Not only is surface fishing one of the most exciting and fun methods of catching carp, it can also be incredibly effective. However any enjoyment can quickly be replaced with frustration if you don’t get your tackle spot on and end up watching fish continuously eat all the freebies while rejecting your hook bait.
The following is the basic tackle I take with me and why I've chosen to use it,
Rod and reel
The majority of my time spent surface fishing is with scaled down tackle including lighter breaking strain lines and smaller sized hooks. Therefore I tend to opt for a through action rod of around 1.75lb to 2.25lb test curve, with my current choice being the Infinity Advanced Barbel. This gives me enough power and control when playing fish without leading to hook pulls at close range. A small reel with a smooth clutch and good line lay completes the set-up.
Low visibility monofil such as Sensor Clear tends to be my first choice for surface fishing, with the breaking strain depending largely on the lake I’m fishing and the features it contains. If I’m targeting open water I tend to use 8 to 10lb, while I’ll step up to 12 or 15lb if needed due to heavy snags or weed.
I tend to avoid using fluorocarbon as in most situations I want my mainline to float, giving me greater control over my hookbait and avoiding any fish from potentially bumping or swimming into the line. Controllers
Although there is a whole range of controllers available my favourite at the moment is actually a simple homemade one, consisting of a small rubber ball with a hole drilled through the centre containing a short length of solid tube. The rubber balls can be cast for miles, are small and unobtrusive in the water, and can be semi fixed to my hooklength swivel using a small length of tubing.
I do carry a range of other controllers with me in different shapes and sizes, just in case conditions change.
Generally the lighter the breaking strain and thinner the diameter of your hooklength the easier it will be to get takes. However as with your mainline this needs to be offset against the lake and swim you are fishing and the features it contains to ensure you can always land any carp you hook. For open water fishing with no weed or snags I tend to use 6 to 8lb, stepping up accordingly to 10 or 12lb if needed.
As well as the breaking strain it’s also worth looking at the diameter of the line you are using, generally the thinner the line the better. Hooks
Hook choice is another important part of the jigsaw and can play a big part in how your hookbait looks and behaves in comparison to any freebies. I tend to go as light and small as I can given the situation I’m facing, with size 10 to 12’s being ideal for open water and size 8’s good for snags or weed. My personal choice at the moment are the Specialist Wide Gape’s, being light for their size but still very strong.
It’s also worth thinking about how you attach your bait to the hook, my favourite method when fishing with mixers or floating pellets is to use a small rubber bait band whipped to the hook on a small reverse hair. This way the hook hangs perfectly below the bait, and the hooklength material isn’t dragged under the surface.
As well as the above I always have with me a pair of polarised glasses for fish spotting, a couple of good quality catapults, a range of leads in case I want to use a zig rig and a small spod for feeding at range if needed.
I tend to travel as light as possible when surface fishing, so all of the tackle I need fits into the top section of a small bucket, with the main part being filled with mixers and small floating pellets.