How to Catch Grass Carp? [Ultimate Guide]

How to Catch Grass Carp

For all those who like a real fishing challenge, grass carp is one of the TOP choices.

Larger specimens look very impressive and you will be able to show off with your catch in front of your friends and family!

Grass carp is not easy to catch, and you have to be prepared for a hard fight.

From fishing gear choice, to perfect bait, everything has to be suitable for the task. And of course, you will need a good fishing technique and a lot of patience.

To know more about how to catch grass carp, read the following chapters:



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What do Grass Carp Look Like?

Grass carp originates from Asia. This big herbivore fish was introduced to Europe and the USA to be used for aquatic weed control.

Their body shape is elongated and thick. Eyes are centered on the sides of the head and are quite small for a fish of this size.

Their lips are firm and they have no barbels. Along the length of their bodies, grass carp have large, overlapping scales, where the longest, lateral, line has between 40 and 42 scales. Their dorsal fin has between 8 and 10 rays.

Colour can vary from dark olive green and grey on the back, to brown/yellow on the sides. Bottom part of the grass carp is light, mostly white. Sides can sometimes be silverish.

Grass carp grows extremely fast, and usually grow between 60 – 100 centimetres (1.9-2.3 ft), although longer ones have been observed. The weight of grass carp can be up to 40 kilograms.

What is the Best Way (Tips) to Catch Grass Carp?

Grass carp is a very cautious creature.

They are well aware of their surroundings and you will have to adjust your fishing technique.

Move very slowly

Grass carp can see outside of the water. They are extremely suspicious towards any movement or sound.

You can check that yourself by splashing the water or stirring it up with a stick. If the water is clear you will be able to see them swimming to the covers. It is also a great way to find out where their covers are.

Move slowly, watch your steps, and wear clothes that blends into the environment. Speak quietly if you have to. Fast movements will make you seem like a threat, and there is no way you will catch grass carp.

Be Very Patient

Patience is the key. If you spooked them, you will have to wait for a while for a fish to relax again.

When you present your bait, grass carp will not come and immediately eat it, no matter how hungry the fish is.

Grass carp likes to observe, sniff, nibble and check the bait before biting. During this time, you should be calm and patient. Trying to set up a hook like you would normally do will spook the fish and destroy a perfectly good opportunity.

Cast carefully

Casting should be slow and gentle (to learn more you can also read my article about how to cast a fishing rod), without a big splash.

Avoid erratic movement, fast reeling, or any other similar water disturbance. If you are a beginner, try practicing your casting abilities, because to catch a grass carp, you can’t miss the place, retrieve and cast again because grass carp will go away.

Try to cast precisely to a desired location, and when your bait lands, keep the line tension – free. Grass carp does not like to feel resistance. Give it enough slack, and set your drag low.

Outsmart the fish while fighting

Although very timid and shy, grass carp can fight extremely hard ... 

When you set up the hook and start retrieving the fish, fighting will go from bad to worse. When you get the carp close by, and the carp sees you and the fishing net, situation can get worse.

In some situations, grass carp will start jumping, throwing around, biting and this erratic and uncontrolled movement may result in breaking off. And it would be a shame to lose such a good catch.

If this behaviour starts, give the fish some extra line to prevent hard impacts. Try to control the situation. When this crazy movement stops, react fast and get it out of the water before it starts again.

Grass carp - locations

How to Set Up Your Fishing Equipment for Grass Carp?

Setting up the right equipment for grass carp fish is very important.

You will need a carp fishing rod (my suggestion is to choose just the best fishing rod brands) and a 20-30 lbs test fishing line.

A bait holder hook should be used. Avoid treble hooks as they could cause injuries and if you practice catch and release, you won’t be able to release the fish. Use circle hooks because those are suitable for grass carp mouth shape.

Cover the hook completely with bait because suspicious grass carp will avoid any food that doesn’t look right.

Your reel should be able to accommodate 200 yards (180 meters) of line (here is my article where you can learn more about fishing reel types). Anglers mostly use monofilament ones for grass carp fishing (but copolymer fishing lines are also trending now). Place it in free-spool because grass carp go away if drag can be felt. Having it that way can impair your ability to sense the bites. Keep a finger on the line to be able to feel even the smallest vibrations and bites.

