If you get into carp fishing you’ll learn that while high-end gear is nice to have and can make a huge difference on hard-fished waters, we can get by with modest gear in most of North America.
—Rods: A 12-13 foot carp rod that will cast a 3-ounce sinker and 6 ounces of bait 100 yards is crucial in places like England, and rods like that cost $400 or more. In this country bank anglers rarely have to cast more than 50 yards, so an 11-12 footer that costs $50-$100 is a fine starter rod.
Carp rods are rated by test curve — the amount of weight required to pull the rod tip down 90 degrees. So a 1 1/2-pound test curve is on the light side, while a 3-pound test curve is a heavyweight. A good all-rounder would be a 2 1/2-pound test curve.
—Reels: Carp anglers use either “baitfeeder” or “big pit” spinning reels. Baitfeeders have two drags, front and rear. The rear drag is set loosely so that a fish won’t feel resistance when it picks up a bait and starts to move off, even though the bail is closed. When the angler picks up the rod and turns the reel handle it engages the front drag, which has been set at the pressure the angler wants to fight a fish.
Big pit reels have wide spools, which let them cast farther, and often dispense with the baitfeeder feature. They are preferred by “specimen” anglers or trophy fishermen who target carp over 20 pounds and want reels with 250 yards of 20-pound braid. Baitfeeder reels start at about $50. Big pit reels run $70 and up.
—Electronic bite alarm: Not absolutely necessary, but they make fishing more fun. The alarms are the size of a small cell phone and let out a series of piercing beeps to signal a bite. I bought a couple of Polish-made alarms on the Internet as backups for about $20 each. Better alarms with more functions start around $25.
—Banks sticks and rod pods: Because carp fishing tends to be a waiting game, you need something to support your rods. The simplest devices are bank sticks, extendable metal or plastic rods that are stuck into the soil on a riverbank or lakeshore and have fittings on top to screw in a bite alarm or V-shaped rod holder. They start at about $5.
Rod pods are more sophisticated frames that support two or more rods. They have individually adjustable legs, and the best can become virtual rod easels. If you buy one, make sure that it comes with “buzz bars,” the vertical T sections across which the rods lie.
Other items you’ll need to begin specialized carp fishing include baiting needles, weights, “feeders” to hold ground baits, bait mixes and a dozen more items than can add up to another $100. So figure on spending about $200 for a single rod setup and starter kit.
(c) 2011, Detroit Free Press.
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