Carp rods

A rod built specifically for the task of catching carp is a relatively recent idea, but its qualities have made the carp rod useful to more anglers than the specialist carp man alone.

The forerunner of today’s specialized carp rods was the Mk IV, developed by Richard Walker in the early 1950s. It was made from built cane, then the best rod building material available.

With the introduction of glassfibre, however, hollow glass rods were developed. Originally these closely followed the Mk IV design, but, with the development of carp fishing, rods have been increased both in length and, in many cases, power.

A carp rod must be capable of casting small baits long distances (70 yards or more) because in today’s heavily fished waters the carp tend to stay in open water, particularly during daylight. Casting action is therefore very important. It must be able to strike hard at long range and overcome the problems of line drag, very often when the bite is indicated by small twitches of the line caused by a fish moving the bait only a few inches. This is very different from the long, steady runs usual on less fished waters.

The carp is often credited with being the craftiest of freshwater fish and is certainly the most likely to learn from previous mistakes. Often a fish that has been hooked and landed before learns to associate all unnatural baits with danger and will only mouth a bait for a few seconds before becoming alarmed at the resistance felt in towing the line far enough to register back at the rod or bite indicator.

Fast taper

Today’s carp rod is generally 10 ft-llft long, with a steep taper and a test curve of l£lb-2£lb. The test curve gives some indication of the tip strength, but the rapid taper of these rods means that they are capable of of exerting more pressure on the fish than traditional slow-taper rods. Once a degree of pressure is exerted on a slow taper rod, the slightest increase in pressure results in a sloppiness that reduces the control over a fighting fish.

A fast-taper rod, however, requires an ever increasing pressure to produce a greater bend, particularly around the middle sections, and therefore the angler is always in command.

The b.s. Of the lines used varies from 6 lb-15 lb, the average being about 10 lb. Good quality monofilaments have a smaller diameter than a cheaper quality line of similar b.s. The carp fishermen can, therefore, fish both a fine and strong line.

A carp rod needs a long handle to provide the leverage necessary to play out large carp. There are two types of handle which provide this. The first has a slim, untapered han-dle section, about 30in long, and made of stiff aluminium alloy. This fits into the end of the blank. In the second type, the taper of the blank is continued right to the butt-end. To avoid the large-diameter cork handle which would be needed to cover this tapered end, the bottom 15in or so of the blank is left uncovered and a shortened cork handle, about 15in long, is fitted over the narrower part of the blank farther up. The butt is then capped with a push-on button.

Spigot joints

Joints for hollow glass rods are usually of the spigot kind as these are the strongest for this kind of rod. Most rods are also fitted with graduated, hard chrome-plated stainless steel rings.

A fairly recent development in rod ring design has been the introduction of wear resistant lined rings. Many carp rods have them fitted as standard, rather than optional extras, and several well known carp anglers consider their frictionless properties as essential when playing fish of specimen size.

Apart from the standard rod, three other rods are occasionally used for carp. On small quiet waters, such as older lakes and smaller gravel pits, many carp are caught when fishing close into the bank. This ‘margin fishing’ calls for a rod which is softer in action than the usual steep-tapered model, because of the closeness of the fish on the strike. In some cases the fish is ac-tually under the tip of the rod and therefore the rod has to absorb all the shock of striking the fish as the line is so short.

Perhaps the best use of such a rod is demonstrated when fishing a floating crust close to marginal weeds. Once the crust has been taken, the line positively streaks away and were it not for the rela-tively soft action of the rod, a line break would be inevitable, as soon as the hook was set.

The rod preferred by some anglers for this method is lift long with a slow action and a test curve of approximately l{lb. Fittings and handles are similar to the more or-thodox carp rod except that smaller rings are sometimes fitted to reduce the load on the blank.

Small carp up to 5lb and crucians are often caught with normal float tactics. Here, a heavy float rod similar to the type used for tench – say llft-12ft long, with a test curve of lib, and line of 4-5lb b.s. – may be used.


Finally, the latest carp rods are made from carbonfibre. Based on the standard steep-taper rod, they have the considerable advantage of being both light in weight and smaller in diameter than conventional carp rods. This enables the angler to make longer casts and also helps in striking fish at long range. A carbonfibre rod costs about £80, but the average cost of a quality carp rod is between £18 and £30 – a variation which depends on the blank’s length, action and fittings.