Choose less visible fishing lines, otherwise the carp will hesitate a lot and may even avoid your bait completely.

What Size Hook is Best for Grass Carp

We already mentioned hook shape and type. But what about the hook size?

When thinking about how to catch grass carp you will need to choose every piece of equipment carefully.

This fish can grow quite large, and for the biggest specimens you can use hooks in a #1 to 2/0 size range. However, for the majority of specimens you should use smaller ones, like #4 or slightly larger. (Look up for a size chart if you are not familiar with different scales of hook size).

Make sure you know how to use circle hooks. This hook type is designed in a way to puncture the side of mouth when the fish takes the bait.

You do not have to set it in a traditional way and should actually avoid jerking the line to set it (here is my article where you can learn more about how to tie a fishing hook to a line)

Circle hooks are great for catch and release technique too. They lower the possibility of injuries.

Circle hooks are known as non-offset hooks. Non-offset hooks have their point aligned even to the shank.

Getting the right hook size is not enough to catch a grass carp. Hooks have to be sharp, new, and made by reputable manufacturers.

Low quality hooks could easily break or change shape due to high impacts during fight.

Grass carp equipment

What is the Best Rig to Catch Grass Carp?

There are various carp rigs, and there is a reason for such a diversity. You should choose in accordance with the time of the year, lake bottom, and of course, the bait you are using.

Grass carp likes weedy areas, and the chod rig may be a great option if you are fishing in weeds, and do not have the option to move your bait elsewhere.

Some anglers prefer rigs with shorter hooklinks when catching grass carp.

When choosing the best rig for carp fishing, beginners often start with a simple hair rig, and that one can be effective if you manage to get the grass carp over lake bead that is not covered with grass.

There is no simple answer to this question, and it depends a lot on the conditions you are fishing in. To fish near the surface, anglers use adjustable zig-rigs.

As a beginner, familiarize yourself with the differences, and practice setting them up at home.

What do Grass Carp Eat? The Best Bait ...

Grass carp naturally eat aquatic plants, but they will occasionally consume insects and invertebrates.

Now when you know what do grass carp eat, you should choose baits for grass carp which will be more attractive to them than their natural food.

Bread –

This cheap and easy to use bait is widely available and you can use it alone, or spiced up with some additives and attractants to increase effectiveness. The downside is that bread easily dissolves in water and falls of a hook, so you will have to carefully mould it around the hook. Fast dissolving and spreading abilities make it a great prebaiting food.

Fruit –

This may sound weird to you but grass carp love a sweet taste. You can use strawberries, plum or pineapple. Some anglers will throw in some cherry tomatoes into their prebaiting mixture. Fruit is not naturally available to grass carp so it will make them curious but also very cautious.

Corn –

Corn is very cheap and versatile. You can use it alone or in combination with other baits, such as boilies. It can be bought canned (sweet corn) or you can buy dry feed corn, and prepare it yourself by adding molasses or different attractants and colouring. Corn is an excellent prebaiting food too.

Boilies –

Carp boilies are available in all sizes, flavours, colours and textures. The best thing about carp boilies that you can easily make them yourself and add ingredients which are the best for a certain location, season and specie. Grass carp like sweet taste, so you can go with strawberry, pineapple or similar. Colour should be chosen according to a water clarity. Brighter colours increase bait visibility.

Grass –

Grass carp naturally eats aquatic weeds, so why not using the most natural option as bait?

Many anglers use grass for prebaiting purposes. However, you will get the best effect if you mix it with something interesting, to attract carp attention.

Earth worms or maggots –

Choose a size that can cover the hook completely. Worms are natural bait for grass carp, so the fish shouldn’t be very suspicious towards them.

How do you Attract Grass Carp?

Attracting grass carp is crucial for fishing success. I already mentioned food that can be used for prebaiting, but how to do it?

Prebaiting/chumming is equally important as using the right gear. You can even start a few days before, if that is allowed.

The goal is to attract fish and make the fish think that there is food in the area, but not completely feed it. You want it to be hungry when you present your bait.

