Specimen Carp Fishing for Beginners: Getting Started

You may have heard of the term specimen fishing, whether you are new to fishing or an experienced fishing aficionado. If you haven’t, well let me tell you that you are in the right place. Today we are here to discuss specimen carp fishing for beginners. If you are an experienced fisher and you just want to know more about the sport of specimen fishing, this article is for you too.

specimen carp fishing for beginners

Here, we aim to discuss everything that there is to know about specimen carp fishing, what it is, where it is popular, how it’s different from normal fishing, and the like. Furthermore, we will also be discussing some gear and also some tips for specimen carp fishing beginners. If you are already experienced in this sport, don’t worry. Chances are you will still be able to pick up some likewise helpful tips and tricks that will allow you to improve your game.

So if you want to learn everything that there is to know about this sport, stick around for this long but otherwise certainly informative guide on specimen carp fishing for beginners.

What is Specimen Carp Fishing

First of all, we cannot discuss the particulars of specimen carp fishing for beginners without first talking about what it is. To put it simply, specimen carp fishing is a method a fishing for carp. It may seem obvious, but in fact specimen carp fishing is different from regular carp angling. SCP is basically a fishing term that is used to describe the sport of trying to catch a specific fish. In this case, the goal is to catch carp.

However, while the goal is to catch carp, an additional goal for specimen carp fishing aficionados is to catch big fish of a particular kind. Therefore, you won’t see SCP enthusiasts during up and trying to catch plenty of fish. Instead, lovers of the sport will purchase gear specifically to catch bigger fish of the carp variety. In fact, in contrast to other types of fishing, specimen carp fishing gear employs the use of heavier equipment, larger fish or baits, and more time.

It is not uncommon to see SCP practitioners staying in an area for extended periods of time in order to try and catch a fish of record size. Specimen fishing is usually the type of fishing where people proudly take photos of themselves with their catch, which is often a large unit have a specific species.

Where is it popular?

Specimen carp fishing or SCP is big in many places around the world. For example, in many areas of Europe as well as in South Africa, carp fishing seems like it is extremely popular. However, in both of these places, conventional fishing is more popular than SCP. Nevertheless, specimen carp fishing is growing tremendously in popularity in these areas due to the larger fish that are consistently being found. Furthermore, it is growing in popularity there because the sport is beginning to catch on around the globe.

In the United States as well as in North America in general, specimen carp fishing is more popular. They are fortunate that in their continent, as well as in their region in particular, there is a very significant population of wild carp that is easily accessible. Furthermore, these carp vary in size, with some of them growing up to 6 feet long and 150 pounds heavy in maturity. Fish like these are what specimen carp fishers aim to catch using their heavier equipment and larger beat.

Why is Carp a Popular Sport Fish

specimen carp fishing for beginners

A good question that many people might be asking is why is carp such a popular sport fish? There are many answers to this question, but it seems like most of them point to how easy it is to do. Some people when polled answered that carp fishing is easy and relaxing, requiring no special fishing techniques and no special fishing equipment such as weird or specific lures. It appears as though almost all of the people who enjoy carp fishing like it for the fact that you only need to put the bait in the water, let it sit, wait for the fish to bite, and pull it in.

Some people find that carpet is exciting to fish for because when they bite the bait, they can put up a hell of a fight. In some fishermen’s experience, carp fishing with a fly rod is an exciting experience because catching and reeling them in is a great activity full of adrenaline. In fact, many see this activity as a great way to practise their reeling techniques. Some people may choose to take the fish out of the water and eat it for food, but many also choose to simply throw the fish back in.

Carp is Not Universally Loved

Of course, not everybody is a fan of the carp. As a matter of fact, some people dislike this fish because to them it looks unattractive and even ugly. Some people would even refer to this species of fish as a rubbish fish. For instance, many will advocate killing every carp that they see that is not a native to the United States, because these carp are known to be invasive and are likely to have overtaken an area where native species formerly flourished.

Likewise, there are also some avid fishers who enjoy the art of catching fish that are difficult to bait. These types of fishers love their special equipment and the process of figuring out each fish and how to catch them. To these types of people, the relative ease in which a carp can be caught might be unappealing.

A Family Activity

Nevertheless, carp fishing has grown to be a very popular sport loved by many. A lot of people in fact choose to think of it as a rather family friendly activity. Specimen carp fishing for beginners is certainly a great family bonding activity. This is for the reason that they can take their family camping in areas where carp is abundant. The act of catching the carp becomes an exciting family activity where parents and children can enjoy the satisfaction of catching their own food for the day. Yes, carp is indeed a “food” fish that can be caught and cooked over a campfire.

