002i_CLOSE-CARPING_JAtkinson_Mobile copy

Close-in Carping – Text Only

Joe Atkinson reveals his best tips and edges for catching carp close in.

Stalking is a massive part of my carping, and should be the same for every angler. The word ‘stalking’ covers all array of fishing methods. It could be surface fishing, float fishing, Zig fishing, free-lining, on the bottom with a lead setup – the list goes on. There are no limits to what you can do; it’s all about being able to adapt to the right situation in front of you, staying mobile, and being vigilant, and then acting on what you see and make the next move. Not all waters enable you to do such things, but thinking like this can come into play in your normal fishing as well. I guarantee that staying mobile and being visually aware of what’s going on around you and acting on it will put more fish on the bank. I’ve been lucky enough to have some very nice fish throughout the years that I’ve been carp fishing. Without stalking in my armoury, a lot of my captures would be nothing but dreams, as I wouldn’t have caught them. The times I’ve spent stalking have been some of the best hours I’ve spent on the bank. After all, being up-close and personal with our target species is the reason we all go fishing. A day spent watching them can be just as good catching them. You never stop learning in carp fishing, and being able to watch them can teach you an awful lot. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you along the way when you’re out there having a go yourself.

Location is key, which I’m sure you’ve heard many times before, but if you’re not on the fish, you won’t catch. Polaroids are a must when stalking, not only for finding fish but also for finding spots to fish. This style of fishing is very visual, and you need to see what’s going on so you can act on it. This applies to fishing at close range, in the margins, reedbeds, pads, trees, snags, drop-offs, bars – it’s endless. Scouring these sorts of areas for any signs of fish is where I start. Sometimes water clarity isn’t too good, so look for fizzing, movement from any vegetation in the water, vortexes, etc. There are plenty of other telltale signs like these to help you find them. Find them first, and then fish for them.

Surface Fishing
This is a method that’s underused, but in my opinion it’s the best way to fish for them. You can see everything that’s going on in front of you – whether you need more bait out there, how the fish are reacting to different baits, how weather affects their feeding characteristics, etc. It’s all there in front of you to see and take in. People think it’s a method that is only appropriate during the summer months, but this is definitely not the case. Weather and venue dependent, fish can be caught any time of the year. It also gives you the chance to target certain fish, as you can watch each fish feed. Floater kit should always be carried, which can be frustrating at times, but don’t let that put you off. Believe me, any rewards you have will make you forget all the bad times. Having a variety of freebies and hookbaits is a big edge. Feeding a mixture of freebies will get the carp feeding far more confidently, and so make them easier to catch. Surface fishing is all about confidence, so once you have built this up, the job in hand becomes much easier. In terms of terminal tackle, finesse and presentation are key. Everything is visible on the surface of the water, so scaling everything down will get you far better results.

Lead Setups
For me, when stalking on the bottom, nine times out of ten I use a heavy in-line drop-off. There are quite a few benefits with this: it minimises any chance of tangles, due to its simplicity, and gets the fish up in the water away from any structures once hooked, plus it uses the lead’s weight for maximum hooking potential. The majority of the fishing is done in the edge, with tight little patches or parcels of bait. When fishing like this, the carp tend to be glued to the bottom in the way they feed. This makes them harder to catch, but with the aid of a heavy lead and short hooklink, it becomes much easier. With the option of being able to lower the lead on the spot most of the time, you can get away with a nice heavy one. I normally use anything from 3-5oz, which may sound heavy, but it has far better hooking potential. As well as this, being able to drop them off on the take minimises any chance of a hookpull during the fight. There may be the odd time when you are fishing on a real soft bottom or on top of weed, so in these cases you can change. Other than that, this will suffice for the majority of your margin fishing.

Rig Setup
It’s very important to keep it nice and simple. The rig needs to be fishing at all times because the windows of opportunity can be small. It needs to be virtually tangle-proof, and also strong and reliable. For me personally, I tend to use really short hooklengths, depending on which baits I’m fishing over. Generally, the smaller the baits, the shorter the hooklink, as the carp tend to feed a lot closer to the lakebed. My typical hooklink length is around 4ins, although I have used them as short as 2ins. You can watch the carp’s mannerisms and the way in which they’re feeding, and adapt to what you feel is necessary in the particular situation.

Keeping mobile with this style of fishing is essential, so keep things as light as possible. You need to be able to move quickly, so carrying any extra bits that you don’t need won’t help. You need to try to cover all circumstances, but keep to the bare essentials and your stalking will become far more effective and enjoyable. Having the right tackle in the right situation is very important. You aren’t fishing to get bites, you are fishing to put carp on the bank, so using the right gear in the right situation is paramount.

