Avoiding crayfish carp fishing is no easy task. No matter how hard you try, crayfish are relentless little buggers that can often get in the way of you catching carp.
Since being introduced into UK waterways in the 1970s, crayfish have plagued our canals, rivers and lakes. They are now a common sight across many day ticket lakes in the UK. As troublesome as they are, there are ways to get around them, but you must be prepared to adjust many parts of your angling, from swim choice, to rigs, bait and free offerings.
Here are a few tips on how you can beat crayfish when carp fishing!
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Crayfish carp fishing tips – How to beat them!
Use a stiff coated hooklink
If you’re fishing a lake with crayfish, you can rest assured that as some point they’re likely to be messing around with your rig. You’ll spend ages getting the perfect drop and rig presentation only for crayfish to come in and mess the whole thing up.
For this reason, we recommend a semi stiff or stiff coated hooklink. – Something with a bit of memory in it that will reset itself straight when a crayfish eventually drops it. Personally, I prefer a tough coated braid that has a strong outer coating. Crayfish have very sharp claws and even if they manage to cut at the coating, it’s very rare that they’ll get through the inner braided section.
It’s good advice to avoid fluorocarbon hooklinks when there are crayfish about. Too many times I’ve seen hooklinks come back in partially cut through. Imagine losing a PB carp because of that!
Avoid anything tungsten
Now his might sound crazy, but crayfish love anything tungsten. If you follow top carp angler Simon Scott on Instagram, you’ll see him drop rigs into his tank to watch his crayfish react to them. It’s interesting to see that the first thing they go for is the tungsten, and they will happily sit there stripping it until it’s gone!
Crayfish are absolutely obsessed with tungsten, so much so that I try to avoid any tungsten products on my end tackle. (which is actually quite hard nowadays!)
With so many people using tungsten putty on their rigs these days, you have to find an alternative that’s less attractive to the crays. Simple split shots are more than good enough for this purpose, with a BB being enough to hold down most pop ups.
Although split shots aren’t as neat as putty, they are far less likely to be messed around with by the crayfish. This is a must follow tip when avoiding crayfish carp fishing!
Use extender stops
It wasn’t until a few sessions into carp fishing with crayfish that I realised just how good the little buggers are with their claws. I originally thought a rock solid bottom bait and a standard boilie stop would be enough, but I was wrong.
Crayfish are able to use their claws with great dexterity, meaning even a boilie stop can be taken off with ease, giving them simple access to pull your hookbait off! To get around that I would highly recommend Korda Extenda Stops, the type of boilie stop that can be pushed down into the bait.
This gives it that extra bit of grip and might be the difference between the hookbait surviving a cray attack or not.
Be aware of crayfish activity
There’s nothing worse than getting three rods on the spot only to reel in the next day with no hookbaits. And whilst you cannot choose what picks your bait up out in the lake, you can do things to maximise the amount of time your hookbait is readily available to the carp.
For me that means being aware of crayfish activity on your spots and being aware of crayfish bite indication.
Most of the time you’ll know when it’s happening; you’ll notice slight indication on the alarm and slow movement on the bobbin. It’s completely different to liners which are generally more aggressive.
As soon as I notice crayfish activity on a rod, I’ll recast it. I’d rather spend the 5 minutes it takes to recast the rod out with a fresh hookbait rather than site there unsure of whether the crayfish have left anything for the carp.
That’s not to say that leaving it out there won’t catch a carp, but for me it’s all about confidence in what’s out in the lake. Even if it does mean a little extra work to get the rods back on the spot.
Obviously hookbait choice is a major talking point when it comes to avoiding crayfish when carping.
The general rule of thumb is that the harder your hookbait, the longer it will last. Air dried or specially hardened bottom baits are a good option, and many of the major bait companies stock them in their ranges.
You can then take hardened hookbaits one step further and mesh them using Fox Arma Mesh or Korda Superwrap. These essentially add an extra layer of protection around your hookbait, giving you a few more hours of protection from the crays.
Obviously if you’re not too bothered about using only food baits, plastics are an excellent choice (if your venue allows them of course).
Whether you should be using pop ups a big debate on the banks of many cray waters, but for me it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen crayfish tackle pop ups as easily as bottom baits. Just watch the Simon Scott Instagram videos when he drops a ronnie rig in his crayfish tank. – They tackle it with ease!