There are several species of course originating from Asia, hence the term Asian carp. These Asian carp have been spreading throughout the United States, but whether they’ve made it around Europe remains to be seen. Although considered to be an invasive species or in some cases an injurious species, Asian carp are generally very good to eat. The meat from this fish is often compared to that of a grouper fish or a snapper fish. In fact, in their places of origin such as in China, these fish are usually cultivated for food. Furthermore, Asian carp usually play a role in traditional Chinese medicine. As a result, the fish that some see as invasive is in contrast of fact a respected species in their area.

For the Environment

There are a few species of carp that are not endemic to the United States that have invaded their national waterways after being accidentally introduced into the wild. For example, black carp is a fish that is in the Lacey Act, making it a banned and regulated species in their country. The black carp is prohibited from being imported into the US and being transported from state to state. In fact, in almost all cases in their country, only research facilities and production facilities that have agricultural permits are allowed to even keep this fish. In most situations, the US government requires the fish to be triploid or sterile so that in case they are released into the environment (intentionally or accidentally), they cannot breed on their own.

Black Carp Fishing and Elimination

Black carp (also known as Black Snail Carp) is an invasive species that puts local populations of mollusks and snails at risk. The reason why Americans consider black carp to be so invasive is the fact that there are many species of endangered and threatened snails and mollusks that are endemic to the United States. Black carp enjoys mollusks and other water creatures because they are molluscivores. Aside from being molluscivores, invasive carp also overtake environments, pushing out native species and animals. As a result, The United States Fish and Wildlife Service aims to protect their local waterways and aquatic ecological systems by preventing the spread of these animals.

Unfortunately, despite the heavy restriction and regulation of black carp, some of these fish have still been found in the wild in their country. To the chagrin of US governing bodies, they were found to be diploid fish meaning they are fertile and can breed on their own. Therefore, in the areas where black carp has been found thriving in the wild, sports fishers are often encouraged to catch and kill them out of the water in order to aid in controlling their population.

Because of this, if you are looking to start fishing for carp, we recommend learning how to distinguish invasive species from native species so that you can easily help in controlling their population (especially if you live in the United States). You can also help with this when specimen carp fishing for beginners!

What is Considered to Be Specimen Fish

specimen carp fishing for beginners

Specimen fish are essentially fish that are so large in size that they are considered to be trophies. These fish are often larger than others that are found in the area on average. There are different ways to answer the question what is a specimen carp, and it all depends on the perspective of the angler.

Considerations of Size

  • Carp in particular are classified as specimen fish when they are much larger in size in contrast to the other fish at the same location. For example, if fishing in an area well normally yield a carp that weighs a maximum of 30 pounds, a fish that weighs 25 to 30 pounds is considered a specimen. Furthermore, the average size or weight of a fish in an area is 50 pounds (just as an example), then a 60 pound fish is considered a specimen.
  • In some places in North America, when the cold months come the carp grow dormant. As a result, their metabolism slows down and they do not grow as big as they normally would. Thus, in areas where the climate is colder for longer out of every year, a 30 pound carp is already considered a specimen.
  • However, in other areas of the world where temperature of the water is in the ideal zone for much longer, carp can grow to become much larger. Hence, in those parts of the world, there are some cases where carp would not be considered specimen fish unless they were above 50 pounds in weight. In these areas of the world, avid specimen carp fishing fans might find it a tourism attraction. On the other hand, for specimen carp fishing beginners in these parts, it almost seems like a trial by fire.

Specific Fish

To some specimen anglers, there is more to consider than just the size of a fish in order to classify it as a specimen. In fact, there are some specimen fishers who target only one specific species of fish, or even a specific fish that they consider to be their white whale. These anglers then dedicate much of their time to hunting the specific fish and catching it. However, specimen fishing may also mean trying to catch a carp with a particular feature.

  • There are many different physical characteristics that can differentiate carp. Therefore, certain types of fish with particular features can make them more popular amongst anglers.
  • And certain areas of Europe, in lakes that are stocked with carp, there are distinguishable fish that were caught so frequently that names have been given to them. Specimen anglers then make it their mission to catch these fish.
  • Some of the features that can make a fish easily recognisable are:
    • The type or species of carp, such as mirror carp, koi, black carp, grass carp, common carp, leather carp, and so on.
    • Patterns of scales on the fish – sometimes, subspecies crossbreeding can result in very distinct patterns in scales.
    • The wounds on fish can make them easy to identify. Scars and damage to fins do the same.
    • Colour of carp can vary depending on the conditions of the water. There are variations that are dark and others that are light. In fact, you can find carp of almost any color – hints of red, orange, yellow, green, and so on.

