Carp Fishing in Heavy Weed: Top Tips for Success

  • By: Rob W (15 Years Carping Experience)
  • Published: September 11, 2022
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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Carp fishing in heavy weed can be daunting. But get your tactics right, and the results are there to be had. Carp love to be in and around weed. It’s full of natural food and provides a secure base for them to hold up in. Learning how to carp fish in weed will put you in good stead to not only fish confidently on a weedy water, but manage to successfully land a carp if you’re lucky enough to hook one.

Here are some things you should think about when it comes to how to carp fish in weed.

Why carp fish in weed?

Here are a few reasons why carp tend to hold up in weed beds, and why they make such an attractive area to target for big carp!

  • Carp feel safe in and amongst the cover of thick weed beds
  • Weed is packed full of natural food that carp love to feed on, including bloodworm and snails
  • Weed is often neglected by other anglers in favour of clearer areas of the lake. Carp will often reside in areas where there is less angling pressure
  • Oxygen levels in the water are often much higher in and around weed beds due to photosynthesis. In hot weather, you’ll often find carp held up in the weed for this reason

Tips for carp fishing in heavy weed

Find clear areas amongst the weed

Whilst weed can look super thick from the bank, rest assured that there will always be clear spots. It’s the clear sports that you need to find to accurately present a bait on. 

Carp love to feed in and around weed beds, and if you’re lucky enough to have ever gone out in a boat on a weedy lake, you’ll easily see the clear spots glowing!

If it’s a clear gravel pit you’re fishing, you’ll quickly see little golden patches amongst the weed where carp have been feeding.

Presenting a bait on a clear spot like this is your best chance of a bite.

For that reason, it’s imperative that you spend time finding the spots in your swim. Time spent find spots is much better than blasting a rig deep into the weed and hoping for the best. 

Weed can be daunting, but take your time and you will find clearer areas to present your bait. Photo Credit: Carpology

Leading around to find clear spots

When you arrive, cast a bare lead around the swim to find the clearer areas to present a bait. Remove your marker float and just use a heavy lead and braided mainline to lead around. You’ll be able to easily feel the ‘donk’ as the lead hits the lakebed and drags over gravel.

As soon as you find a clear area, clip up and have a few casts in the surrounding area. At this point, you want to get a feel for the size of the clear spot that’s out there.

You may even want attach a Gardner Weed Rake and drag that over the spot a few times to make sure that it’s 100% clean.

Feeling the lead down is needed when carp fishing in heavy weed.

Use a glass-bottomed bucket

You may be lucky enough to be fishing a lake where you’re allowed to head out in a boat. In this case, carp fishing in heavy weed just got a lot easier for you!

Access via a boat will allow you to see a birds-eye view of the clear spots. In many cases, just peering over the boast will suffice. However, if you want to get an even clearer view, you can invest in a glass-bottomed bucket. These help block out the surface glare and give you a real advantage when placing your rigs on clear spots amongst the weed.

Whilst you’re out in the boat, you can even drop H-Block markers so that you can identify your spots when your back on the bank.

Rake your swim

If you’re really struggling to find areas to present your bait in the weed, you can choose to use a weed rake. This is simply the end of a garden rake attached to some rope, which you can use to throw out and clear large expanses of weed in one go.

Many anglers shy away from this method due to the sheer disturbance, but rest assured carp will usually turn up and investigate sooner or later!

For fishing at range, you may find that a traditional rake is not viable. In which case you can use a smaller casting rake such as the Gardner Weed Rake. – Just make sure that your gear is strong enough to withstand pulling in a weed bed!

weed rake for carp fishing in heavy weed
A weed rake is great for creating clear spots in the weed or improving your line lay throughout your swim. Pictured: Gardner Weed Rake

Clear spots by regular baiting

I hope by now that you can see the trend here; clear spots within weed are the places to present your bait. We have already touched upon ways to both find and create your own clear spots, but there is another way; regular baiting.

Carp can be ravenous creatures. When feeding aggressively in weed, they will often rip up the bottom as they home in on every last morsel of food. As someone fishing a weedy venue, you can use this to your advantage.

By baiting small items of food on a regular basis, you can keep the carp coming back to your weedy spot and ‘clearing’ the area as they feed. At the same time, you’re getting them used to finding safe bait in a particular area, before you go ahead and start fishing in that zone.

