European-style carp fishing is becoming more and more popular in North America and a lot of anglers enjoy fishing for carp with Euro-style carp fishing gear. I live in Europe myself and have been an avid carp angler for over 10 years, and so I decided to write this detailed guide in order to help you find the right type of gear.
In order to fish for carp the European way, you will need strong 3lb carp rods, baitrunner or big pit reels, braided or monofilament mainline, 2 to 3oz weights, 20 to 30lb braided leader material, and size 2 to 6 wide gap carp fishing hooks. Throw in a rod pod and some electronic bite alarms and you are all set and ready to go!
Keep reading this article if you want to learn everything there is to know about Euro-style carp gear and fishing methods.
Euro-Style Carp Rods
European carp rods are both longer and more robust than the commonly used type of rods for traditional carp fishing in America. They will have an average length of 10 to 12ft and a test curve of 2,5 to 3,5lb. Fishing for carp with such rods has several great advantages:
- longer casting distance
- more power and precision when casting
- better control over hard-fighting fish
Especially the last part about better control during the fight is something you’ll appreciate immensely when using a Euro-style carp rod. Its strong backbone and the fact that it is somewhat stiffer than conventional rods will be of great assistance to you when fighting a strong and wild carp.
It will allow to to steer the fish much more and, even more importantly, to stop it in full run, should it be heading for a snag.
That’s simply something you won’t be able to do with a lighter rod!
The test curve can be around 2,5 to 2,75lb on waters that are open and snag-free and 3,00 to 3,25lb on waters that have a lot of snags and don’t offer much space in which you can fight the fish.
It is thanks to the stiffness and power of such a rod, that you won’t have a problem chucking out weights of 3oz or more, no matter if you’re fishing short- or long-distance.
Euro-Style Carp Reels
There are two types of reels that are used for Euro-style carp fishing. One is a baitrunner reel and the other is a big pit reel. Daiwa dominates the international market and has some really awesome reels, which I, along with Shimano, prefer using myself when carp fishing.
Baitrunner reels are conventional spinning reels with two, instead of just one drag system. The secondary drag function of the baitrunner can be engaged simply by turning the switch at the back of the reel and effectively sets the spool free, in order for a fish to be able to take line without any resistance from the reel’s drag system.
When you get a bite and the fish runs off with the line, all you have to do is pick up your rod and start winding the reel’s handle about one turn. This will then automatically disengage the free spool and secondary drag function and allow the main drag system to take care of the fight.
And so, the baitrunner is a highly optimized reel that both lets the carp run freely and allows you to quickly take control over the fight without having to first adjust your front drag while fighting the fish.
This type of fishing reel has really revolutionized carp fishing in Europe and is the perfect choice for short and medium-distance carp fishing in waters that do not have all that many snags and in which the fish can run off relatively freely.
Most carp fishing is done with baitrunners that have a size of 4000 to 6000. Such models are both strong enough for carp and big for thicker carp fishing lines.
I much prefer a 5000 model, as such a size is really handy and easily controlled during even the toughest of carp fights. You can find a really powerful and qualitative Daiwa baitrunner reel on Amazon here.
Big Pit Reels
Big pit reels are fixed spool carp reels with a conventional front drag system. They have an over-sized spool that can hold a lot of line and are primarily used for long-distance carp fishing.
This type of reel has become very popular in Europe, as more and more angler will cast extreme distances to reach hitherto unexplored swims in big lakes. And that’s exactly where you should be fishing with a big pit reel.
It really only makes sense for large bodies of water that demand casts of a 100 yards or more. Naturally, you would need a reel of a bigger size for such distances, not only to reach your intended fishing spot, but also to make sure that you’ll still have enough line for a renegade carp that swims even further away from you.
Big pit reels start at a size of 5000 (which I find a perfectly okay size for longer distances) and go all the way up to 10000. But huge reels and extreme distances like that will demand a lot of skill. So if you’re just starting out and are in need of a big pit reel for your carp fishing, go for a size 5000 or 6000. Most likely, that will fit your needs perfectly fine.
