I would like to introduce you to the concept of snag fishing covering terminal tackle, rods reels, mono or braid, set up and the particular water I fish that has more than its fair share of snags.
Before you venture out to try and extract a carp from these areas you have to have it straight in your mind that the safety of the fish is paramount.
Meaning that anybody can put a bait into a snaggy area and hook a fish but the chance of landing it would be minimal and knowing that you have left a fish tethered up is not a result you were looking for.
Now we've got that straight onto the tackle, in these circumstances you don't want to be using some thing too forgiving. 2 ¾lb test curve has to be the minimum, the rods I use are Harrison 12' 6”with 3 ¼lb tc, these are still forgiving under the tip so the risk of a hook pull after you have steered the fish away from the snags is reduced.
But can still cope easily with spirited fish at range.
Next up is reels, reliability and confidence in the clutch is very important as the last thing you would want is the clutch to slip too early thus giving the fish them few inches needed to gain sanctuary in the snags. The clutch needs to be set not too tight, but not too slack that a fish can take line on the pick up.
There a number of excellent reels out there from Daiwa, Shimano and the ones I have opted for are the Big Pits from Maver which have a total of 13 bearings inside them making these extremely smooth reels with a very precise clutch.
Now onto what your going to put on those reels, well you have 2 choices of either mono or braid. Each has its pro's and con's.
Starting with mono, these tend to have a thinner diameter and a lot more stretch than braids unless you can find a good quality fluorocarbon main line. Fluorocarbon is much more abrasion resistant and has significantly less stretch than normal mono fishing lines. Obviously in these angling situations you don't want your carp gaining safety in the snags, so a mono line with very little stretch of say 5% would keep you in contact.
Braid is what I would opt for, this is due to the fact that braids have absolute zero stretch and the abrasion resistance is unbelievable. The problem with braid is you will either have to use tubing to protect the fishes flanks from grazing or use a soft coated leader. You will have seen on some fish the marks mono's can make, braid can do a lot more damage than this.
Hooklinks and hooks are down to the individual, though all I can do is put my views forward on what I have had most success with and that has to be Carp ‘R' Us terminal tackle. I tend to use their linklets in 5 ” or 10” length finishing off with either size 4 offset Nailers or size 4 Long shank Nailer blowback rigs. You will find that once these hooks are in they are in there to stay.
In snag fishing barbless hooks have to be the norm, for one main reason only and that is if your fish does get the better of you and gets back into the sanctuary of the snags and you are cut off. Then the carp has the best chance of shedding the hook and lives on to be caught another day. Everybody has their own preference and confidence in everything we have covered so stick with what your happy with, but try and take on board some of these comments.
Next up is leads and lead clips, all I can say is always use the pendant leads and safety clips as the lead can be dispatched from the clip if it got snagged up. Where an inline will never come off in a month of Sundays, and if you do get cut off there is a chance that the fish will be towing a lead around and that increases the chance of that becoming tethered and puts the fish in danger.
Location is the key and once you have found where they are lurking the marker float comes into its own.
Once the distance has been found where it is relatively clear a spare rod has to be used with just a lead attached. This is then used to cast around the marker float lets say 2 yards either side and in front to make sure the area is clear. Snags you can see there are more you cant, there is nothing worse waking up in the morning thinking the fish weren't having it only to find when you wind in you are already snagged up. Doing this exercise you are liable to loose a few leads as you need to use a slightly lighter line on the link to the lead this so you don't leave too much line if you over cast etc.
Once you are happy with the spot you have found then baiting up commences, only yourselves know on your particular water the amount of bait fish respond to but a tip is to drop some bait short of the area and fairly well scattered. What I have found and from other people the amount of bait that drops short the carp are going to be less wary of picking a bait up here rather than tight in the snags.
Once in position never back lead as this lends itself to give carp more slack line and more of a chance of reaching the snags. I always fish a tight line and with my rod pointing direct at the area fished. If you fish your rod at a slight angle once you get the take your rod with the clutch set tight is going to hoop around, this will give the fish a couple of feet of line which we don't want to.
I cant say much about playing the fish once hooked, but I do have a tip and that is if the fish are going on what seems like an unstoppable run for sanctuary dip your rod as deep as you can in the water. I cannot express enough that it works, I don't know why, it could be the change of angle of the line but it works. The carp will slow down and you will be able to turn the fish and ease it back again.
So good luck and catch a big carp.