How is Specimen Carp Fishing Different?

We have already discussed specimen fishing at great length. Now, it’s time for us to talk about specimen carp fishing and why it is different from conventional fishing.

First of all, the biggest difference is the size of the carp being targeted. Majority of the fishing aficionados will begin with conventional fishing methods to try and catch as any fish or as many fish as they can. When they get the technique down, it is then that they usually begin to switch from targeting quantity into targeting quality fish. When this happens, they have become specimen carp fishers.

Here are more reasons why SCP is different from conventional fishing methods. We hope that this will help specimen carp fishing beginners to differentiate!

Amount of Time Spent Fishing

When it comes to fishing for specimen carp, often the differentiator is the amount of time invested. Specimen fishers usually end up spending extended periods of time in the bodies of water that they are fishing in. Because of this, SCP also usually involves camping or staying on a boat for a prolonged period of time. Aficionados of specimen fishing often spend a weekend or even a week near a body of water to catch their fish of a lifetime. It is for this reason that SCP requires additional gear that conventional fishing usually won’t require.

Special Gear

Along with the extended amounts of time that is spent trying to catch special fish, SCP also comes with special gear that is made to handle larger sizes of catch. Additionally, a lot of thought and attention has been put taking care of the carp and ensuring its continuing health upon release. This is particularly important in cases where the fish are caught and then returned into the water without harming them.

Carp Care

As we have mentioned, carp care is certainly a necessary thing for specimen carp fishing beginners to learn when they first start into this sport. However, carp care is not necessary in all cases. For example, we mentioned previously that there are species of carp that are invasive and considered to be injurious to the ecosystem in some parts of the world. When it comes to these types of carp, it is better to simply kill the fish (always out of the water, and never throw it back) and dispose of it or use it for cooking. Species that are considered invasive in the United States are black carp and grass carp.

When it comes to specimen carp fishing for beginners, we want to stress how important it is to make yourself aware of the type of carps and how to identify invasive species. This is because when you are fishing in areas infested with pest carp, you will want to know whether your catch is native or invasive. This knowledge will help you decide between killing the fish or eating it and putting it back in the water the let it continue to propagate and flourish. In the UK, not much information is found about carp, so it’s always good to ask the local tackle shops what types of carp you should throw back or kill.

Knowing When to Catch and Release

Another reason why it’s so important to know how to identify specimen carp is the fact that knowing this information will allow you to distinguish our precious native carp breeds. This knowledge will enable you to know when you should throw the fish back. In specimen fishing this is especially important because the you want the bigger fish (prime breed stock) to continue passing their good genes down to the next generation. This will ensure bigger fish in the future so that you and your family can continue enjoying SCP fishing as a bonding activity.

Specimen Carp Fishing for Beginners: Gear

specimen carp fishing for beginners

When it comes to specimen carp fishing for beginners, discussing gear is probably important in learning the art. SCP requires special gear that is designed to handle the weights and strengths of a large, thrashing fish. Remember that specimen fish are heavier than your usual fish, and so their thrashing about will be significantly stronger as well.

Here is what you need to know in order to help you properly equip yourself for future specimen fishing.

Fishing Rod

When it comes to fishing rods, a test curve rod 3 pounds or greater is recommended. A length of 12 to 13 feet is also ideal to help you reach deeper water and farther distances. When it comes to choosing your rod, we advise that you make no compromises. The most important part of your rig, or one of the most important parts of it that is, is certainly your rod.

If you’re trying to reel in a fish that is thrashing around hard, it wouldn’t be a good idea to have a rod that is poorly made. You want something that is really high quality – something that is made with good materials that you know is strong enough to withstand a 30, 40, or even 50lb carp.

We can tell you right now that you certainly do not want a rod that will snap when you’re in the middle of wrestling a carp out of the water. If it snaps, you could certainly end up hurting yourself if it snaps back and the momentum makes you fall. The rod itself could also snap backwards and hurt you! Therefore, if you’re going to be doing this you really need to invest in a rod that will help see you through fishing trips for years to come.


A bit pit reel is recommended for a larger spool size. This will enable you to cast your bait further. At the same time, it has heavier gearing to help handle the heftier weight of specimen carp.


A monofilament line that is about 25 pound test or higher is recommended. You may also opt for a heavier braided line.

