An early-winter 32lb 8oz mirror - proof that no rig changes are needed in order to catch cold-water carp.

In my match fishing days, fining down for a bite when things got a bit tricky, or when cold-water bites became much more finicky, was the norm. We all did it and I would hazard a guess that the same thing still happens on match stillwaters, rivers and canals these days.

However, as a carp angler it’s not always necessary. In fact, once I reminded myself that I’m not fishing for little silver swimmy things of 5-6inches long, I realised that it wasn’t necessary at all.

Regardless of the time of year the gear that Mark casts into the lake will not change.

Think about it… a small roach, for example, has a very small mouth and so is more sensitive to feeling ‘heavy’ lines (it’s all relative). But, have you seen the size of the mouth on even a 20lb carp? Is it really feasible to think that a carp with a mouth of that size – and without a great deal of ‘feeling’ around said mouth – is going to tell the difference between a size 6 and a size 10 hook, so to speak. This last year or so I, and many of the lads I know, have used larger hooks when carp fishing, even up to a size four on many occasions. I rarely – except when zig or floater fishing with smaller hook baits – see the need to use small hooks. I just do not believe that carp can tell the difference and, besides, you can always balance the hook bait accordingly if you are that worried.

Large hook sizes are Mark’s preference for the vast majority of his angling these days.

It’s the very same story with hook links, with big-mouthed carp surely not being able to tell the difference between breaking strains. Some people will tell you that carp are super-intelligent beings, but I disagree. Similarly, they often take in debris far thicker than an angler’s hook link when feeding. I mentioned zig and floater fishing, so let me quantify why smaller hooks and lighter lines are necessary in both cases. It’s as simple as matching the terminal tackle to the smaller hook baits and, of course the need for the lines to float or be easily suspended in mid water. Heavier lines and big hooks are not conducive to this whatsoever.

Smaller hooks do come into play when Zig Rig fishing…

The final thing I definitely do not change is my main line. I’ve been using the 16lb Exocet Trans Khaki for the majority of my fishing throughout the summer and will continue to do so through the colder months and into next year. Unless, of course, Fox launches something new to usurp the Exocet, but it’s such a good line that I can’t see that happening in a hurry. So, I’d say as with everything in carp fishing, ask yourself the question: Am I doing this because I am confident in it and believe that it works or just because the common consensus is that I should be doing so? Sure, the carp’s metabolism slows during the colder months and, yes, they feed differently and on different things, but that should not mean wholesale changes to your tackle. Feeding spells may be shorter and less frequent, but that only needs a change in your own approach and not your tackle. Oh, and not forgetting that all-important re-think of bait tactics, but don’t start fiddling with your end tackle; what worked before will still work now.

Exocet Trans Khaki in 16lb is perfect for year-round use!