am certain that I would get less bites.

I moved swims not too long ago, having seeing a fish jump clear of the water a few swims down from my last position. With two bright hook baits dispatched to the area, I am confident of action. During the Winter, I am always of the opinion that where there’s one, there’s often another and this is where the water clarity can work so strongly in your favour. If you can place two bright baits in the close vicinity of a shoal of carp, the chances are that a percentage of those carp are going to want to eat them. It then becomes a race to see who can snaffle them first. As anglers, we are faced with few situations that can be so simple, yet productive.

It’s taken no time at all, 15 minutes I would guess, but I am playing my first carp of the day. The fish is intent on making the most of the occasion, taking several yards of line at long range, before succumbing slightly. The carp is soon within the margins and it’s incredible to watch as it twists and turns in the clear water. That’s another great thing about the water clarity, you get to watch it all happening, especially with the aid of polarizing glasses. I can see the carp’s scales opening up as it flexes beneath the lakes surface, it’s definitely a common, and not a bad one either. After a few spirited surges and a final bid for freedom, I slide the net carefully under the fish. Lovely.

On inspection, the fish is a mid-double, probably around 16 pounds. Once on the bank I begin to appreciate the fish even more, his winter coat is well and truly being worn and the colour of the fish is beautiful. That’s yet another bonus of fishing for carp in such clear waters, it really darkens them up. This one is no different, with a black etching to its scales. After treating the hook hold with the Carp Care Kit, I hold the fish up for a few trophy shots, before lowering it back into the crystal clear margins. Returning them is always the best bit, but especially when you can watch them waddle off, down the shelf and into the depths.

I have the rest of the day ahead of me and hopefully I’ll bag a few more. If you are faced with clear water, follow these steps and you too will achieve success, enjoying every step of it along the way.

Rob Willingham.