Alarms and Pods

During long fishing expeditions where aficionados set out to try and catch their white whale, more often than not plenty of time will be spent waiting for a bite. Therefore, we suggest having bite alarms as well as rod pods. These are specialised alarms or indications for bites which will alert you during overnight fishing sessions. Electronic alarms and bank sticks or rod pods help to wake you and notify you in case any movement is detected in your set up.

Although technically these devices aren’t exactly necessary, we still suggest that you do look into them. This is because they still do make a difference – especially when a lot of the fish in the area are active more at night. You don’t want to end up missing out on a catch because you snoozed right through a carp taking a nibble!

Camping Gear

Last but not the least, camping gear is often recommended for those who are trying to get into SCP. Specimen carp fishing beginners are recommended to get a set up that will get you comfortable without being excessive. You can start adding on other gear later on once you determine whether you need it or not. Of course, this is just our advice – if you feel like you want to go all out and get as much camping gear as you want… have at it!

In the end, camping gear is mostly dependent on what you decide your needs are. Some people can forgo a lot of things and go with sparse comforts that allow them to fish, sleep, and eat – the essentials, basically. Commonly, anglers like to bring tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, battery packs, entertainment, and the like. The number of items you want to bring will depend entirely on you and how much you want to tote around during your trip. You can choose to make as many or as few compromises as you want. In the end, you will determine what the best situation is for you.

Just remember that you don’t necessarily have to have all of the equipment or the best of everything – camping is a personal experience and you can choose how you want to do it. Just remember to pack items for safety and survival – the “just in case” situations, as we would say.

Specimen Carp Fishing for Beginners: Tips

When it comes to SCP, getting everything all figured out doesn’t always come naturally. In almost all cases, there will be a bit of a learning curve to reckon with. It is fortunate that carp are relatively easy to catch overall, that much is for sure. However, you will still need to account for the fact that the fish you will be trying to catch will be huge and heavy. They will be fighting you tooth and nail to avoid getting pulled out of the water. Therefore, you need to have the strength, knowledge, and equipment to help you get the most out of every fishing trip.

So, if you are one of the many specimen carp fishing beginners who are just now getting started in this world, we have put together this guide to help you out. This guide isn’t just for beginners too – in fact, it can help experienced SCP aficionados who are in need of some trouble shooting to help them figure out why things aren’t going perfectly.

Without further ado, here are the tips we’ve put together!

Balancing Hooks and Baits

When it comes to choosing your hook bait, we can’t recommend finding one that is inherently buoyant. This is because you want your bait to float on the surface of the water. Carp feed mainly by suction, and so a cautious creature may manage not to get caught by your bait. Some fish can even recognise hooks, especially in areas where fishing is extremely common. Therefore, we want to point out the benefit of concealing your hook.

A good way to balance your hook is by using a cork sphere as an insert. This will allow you to mould your bait around the sphere. The benefits of this are two-fold. First of all, you will be able to conceal the hook and make it harder for spooked fish to distinguish. Second, the cork will keep the hook buoyant, making it more likely for you to catch a fish that takes a bite. A well balanced bait hook will settle better, increasing your chances of catching the kind of fish you want.

Vary The Tightness of Your Line

These days, slack lines are usually all the rage. But now and again, there are situations where slack lines aren’t exactly the best way to do it. In fact, in some cases, a slack line can hurt your chances of catching your white whale. It can depend on the topography of the area in front of your set up. For example, if you are dropping your lead into an area with weeds that are filamentous, you will have trouble pulling the line out and reeling the fish in when one bites. A short delay in pulling at the carp can in fact cause you to possibly lose the fish. If you don’t want to end up wasting your time, we recommend checking the underwater topography before you decide on whether you want to use a slack line or not.

Change Your Angle

Sometimes, in areas where people frequently fish, the creatures learn a couple of things. First, they learn to avoid hooks and to be more careful when they feed so they can avoid possibly getting caught. Second, they learn to check for fishing line. Humans can be creatures of habit so fish can pick up on where lines are coming from more often than not. Therefore, if you are having trouble catching fish from a particular position, you may want to find a different place or angle from which to throw your line.

There are many variables you can play around with – different rod positioning, moving to different areas of the bank or the other side of the bank, or even using different set ups. If doing things one certain way isn’t paying off after some time, try another way!

Do Your Research

Before you even begin fishing, it’s important that you do some research. The same applies whether you are a specimen carp fishing beginner or a conventional fishing beginner. The reason for this is doing research will allow you to know what kind of fish stock are in the body of water you are going to. Furthermore, research will tell you all you need to know about past successful captures made by some people.