Once again, I can highly recommend one of Daiwa’s creations, the Daiwa 20 Emblem 45, which is a really awesome big pit reel that will cast super far! It can hold 328 yards of 0.35mm line and has a drag power of an unbelievable 33lb. In other words, this reel is a tank and the perfect piece of gear for those giant big water carp!
Carp Fishing Line
As always, it’s a matter of personal preference when it comes to fishing line! Some anglers prefer monofilament all the way, while others only fish with braid.
Both materials have their pros and cons, and if you ask me, most people will do just fine with conventional monofilament carp fishing line. But in certain situations, braid can absolutely be a better choice.
Let’s take a closer look at some carp lines and when you should use one or the other.
Monofilament Line for Carp Fishing
Berkley’s Trilene Big Game is a great fit for carp fishing, as it is extremely strong, durable, and has a little stretch to it. The material’s stretch will result in fewer hook pulls when you strike and stop a carp in full run, which will often be the case when fishing for this species.
It also has great sensitivity to it, which is not very common when it comes to mono line! This will let you feel the fish much more when fighting it, giving you both more control and time to react to sudden escape attempts.
I use the Big Game for my short to medium-distance carp fishing in open water and couldn’t be happier, as it’s really rare to lose a fish with this line. I also really like the green colored variant, as I like to keep my tackle as stealthy as possible.
Go for a 15-18lb test when fishing with monofilament mainline for carp. This will let you fight and land any carp without any problem!
Braided Line for Carp Fishing
If you are fishing waters with a lot of snags in them, going for a braided mainline might be the better choice for you. Monofilament line does have its limitations when it comes to durability in snaggy waters, and if those snags have the potential to cost you fish, braid is the way to go!
It is so much more durable than mono and with the right material and diameter, it’s almost impossible to get a line break.
Of course, braid takes some getting used to, as it tangles quite a bit, which can be frustrating for a beginner. Braided line also has zero stretch to it, which means that there is always a certain risk for hook pulls. With some training however, you’ll quickly learn how to set the hook and fight the fish with braided mainline on your reel. So don’t worry too much about it!
The one and only braid I use is the Power Pro Spectra, which is a phenomenal fishing line, in my opinion. It has an insane abrasion-resistance, will last forever, and gives you amazing control when fighting a fish! It’s without a doubt the best braided mainline on the market and a great option if you want to take your carp fishing to the next level.
I recommend using a 35-40lb test. This will make snag risks more or less completely obsolete and as the Power Pro has such a great strength-to-diameter ratio, it won’t spook the carp at all!
More Essential Euro-Style Carp Fishing Gear
Now that you know what basic gear you’ll need for your Euro-style carp fishing trips, let’s take a look at some other essential pieces of equipment. Those are by no means necessary, but they will certainly make your carp fishing more complete and optimized.
They will also help you to take care of your caught fish in the best possible way, which is something that Euro-style carp anglers find very important, as they practice catch and release fishing.
Banksticks and Butt Rests
Banksticks can be pushed into the river or lake bank and act as strong and sturdy holders for your carp rods. Euro-style carp fishing is usually done with more than one rod, so make sure you buy enough banksticks for your fishing trip. Each rod will need 2 of those sticks. You can find qualitative and very affordable banksticks on Amazon here.
You will also need a butt rest for each of your rods, which are small rod grips that you can put onto your second bankstick the one holding your rod handle).
Those will hold your rod securely in place and prevent strong carp from pulling your rods into the water, should you have forgotten to engage your baitrunner function or fish locked up. You can find a set of secure butt rests that will fit most carp rods on Amazon here.
RELATED ARTICLE: Fishing locked up means to set your drag really tight so that a carp might not take any line. This method is really useful when fishing close to weeds, reeds, or other types of snags underwater. You can read more about this special carp fishing method in this related article.
If you rather want to have all of your rods on just one holder, or if the ground you are fishing is too hard for banksticks to penetrate, using a compact rod pod can be a good solution.
You will have all your rods lined up in one place, which can be very practical, especially when night fishing.
Additionally, a rod pod is very adjustable, which will make it fit almost any ground, no matter how uneven it may be.
