Alot of people are sometimes worried about going out to a venue carping, there's alot to take on board. Swims, baits, rigs, wind direction ect. It can all become too much .... if you do the thinking when you turn up at the venue, not a wise decision !
When it comes to choosing equipment, it all depends on what you want the tackle to do. If you plan on fishing at range, ideally you want to get your hands on a set of 2.75/3lbs test curve rods and a set of big pit reels. This is to handle the distance and the ability to cast a pva bag or heavy lead a far distance. If you are fishing a smaller water you want some reliable baitrunners with rods around 2.5lb test curve, this is because you only need a medium lead and you only need to flick the bait out.
When it comes to tackle, I use 12lb as a standard spool reel line, but always keep a reel of 15lb just incase of the weedier waters. Sometimes you need the extra talk to pull the fish from a snag or weed. As for brand I use the fox barbuster line which is strong, reliable, reasonably cheap and doesn't curl up as much as other line.
As for rigs, there are many you can choose from but it depends on what things look like underwater. If you are not sure, stick with bolt rigs. The safety clip is good in case of weed or snag, and is a good rig on gravelly bottoms. If you know it is very silty, then a helicopter rig is great. The swivel with the hair is above the lead, so the lead sinks into the silt with the bait present on the bottom. But if you are fishing to gravel bars straight sliding rigs and bolt rigs will work fine.
Obviously freezer baits are of better quality, but shelf life boilies are adequate. You need to bring enough for loose feeding and rebaiting, but not so many that they weigh you down. If you intend on spodding, then you want a decent mix. When I am spodding I use a mixture of hemp seed, maggot, chopped worm, sweetcorn, whole boilie, chopped boilie and a variety of different sized pellet. Then a keep a small amount of ground bait as a plug while casting. If fishing with PVA bags you obviously need enough pellet feed and boilie to keep making bags.
Now you need to make a gear check - make sure you have landing net, unhooking mat, bait, rods, reels, pod, alarms, bivvee and whatever else.
Most people fish the 'car park' swim or a swim they have caught in before but there are alot of things people should be looking out for! For instance wind direction The wind will blow feed a long way so sitting with the wind facing you is a good thing. Also, fishing the features is a good way to go. Gravel bars are hot spots for carp anglers so take the time to have a look for movement, or ask about the lake. Now all you have to do is set up in your well chosen swim, make sure everything is neat and tidy. Not only will you fish better but you will feel better. Make sure you dont get cold, the worst thing is to be sitting outside a lake on a freezing night with no spare or warm clothes to put on. Now all you have to do is set the traps and wait, keep watching the water and get ready for your first of hopefully many screaming runs.
Edited by Paul Orford, Oct '05 - Another quality article from Luke [our 14yr old carp expert]. Pay attention to his wise words and I'm sure you will soon be catching more carp.