Best Guide to Specimen Carp Fishing: How to Catch a 20-Pounder?

Best Guide to Specimen Carp Fishing: How to Catch a 20-Pounder?


When it comes to carp fishing, there are two distinct approaches: conventional carp angling and specimen carp fishing. While conventional anglers aim to catch as many carp as possible, specimen anglers have a different goal in mind – they specifically target large or specimen fish. In this guide, we will delve into the world of specimen carp fishing, exploring what it is, what makes a carp a specimen, and how it differs from other forms of carp fishing.

What is Specimen Carp Fishing?

Specimen carp fishing is a specialized branch of angling that focuses on targeting big or specific fish rather than catching a high number of carp. Specimen anglers use heavier gear, larger baits, and fish for longer periods of time in hopes of landing a record-size fish. The thrill of pursuing these monster carp is what attracts many anglers to this style of fishing.

What Makes a Carp a Specimen?

When it comes to determining what qualifies as a specimen carp, there are two main factors to consider: the size of the fish and its unique characteristics.

Size of Fish

Size is often the primary factor that specimen anglers consider when classifying a carp as a specimen. The definition of a specimen carp can vary depending on the location and the average size of carp found there. For example, in a lake where carp typically weigh up to 20 lbs, a 15 lb to 20 lb carp would be considered a specimen. In colder regions like Canada, where carp growth is slower, any carp over 30 lbs may be considered a specimen. In contrast, lakes with optimal conditions for carp growth may have specimens weighing 50 lbs or more.

Unique Characteristics

Some specimen anglers go beyond size and focus on specific fish with unique characteristics. Carp can have distinct physical attributes that make them easily identifiable, such as color variations, scale patterns, or even specific types of carp resulting from cross-breeding. In Europe, where stocked lakes are common, certain fish gain fame and are sought after by specimen anglers.

How is Specimen Carp Fishing Different?

Specimen carp angling differs from other forms of carp fishing in several ways. Let’s explore these differences in more detail:

Length of Time Spent Fishing

Specimen anglers often dedicate extended periods of time to fishing. They may target specific bodies of water for days or even weeks, fishing day and night. This requires additional camping gear and a willingness to spend long stretches of time on the bank in pursuit of a trophy fish. It’s a true test of patience and dedication.

Carp Care Gear

Due to the size of the fish being caught, specimen anglers prioritize carp care. They invest in specialized gear to ensure the well-being of the fish during handling and release. Carp care equipment includes items like carp mats, weigh slings, and antiseptic treatments for any wounds. This commitment to fish welfare is crucial for maintaining healthy populations and promoting future growth.

Fishing Gear

Specimen carp fishing requires specialized gear designed to handle the challenges of targeting large fish. Let’s take a closer look at the essential equipment:


Specimen anglers use stronger rods with a test curve of 3 lbs or greater. Longer rods, typically 12 to 13 feet, are preferred to reach longer distances and deeper water. These rods provide the power needed to handle big fish and make long casts.


Larger and stronger reels, known as big pit reels, are favored by specimen anglers. These reels have increased spool size for casting further distances and heavier gearing to handle the weight and power of bigger carp.

Line and End Tackle

Specimen anglers use heavier lines, often braided or monofilament with a test strength of 25 lbs or greater. This robust line ensures the strength and durability needed to land big fish. Additionally, larger hooks and stronger end tackle are recommended to handle the immense power of specimen carp.

Bite Alarms and Rod Pods

Specimen anglers rely on electronic bite alarms coupled with rod pods or banksticks for bite indication. These specialized alarms alert anglers to any movement or bites, even during overnight sessions. Rod pods provide stability and allow for multiple rods to be securely positioned, ensuring maximum coverage of the fishing area.

Bait and Tactics

When targeting specimen carp, anglers often use larger baits such as 20mm boilies. These bigger baits can deter smaller carp, increasing the chances of attracting larger fish. However, it’s worth noting that smaller baits can still attract specimen-sized carp; it’s a matter of personal preference and the conditions of the fishing spot.

