Most Common Mistakes Made While Carp Fishing  - angler picking up carp on unhooking mat

Carp fishing is becoming increasingly popular over the years, with millions of anglers in the UK alone taking to the banks regularly to try and put some carp and other coarse fish in the net.

If you’re new to angling, then learning the various techniques, rigs, baiting approaches, tackle, and watercraft may seem overwhelming.

To be honest, if you’re entirely new to carp angling, there is a lot to learn to become a successful carp angler.

You’ll find plenty of content on this site that will help you learn about various carp fishing topics and how you can catch your first fish.

Today I’m going to discuss some of the most common mistakes that beginners and some amateur anglers make that can make the difference between plenty of carp or none at all.

So, what are 12 of the most common mistakes made while carp fishing? 

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  • 12 Common Mistakes Made While Carp Fishing

    Casting at Random

    Most Common Mistakes Made While Carp Fishing - Man Casting Fishing rod

    One of the most common mistakes made by beginner anglers is not reading the water. If you turn up to a venue, set up your tackle and rig and then cast into oblivion without any thought, then you’re just playing a game of luck.

    It is extremely important that you spend some time watching and analysing the water to try and locate feeding fish before even casting a line.

    Luckily, there are some telltale signs that you should spend some time looking out for before you get your rig in the water.

    I’ll provide a list of some of the most common signs you can look for so once you spot them, you can be sure you’re fishing an area that is holding carp:

    • Feeding bubbles can be seen on the surface of the water if the carp are feeding on the bottom. These bubbles are created when the fish are rummaging through the silt on the bottom, looking for food and releasing small pockets of natural gasses. Also, as the fish feed and sort between edible and unedible particles and baits on the bottom, they will create bubbles from their gills that produce two areas of bubbles or foam.
    • Feeding carp on the bottom will also uproot silt and other debris into the water, so if the water is relatively clear but you notice a patch of the lake is coloured, then there is a good chance that the fish are feeding on the bottom in this area and creating clouds of silt in the water.
    • It may seem obvious, but watching the water for any carp showing themselves through jumping, rolling or swimming on the surface is also a great way to locate where you should be casting your rig.
    • Often, carp will spend a lot of time close to “features” on the water, so if you don’t see any of the signs above, fishing close to some of these features can be a good starting point. Features refer to anywhere on the venue where carp will feel safe and protected and includes areas such as the margin, tight to the island, fallen trees or snags under the water, weeds and lilly pads.

    If you spend some time trying to locate the fish when you arrive before casting your rig then you can greatly increase your chances of success.

    Not Checking Bottom Conditions

    Another common mistake that beginner anglers make is not considering what the bottom of the venue is like.

    Some venues may have areas on the bottom that are covered in blanket weed or are covered in debris, such as lots of leaves from fallen leaves and branches.

    If you cast a bottom rig onto these areas then there is a large chance that your rig will get covered or tangled which will essentially render it useless as the carp can’t see or locate your bait.

    Also, some areas may be thick silt that your rig could also get buried in.

    As a good rule of thumb, if you’re fishing bottom baits you want to be checking if the bottom is hard and clear or light silt before casting out your bait for the best presentation.

    You can check this by casting and feeling down a lead over your swim to build up an idea of what the bottom is like in certain areas.


    There are a lot of fairly complex rigs that are best fished by experienced anglers and it’s very easy to get caught up in this and try to fish these as a complete beginner.

    Simple rigs, such as a simple lead set-up with a hair-rigged hook link, are more than adequate for putting fish in the net as a beginner.

    I’d recommend that you stick to simple rigs and tactics when you start fishing to improve your skills of locating the fish without overcomplicating things.


    Most Common Mistakes Made While Carp Fishing - Carp Feeding Underwater

    Is it also reasonably common for beginner anglers to overfeed their swim with a lot of loose feed and pre-bait. This can spread feeding fish out over a large area and take them away from your rig.

    It is usually better to fish bait lightly in one small area to get the fish feeding around your rig placement.

    Feeding amounts can also change during the year and in different seasons.

    For example, when water temperatures drop in the winter, the carp swimming below you will be far less active and feed a lot less.

    This is due to the changes in their body temperature, which slows down their metabolism.

    In the winter, you should fish single baits or only very light feed to avoid overfeeding any feeding fish that may be present.

    Inaccurate Casting

    Inaccurate casting is another major mistake made in carp angling.

    Inaccurate casting can have a negative impact in a variety of different ways. One of these is if you’re fishing a method feeder or PVA bag rig and fishing a swim that you selected after noticing signs of carp then inaccurate casting will spread your free bait out over a larger area and reduce your chances of catching.

