French Carping from the Start – Part 1

Part 2Part 3

I have been asked by the management at Angling Lines to put together a few blogs which contain sufficient information to assist new and existing customers, in their quest for carp in France.

In these blogs I will suggest what I would list as the most appropriate tackle for the job in hand.

Angling Lines provide various sized lakes to their customers from 2 acres to over 25 acres in size. Some lakes provide accommodation and others are bivvy only, so things have to be taken into account such as:

  • Do I need home comforts, lakeside accommodation etc
  • Will I be fishing during the hours of darkness, Bivvy or brolly
  • If I am not fishing nights do I need a sleeping bag and bed chair will just a chair suffice.
  • If I am using a bait boat, are their sufficient electrical points for recharging etc.
  • Is there a food package available?
  • What cooking facilities are available?
  • Toilet and shower arrangements.
  • Vehicular access to swims for unloading tackle etc.
  • What tackle do I need?

Obviously with the bigger lakes your tackle does need to be upgraded slightly to face the new challenges, such as extra distance on casting. Even with the smaller lakes upgraded tackle is required solely due the size of some of the bigger residents that these waters hold. I will start off with the most important items of tackle, rods, reels and line. 

One of the larger residents of Angling Lines waters, a 45lb common from Boux


Fishing Rods

Rods are a very personal item in any fisherman’s itinerary. My personal findings are that a rod of at least 2 ¾ lb test is required to land and control adequately, some of the bigger French specimen carp.

I personally like the rod make up itself to be of a softer action tip with a stiffer midsection and butt. The reason I say this, is that you can purchase some rods that are like pokers, very stiff, excellent for casting a distance, but due to the stiffer end section can cause problems when the fish is near to the net. Even the French fish have soft mouths and a stiff rod does tend to cause addition damage to the carps mouth ending up in the fish being lost at the net. The rod does need to be stiff enough to apply pressure on a fish if it kites towards snags or weed beds, so a medium balance is needed in the rod make up.

Carp Fishing Rods

My rods also cope with small intimate waters

The rods that I use are the 12 foot Free Spirit Hi-S 3 ½ lb test. I find that these rods are very versatile for both small intermit waters and also some of the larger expanses of water that I come across in my travels. These rods are classed as semi-fast, have a semi soft tip with the stiffer Butt and mid section. My rods have the 50 mil butt rings which I think are an advantage if used with some of the big pit type reels on the market today.

Carp Rod Set Up

12 foot Free Spirit Hi-s rods at Margot with my Technium reels,
from this point I am fishing 70 yards out into open water.

There are longer and stiffer rods on the available, designed for casting large distances. The only trouble with these, are the they only come into their own on big waters, and even on big waters, more often than not the fish can be caught within a 70 yard range.

An example of this is waters such as Margot, one of Angling Lines more prolific big fish waters. I spent a week this summer on its banks and caught fish constantly throughout the week from a distance of exactly 70 yards, easy casting distance, and an easy distance to put out bait, even with a strong wind into my face. Casting further than this and I would have been pushing the fish out into open water unnecessarily.


Marker and spod rod at the ready at Molyneux

Marker and spod rod at the ready

Spod Rod

These rods need to be stiff, with at least a 4lb test. My rod is an old North Western spod rod that I purchased for £40 of ebay some years ago. It works perfectly well, being able to put out spods, bait rockets and spombs to distances of well over 110 yards.

Marker rod

The marker rod is an important piece of equipment in my tackle itinerary. I use it not only for finding depths and features on the lake bed but also for leading about to find the lake bed makeup. The rod that I use is a Terry Eustace 12 foot 3lb test Genisis rod, which I find soft enough for leading the lake and also able to cast my marker to over 120 yards if I require.


Fishing Reels

Reels need to be balanced up with the rods. It is no use having a light expensive rod and putting on it a large bulky heavy reel that will throw out the whole balance of your rod set up, effecting casting and fish control.

For some of the smaller waters where you are fishing within a 50 to 70 yard range, you can get away with some of the smaller reels such as the Shimano bait runner type. With thesesmaller reels a smaller butt ring on the rod would suffice



Shimano Carp Fishing Reel

 25 year old Shimano baitrunner with a 10000 spool. Still catches carp!