Carp Tournaments: Specimen Anglers vs. Match Anglers

Carp fishing tournaments come in two main forms: total weight competitions and competitions based on the weight of a specific number of fish. Let’s take a closer look at these tournament styles:

Total Weight Competitions

Total weight competitions are more suited to conventional or match anglers. In these tournaments, the winner is determined by the cumulative weight of all the fish caught during the event. Match angling is particularly popular in Europe and South Africa, where anglers aim to catch as many carp as possible within a specified time frame.

Weight of Top Fish Competitions

These competitions appeal more to specimen anglers. Instead of focusing on the total weight of all fish caught, the winner is determined by the weight of a predetermined number of fish. For example, the total weight of an angler’s top four fish might be used to determine the winner. These competitions can be highly competitive, often coming down to the wire and adding an extra element of excitement for anglers.

The Joy of Specimen Carp Fishing

While targeting big fish is the main goal of specimen carp fishing, it’s important to remember that fishing is about more than just the size of the catch. Many anglers find joy in the pursuit of specific characteristics or scale patterns that make certain fish stand out. Each carp has its own story, and anglers often develop a connection with the fish they target.

So, whether you’re a conventional angler looking to challenge yourself or a seasoned specimen angler searching for that next trophy fish, the world of specimen carp fishing offers a unique and thrilling experience. Remember to prioritize carp care, invest in the right gear, and enjoy the beauty of nature as you pursue these magnificent creatures. Happy fishing!

Carp Fishing Rigs

Carp fishing is not just a hobby; it’s a pursuit that demands strategy and precision. One of the critical elements of carp angling is selecting the right fishing rig. In this guide, we’ll explore the world of carp fishing rigs, helping you choose the best setup for your next fishing adventure.

Carp Fishing Rigs
Carp Fishing Rigs

The Basics: What Are Carp Fishing Rigs?

Carp fishing rigs are specialized setups designed to present bait to carp in an enticing and inconspicuous manner. The right rig can make the difference between a successful day by the water and a disappointing one.

Popular Carp Fishing Rigs

  1. Hair Rig: This classic rig involves attaching the hook to a short piece of line (the “hair”) near the bait. The carp can take the bait without immediately detecting the hook.
  2. Chod Rig: Ideal for weedy areas, the chod rig suspends the bait above vegetation, making it harder for carp to get tangled.
  3. Running Rig: Known for its excellent bite detection, this rig allows carp to move with the bait before you strike.
  4. Method Feeder Rig: This rig is effective for presenting bait on the lake or riverbed. It’s especially useful for carp that feed at the bottom.

Components of Carp Rigs

  • Hooks: Select hooks based on bait and fishing conditions. Size and type matter.
  • Line: The right line choice depends on the carp’s behavior and the water you’re fishing in. Consider the strength and visibility of the line.
  • Weights: Use weights that match the depth and current of your fishing spot.
  • Baits: Experiment with different baits to find what works best in your area. Boilies, sweetcorn, and pellets are popular choices.

Pros and Cons of Different Rigs

  • Hair Rig:
    • Pros: High hookup rate, versatile for various baits.
    • Cons: Requires careful bait threading.
  • Chod Rig:
    • Pros: Effective in weedy areas, great for pop-up baits.
    • Cons: Less suitable for bottom baits.
  • Running Rig:
    • Pros: Excellent bite detection, versatile.
    • Cons: Tangles can occur if not set up correctly.
  • Method Feeder Rig:
    • Pros: Effective presentation of bait, ideal for bottom-feeding carp.
    • Cons: Can be complex to set up for beginners.

Top Tips for Carp Fishing Success

  • Location Matters: Study the water, understand carp behavior, and locate their feeding spots.
  • Quality Tackle: Invest in reliable equipment, including rods, reels, and lines.
  • Bait Experimentation: Try various baits and presentation styles to discover what attracts carp in your area.
  • Patience: Carp can be cautious. Wait for the right moment to strike, and be patient.

In Conclusion

Carp fishing rigs are the cornerstone of successful carp angling. By grasping the basics, choosing the right rig, and heeding these expert tips, you’ll increase your chances of landing those prized carp. Tight lines, and may your next fishing trip be a memorable one!

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