carp fishing

All The Gear You Need To Get Started Carp Fishing
Without Wasting Money

A lot of people getting into carp fishing don’t have a lot to spend on gear. Finding out what gear is really going to be worth the investment in the long term can get expensive. You can spend thousands on gear you may never use.

This is a great way to get started carp fishing on a budget and get lines in the water to find out what you really need.


The rod you choose really depends on your fishing style. You can leave your rods out and wait, or you may want to walk the edge and stalk.

A longer, more flexible rod will allow you to keep pressure on the hook than a shorter stiffer, ocean style rod.

More rods in the water means more chances at fish, so I prefer using a rod pod. I have 3 Ugly Stik Gx2 9’ Medium rods for this. They really flex over the half way point and even when they run straight at you, they just aren’t going to be able to spit it.

When I’m stalking the edges, I like to use their 7’ Ultra-Light. Great for everything from pan fish, to 35 lb carp. If you’re trying to cut down on weight, this is a great way to go.

You can get them here from Amazon, I also have a more in depth review of the rods here.


carp fishing

A quality reel is worth it’s weight in gold over the long term when you’re carp fishing. If you’re going to spend more money in any department, this is where it really pays off. I’ve landed huge fish on a rod that was far too light because of a quality reel with plenty of line. I also lost the biggest fish I ever had on because of a reel with too low of a capacity.

I had some cheap reels I had acquired over the years when I first started fishing. They could barely fit 100 yards of braided line. I was fishing a dam with some corn and had a runner.

I tightened into the drag so hard I thought my 25lb braid was going to snap. Holding the line to try and slow it down more only resulted in some nice cuts. After taking my entire spool of braid the fish hit the knot on the reel and snapped the shank of the hook.

This is when I got the Yoshikawa Baitfeeder reels. They took over 250 yards of 50 lb braid and I haven’t had an issue since. They aren’t a Shimano, but I don’t fish for a living either. For my weekend excursions, they have done the job without fail for over 3 years.

Yoshikawa Baitfeeder reel side view showing controls and drag knobs

They also cost 1/3 or less what the Shimano Baitrunner can be found for. This means you can outfit your entire rod pod and get on the water a lot sooner. Four years gives you plenty of time to save up for the last reel you’ll need.

If you have $500 to spend on reels to get started then it can only help, but I personally don’t have that into my entire kit. Yoshikawa reels can be found here. If you’re looking into something more like the Shimano Baitrunner, they can be found here. I have a break-down of the Yoshikawa reel here.


There are so many options for line you can get dizzy. The general rule is, if you’re using bigger weights, plan on having 10 lbs of test for every oz of sinker weight.


I generally use Spectra 20-25lb braided line with 1 ½ oz egg sinkers in calmer water.

The thing is, there are only two main companies that produce braided line. Most others that you buy just take those two and coat them with their own master blend of herbs and spices.

You can buy the line from the manufacturer for much less before others get their hands on it. The Spectra can take a beating although it is not quite as smooth as coated lines.

1000 meters of the Spectra 20 lb braided line will run you less than $20 and fill all of your reels. This could cost over $100 from competitors.


Rod pods are another area that can make carp fishing very expensive very quickly. They can cost from $20 to well over $700 depending on what you really expect it to do.

The biggest thing to remember is that none of these products can make fish bite your line. The best rods and reels aren’t going to make more fish bite. Start off with the basics and find out what will actually help.


NGT has come up with a great solution for the weekend fishing master. For less than $40 you get a 3 rod pod, Bite alarms, as well as indicators.

Considering the rod pod is plastic with metal hardware, it’s certainly not designed for heavy use. If you plan on going out every week for the next few years this can be another area to spend a bit more money.

A good aluminum pod can last you a lot longer, but will be a bit harder on your wallet as well. I use this pod more than 10 times per year and I’m going into my 4th year with this pod.

If you’re on a really tight budget, you can set the rods on the ground, or even lean them on a log. This is another piece of gear that is more an accessory than anything.


ngt bite alarms

The alarms that come with the NGT pod work great for the price. They aren’t wireless, but they are loud enough to hear when you’re farther away than you should be.

I wired them together and hooked them up to a single 18650 battery. This allows them to be rechargeable with an easily found battery.

They feature variable tones as well as a jack for using illuminated bite indicators.

