How to Hold a Carp – Your Ultimate Guide

To avoid injuring a carp you’ve caught, you need to lift the carp gently from your unhooking mat with one hand supporting the anal fin and the other gripping the front pectoral fin.

how to hold a carp correctly

Remaining in a squat position and bracing your elbows on your knees while holding your carp fish can help you support its weight long enough to snap a good photo.

Ready to dive into more details?


Whether this is your first adventure as a carp angler or you’ve been a recreational fishing fan for years, little holds a candle to the joy you experience when you lure in a giant carp! This feisty fish offers a challenge that even the most seasoned fishers can’t resist.

Proper catch and release techniques can help keep a carp calm while you weigh it and get a couple of nice pictures. With a bit of practice, you’ll find dealing with carp super easy. Just follow our next step-by-step guide to learn how to hold a carp.

Get All the Tools You’ll Need

Before you embark on a carp fishing adventure, you’ll need to invest in some tools to help you safely handle the fish you’re going to catch. Here’s a list of some equipment worth purchasing.

A Landing Net

get a landing net

Experienced carp anglers know how much of a struggle it is to lure fish out of the swim without a high-quality landing net. The mesh material these nets are made of helps anglers manoeuvre carp out of the lake without injuring their fins, gills, or scales.

An Unhooking Mat

Unhooking big fish like carp is definitely challenging since you won’t be able just to lift the fish and unhook it on the go. Setting your fish down on the ground to unhook it is also a big no-no since it may start to wriggle and injure itself. So, having a dedicated unhooking mat is key to streamlining this process.

We recommend getting a 2-in-1 mat that can double as a carp weigh sling to get more bang for your buck. However, if you’re willing to pay more, an unhooking mat-cradle combo is probably the best option.

A Fish Sack

Carp sacks aren’t a must, but they can help you keep your prized catch longer in the water while you get your camera ready.

If you need to use a sack, ensure that it’s thoroughly wet and tightly secured to a post on the shore since the carp might get eager to escape and rush back deeper into the lake.

How to Handle a Trophy Carp

How to Handle a Trophy Carp

After you unhook and weigh your carp, it’s time to take some fantastic photos. Follow the next few steps to lift your carp successfully while keeping it calm.

1. Wash the Carp

Keeping carp safe in hot weather can be tricky. The best way to avoid causing your carp unnecessary stress is to douse it with some cool water from the swim to remove any debris stuck to it.

Nevertheless, be careful not to scrub the carp with your hands because this will remove the protective mucus coating its body and act as a part of its immune system.

2. Chill Your Hands

It’s important to remember that carp are cold-blooded creatures, meaning that they can’t control their temperature when taken out of the water. So, their body temperature will always be that of their original environment, i.e. the lake.

This is why you need to chill your hands by submerging them in the water for a minute or two; this way, the carp won’t find the change in temperature too extreme when it’s picked up.

Moreover, make sure to take off any rings you may be wearing as they can catch on the carp’s scales.

3. Lift the Carp

Carp is usually very heavy, sometimes weighing more than 20 kilograms. So, the best you can do to keep your carp supported is to kneel while lifting it. Once you assume this squat position, try the following.

  • Cover the carp’s eyes and keep a hand on the tail area to stabilise the carp if it decides to flip suddenly.
  • Slide your left hand under the tail and get a good grip on the anal fin.
  • Slide your right hand under the carp’s head and grasp the pectoral fin.
  • Avoid resting the carp on its underside, as this position is extremely uncomfortable.
  • Once you have a secure hold on the fin area, tilt the carp upright, lifting it up from the mat. To safely hold the carp, rest your forearms and elbows on your knees.

Since holding a carp for extended periods may put too much pressure on your forearms and wrists, it’s normal not to be able to maintain your position for more than 30 seconds. So, make sure your DSLR or video camera is ready before you lift the carp.

If you feel like the carp are starting to slide out of your hold, return it to the unhooking mat and leave it there for a couple of minutes before attempting to lift it again.

Post-Handling Tips for Carp Enthusiasts

post handling tips

Because carp are such fierce fighters, even careful handling may not be enough to prevent minor injuries. Carp isn’t usually caught for food, so it’s your responsibility as an angler to bring the carp back to the water in a pristine condition.

Start by dabbing some antiseptic onto the hook area and searching for any damaged scales. Then, hold the carp in the water by the head and fins and keep an eye on the flow of water through the gills for a minute before you let it slide out of your hold. This ensures that the carp has fully recovered and can swim on its own.

See also our post here on carp fishing magazines uk.

Final Words

With enough practice, you’ll realise that holding a carp isn’t as hard to grasp as it may seem. So, give our simple guide on how to hold a carp a try and leave any questions you may have in the comments section.

Just keep your grip on these fins stable, and don’t forget to crouch while holding your trophy fish, good anglers!

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *