Jean Wards Carp Fishing Rules of Thumb

I have been reading Jean Ward's carp fishing articles since I was a kid and I am very happy to have her share some rules of thumb for catching carp with me. Jean is well know on the East Coast and worldwide as the "Carp Lady". Jean LOVES to share her knowledge on how to fish for carp and has had articles in Fishing in Maryland, Outdoor Life and Field and Stream to name a few. She was also consulted in the writing of Carp in North America (June 1987, American Fisheries Society; ISBN: 091323544X). Oh, and by the way, this American woman carp fisherman still holds several line class fish records for BFCs!


Lets Go Carping

10 Rules of Thumb


  1. Learn to use the equipment you have! Too many people take it for granted they already know! It must be balanced -(rod, reel, line and weight). Use a stout #2 or #3 hook.

  2. Take care of your equipment, change the line often, keep the rod and reel clean, well greased, and oiled. Be sure the guides are clean and have no grooves from wear.

  3. Keep all equipment out of sunlight, trunks of cars, rear pick-up windows, etc. Sunlight (ultra-violet) "eat-out" the line and the windings holding the guides.

  4. Learn to set the drag properly for the line test. Using the hand to pull causes the line to "dig" into the spool - use scales, a partner, and tie onto the scales and then back up 30' - have the partner read the scales, example: 20 lb line test should be set at 5 lbs of pull. (Ratio 4:1) If set any tighter, the line will snap when you have a fish on!

  5. Learn to tie knots properly. Stren, Andes, and others have booklets available in print. Seventy-five percent of the fish that are lost are due to improperly tied knots. Why do the rest of the job properly only to make these major mistakes? Cut off 3 plus feet of line at the end after each trip that night. Lots of line damage occurs just from the cast alone.

  6. Scout available areas, talk to people in tackle shops, and locals. It is amazing how many tips they may share if you are an astute listener. Don't hound or pump the source! Be sure to buy a soda for them, too! Carp give away their secret by "jumping". Watching a body of water will be a good clue for locating them.

  7. "Chumming" is a method used but you must know your state laws. Carp eat a variety of foods. Doughballs and canned corn seem to be the two favorites people choose. Sometimes the fish have other ideas. Under a cherry tree in the summer, forget it! The cherries are why they are there. I have had success with raisins, peas, lime beans, partially cooked potatoes, apricots, chewing gum, worms and many other baits. Most people leave the bait on too long and the flavor is leached out faster than you think.

  8. Most people hurry too much. Stomping feet, scraping tackle boxes, radios etc. will spook the fish. Take your time. Go slow and relax. Let your knees start shaking and heart pump when you have a big one on, but take it easy. Don't hurry the fish.

  9. Keep a "log". Make sure to record "all" information, time of day, water conditions, wind direction and speed, barometric readings, bait used, water depth, pH, air temperature, etc. Be patient. You will have to pay your dues. Plan to spend some time and money, give a few prayers to the man upstairs who has given you the chance to partake of such a wonderful sport, scenery, solitude, and reflection time. Hang on for the thrill of a lifetime when you get hooked!

  10. Carp are higly edible. Some research in this area and a number of cookbooks are availble to show proper cleaning and cooking methods. There are three distinct kinds of meat, each with a different flavor. Carp taken from waters under 60 degrees F are best! Females are 100% better eating than the males.

Happiness is Fishin!
Miss Jean Ward
Associate Professor H.P.E.R.S.
April, 13, 1999





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