Using electronic bite alarms is very common when fishing for carp the European way. These smart little inventions will give off an audible bite indication, often in the form of a loud beep, as well as a visual one, in form of a small LED lamp, when a carp has taken your bait and starts to take line.
Fishing with bite alarms is especially practical when using several rods, as you won’t be able to keep an eye on all of them at the same time. Bite alarms are also super handy when fishing for carp at night, as you both won’t be able to see your rods and might fall asleep between bites.
Carp are big fish, and big fish require big landing nets. That’s why most Euro-style carp nets are 42 inches wide and extremely deep. I know, this sounds enormous, right?
Well, imagine a carp of 30lb and 40 inches that has seemingly unlimited energy reserves and goes completely nuts once it’s in your net. You will have a very hard time containing this fish in a conventionally sized landing net, trust me!
If you manage to actually land your carp, this type of net will keep it in place, no matter what! It also allows you to “park” your fish in the water, as it offers the fish enough space not to feel trapped and try to break free. Just make sure to weigh down your handle on the bank so that the carp won’t be able to drag the entire net into the water.
This is another piece of gear that many Euro-style carp anglers typically use. As the name so aptly suggests, an unhooking mat lets you unhook a carp on it, rather than on the ground, where its protective slime cover or scales could get damaged by dirt or gravel.
It’s definitely a must have if you value your catch and want to take good care of it.
A mat like this has a very smooth and fish-friendly surface, as well as soft foam on the inside. As such, it makes for a very nice and comfortable platform to handle your fish on. For even more comfort, you can pour some water over the carp while its’ laying on the mat. This will make its short stay on land more bearable.
The mat’s material is also very easy to clean, so that it won’t stink up your garage or basement after your fishing trip.
If you have caught a real monster carp, you will want to make sure to both measure, weigh, and photograph it. Hunting personal bests is always fun and if you’re like me, you never ever forget any of the big ones you’ve caught over the years!
In order to know exactly how much that big carp of yours weighs, you’ll need a reliable fishing scale. I much prefer modern digital scales, as they are just so accurate and do not cost much at all. If you take good care of them, they’ll also last for many years.
You can take a closer look at my go-to fishing scale on Amazon here. It’s both very decently priced, super accurate, and can weigh fish up to 50lb. With this one, you’ll definitely be ready for those monster carp!
Euro-Style Carp Fishing Tackle
Now, all that basically remains is your end tackle, meaning your weights, leaders, and hooks. Most Euro-style carp fishing will be done on the bottom, which is why you will need this type of tackle in order to make appropriate carp rigs.
Practically all conventional rigs for carp fishing are bolt rigs, which implies attaching a fixed weight to your end tackle, which the carp will hook itself against once they have picked up your bait and start to swim away with it.
The more the carp swims away from the lead, the more the lead’s weight causes the hook to sink itself into the carp’s lip. Once the fish realizes that it has been hooked, it will first try to shape off the hook, panic, and then hastily swim off with the rig hanging from its mouth. This is what’s called a classic carp run!
Here are a few simple tutorials on how to tie the most common and most effective rigs for your carp fishing:
- How to Make a Simple Hair Rig
- How to Tie a Pop-Up Rig
- The Helicopter Rig (How to Set It Up and Fish It)
In most waters, a simple hair rig presentation of your baits will totally suffice and you can catch a ton of fish with this fairly simple, but highly effective carp rig. Here is the tackle you will need to tie it:
For most bottom structures, pear or flat pear weights, or sinkers, of 2 to 3oz will be an optimal pick for Euro-style carp fishing. They usually come in stealthy colors, such as green, brown, or black, which means that they will be hard to spot on the bottom.
Additionally, a weight of 2 to 3oz will ensure a solid bolt effect and hence hook the carp well against itself. 2oz carp leads are my go-to weight for most waters and fish sizes, but if I want to cast longer distances, I sometimes use 3oz weights instead.
A safety lead clip is a link between your mainline, your weight, and your leader. The weight is held in place by a lead clip, while the mainline is connected to the leader with a small swivel that then goes inside the lead clip.
It lets you attach your weight to your mainline and can actually save your entire end tackle in case you get snagged.