You can get by with just listening to your drag as long as you plan to stay by your rods. If you like to walk around the shore, a wireless setup might work very well for you.

A wireless alarm system allows you to take a nap in your bivvy or a trip to the car for more bait. You can turn down the volume on the alarm and turn it up on the transmitter. This is great for those late night fishing excursions.

ngt rod pod with bite alarms


carp fishing sinkers

Picking the perfect sinker for carp fishing depends on the water and style of your fishing. If you’re stalking the banks, you might want some light split shot. Faster water requires a heavier lead. Some of the heavier leads offer studs for grip.

There are method feeders as well to help chum the waters. Oatmeal and some chili powder makes a great bait to get the carp in the area. This gives them something to look for without giving them something to fill up on.


There are so many baits on the market it can make you dizzy. There are plenty of ways to spend your money here. A lot of the products may actually even increase catches.

If you’re on a budget and just looking to get started, there isn’t much better than sweet corn from the grocery store. There will be a lot of empty rigs pulled in with this one though, so keep an eye on your lines.

A favorite bait of mine is maize. You can find it in bulk bags at any feed store. Less than $20 usually gets you around 50 lbs of the stuff. This generally lasts me a few years when sealed properly.

When you first take the maize out of the bag, it will be very hard. To make it edible and release the oils in the corn, you will have to boil it. Bring the water to a boil before adding the kernels, after the water is boiling add however much corn you plan on using.

maize for carp fishing bait


When I started carp fishing I had been fishing for years and almost always hated it. When I was a kid we would use cornmeal and molasses and catch these HUGE fish, but years later with $7 lures being lost to the rocks I wasn’t catching anything like that.

I invested in about the cheapest gear physically possible. 3 Ugly Stik 9’ medium rods, a 7’ ultra-light, and a 6’ heavy for a spod rod. On sale they cost me about as much as one expensive specialty rod. I bought 3 of the Yoshikawa reels for the 9’ rods for less than one Shimano. No they will never be what a Shimano is, but 4 years of weekend carp fishing later, I feel like they paid for themselves.

If you get all top dollar gear and only end up fishing for 6 months, when you sell it used you will lose more money than what this simple setup costs.

carp fishing

Ugly Stik Gx2 Rod Review

ugly stik gx2 handle

I started fishing with the original Ugly Stik in my late teen years. A friend had an ultra-light at the local dam and was having a blast. I have had several of their rods in different configurations over the years and was intrigued when I saw their new Gx2 line in stores.

I started with closed faced reels on a kid’s rod and moved on to open faced and anything I could learn how to cast. I’ve used $200 rods and $10 rods. It’s relatively easy to find something to do the job, but hard to find something that does the job well without spending crazy amounts of money.

I started fishing primarily for carp over the past few years due to the size of the fish and fun of the fight. It’s a cheap way to have a lot of fun just relaxing and waiting for a big fish. There are plenty of techniques for stalking carp as well if you prefer more a more active style of fishing.

These fish can weigh over 70 lbs and require a strong and flexible rod to bring them in reliably. The Ugly Stik Gx2 rods do their job every time.

Ugly Stik Starter Kit


The Ugly Stik didn’t start it’s life as the rod we know today. The first rods had metal handles, were very large, and the graphite showed through the blank. It took a long time for them to evolve into what we recognize today.

The classic Ugly Stik was made by Shakespeare. With millions sold, they have had something special since the beginning. Shakespeare has always been a company that produced quality products in a very friendly price range. This means they have made a name that anyone that owns a tackle-box knows.

So why change something that you know works? Materials and processes have come a long way since 1976 when the rod was introduced. The new Ugly Stik Gx2 rods are still produced using the Howald method developed by Dr. Arthur M. Howald and was first used in the Wonderod in 1947.

ugly stik tip and eyelet

The Howald method uses an internal spiraled fiberglass core and parallel glass fibers impregnated with a polyester resin. This was covered with several layers of tape while they cured in an oven. The tape was removed after curing using high pressure water jets.

This construction method ensures a finished product that is stiff and sturdy while still being flexible. A modern ultra-light from Ugly Stik can be bent in a full circle without snapping.


Years of product development and expecting the best of their gear, Shakespeare listens to the anglers that use their products.

