Carp love snags, anglers hate them. But if you know how to fish locked up near those snags, you can actually have really amazing results! I used to hate fishing near snags as well, but the locked up method has really changed things for me, and now I actually enjoy it.
In order to fish locked up the correct and safe way, you will have to position your rods so that they are pointing towards your hookbait, set the reel’s clutch so that virtually no line can be taken and make sure you are using tight and strong butt grips or rod lockers to prevent your rods from being dragged in.
There are plenty of tips and hacks that can turn a nightmare snag into the perfect fishing spot. Keep reading this article and find out how to fish locked up the right way.
When Do You Fish Locked Up?
If you are fishing for carp in a venue that has a lot of snags, you should definitely consider fishing with your reels locked up.
Snags are features in a body of water that fish can get stuck or tangled up in after having been hooked, which can result in losing the fish. As carp are smart creatures, many of them have learned to head straight for such features, in order to set themselves free again.
Hence, if your reels are locked up, meaning that they won’t give the hooked carp any line, your chances of actually landing that fish will increase significantly.
Common snags include the following:
- overhanging trees with submerged branches
- tree stumps or branches on the bottom
- root structures
- lily pads
Of course, it is not strictly necessary to fish locked up if you place your hookbaits far away from such structures in the water. But if you are fishing close to snags, or directly next to them, fishing locked up is the right choice!
Insider tip: Consider fishing your baits a few yards away from the snag area and concentrate your baiting around that spot, in order to get the carp away from the danger zone right from the start.
How Do You Fish Locked Up?
Set Your Clutch Really Tight
Before casting out, set your reel’s clutch as tightly as possible, so that the line cannot be taken too easily. In fact, it should only give line if extreme pressure is applied by a pulling fish. Then, a few inches at a time should be given, in order for the line not to snap under the immense pressure. This is a safe buffer system for really strong and wild carp.
If you are fishing with a baitrunner reel, make sure to disengage the baitrunner function!
Angle Your Rod Toward Your Hookbait
Once you have cast out your rig next to a snaggy spot, place your rod onto your bank sticks or rod pod. Make sure that the rod tips are pointed either directly, or at a close angle (maximum 20-30 degrees), toward your hookbaits.
This position will not allow your rod tips to bend much to one side or the other, when a carp has taken your bait, thereby effectively preventing the carp from getting any extra space to swim into the snag.
However, if the swim and snag allow for it, having a slight angle can give you a couple of buffer inches, which could end up preventing the carp from pulling the hook.
Tighten Your Mainline
Once your rods are in place, carefully reel in the slack line so that it tightens up to your lead. A straight line will prevent the carp from using the slack line’s few extra inches to its advantage, in order to get closer to that snag.
Be Close to Your Rods
When you get a bite, you should be able to get to your rods within seconds when fishing locked up, as you will want to take control of that fish as fast as possible.
The easiest way of doing that is to closely guard your rods by placing your chair, or bedchair, right next to your rod pod.
Move Backwards After a Take
When you are getting a bite and pick up your rod, walk backward a couple of steps, in order to immediately pull the carp away from the snag. Those first seconds are crucial and every foot you can win now will help you to eventually land that fish.
Once you have successfully distanced the carp from the snag area, you can start to ease your drag a little more and play the fish as you’d normally do.
Now you know how to put your lines in the water, your rods in place and to adjust your drag. You also know what to do when you are getting a bite. Let’s now move on to some of the smaller details when fishing locked up.
Use Strong and Tight Butt Grips
In order for your rods not to be dragged in by a hooked carp, you will have to use really strong and tight butt grips to hold them in place.
Alternatively, you can use a more modern alternative, which is the rod locker.
I personally use ESP’s Mini Butt Grips, which are really strong and reliable butt grips. Check them out on Amazon here.
Place Your Hanger Slightly Lower
Try to place your hangers 1-2 inches below your rod, by putting your mainline into the rod’s line clip and giving it a steeper angle towards the hanger.
This 1-2 inch difference will enable your hanger to slightly jump up and down during a take, which gives you a fast and direct bite indication.
Put Your Rod Pod’s Legs Into Soft Ground
If you are fishing on softer ground that can be penetrated, push your rod pod’s legs into it. Not only will this make your rod pod more stable during a bite, but it can also prevent a carp from pulling your entire setup into the water.
If you want to fish with an even more stable setup, you can use bank sticks instead of a rod pod, if the ground on which you are fishing allows for it.
Use Fastening Straps for Extra Security
If you are somewhat paranoid about your rods, like I am, then using any extra security to keep them in place can certainly ease your mind.
I like to put a short fastening, or velcro strap around the reel and rod pod, making sure that there is really no way for a carp to drag in my rod. If you are using strong butt grips, that scenario is very unlikely to happen, but why take the risk, right?
What Line Is Best for Fishing Locked Up?
As there is no real guarantee that a carp won’t get into those snags, or at least manage to make your line brush against them, you will have to use a stronger mainline than for your normal carp fishing sessions.
Another argument for a stronger line is the fact that it will have to manage all that extra pressure that the drag won’t take off of it.
And so, I recommend using a high-quality and strong monofilament mainline of at least 15 lb. I definitely prefer using mono over braid, as its stretch gives that little extra buffer that I find highly necessary when fishing locked up.
One of the best fishing lines on the market is the Korda Touchdown Mono. The 15lb version of this line is tremendously strong and abrasion resistant and will do a very fine job when fishing locked up! You can find the Korda Touchdown Mono on Amazon here.
You will also have to use really strong and qualitative end tackle, which can absorb a lot of pressure and handle possible close contact with snags.
A rather thick braided hooklink and leader material of 30 lb is a very good choice for your locked up fishing.
I can recommend the Korda Dark Matter 30 lb, which is an extremely strong and super abrasive hooklink material that will handle any level of pressure and most types of snags. You can purchase the Dark Matter on Amazon here.
What Rods Should You Use When Fishing Locked Up?
As you don’t want to give the carp any extra movement, you should opt for slightly stronger and stiffer carp rods of 3-3.25 lb.
Such heavy artillery ensures that there won’t be any extra space given to the carp, as well as that your rod will be stiff and solid enough to immediately get a hooked carp away from those snaggy areas that it will try to reach.
Should You Fish Locked Up at Night?
This is a much-debated question among carp anglers. If you ask me, you should generally avoid to fish locked up at night, unless you manage to keep guarding your rods throughout an entire night session.
If you cannot react fast enough, or feel too tired for an entire night session on guard, stick to fishing locked up during daytime! Night fishing this way can also be rather stressful, as your vision will be reduced a lot. And so, avoiding the dark hours for this particular type of carp fishing can really benefit both the carp and you.
In any case, I trust that you will make the right decision and wish you tight lines!
Essential Tackle Tips
If you’re looking for solid and reliable carp fishing equipment, these tips might be useful for you.
The following tackle is of top quality and sells at a very decent price on Amazon.
I have been using this setup myself for many years and have caught plenty of big carp with it.
Rod: Daiwa Black Widow
A very strong and beautifully made 12ft 3lb carp rod with a ton of backbone and a great bend. Casts anything up to 5 oz extremely well and lets you navigate and control your fish smoothly and effectively. Fits both open and snaggy waters.
A reliable standard-sized baitrunner reel that works great for short to medium-distance carp fishing. Loads around 200 yards of 15-18lb monofilament mainline. Handles any wild run very smoothly! Fits the Black Widow rod perfectly.
Mainline: Daiwa Sensor 15lb
One of the strongest and most durable monofilament lines out there! Sells at a very good price and will last you for many fishing trips. Has just the right amount of stretch to perfectly hook and fight every fish.