    Once you begin casting and baiting a productive swim that has been producing bites then you want to be sure that you’re hitting this exact spot every cast.

    If your casting is inaccurate in this situation, you will be spreading your bait thin and also casting away from an area that could already hold carp feeding on the bait released from your last cast.

    There are also occasions where carp may be feeding over a small area of a hard bottom with heavy silt or weed in the surrounding areas.

    In this situation, a cast even a metre away from this spot could see your rig land in heavy silt or weeds, which basically means there is very little chance that the fish will find your rig.

    If you’ve been catching fish from a specific swim then make sure you’re casting exactly to the same area every cast until the bites dry up.

    Waiting for Fish to Come to You

    This is possibly one of the biggest mistakes made by beginner carp anglers. Imagine this, you’ve arrived at the venue, highlighted a swim you want to fish, baited it lightly, cast to the swim and now you wait.

    An hour has gone past with no bites or activity after consistent feeding.

    Beginners will continue to fish in this area in the hope that the fish will start flocking to them but unfortunately, this is very, very rarely going to happen.

    You may get an odd fish passing by coming down to pick up your hook bait but if you’ve seen very little action for an hour or more then you should definitely be trying to locate other areas that either show signs of fish or could hold fish.

    Don’t fully commit to a swim for your full session, and if things aren’t working out it can really pay to take the time to pack up and move area.

    Fishing Blunt Hooks 

    Most Common Mistakes Made While Carp Fishing - Close up of carp mouth with hooked maggots

    This should go without saying, but another massive mistake carp anglers make is fishing with blunt hook points.

    Your hooks must be fresh and sharp so once a fish comes along and picks up your rig the hook will set properly in the carp’s mouth.

    Not Talking to Fishery Manager

    It can help to talk to the fishery manager to ask about various aspects of the lake and how it has been fishing in recent days.

    Simply asking what pegs are areas that have been productive in recent days could be a great head start at trying to locate where the fish are holding.

    You should also ask about the depths of the lake, if there are any underwater snags and what baits and rigs they’d recommend using depending on the conditions.

    You can also spend some time talking to some anglers that are catching to give you an idea of what’s working on that given day.


    Consistency can be key, whether it be making sure that you’re casting efficiently with a feeder rig at certain time intervals to keep the bait going into your swim or even giving up on a rig or bait early and changing to something else.

    It is easy to lose confidence that is not catching fish and constantly change your rig and bait but this could be counter-intuitive and if you know that the rig and bait has caught plenty of carp before, it may be down to external parameters and not the rig or bait itself.

    A lot of fishing time can be lost if you’re constantly changing rigs and baits, so it can be far more productive to persivere and try to find the fish rather than changing your rig often.

    This also relates to the time you spend fishing, if you only fish for a few hours at a time and not very often, then it’s no surprise that you’re not catching plenty of fish.

    Carp fishing takes a lot of practice, and the more time you spend fishing and learning, the better you will become.

    Unbalanced Rigs

    Balancing rig is also something that beginner anglers seem to miss. When fishing larger baits, your should increase your hook size to ensure the rig presents itself well.

    The same goes for using smaller hook baits.

    Poor Knots 

    Knots can be fairly complicated to new anglers, and it can be extremely easy to follow a step wrong and end up with a knot that won’t hold up against hard-fighting fish.

    This comes with practice and ensuring you’re following steps properly from tutorials or videos.

    You should start by using simple rigs and knots to you can even purchase pre-tied rigs that can easily be attached without tying any complex knots.

    Another good tip is to ensure you always moisten knots before pulling them tight to ensure the line slips easily into the final knot position and is not left loose and unbound.

    Using the Wrong Tackle

    Most Common Mistakes Made While Carp Fishing - Carp fishing rods and rod pod on bank

    There is a lot of different tackle available to anglers in terms of rods and reels. Every rod will have parameters such as test curve, length and action.

    Before purchasing tackle for your fishing, it should be essential that you consider the type of fishing you’re planning to do and the size of fish you’re planning to target before purchasing anything.

    Using heavy rods for smaller fish can result in more hook pulls and lost fish as they have too much power. Also the same goes for lighter rods for large fish.

    You won’t have enough power through the rod blanks to control the fish, reel it in and keep it from running to any snags or features where it could become tangled.

    You should also make sure you’re using a line that is sufficient breaking strain for the size of fish you’re targeting to avoid lots of lost fish with snapped mainline.

    That’s All

    There is plenty of small mistakes that you can make while carp fishing that can have a large impact on the amount of fish that you catch.

    The list of the 12 most common mistakes made while carp fishing should give you a good starting point of things that you can fairly easily sort to improve your fishing.

    I hope this has been useful, if you’ve got any questions, leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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