What Carp Fishing Lead Setup Should I Use?

Author: CC Moore
Categories: Rigs , Tactics

What lead set up where?

There are multiple lead set ups nowadays and sometimes choosing the correct one for the situation can be the difference between blanking or possibly having the trip of a lifetime. There are a few different options for fishing over different substrates on the lakebed that you may be faced with.

The lead clip 

The lead clip is designed for fishing over firmer lakebeds, whether that be gravel, clay or firmer silt, it is one of the simplest ways of fishing and only requires 3 items, the lead clip, tail rubber and a swivel which will sit in the lead clip. Because the lead can be taken on or off the clip it enables you to alternate between sizes of lead if you need to, it’s just a case of taking one off and replacing with a bigger/smaller one. It is probably one of the most popular lead arrangements in modern day carp fishing because it is so versatile, you can set it up to be semi fixed, or to drop the lead on the take, it all depends on how far you push the tail rubber over the clip. It’s always worth moistening the clip before you push the tail rubber over to ensure should you have a break off the fish can still get rid of the lead. The only situation to avoid using it in is weed/soft silty conditions, the lead will pull down into the weed and even if your hook bait is sat on top of it, the hook link will be arched over hindering your rig presentation. 

If you set it up with a quick-change swivel as opposed to a normal swivel then you can swap between rigs quickly and efficiently, also giving you the option to thread down mesh PVA bags to protect the hook point.

It would be advised to use a hook link with some sort of coating to help with the anti-tangle properties of the rig to ensure on the cast the rig is separated from the line eliminating tangles. 

Inline Leads

Inline leads are a fantastic method due to the fact when the carp picks up the rig, they come into contact with the heaviest part of the lead first, now this is fantastic but using inlines in the correct situations is definitely vital, due to the hook link and swivel coming out the bottom of the lead, it must be fish over a hard bottom to ensure the lead doesn’t plug and kick your hook link up off the lakebed. The way you can get around this is by placing your inline set up into a solid PVA bag, doing this, not only does it enable you to fish over dirtier bottoms, but it also presents a nice small parcel of food where the hook & hook bait is enclosed to eliminate getting caught up on debris that may be present on the lakebed. 

Another way of fishing inlines is with the drop off method, if you like using big leads then this may be for you, the last thing you want is a big lead swinging about on the line with a reasonably short hook link, it’s never going to end well. The concept of the drop off is fairly simple but is best used with a ring swivel over a standard one. First things first slide a tail rubber or a piece of silicone up your line, then tie on your ring swivel, attach the hook link to the biggest ring as normal, then have your mainline or leader attached to the small ring behind the big ring, push the other end of the swivel (without anything attached to it) into the lead, pass your line around the outside of the lead and slide down your tail rubber/silicone and push over the stem of the lead, you don’t need to ram it on because you want the fish to eject the lead on the take. When the fish picks up your rig and shakes its head it will dislodge the swivel from the lead and when you pick up the rod the lead should fall off the tail rubber. It’s a fantastic method and one that works time after time. 

Helicopter Rigs 

Helicopter rigs are possibly the most versatile presentation you will find, whether you’re fishing over firm or weedy bottoms they can be adapted perfectly to suit the substrate. There is a couple of different ways you can fish them, one being the traditional way of just having a Helicopter sleeve and a top bead. A ring swivel will sit between the two which your hook link can be attached to, position the top bead to the depth you think the detritus may be and it will ensure perfect presentation every time, you can use helicopter rigs on both leadcore & naked on the mainline, but a key thing to bear in mind is fish safety, that top bead must be able to come off in the event of a breakage so ensuring it can come away easily is a must. 

Now we have the chod set up, again still presented on a helicopter rig but fished slightly different, this rig has been designed for fishing over choddy and weedy bottoms, although you may still get bites on gravel spots using it, there are definitely better options for fishing over clean lakebeds. The only difference between this and a traditional helicopter set up in the incorporation of an extra bead, this will be place above the helicopter sleeve so the swivel will sit between to two beads, these can be moved accordingly to suit the debris you may be fishing over, you can also have them well spaced apart for ‘running chods’ this way the rig will slide up your leader/line and nestle down onto the height of the weed perfectly. It is advised to use a small lead when chod fishing due to the extremely short hook link, the last thing you want is a big lead swinging about potentially causing the hook to fall out. Another alternative would be to use a heli-safe instead of a sleeve, this will ensure the lead will drop whilst you’re playing the fish. 

Running Rigs

Running rigs are often overlooked in modern day carp fishing but they can be a deadly tactic in the right situation. They are incredibly simple to set up, also only needing 3 components, a lead, swivel and buffer bead. The inclusion of an anti-tangle sleeve is optional, setting them up couldn’t be easier, first slide your lead onto your mainline, followed by your buffer bead and then attaching your line to your swivel. They can be very effective when fishing for pressured carp as when they pick up the rig, there is no resistance for the carp to try and get rid of the rig using the lead as it slides down the line, so if you feel like you are getting done or what to try something different to what most others will be using then a running rig is definitely worth a go. 


Running rigs are best suited over a cleaner lakebed to prevent the lead from getting plugged in the weed potentially defeating to object of having it free running. 

Shocker Rig 

Now you don’t see the shocker rig in a lot of people’s armoury, but it can definitely be effective on the day and when you get a pickup on one, they can be savage takes! The idea behind it is for the carp to not feel any initial resistance when they pick up the hook bait but as soon as they move away they get nailed! The way to set them up is like a standard inline set up but you don’t want the swivel to be pulled into the lead insert, so you can either use a smaller swivel so it has a loose fit or put a bead on top of the swivel to ensure the lead cannot pull over it. This will create a running inline set up, once you have decided how long you want your hook link you can include another bead above the lead a little bit longer of a distance that you hook link is to prevent tangles, this needs to be semi fixed and able to slide off in the event of a break off. What this will achieve is a moment of no resistance when the carp picks up your hook bait, but as soon as it moves away it will hit the full weight of the lead and by that time it should have your rig far enough in its mouth to get a great hook hold, it definitely catches them off guard and can often trip up them warier fish, just be warned though the takes can be mental! It is advised to fish this rig over firmer lakebeds.

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