Use a heavy lead
Lead size isn’t something talked about a lot when it comes to avoiding crayfish carp fishing, but for me it’s vital. I try to use a heavy lead whenever possible, normally over 3.5oz.
It’s bad enough that crayfish can actually move your hooklink, so the last thing I want is for them to move the whole lead setup too.
Crayfish are strong little buggers and they will easily move a 1.5-2oz lead across the lakebed. Anything over 3oz should help eliminate that and keep your rig on the desired spot.
Small free offerings
Baiting up is another key area of debate when it comes to beating crayfish. Most tend to recommend baiting with small particles of baits and I agree this approach works best in the right situation.
If you can imagine a mass of particle on the lake bed vs. a scattering of whole boilies. It will take the crayfish much longer to sift through the smaller particles, increasing the chance that your hookbait will stay untouched for longer.
Now that doesn’t meant that each rod should have a mountain of particle spombed over the top all year round. Just adapt to the situation in front of you and know that if crayfish are active and you want to put some bait out, smaller paricles, crumbed boilies and pellets are always a good bet.
Don’t forget though, you can put more bait in, but you can’t take it back out!
Spread your bait wide
Baiting a widespread area has been known to limit crayfish activity. Combined with smaller free offerings, a widespread area can help to preoccupy the crayfish for longer periods of time.
This method works best when you position your hookbaits centrally amongst a wide spread of bait.
The idea is that the as the crayfish enter your spot, they’ll be preoccupied around the edges of your baited area, leaving your hookbait centrally in the middle, where carp can easily approach.
Obviously, with high levels of baiting, don’t forget to take into account the time of the year and number of carp in the lake.
Crayfish Carp Fishing FAQ
What are the best crayfish carp rigs?
I wouldn’t say that any particular rig is better than another when it comes to dealing with problematic crayfish on carp lakes. That being said, you do need to tweak things slightly to ensure that your rig will make it hard for the crayfish to mess with, and this should include:
- Using strong, abrasion-resistant semi-stiff or stiff coated braid
- Using a heavy lead
- Minimising the use of tungsten
- Avoid using monofilament or fluorocarbon hooklinks that can kink
Do carp eat crayfish?
Yes, carp love to eat crayfish. Crayfish are a great source of protein for carp and that’s often why carp in crayfish infested waters can grow to such great weights.
Once per year around June crayfish will malt (shed their shells). At this point they are essentially ‘jelly-like’ and with a lack of a protective shell, they become much easier for carp to eat.
This is one of the reasons why you can sometimes notice a lack of action around June on carp lakes that are infested with crayfish. – The carp have simply got an easier, tastier and more natural food source available to them.
What carp baits to avoid crayfish?
Quite frankly, crayfish will eat anything. There is no particular carp bait to avoid crayfish.
The best thing that you can do is to make sure that your hookbait is as strong as possible to make it withstand the crayfish for as long as possible. Here are some hook baits that you can try:
- Air-dried boilies –
- Boilies wrapped in Fox Arma Mesh or Korda Superwrap
- Plastic imitation hookbaits such as fake corn or fake maggots
- Imitation pop up boilies (great for ronnie rigs)
- Tiger nuts
What is crayfish bite indication when carp fishing
It’s not always possible to know when crayfish are eating your hookbait. However, if they are having a good go, you’ll notice a series of bleeps and some twitching of the bobbin.
Crayfish are determined little creatures and the indication will often continue until you recast the rod, they take the whole hookbait off, or you manage to pick up a carp. Personally, any sign of crayfish activity and I will typically recast the rod straight away.
Carp Tackle for Beating Crayfish
We’ve put together the main items of carp tackle and bait that you’ll need to avoid crayfish whilst carping!
Wrap around your baits to preserve them for longer.
A stiff abrasion resistant hooklink that resets itself.
Long bait stops to prevent crayfish removing your hookbait.
Crayfish can be a pain, but there are a few things you can do do make sure they aren’t as much of a nuisance whilst you’re carp fishing. When carp fishing for beginners, it can be confusing to come across these nifty little creatures.
Be prepared to adapt your gear and the way that you fish an infested water and you’ll be fine avoiding crayfish carp fishing.
About the writer
I’m Rob, Carp Squad’s main contributor. I’ve been carp fishing on and off for 15 years, but the bug is well and truly back at the moment. Hopefully the articles I write on here help you put more carp on the bank.