The silicon cone of the safety clip, which keeps the weight in place under normal circumstances, will get pushed up your mainline if your weight gets caught in a snag, thereby freeing the weight and letting it drop off. You can then simply retrieve your rig and put on a new weight. This is a very smart system that I use for most of my bottom rigs.
Carp Leaders and Hooks
Carp Leader Material
No matter if your mainline is mono or braid, your leader material should always be braid! Not only is it super strong and abrasion-resistant, but it’s also very soft and flexible, which makes tying your rigs much easier.
My best tip is to use a length of your conventional braid. You don’t really have to buy expensive carp leaders that are basically made of the same material! Just make sure your leader length has a lower breaking strength than your mainline!
So, if you are using 35lb Power Pro as your mainline, use a piece of 20lb Power Pro, or any other brand of braid, for your leader.
As described in the tutorials I linked to above, conventional carp rigs should have a length of about 5 to 10 inches. Experiment a bit with different lengths and see which hooks you the most fish!
RELATED ARTICLE: Check out this article and learn how to fish for buffalo!
When it comes to carp hooks, a size 2 to 6 wide gap is your best choice! The wider bend and gap of these hooks will find their way into the carp’s lips every time and will hence land you way more fish than conventionally shaped fishing hooks.
The size of the hook is determined by the size of your bait and that of the carp in the lake or river you are fishing in. The bigger they are, the bigger your hook will have to be.
Here is a little chart that will help you find the right hook size for your carp baits:
|Bait Size||Hook Size|
As most Euro-style carp baits, be it boilies or pop-ups, will have a size between 12 and 18mm, you will mostly be using a size 4 wide gap hook. You can find qualitative and super strong size 4 wide gap carp hooks on Amazon here.
Euro-Style Carp Fishing Baits
And last but not least, the actual things that will catch you carp; the hook baits. Most Euro-style carp anglers will fish with either boilies, pop-ups, and/or artificial corn. These baits are available in all sizes and flavors and have proven to be extremely effective for carp.
Boilies are small hard-boiled dough balls that go onto your hair rig. As they are so hard and durable, they are bottom baits that will last on your hair for many hours and as they are often intensely flavored, they use that time to spread those flavors and attract carp into your fishing spot.
As I mentioned, boilies come in all sizes, but most carp anglers use bait sizes between 12 and 18mm, which will fit most carp mouths perfectly.
Personally, I much prefer fruity and nutty flavors for cold water, and fishy and stinky flavors for warm water carp fishing, but that’s really just a personal preference.
Once again, it’s all about testing. Try out different sizes and flavors and see which the carp in your lake or river like the most.
Pop-ups are really just boilies that float. Thanks to their great buoyancy, you can fish them just off the bottom, which sometimes gets the carp’s attention way better than a bait that is presented directly on the bottom. This is especially effective in waters with silty or debris-covered bottoms.
Just make sure to put a little tungsten putty or split shot onto your leader an inch or two away from your hook, otherwise, the pop-up will float up the entire length of your leader, which won’t give you a very good presentation, as carp are bottom, or near-bottom feeders.
The most commonly used sizes for pop-ups are 12 to 16mm baits.
Artificial, or fake corn is the Euro-carp anglers secret weapon. Corn is an often underrated carp bait that can work wonders when the fishing is slow.
If you are fishing for carp in a water that doesn’t contain all that many smaller fish, you can use a pair of artificial corn directly on your hair, which makes for a nice little snack for any bypassing carp.
If there are smaller fish around that could nibble at or even swallow those smaller hook baits, just use one piece of corn and top your boilie or pop-up with it. This will make for a very attractive bait cocktail that no carp will be able to resist!
Baiting Kit for Carp Baits
I almost forgot; A bait needle is extremely practical and needed if you to be able to thread your carp baits onto your rig’s hair.
Once your bottom bait(s) are on the hair, you must put on a small boilie stop, so that the bait won’t slide off the thin hair when casting out.
And there you have it! Now you have all the gear you need for your Euro-style carp fishing adventures. Head out to the bank and get those fat carp landed!