For prebaiting you can use corn, fresh cut grass, or even bread. Toss it 10-20 ft (3-6 meters) away from the shoreline and wait a bit.

Choose a spot free of obstacles, both underwater and on the shore. You will have a clear path to get the fish out and won’t have to work around trees, rocks and similar.

Wait for the prebaiting mixture to settle, before you present your bait.

Some anglers even prepare “salad” which is a mixture of lettuce, vegetables and/or fruit.

Some of these prebaiting mixtures will attract other fish species too. If you have a problem with that, try using just the food interesting to grass carp, such as fruits or cherry tomatoes.

Grass carp - corn

Where is The Best Place to Catch Grass Carp

To be able to find and catch grass carp, you have to know where to search for.

Grass carp likes to hide. And it can be tricky to get him out of those hiding places. Lakes, ponds, or very slow flowing rivers are the best places.

They like sluggish areas with thick underwater vegetation. That is why prebaiting has to be done in places with no obstacles.

They are frequently moving in shoals and like to spend time near the surface.

Grass carp prefers shallower areas and you can easily spot them from the shore if the water is clear.

They can withstand a variety of temperatures and low oxygen content too, so there are numerous locations where these fish are stocked.

Other FAQ's about Grass Carp:

Many anglers have no experience and wonder how to catch grass carp.

Hopefully, I already answered the majority of those questions, and here are a few more that you could find interesting.

What is The Biggest Grass Carp Ever Caught?

Grass carp can grow huge, but what is world record grass carp?

According to an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) the world record grass carp was caught in 2009 in Bulgaria. This 39.75-kilogram (87.6 lbs) monster was caught on a line and a hook (records are frequently categorized according to a method of fishing and gear used).

But don’t get your hopes high!

Country-records are usually 20-30 kilograms (44-66 lbs), where the majority of them caught are way below. And don’t think the “small ones” will not be exciting and hard to catch.

Grass Carp vs Common Carp - What's the Difference?

These two species are related. They have some similarities, but some obvious differences too.

Comparing grass carp vs common carp is frequently done by beginners ...

Grass carp has its mouth almost in-lined with his eyes, while common carp has mouth positioned below.

Another obvious difference is that common carp has barbels.

Common carp has elongated dorsal fin and grass carp has a narrow one.

Colour slightly varies, and common carp has more yellowish-and orange tones, especially near the belly and lower fins.

Are Grass Carp Bottom Feeders?

Grass carp are primarily bottom feeders.

They will stir up the bottom and collect invertebrates, zooplankton and aquatic plants. But that doesn’t mean that they are exclusive bottom feeders.

They will occasionally eat something in other water layers. Grass carp can be described as a column feeder which feeds on both coarse and macro vegetation.

Seeing them feeding on a surface is an exemption, not the rule, and it is and you will mostly find them near the bottom.

When positioning your bait, you should do it slightly above the bottom.

Do Grass Carp Have Teeth?

The answer to this question is yes, they do! 

Grass carp teeth are actually pharyngeal teeth arranged in 2,4 – 4,2 way. They are broad and ridged.

Pharyngeal teeth are actually throat teeth used to chop and grind plants. That means they will suck the food first because their teeth are not positioned in a way to be able to bite something off immediately. Their teeth are not positioned in the jaw.

Are Grass Carp Good to Eat?

Many people are sceptic about bottom feeders and avoid consuming them.

First of all, grass carp is not an exclusive bottom feeder, and secondly, thinking that bottom feeders are bad for you has no scientific evidence.

Eating grass carp is harmless, and they are quite tasty too. You can prepare them in numerous ways, and people most commonly fry them.

To remove multiple bones, it is good to make fillets.

They are especially tasty when smoked. Next time you catch one and decide to keep it, look up some tasty recipes and prepare to be amazed.


If you have been wondering how to catch grass carp, now you have the answer.

To catch them, you will need a lot of patience and practice. Many beginners are eager to catch a large grass carp, and it usually results in disappointment.

To increase your chances, set up your gear, use proper baits and attract the grass carp as described in this article.

And one more tip in the end. Don’t cast very close to grass carp. Try casting about 6 feet in front of them and wait for them to come to you.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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