Great tips from Jason Cann to help you catch more carp off the top
1 Which Chum?
If you’re to be successful when fishing off the top, you’re going to need to take it every bit as seriously as you do your bottom fishing. It’s essential to get bait the carp will feed on confidently.
Although they can work well, bog-standard Mixers aren’t always up to scratch.
And why should you always use expensive Pedigree Chum? Instead buy unlabelled surface dog biscuits in pet shops. You’ll save money and catch just as many fish.
2 Preparing Your Chum
I never use Chum straight out of the packet. Instead I like to soak them to make them soft(which helps when it comes to putting them on the hair) and I also like to flavour them. To do this, place a handful of Mixers into a bag or into a bucket if you want to make some up in quantity. Then add a little water. Don’t over-soak the Mixers – add just enough water so that every biscuit absorbs enough to become a little softer, soft enough to put on a hair rig if you want to. Next, add some flavour. For this amount of bait, a couple of sprays of flavour is more than enough. Finally, seal the bag and shake the water and flavour so that they are evenly distributed around each bait (or stir the bait if it’s in a bucket). Then leave for a couple of hours to ensure the biscuits really soak the bait up.
3 Go Cat Biscuits
I prefer cat biscuits for a lot of my fishing. They seem to be more flavoursome than Chum and carp prefer them. Also, they come in more different flavours and some unique shapes and sizes. Feeding fish these different shapes and sizes can be an edge, as the carp don’t become preoccupied on any one type of bait. Using different sized bait also makes hook bait detection tricky for the fish.
4 Sow The Seeds
Ever tried fishing with floating particles on the top? It can be deadly, especially on waters where the carp have been caned on the surface before. One of my favourite surface baits, and one that at times can get the carp going completely crazy, is the sunflower seed. You might laugh, but it’s true! Be careful with them, though. They might be cheap to buy but, as with any particle, you need to prepare them properly before using them. Soak them in water for 12 hours before feeding them to the fish.
5 Try A Crust
Okay, so it’s not trendy, but bread crust is one of THE best surface baits ever. It still works brilliantly today, so don’t discount it.
You must buy the right type of bread, though. A simple loaf of cheap, sliced white from the supermarket is not good enough.
Instead, get a freshly-baked, uncut loaf from a bakery that has the biggest, crunchiest crust you can find.
6 Cutting The Crust
To present the crust, you’ll need a sharp pair of scissors. Be generous with the size of crust you use. Cut out a huge square. If you mount the crust properly on a big, size 4 or 6 long-shank hook, you’ll find that it won’t come off easily. In fact, I like to use a crust on a leger rig, fished on a zig rig so that it’s just under the surface. I have caught a lot of big carp doing that, including some over 30lb.
7 Artificial Flake
If birds are a nuisance at your lake and you find that you really can’t use floating crust at all, then try feeding normal surface baits and fish with some artificial flake on the hair.
Both Enterprise and Partridge make quality imitation bread. I prefer the Partridge version, as it looks genuinely like floating crust.
You’ll then find that the birds ignore it – but the carp aren’t quite so clever!
8 Bubble Trouble
The controller float you choose to use is important too. Ask what you want from a controller. Do you want something that will help set the hook from a taking fish, something heavy? Then a bubble float could be the answer. If you fill one of these with water, it provides enough resistance to a taking fish to set the hook a bit like a bolt rig might. Plus, they’re not obvious and carp are not spooked by them.
9 Flat Controller
If you want to surface fish at distance, then the Gardner Flatliner is a good choice of controller.
Set up the right rig with these (see the next article in the magazine) and you’ll be able to cast well over 70 yards without the risk of getting tangles.
Plus, they are a subtle colour and lie flat on the surface, so will not spook fish.
10 Close-Range Stalking
If your floater fishing is going to be done close in, then all you need for a controller is some Kryston Driftwood or Poly Float. Simply mould it around the swivel that attaches the hook link to the main line and you’ll have the perfect, undetectable controller. The only disadvantage is that you can’t cast it very far!
11 Gold Label Controllers
If you’re floater fishing in low-light conditions and want some idea of roughly where your hook bait is, try using a more standard controller float like these from Gold Label. Like the Flatliners, they cast well; but unlike the Flatliners they sit up in the water like an ordinary float – with the bulbous orange tip acting like a beacon to show you where you’re fishing. Better in windy conditions too, because they drift slowly.
12 Getting Eggy
One style of controller floats I really rate are these egg-shaped controllers from MCF. The heaviest of these are simply sensational for two reasons – you can cast them well over 100 yards and they also give a superb bolt effect. Again, carp are not spooked by these. In fact, I have actually had carp come up to them and try to eat them instead of the hook bait. How mad is that!
13 Log Squad
If you turn up at your lake to find the carp on the surface, but you don’t have a controller, hunt around for some small logs like this. You can use them either unprepared (like the one with the elastic bands round it) or you can shave the ends to make them more aerodynamic. To use, wrap line or elastic around each log float. Thread your main line through the band and tie your hook link on behind. Again, see the next article for more details.
14 Hook Link Material
Choose a hook link material carefully. I like neutral-coloured floating braids. The old Giant Neutral Fine braid in 15lb breaking strain was perfect. Carp aren’t spooked by it, possibly because it looks like weed!
15 Light Line
If you are fishing a lake with no weed or snags, you could try using a light mono hook link – even as light as this 4lb Drennan Specimen Plus. It WILL get you more takes.
If you do this, use a light rod with a forgiving through action and a light main line. Oh, and be prepared to fight your fish over some considerable time.
You can also use fluorocarbons when surface fishing. They are essential when using zig rigs as they cannot be seen as easily in the mid-layers of water as mono can.
You can also use them when fishing with controller floats, though beware that fluorocarbons sink faster than mono so you may need to grease your hook link to get the presentation you require.
The benefit? The carp won’t be able to see the fluorocarbon as easily as other hook links. That’s the theory, anyway
17 Hook Choice
Finally, hook choice is vital. The fine Fox Series 2b pattern is ideal for fishing in open water on light rigs. For even more delicate fishing, try the Mustad Long Point in sizes as small as 16. I have found these to be a real edge when fishing for carp that are extremely shy. Gamakatsu G-Hard hooks are among the sharpest patterns on the market. They are also light but extremely strong, making them perfect for fishing in and around weed or snags. Finally, Gamakatsu Floater and Long Shank hooks are also good choices. I use the latter for fishing surface crusts. I don’t mess around, using a size 4 or 6 hidden inside the bait.