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A brief history of the carp
The carp originated in eastern Europe and Asia around the 2nd century B.C. The Chinese are thought to be the first to use the fish as a food source at around the same time.

By the 17th/18th century AD, the species was being introduced into the UK by European monks. They had realised the value of the fish as a food source, because they grew to large weights in a small amount of time and with a minimum amount of space required per fish.

These carp still survive today and are known as wild carp or "wildies", but are becoming rarer in British waters.

By the late 1950s the species was little more than a mystery to most British anglers, very few could manage to catch one. This was soon to change. By the late 1960s new developments by tackle/bait companies, new rigs and the stocking of a larger imported species, the King carps, in more waters, meant the fish grew in popularity. It resulted in the boom we are experiencing today.


As we reached the 1970s a handful of British anglers were gaining quite a reputation for putting more and bigger carp on the bank. Totally dedicated to the fish, they strived for more efficient rigs and baits. Paste baits had long been a favourite among the knowledgable, until that is, someone realised that if you add egg and boil the pastes they form a hard skin. This deterred nuisance fish and slowed the breakdown process. Now we had a new bait that could be left in a swim with total confidence for hours, even days, without the worry of your hook being baitless.

These new "boilies" could be cast to far greater ranges without flying off the hook, making more timid fish easily reachable.

Then it happened. Invented in Essex, England, by a handful early pioneers...The hair rig.

The idea was simplicity itself, but the results were devastating. For years, the biggest problem had been that several fish would mouth the baits in a session and most would immediately reject it. Attempts to hide the hooks inside these new hard boiled baits would mask the hook so much that it was difficult to actually hook anything. Leave to much hook exposed and the bait would be rejected as soon as the cold steel was felt on the cautious carp's sensitive lips. The hair rig solved this problem. Now when the baits were mouthed the hook was outside of the carp's lips, about an inch from the bait, so more often than not the bait would be taken by the carp with confidence. The ensuing panic from the carp, when he realised that he had been fooled, and attempts to eject the bait would only serve to sink the hook even deeper.

Soon after these developments came a tide of carp angling books. They opened up the sport to more and more anglers. Kevin Maddox's book Carp Fever was published, revealing tons of secrets from these pioneering fishermen.

By the 1980s the fascination with carp had literally reached "fever" pitch. It was the word on most anglers lips, carp.

Today there are thousands of baits, tackle, rig bits, equipment and techniques which all will help in the pursuit of carp, and no doubt the species will grow from strength to strength.

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This site last Updated, 21st November 2000 : 9:03 pm GMT

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