If however you are using the big pit type reels, a bigger butt ring is best, possibly 50mil, as this prevents “thrap ups” and crack offs on the cast. These are caused by a larger spiral of line hitting the butt ring on a cast and the line being restricted as it passes through the butt ring, making the line wrap around the butt ring.

Shimano Technium XT 10000 reel

Shimano Technium XT 10000 reel with 14lb monofil line

So what reel do I suggest? I would go for a big pit type reel without the bait runner facility (making the reel lighter) and try and get the best you can afford, as this is one of the most important aspects of your fishing tackle.

My choice of fishing reels are the Shimano Technium XT 10000’s, which unfortunately are no longer available. These reels have a slow oscillation retrieve, have no bait runner facility, and are one of the lightest big pit reels that have ever been produced, making the rod/ reel a perfect balance. I use the clutch at the front of the reel as the bait runner, easing off the tension once the cast has been made, and re-applying the tension for the retrieve or on a strike.

Carp rods and reels

On the left is one of my Free Spirit Hi-s 3 ½ lb test rods with 50mil butt ring and the Shimano Magnesium reel.  On the right is a Genesis 3lb test rod with a Shimano bait runner reel with a 30mil Butt ring.

Fishing Line again is a personal choice. Braid, monofilaments and fluorocarbon lines are available. The cheapest and safest options are the monofilament lines.

  • Braid has no stretch at all and is banned on most waters in England and on the continent
  • Fluorocarbon line is a heavy line that is difficult to cast any distance. The line itself does sit low in the water and is useful for fishing slack lines in the margins, which is not the normal scenario for French waters. I personally do not get on with this line.
  • A good monofilament line of at least 0.33mil Diameter and between 12 and 15lb breaking strain is probably the best choice for general fishing on most French waters. When fishing at a distance exceeding 40 yards, generally the last 10 yards or more is lying on the lake bottom out of the way of the feeding carp. Monofil is cheaper and has plenty of line stretch to take out the dangers of loosing carp during the fight when carp lunge and head shake.


Marker Reel

The marker reel needs the capabilities to hold sufficient line and to be able to release the line to a distance that that you are able to cast too with your fishing rods. This reel is the least used on a fishing trip so the cheapest and best you can afford or the best old reel in your fishing box is the one to use.

As for the line, I find that for the best results, I use a braided line, Berkleys Whiplash in  30lb BS which is fine and easy to cast. I only use about 150 yards of braid with a 20 foot leader made up of 20lb monofilament line or fluorocarbon. ( It is important that the last 20 foot is not braid as this is the length of line that the marker float rises to the surface on and braid restricts the marker rising to the surface smoothly). The rest of the spool is backed up with any old line that is tightly wound onto the spool so that it has the appearance of a solid mass. The reason for this is that I do not want the braid to bed into the backing line. I ensure that the braid is at least an eighth of an inch off the lip of the spool as if the spool contains too much line it can peel of as in a wind knot.

Big Pit Carp Reel

Marker reel with monofil leader

Carp Spodding Reel with Braid

Spod reel with braid only

Spod Reel

This reel  is the most used reel in your itinerary, and has to be capable of being constantly used for casting and needs to have the capable of a quick retrieve. Just putting out 5 or 6 kilo of bait with a spomb or spod,, can result in up to a 100 casts.

The reel has got to be well maintained and strong enough for the job as well has having the line capacity to put out the spomb or spod to where you are casting with your fishing rods. Specific reels designed for spod work can be purchased off the internet or for a reasonable price from most tackle shops.

Again the spool needs to be backed up with sufficient backing line that has been applied tight with the last 150 yards in Berkleys Whiplash in  30lb BS with no leader. If you put too much braid on the spool you can cause yourself problems with wind knots etc on casting. It is best to leave a gap of an eighth of an inch to the lip of the spool as again, if the line is too close to the lip you can get wind knots.

Every angler has his or her own thoughts on tackle choice; fortunately there are lots of different makes and models of reels, rods and line to choose from. Check out the internet and your local tackle dealers. The tackle that I have chosen to use has come from advice from both experienced anglers and from advice from my local tackle dealers.

Tight Lines, Paul Cooper

Part 2 
Part 3


3 thoughts on “French Carping from the Start – Part 1

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