How to Catch Carp: 4 Carp Fishing Tips for Beginners [2022 Update]

Updated on September 21, 2022 by

If you want to try an exciting type of angling, you will want to try carp fishing. These carp fishing tips will help you catch your first carp and better understand carp behavior and habitats.

Carp have a history of being Europe’s premier freshwater game fish and can grow to huge sizes. They are also becoming a much more popular fishing species to target in North America.

Trophy fish can grow well over 50 pounds, and even smaller fish put up a hell of a fight.

Please have a read through the carp fishing tips below. Hopefully, you will learn something new about carp behavior and some interesting angling techniques to try. If you have other tips, please comment at the end of the article.

Carp Fishing Tips

Types of Carp in North America

There are a variety of carp species available for angling in North America, including:

  • Common Carp
  • Bighead Carp
  • Silver Carp
  • Grass Carp
  • White Amur

The common carp varies significantly in color and scale formation and can often be mistaken for a completely different species. These variations have given way to local names such as the decorative, colorful Koi and the mirror carp.

Bighead and silver carp have caused a lot of damage throughout the United States by eating native fish species’ eggs. They breed quickly and can exhaust local food sources.

White amur are herbivores that eat grass and weeds.

common carp
Common Carp

Best Month for Carp
Beginner Saltwater Fishing Tips [2...
Beginner Saltwater Fishing Tips [2022 Update]

Fall is the best time of year to catch carp in North America. Big carp can often be caught just before winter as the fish feed heavily and are more reckless in their feeding patterns. Carp put on weight in preparation for winter and tend to suck up everything they can find.

The second best time of year is spring. This is because the water temperature increases and the cold-blooded fish start getting more energy. They are also hungry after winter, which increases their appetite. Carp also spawn in spring, so you will notice a lot more activity in general. The combination of an increased metabolism from the hotter water temperature and the spawn makes spring a great time to fish for carp.

Best Bait for Carp

The most popular carp baits include dough baits, soft baits, dips, boilies, and even dog food.

Boilies are made from fish meal, seaweed, and eggs which are boiled together (hence the name). You find lots of recipes for making your own boilers at home. You can add all kinds of ingredients to your boilers, including semolina, bird food, and soya flour.

Carp are primarily bottom feeders. They will suck up almost everything they can find sitting on the bottom of the pond. They won’t aggressively chase a lure like bass, so you must be more patient and thoughtful with your bait selection.

Some common natural foods of the common carp are insects, beetles, grasshoppers, leeches, crawfish, freshwater clams, minnows, and vegetation.

Canned sweet corn is also a popular bait (even more so than corn off the cob).

carp boilies
Carp Boilies

Where to Find Carp

Carp are extremely hardy and can live in all kinds of environments. Although the most common is large lakes, slow-moving rivers, and reservoirs – they are also found in ditches, canals, and small ponds. Carp are often found hiding in the deeper water near drop-offs or shelves.

Carp is more commonly found in murky, dirty water. This means that using colorful lures isn’t as successful. You need to use bait that has a distinctive smell so the carp can identify it from a distance.

Look for carp breaching the surface to identify their position and fish in that area. Carp don’t travel long distances, so you should be able to hook a hungry carp as soon as you know where it is.

carp breaching the surface

Recommend Carp Gear

Carp can grow to huge sizes – so make sure you have heavy enough gear to handle this. I recommend the following equipment for carp fishing:

  • Fishing Reel: 6000-sized spinning reel with high line capacity
  • Fishing Rod: 10 ft medium action spinning reel
  • Fishing Line: 15 lb monofilament mainline
  • Hooks: Size 6 Circle Hook

Carp are easily spooked – a common carp fishing tip is to use a rod holder to ensure no tension in your line. If you use a rod holder, you might want to consider an electronic bite alarm. This will let you know if you have a bite even if you are away from your rod.

You will want to have one of the largest nets you can find for carp fishing. Big monster carp can be difficult to land.

Carp Fishing Rigs


Carp are generally bottom feeders who swim around hoovering up everything they can find. You can take advantage of this by putting tempting bait in their path. Use a light sinker to drop your bait onto the pond bed, in front of a hungry carp. You can also start chumming the water to bring more fish into your target zone.

This is a patient kind of fishing. It takes time. Most carp anglers will set up their rod in a rod holder and potentially an electronic bite alarm so they can move some distance away. They will also often set up multiple rods in different locations to increase their chances.

Float Fishing

You will see carp are comfortable surfacing and eating bread and insects floating on top of the water. You can replicate this by using a float (or bobber). Tie a float on the main line around 12 inches from the hook. You can also use a hair rig at the same time. You can also set the hook so that it is a reasonable distance away from the float so it is suspended just above the bottom of the lake.

Hair Rig

The hair rig is the most common hook rig for carp anglers. It consists of a line knotted onto the hook’s shank with a suspended line of bait immediately behind it. This takes advantage of the unique way carp eat by hoovering up everything in sight. You can use rig rings and silicone tubing to make them more robust.

hair rig for carp

Advanced Tips

Consider chumming the water to attract large carp to your bait. Be patient and quiet – carp are notorious for nibbling on the bait before taking it fully.

Keep an eye open for ducks – carps are famous for living around ducks, particularly if humans are feeding them. Carp will eat whatever bread and leftovers that the ducks don’t eat. You will often see a carp surfacing around ducks, trying to steal their lunch.

Carp Fishing Tips Video

The video below gives some carp fishing tips and techniques that you may find interesting:


If you are looking for more information or carp fishing tips, please read through some of the information the International Game Fishing Association provides.

Carp fishing is one of the fastest-growing angling species in North America. They provide a great combination of power and excitement to catch, as well as living in beautiful habitats that are great for spending time in nature.

We have put together a list of some interesting and innovative carp fishing tips, but plenty of information is available elsewhere. Please comment below if you have any tips or advice so more anglers can learn from your experience.

If you want to catch more than just carp, then have a read through our guide for other fish species and how to catch them.

Happy fishing!

Photo of author

Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.