On top of that, doing your research will also tell you all that there is to know about the successful methods, baits, and rigs that have worked in catching a specific fish. You will also be able to find out important information such as the spots where fish were effectively caught at certain times of the year.

A good way to do additional research is by talking to local tackle and bait shops. These people live in the area and make it their business to know everything about the carp you are trying to catch.

Ensure That You Are Able To Bait and (Re)Cast During The Night

Carp love to feed at dawn most of the year. Because of this, you want to optimise your set up to allow you reset your bait in a specific spot, especially if you get a bite sometime during the night. To do this, you can use bait boats. However, they are not always allowed in all areas,and because of this you maybe need to adapt.

You can use sight markers on the opposite bank, elastic markers or powergum on your line, and also some flourescent tools. For example, there are float adaptors that glow in the dark, and markers that help do the same. These tools will make it possible for you to reset your traps as effectively as you would be able to in daylight.

Do Your Best to Get Along with Other Anglers

Fishing in busy or hard waterways is already hard enough on its own. You don’t need to add to that and make it harder by getting along badly with other people fishing in the area. You want to treat these people the same way that you would want to be treated.

When setting up your fishing station and camping grounds, always make sure you are checking if you might affect other people detrimentally. See if your set up will make it more difficult for others to catch their fish. Doing this and being considerate in general will make it easier for you to spend a few days around each other. You don’t have to be the best of friends, but it’s always great to have someone to chat with and bounce ideas off. And of course, when you are having a rough time catching fish, it’s almost always nice to have the option of company.

Getting along with other SCP aficionados during your trip will make it easier for everyone to keep track of what is happening in the water. Sharing knowledge will allow you all to increase your chances of successfully catching your dream fish.

Changing Your Baiting Patterns

A great way to increase your chances is by playing around with your baiting patterns. Cleverly setting your bait will make it possible for some cautious fish to bite when they normally wouldn’t. This is where research can really help you. Knowing the movement and patterns of the fish as well as the usual baiting patterns in a body of water will allow you to come up with innovative ways to set up.

You can set multiple baits along the way leading to your main, big bait. You can also bait in clusters with only once piece of bait being connected to your rig. Speaking with other anglers who have successfully caught your specimen will help inform you as to what set up will work best.

Using the Correct Lead Arrangement

Sometimes, you will have to make adjustments to your usual rig in order to get the best results. Remaining flexible and doing your research will allow you to find out ahead of time what the scenarios are in the area. That way, you can properly pack your equipment for your fishing trip.

Practise Makes Perfect

In all things, practise is important in achieving improvement. Perfection isn’t necessarily the goal, but making sure you practise can really help when it comes to improving your technique. Try doing things such as casting your rod several times until you get the hang of throwing it exactly where you want it to land. Practise setting up your rig, varying the tightness of your lines and so on. Even practising setting up your camping gear can be beneficial too!

More Information: Specimen Carp Fishing for Beginners

Sometimes when people get started in a sport, they want to find out whether there is a way for them to turn it into a competitive sport. It’s only natural – after all, some people are absolutely competitive in nature. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that at all. Hence, from the competitive nature of humans was born carp tournaments.

There are two different types of tournaments for carp fishing. One type is designed more for conventional fishers, and another is designed to be suited for specimen fishers.

Total Weight

Total Weight is a type of tournament catering more towards those who enjoy conventional carp fishing. The winner of this competition is determined by the highest weight achieved when adding up the total catch during the duration of the event. This is also called match angling. It’s one of the most popular carp fishing types in South Africa and in Europe.

Weight of Top Number of Fish

This tournament style, on the other hand, is aimed more towards specimen anglers. The winner of the competition is determined by the weight of a number (chosen by rulemakers ahead of time) of your fish. For example, some tournaments will consider the weight of the biggest five fish you caught during the event’s duration. The winner is the one who caught the largest fish.


Specimen carp fishing for beginners might seem a little daunting to begin with. After all, there is certainly a whole new world of information to learn. A lot of education is required, from learning how to identify species of carp to learning all about rigs and equipment. On top of that, a beginner will also need to learn about certain things like baits, camping equipment, locations, and more. Surely it’s information overload.

Nevertheless, SCP is a truly fun sport that can help a family to bond and grow together further. And so, if you want to be able to enjoy it, you’ll simply have to take it slow and learn along the way. Find as much information as you can and absorb it. Join fishing forums to help you learn more about the art.

We hope that this guide has helped you in everything you need to know about specimen carp fishing. It is our absolute delight to put together this information in one easy to find place! Finally, if you have found this guide to be useful and informational, we’d love for you to share it with your friends.