Zigs don’t have to be fished out in the middle of the lake in the deep water. Carp spend a lot of time patrolling any marginal structure, and with natural life being most prolific in the margins, around any vegetation in the water, Zigs can be highly effective. With the chance to watch the carp in close, you can see which paths they’re taking and at what depths they’re swimming. Lowering a Zig in position for a patrolling fish can be deadly carping.

It’s worth carrying a few different options when stalking. For a bottom bait, I like to have a mixture of small particles, which can be anything – mixed pellet, corn, maggots, chopped boilies, or particle. You want to keep the fish in the areas you’ve baited for as long as possible, and by using smaller particles of bait, the fish will be grubbing around a lot longer. I tend to have a mix for feeding on spots, and then have a few different hookbait options. I carry some natural hookbaits, such as maggots, worms or corn, plus my surface baits. With these options, you are covered for all possible situations.


Homemade Hookbaits

Our Hookbait Kits offer the ultimate in customisation, with the ability to make your own unique hookbaits, totally different to everyone else.

Winter Winners!

Fluoro hookbaits are most anglers go to when it comes to Winter. In cooler water, carp are less likely to eat, as it takes longer for them to process food.

Autumn to Winter Transition

Adam Penning explains how his fishing changes as we move from Autumn into the Winter period, from choosing the right location to his preferred baiting approach.

Liquids for the autumn harvest

Follow this Sticky Baits guide on what liquid foods are best suited for your Autumn fish while the waters warm; helping you attract those serious carp.

Gaz’s Crusty Krill Mix

Gaz Fareham talks us through his top tips to creating the perfectly crusty Krill mix & the best supercharged Hookbaits.

The Return of Renyard

Steve made a whirlwind return to carp angling at Linear Fisheries, with his back to basics approach proving to be a huge success.

Mylan Lyssens – Young Blood

We grabbed five minutes with Mylan Lyssens on a recent trip across the channel. His keen and fresh attitude to his angling can be an inspiration to us all.

Autumn Tips with Scott Lloyd

Scott Lloyd runs us through what bait changes his makes coming in to the late autumn and also what areas he looks for when targeting big carp

Bulk Baiting in the Summer

Adam Penning explains how using particles is not only a cheap way to bulk out your feed, they are also one of the most deadly baits going

Oz Holness Interview – Part 1

Author, former British record holder and all-round nice man Oz Holness details some monumental captures, the drive and passion that he has and his new role in the angling trade.

Mix It Up With Manilla

Adam Penning shows us how he mixes it up with Manilla, using different approaches to keep those bites coming through the colder months.

Silt Fishing Explained

Luke Vallory gives us an in-depth explanation into how he adjusts his lead set-up, rigs and bait choice depending on the type of silt he is fishing.

The Spinner Rig

Marcus Howarth explains the effectiveness of using a Spinner Rig on a variety of lakebeds; even the riggiest of carp will fall for this simple step by step.

Boat Fishing Top Tips

Adam Smith reveals his top tips for not only staying safe, but also a number of tricks and advantages that come with boat fishing.

Pinge Pearlers Part Two

Even the bitter frost couldn’t deter Marcus Howarth as his pursuit continued for the ultimate Pinge prize, while bagging some more pearlers along the way.

December Carnage

Steve Cliff is no stranger to taking hits of big fish from Elstow Pit One, but luckily Dan Wildbore was with him this time, to record the December carnage!

Roach Pit – The Dream Maker

Daren ‘Tinpot’ Norman made his dreams happen on Roach Pit. Not only did he set a new PB, he caught a thirty, forty and fifty pounder all in one trip!

Match the Hatch

Steve Cliff explains how he found a certain Match the Hatch tactic to be truly devastating on Linear Fisheries using a Slip-D Rig.

Pinge Pearlers

Marcus bags some Pinge pearlers on his Berkshire club water, catching some truly special carp in his pursuit for one of the oldest in the land.

The Quest is Over

Ross Hoddgetts recalls a memorable session, where a 10-year-quest for Oxford’s finest finally came to an end.

Big-Fish Hookbaits

Adam Smith details the fishy hookbaits that he uses to catch some of the finest big fish in the land.

The Bovington Common

Rob Willingham looks back on a truly memorable capture that saw him embark on a campaign which led to the capture of the incredible Bovington Common.

Mission Accomplished

Keen surface angler Joe Atkinson reached a personal milestone this year, catching an impressive 40lb carp off the top.

Manilla Madness

Roy Allen has had a phenomenal spring fishing on Tipping’s Lane syndicate. He’s caught over 70 carp, and here he details the madness on his most successful trip to date.

Why Manilla?

Tom Maker explains how effect Manilla has been for him, how to get the best from it, and what why Manilla is so special.

Thames Magic

On limited time, Jack Funnel willingly took on the enigmatic Thames in search of treasured carp hidden in its famous depths.