In the Field

How to Catch Asian Carp on Rod and Reel – Fish Snagging 101

How to Catch Asian Carp on Rod and Reel – Fish Snagging 101

The invasive silver and bighead Asian carp, which are causing massive ecological destruction, are most commonly harvested with bowfishing gear by recreational fishermen. As filter feeders who consume microscopic plankton, these fish typically don’t strike at traditional lures or go after live or prepared bait like most other species of freshwater fish do. That being the case, in order to catch them on a rod and reel, one has to implement alternative fishing techniques, such as snagging.

Snagging 101

How to Catch Asian Carp on Rod and Reel

With most styles of rod and reel fishing, it’s the fish that pursues a lure or bait and gets hooked while striking at the lure or consuming the bait. With snagging, it’s the fisherman who pursues the fish by striking at the fish with a large hook. It’s important to point out that snagging is not a legal method for harvesting most native species of fish, with some exceptions, such as going after paddlefish and certain species of salmon at certain times of the year, on certain rivers. So before you break out your snagging gear, be absolutely certain it’s legal for the body of water that you’re fishing on and for the species of fish that you’re pursuing.

In most places, snagging Asian carp is legal, as these fish have grown to populations that equal a Biblical plague, and conservation and natural resource officials want to get as many of these fish as possible out of the water as fast as possible. Snagging is also a great alternative to bowfishing for catching Asian carp on overcast, rainy days, or in muddy water, as one has to be able to see the fish in order to go after them with bowfishing gear.

Snagging is pretty simple. All you need is a stout baitcasting or spinning rod, heavy line, and a large snagging hood, which is basically just a big, weighted treble hook. You can either buy weighted snagging hooks, which are a little expensive or just rig up some heavy weights with a large hook.

how to catch Asian carp on rod and reel

As far as the actual snagging technique, much depends on the situation. When fishing from a boat or over a deep drop-off, snagging in a vertical motion is most effective. And when snagging from the shore in shallower water, a horizontal motion works best. Either way, it’s ideal to make long, full, sweeping snagging motions. I like to think of it as swinging a bat in reverse. After casting your rig out in the water and letting it sink to a desired depth, reel in the slack, and make long, full, sweeping snag motions while reeling in the slack as fast as you can in-between snags. It’s very important to keep your snagging rig constantly moving throughout your retrieve, otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll get hung up on the bottom. In fact, no matter what you do there still a good chance that you’ll get hung up often, so be sure to have plenty of hooks and weights with you.

how to snag asian carp
Use a vertical motion when fishing/snagging from a boat.
asian carp fishing
Use a horizontal motion when fishing/snagging from the shore.

Where to Snag?

how to catch asian carp on pole and line

Most all species of fish will stay out of fast, powerful currents as much as they can to conserve their energy and not waste calories. This being the case, you’ll most often find schools of Asian carp hanging out in slower-moving, slack water areas. You’ll need to experiment with how much you let your rig sink before you start your retrieve as well as with how far you cast out in order to pinpoint the depth and general area where the fish are holding. But once you start catching a few fish consistently, stick with what you were doing, as there are sure to be more fish there.

asian carp fishing
Asian carp tend to hold in slower-moving slack water.

You’ll get a heck of a workout when snagging fishing, as you’ll be casting and snagging away for hours on end most likely, but it’s a lot of fun, and a very effective way to harvest these big Asian carp.

So there you have it my friends, that’s how to fish for silver and bighead Asian carp with a rod and reel using the snagging method. If you’d like to learn more about the Asian carp, be sure to check out my book, Eat the Enemy, a complete guide to catching and cooking Asian carp.

Eat the Enemy - A Complete Guide to Catching and Cooking Asian Carp -Joseph Classen
Eat the Enemy – A Complete Guide to Catching and Cooking Asian Carp -Joseph Classen

Check out the video below to see more…

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