“So big I had to go in af­ter it”

Steve takes his ‘mi­cro bag’ match tac­tics to big carp venue Naseby Reser­voir… with fan­tas­tic re­sults

Angling Times (UK) - - TIPS & TACTICS -

AS you can imag­ine, I fish a lot of matches dur­ing the year and I like to keep my fish­ing var­ied.

In win­ter it’s all about F1 fish­ing – spring and sum­mer tend to be carp on the com­mer­cials, and due to my in­volve­ment with the Eng­land Feeder team I al­ways mix in a lot of roach and bream fish­ing through­out the sea­sons too.

But it’s al­ways great to do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Just re­cently I’ve caught the ‘big-carp bug’, which has been a lot of fun.

One of the best things about try­ing a dif­fer­ent style of fish­ing is plan­ning your ap­proach. I’ve been able to put my own take on big­carp fish­ing us­ing my knowl­edge of match carp, in par­tic­u­lar how they feed and be­have.

A carp is a carp, right? So how would a match­man’s ap­proach to big-carp fish­ing work? I went to my lo­cal Naseby Reser­voir – home to loads of dou­bles and even a few 30lb carp – to find out…


Due to my other com­mit­ments my carp­ing ses­sions tend to be short morn­ing or af­ter­noon ones, and so the most im­por­tant part of my ap­proach is to fo­cus on lo­ca­tion.

I have al­ways found that carp aren’t that hard to catch, pro­vid­ing you are ac­tu­ally on them, so for this rea­son I al­ways travel light with a view to walk­ing the lake un­til I find the fish.

At Naseby the carp are gen­er­ally quite easy to find. They have a habit of show­ing them­selves on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, and once I see a few fish I sim­ply sit on them, know­ing that when I cast out my bait will be in among fish.

This might sound like straight­for­ward ad­vice but it never ceases to amaze me how many an­glers don’t do this, in­stead imag­in­ing that the carp will move to them. In the cold they sim­ply won’t!

In fact if any­thing the carp will back away from an­glers. Quite of­ten I will find them, catch a cou­ple and then have to move again to keep in touch with the

fish. This to many might sound

like hard work but, be­lieve me, it’s worth it to keep putting fish on the bank.


The way I fish is all about get­ting quick bites and fish­ing for one fish at a time. There­fore, I’m not look­ing to put lots of bait out and build a swim but to get some­thing out that im­me­di­ately at­tracts at­ten­tion and can be picked up in one mouth­ful.

With this in mind I like to fish with bright hook­baits the fish can eas­ily spot, and tiny PVA bags which I like to make as po­tent as pos­si­ble so they give off loads of at­trac­tion to pull fish to the hook­bait.

As a guide, my bags are about the size of a 2p piece and when they break down I have a lit­tle pile of at­trac­tion sur­round­ing my hook­bait – that’s it!

So what’s in my bag? First I liq­uidise some Main­line Hy­brid boilies. Hy­brid is a very pop­u­lar bait and I know at venues such as Naseby that the carp will have al­ready seen it and there­fore associate it with food.

Once that’s ground up I add a mix of high-oil pel­lets just to boost the at­trac­tion even more. The key with pel­lets is to keep them small and I use mainly 2mm ver­sions, with a few 3mm and 4mm pel­lets mixed in with them.

This keeps the food con­tent of the mix low and be­sides, if the pel­lets are too big, mak­ing a neat, aero­dy­namic PVA bag can be­come dif­fi­cult.

Af­ter mix­ing the pel­lets and ground-up Hy­brid I give the whole lot a good squirt of Main­line Hy­brid Stick Mix liq­uid to give it a real burst of flavour.


When it comes to hook­baits I carry a va­ri­ety, but they all have

one thing in com­mon – they are brightly coloured. On Naseby I have al­ways found pop-ups to be best, but I carry wafters in bright colours too, just so I can mix things up should the need arise.

I also be­lieve that in the cold small hook­baits are bet­ter, so you will no­tice all the baits I carry are ei­ther 10mm or 12mm.

I feel that scal­ing down hook­bait size does pro­duce more bites in the cold – I guess that’s where my match an­gling back­ground comes into play!


My set up is all about sim­plic­ity! I want a rig that’s easy to tie and isn’t go­ing to tan­gle so I know that once my bait hits the wa­ter I’ll be fish­ing ef­fec­tively.

For this rea­son I use a Korda lead clip sys­tem on a Safe Zone leader – it re­ally doesn’t get any eas­ier.

The beauty of the lead clip sys­tem is that should the lead get snagged it will be eas­ily ejected. The only change I make to the lead clip sys­tem is to at­tach a Kwik Link so that I can change my hook­length in no time at all.

Just like when I’m match fish­ing, to max­imise time in the wa­ter I make up spare hook­lengths with bags at­tached so that they are ready to go once I reel in or a fish is landed.

In win­ter carp of­ten only have short feed­ing spells, so it’s im­por­tant that if I catch a fish I can get back out fish­ing as soon as I pos­si­bly can.


On the sub­ject of hook­lengths I use 6ins-7ins of N-trap Soft with the last half-inch near­est the hook stripped back to give the hook­bait that lit­tle bit more move­ment.

N-trap soft is quite stiff be­fore you re­move the coat­ing, which

helps to keep any tan­gles to a min­i­mum.

Hook choice is a size 10 Choddy Bar­b­less tied with a rel­a­tively short hair via a knot­less knot. I like the up­turned eye on the hook for pop-up fish­ing as it helps to keep ev­ery­thing in­line.

A size 10 might seem small to a lot of carp an­glers but for me it matches a 10mm or 12mm bait per­fectly.

Fi­nally, to keep the pop-up at the right depth once I have threaded the PVA bag on, I sim­ply pinch a BB shot on the braid about three­quar­ters of an inch from the hook.

It’s a sim­ple but ef­fec­tive rig that has caught me a lot of carp!


Per­haps one of the most im­por­tant as­pects of the way I fish is how long I leave each cast be­fore reel­ing in and re­bait­ing.

Nor­mally carp an­glers will think noth­ing of cast­ing out and leav­ing the rig there for a whole day, but my match men­tal­ity and ses­sion times won’t let me do that!

If I don’t get an in­di­ca­tion af­ter 45 min­utes and there are no signs of fish near the bait, I will cast to a new spot.

I’m fish­ing for quick bites, so it makes no sense to leave my rig out any longer if I don’t feel there are fish close by.

Also, if I cast to a spot and get no re­sponse I see no point in cast­ing back there, so when the bait goes back out I will try some­where new!

This way I’m cov­er­ing more wa­ter and my chances of drop­ping on a fish are far higher.

A lit­tle tip on the sub­ject of cast­ing is that if noth­ing is hap­pen­ing and you see a fish top away from your baits you sim­ply reel in and drop a bait right on top of it.

This is some­thing I do a lot, and more of­ten than not it pro­duces a quick bite.

For this rea­son it’s im­por­tant to keep watch­ing the wa­ter even once you start fish­ing. If a big carp shows you need to be on it!

Bright boilies and pop-ups rule the roost.

Mi­cro bags ready to clip on to my rig.

A size 10 hook matches 10mm-12mm baits.

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