The Ugly Stik Gx2 has a lot of new features that are allowed by modern technology. Shakespeare uses a new blank through reel seat design for added strength. When you have the reel installed properly, the only way a fish is taking your reel off is by breaking it.

ugly stik gx2 reel seat close-up

They also came out with a new way to combine the graphite and fiberglass for the Gx2 rods. This new process results in much better balance as well as sensitivity throughout the product line.

Shakespeare uses their new ‘Ugly TUFF’ guides on all of the Gx2 models. This new design provides maximum durability and prevents insert pop outs by using stamped, one-piece stainless steel guides.

The cosmetics aspects of the Gx2 have come a long way since the original Ugly Stik. The new rod has a very nice matte black finish with red and silver accents.

I do miss the aesthetics of the cork handles on my first Ugly Stik, but the new EVA grip is great for anyone that prefers foam. Paired with the new finish, this also gives the rod a very modern look.

Even with all of the new features of the Gx2, Shakespeare managed to give a nod to their original rod. The clear tip still gives sensitivity and extra strength right where you need it the most. They also kept the weave above the grip that so many people loved about the original.

ugly stik ugly tuff guides


The right fishing rod always come down to your intended use. Many fisherman have a wall full of rods, all with a different purpose. If you take an ultra-light rod deep sea fishing, you’re gonna have a bad time.

I have always wanted to get the most fun I can out of the best gear for the cheapest price, but there’s a very good reason that other rod is only $10.

Ugly Stik Gx2 Rod Review 3

You can easily spend thousands of dollars getting into a new style of fishing. What if you have never been fishing and just want to try it out? Ugly Stik rods are made for people that don’t need to have the best money has to offer, but still want something that will do the job for years and years to come.

The Gx2 line has over 40 different models to choose from. From your kid’s first pond rod to their first ocean fishing trip, Shakespeare has you covered. The entire line of Gx2 rods mas an MSRP of just 39.95. This means you can have more rods for different styles of fishing for the same price as one rod from a more expensive manufacturer.

ugly stik gx2 youth spinning combo

If you make your living on a boat, this rod may be a little low budget to risk your income. For the weekend warrior that uses his rods on nice sunny summer days, this rod will last years and years of the worst you can throw at it.


I have been fishing for over 20 years. In that time I have owned and used a lot of different rods. My step-dad always swore by Pflueger, Diawa, and Shimano rods, and I still have his rods to this day. While they are all quality manufacturers, a single rod can run you north of $200. This initial cost can intimidate someone looking to get into the sport.


Carp fishing can be a prime example of this. Three quality baitrunner reels will run $450. Three fishing rods to put on your new pod, a spod rod and a marker rod can easily cost you over $500. This money can be very hard to recuperate if you decide the sport is not for you.

I have been carp fishing for almost 10 years and use Ugly Stik Gx2 rods that I bought during end of season sales over those years. I have three of the 9’ medium rods, a single 7’ ultra-light, a 6’6” medium-heavy, and a 6’ heavy. This entire arsenal of rods was purchased for less than $180 over those 10 years.

Every one of these rods comes to the river with me while carp fishing. A few have even seen time with salt water. I have reeled in carp over 35 lbs with just the ultra-light.

They may not be the choice rod for a professional angler or someone that requires nothing but the best, there is always a better rod for more money. However for the 15-20 times I use these rods every year they have never let me down. I never hesitate to recommend them to someone just starting down the bass hole.

What happens if you decide fishing just isn’t your thing? Well if you bought three Shimano spinning rods it would cost over $600 compared to the $120 for three Ugly Stik Gx2 rods at full MSRP. You could give the Gx2 rods to the neighbor kid and you would lose less money than if you sold the Shimano rods used.

Ugly Stik Gx2 Rod Review 4

I still have the same rods I’ve owned my entire life regardless of manufacturer. There are a ton of great companies out there. Ugly Stik rods just have a great value for their entry level price. If you’re looking to get into carp fishing, I have a great article on some budget gear to get you started here.


If you’re an amazon prime member you can have the rods at your house in 2 days by clicking here. If you don’t have a prime account and free shipping sounds nifty, you can get a free trial here. They have a great starter kit for kids here too.

If you’re not in a rush, you might want to wait and check the end of season sales here at Wal-Mart as well.