This is a proven strategy on weedy venues if you have access to bait up on a regular basis.

Use the correct tackle

It goes without saying, when carp fishing in heavy weed, you need to be prepared with the right gear. The last thing you want is to be losing fish in weed after spending so long trying to present a bait successfully.

If you can get away with it, opt for a braided mainline which will provide you with more direct contact with the fish when hooked. However, if your venue insists on mono, just make sure that you’re armed with at least 15lb mainline of 0.35mm diameter.

how to catch carp in weed
Braided mainline will help you stay in firmer contact with the fish. It will also help you find clearer spots due to the increased sensitivity.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that your terminal tackle can stand up to the job too. It makes sense to upgrade your hooks to stronger variations such as the Korda Wide Gape X.

Hooks like this are generally made from a stronger wire, giving you less chance of them straightening out when putting them under pressure!

MORE READING: What size hook for carp?

Another consideration should be your carp leader material. If you’re fishing in amongst weed, snags, swan mussels etc., it pays to have a length of abrasion resistant leader above your rig.

If a fish takes you over any sharp material, an abrasion resistant leader like Korda Armakord will be the difference between a fish on the bank or not.

Baiting approaches for carp fishing in heavy weed

Use small particles as free offerings

When it comes to fishing for carp in weed, we recommend opting for smaller particle baits as free offerings. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Smaller particles will keep carp grubbing around in the weed, ripping it up and making the area clearer for you to present a bait
  • If the weed is thick, like Canadian Pond Weed, heavier baits can simply fall straight through the weed and be basically out of view of any carp passing above the weed beds
using particles for carp fishing in weed
Particles are the perfect free offering for carp fishing in weed.

Use pop ups and wafters to your advantage

Pop ups and wafters are always a good choice when fishing weedy carp lakes. Despite how clean you may think your spot is, there is always some sort of low lying weed or sediment on the lakebed to deal with.

In this instance, a pop up or wafter can help by presenting your hook bait just above any low-lying weed. By using a pop up or wafter in conjunction with some PVA foam, you can enable the rig to flutter down slowly and lay on top of the weed after casting out.

Landing carp in the weed

The most important thing when to do when you’ve hooked a carp in weed is to be on the rod as quick as possible. Keep the rod tip high, and try to keep the fish moving at all times.

If you don’t get to the rod quick enough, you’ll find that they quickly run and bury themselves in the weed bed before you know it! The result will be a complete lockup and a fish that will be very hard to get moving again.

When you do get locked up, don’t panic or start pulling at the rod too much. Just keep steady pressure on the fish until it begins moving again. You can even put the rod back on the rest for a few minutes until the fish get’s moving on it’s own accord.

Whatever you do, try to avoid pulling for a break. Even if it takes a few hours, the fish will eventually get moving and battle can commence again!

Carp fishing in weed FAQs

Does weed die in winter carp fishing?

Yes, you will often find that the huge expanses of weed will die back in the winter. So much so that ‘unfishable’ areas will soon be clear and provide a great opportunity for you to present a bait.

Whilst weed does die off, you may still come across sediment on the bottom. In this case it’s always worth adapting your rigs for weed, such as opting for solid PVA bags or chod rigs.

Can you fish PVA bags in weed?

PVA bags, particularly the solid variation, are an excellent choice for carp fishing in weed. By putting your whole rig inside the solid bag, you can rest assured that your hook point is clear and that it will be presented amongst a small amount of free offerings.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that solid PVA bags will make your rig sit on top of the weed. more often than not, the weight of your PVA bag will see it drop straight through the weed and sometimes out of sight.

The concept is studied as part of Rob Hughes’ Understanding Underwater Series on YouTube:

How to fish on top of weed?

Fishing on the surface above the weed is one of the most effective methods on weedy venues. When the sun is high, you’ll often see carp basking in the upper layers, or patrolling through the weed beds.

When this is the case, you can use a surface controller float or free-line bread or dog biscuits and try to tempt them to take your bait off the surface.

Conclusion

Many anglers get worried when it comes to fishing in weed, but it doesn’t have to be the case. With a little preparation and some more knowledge about how to fish for carp in weed, you too can reap the rewards of fishing around the green stuff.

After all, you can’t catch them if they are not in front of you. So next time you see them sheltered in the weediest part of the lake, have a go and see how you get on!


About the writer

Rob W

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!