Monday, January 28, 2013

Ordering from the UK

This is something I do from time to time although the majority of my carp gear is ordered from US online stores.  If you are ordering something small and lightweight, you can get some fantastic buys from UK online stores.  For instance, yesterday I ordered a spare set of bite alarms from Harris Sportsmail, , a store I have dealt with before and one that I find to be very reputable.  Their prices on sale items can be fantastic.  I ordered a set of Wychwood alarms (yes, I am trying an alarm other than a Delkim or Fox).  These alarms get rave reviews.  In the US I would have paid over $40 for this alarm, an average price for a good alarm.  Harris is selling them for $26 on sale right now.  I bought two.  Additionally, the shipping cost from the UK for both items is less than $4, a rate you can not find in the US. I am getting this product for a little more than half price.  Can't beat that!
Be aware, though,  of the pitfalls of ordering overseas. Make sure the store is reputable.  I have only dealt with three online stores in the UK: Harris, The Tackle Box, and Specialist Tackle.  Realize that it could take some time for your order to arrive (usually a few days longer than US), heavy items will cost way more to ship which will eat up any savings.  And, I imagine that returns could be a nightmare (hasn't happened to me).  I have had nothing but good experiences with overseas ordering at the three stores mentioned above.
Check out the Harris Sportsmail website.  It's like a superstore of carp gear. You will be amazed at some of the low costs and savings.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nothing Doing

So far, it's a BIG BLANK for me in the new year.  I tried a few times a couple of weeks back in multiple spots when we were having warm weather and got nothing.  Now, with the current cold snap, everything is iced over, even running water.  About a week ago I checked out one of my winter spots just prior to the big freeze.  Unfortunately, there was about a half an inch of thin and clear ice which made the place unfishable.  To my surprise when I looked at the ice I could see carp swimming around under the ice.  Talk about a tease!  The one good thing about the ice in most places is that it is not that thick at this point.  In other years, the ice was well over a foot thick by now.  On most ponds, the ice thickness ranges from 2-5 inches.  That should melt very fast once we get a warm up.  So, nothing doing on the carp scene at this point, but I expect things will change very quickly once the weather warms and the ice begins to melt.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's with Those 12 foot Carp Rods?

If you check out any carp magazine or You Tube video in which sharpies are fishing for carp, you will see that most, if not all of them, are using 12 foot Euro carp rods.  Just what is a 12 foot carp rod and are they really necessary for those of us who fish around here?
Most true carp rods originate in Europe.  These generally measure 12 feet in length, and they feature a slow taper that often is quite flexible.  If you look closely at them, they look like a long fly rod on steroids.  They are unlike most American 12 foot surf rods have a fast taper meaning they are thick at the butt end and taper down real thin at the tip end.  There are several reasons why a carp fisherman might use a 12 foot rod.  I own a couple and I do like to use them in certain situations.  First off, they are made to cast a good amount of weight.  If you fish flowing rivers, you need at least a three ounce sinker to hold bottom.  Add to that a method ball that might weigh 3-5 ounces so you need a big stick to cast this weight out.  Secondly, these rods can really haul out an offering.  In big waters where a long cast might be needed, you have an advantage with that 12 foot rod.  Finally, a 12 foot rod gives you great leverage when playing a big fish.  Most of these rods are also soft like fly rods and bend throughout the blank meaning there is less chance of a hook pull since the rod absorbs much of the fight.  Most of the thirty pounders and that forty pounder I have caught were taken on my 12 foot rod. When I fish big waters and I'm looking for a trophy fish, I am almost always using my big sticks.
However, realize there are many disadvantages to these long rods.  In many places with limited bank space and brush, they are difficult to cast because you need a lot of room to cast.  Storage and transportation are problems. They are also quite heavy especially if you match them with a big reel. If you are fishing for average or smaller fish (less than 10 lbs.), they can be overkill.
I will tell you that my favorite carp rod and the one I use about 70 % of the time is a "stalker" carp rod made by Chub that measures 9 feet.  It has many of the advantages of a 12 foot rod and it is built like the longer rod, but is far more convenient to use. 
I always tell new carp fishermen that the least important piece of equipment for beginners is the rod.  In most cases,  a heavy duty freshwater rod or a light saltwater rod  of about 8 feet will do the trick. Baitrunner reels are far more important than the rod if you are looking for equipment.
However, if you get to the point where you are looking for top notch equipment to use on large fish in big waters, consider a pair of 12 foot rods. Test curves of 2.75 and 3.0 are most popular.  These rods are sold at online carp stores.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thinking About Alarms?

When I meet fishermen along the bank who have no idea about carp fishing, the one piece of equipment that their eyes are drawn to is my bite alarm. Most fishermen (carp guys as well as non carp fishermen) universally think these are the coolest devices they have ever seen.  When fishermen do start carp fishing, most want to get a bite alarm.
For those who have no idea what I am talking about, bite alarms are simply sensors that give off a shrill alarm and light up once a carp either hits or runs with your bait.  Your rod is placed on the alarm with the line on a roller or digital sensing device (built into alarm) which detects movement of the line. The are especially valuable if you space your rods some distance apart where you can't watch two rods at the same time.  They are essential at night if you are fishing dark places with little light.
Most of the quality alarms are made and sold in Europe. You will not find them in the usual tackle shops or catalogs like Bass Pro or Cabelas.  Alarms can be purchased in the US at online carp tackle shops like Wacker Baits or Big Carp Tackle.
Here is my STRONG recommendation if you want to but an alarm.  Buy a quality one like either a Fox or a Delkim. These are not cheap as Fox alarms start at about $45 and the entry level Delkims begin at $80.  Oh, you can find alarms online for $20-$25 but these are not very water resistant and will die out in the first rainstorm. Cheaper alarms are simply a waste of money.
If you do buy an alarm, realize you also need a device to hold it.  Many fishermen opt for a bankstick onto which you screw on the alarm.  Banksticks are adjustable metal sticks that are 15-30 inches long on average. The alarm goes on one end and the bankstick is driven into the ground on the other end. Banksticks run from about $10-$20 and can be purchased at these online stores.  If you want to discuss an alarm/bankstick purchase, Paul Pezalla at Wacker Baits is the guy to speak to (tel. 708- 450-0305).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Off to a Cold and Dead Start

Yes, I did get out on New Year's Day to fish for carp.  It was cold, windy, the place I was fishing was half covered in ice.  I caught nothing. I was fishing in the "First Fishing Folly (FFF)" a fun tournament sponsored by the Carp Anglers Group.  Carp fishermen from all over the US and Canada get out on Jan. 1 and try to catch a carp. Last year I also fished the FFF on New Year's Day.  It was warm and the carp were hitting as I landed my first one of the year on Jan. 1, 2012. What a difference a year makes.
As I write this, just about all the ponds and lakes in RI are locked in ice.  Even slow moving water is freezing over.  Hey, it's winter and I suppose that is what's supposed to happen.  Last year, we were treated to an unusually warm winter.  I fished most of January and February in open water in RI and caught carp all winter long.  There were occasional periods of thin ice, but it rarely stuck around for more than a few days. I have  a feeling we are looking at a more traditional winter this year. On those cold winters in the past I usually got my first ones in late February or early March unless I found them in fast moving river currents.
However, there are those who do know where to catch them in the winter with good success.  I have a friend in MA who was also fishing the FFF in MA waters north of here.  He started out at midnight and fished into the next day.  He came away with 8 carp on New Year's Day, quite an astounding feat for Jan. 1.  So, they do hit in the cold if you know the places to fish.