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Step by step instructions on how to remove a hook and weigh a carp

Unhooking a carp safely is critical for the welfare of the fish before you weigh it. You need to be both precise and quick to minimise the stress to the fish. If you remove the hook well, the only evidence of the hook hold will be a tiny hole. If you do it badly, you can do a lot of unnecessary damage that will take longer to heal and increase the risk of infection and potentially result in the death of a carp.

To see exactly how to look after the carp during the handling and weighing, check out this video I made:


Now, let’s look at what needs to be done in detail.


Angler unhooking a carp

1. Uncovering your prize

You have a carp safely placed on the mat, the rod on the ground and the folded up net hiding your prize.

  • Carefully un-roll the net making sure you free the main line that got rolled up to start with.
  • Now open up the arms and establish where the mainline and lead are. Carp eyes are sensitive to daylight or the light from a head torch so you may have to cover the eyes of the carp if it starts to flap wildly on the mat. You can use your hand or a damp cloth.
  • Free the mainline and lead from under the fish if necessary and lay them away directly away from the carp head so that it does not roll back on them.
  • Now it’s time to look for exactly where the hook is as it’s sometimes easy to roll the fish over onto its other side to gain easier access.

2. Unhooking the carp

Unhooking of carp

If the hook is neatly in the bottom lip or the scissors then you should be able to apply pressure to the end of the eye with your thumb (back towards the point), then roll the hook out, following the curve of the point.

A finger next to the point with pressure on the floor of the carp’s mouth will help stop the carp’s lip from following the direction of force applied from the eye. You should hear a small pop as the barb comes free and you’re done. If the hook is too far back or you don’t have the finger strength then a solid pair of forceps clamped onto the shank of the hook may be necessary. If using forceps, apply pressure in exactly the same way as you did with your thumb, then roll the hook out. I find that unhooking short shank, wide gape hooks is easier than long shank hooks. They also cause less damage when going in.

In some extreme circumstances it may be necessary to actually cut the barb and the entire point off the hook. This is far more preferable to making a mess of the carp’s mouth. If the fish is angry on the mat then keep the eyes covered during the process and give the carp a chance to calm down and time for you to compose yourself.

As soon as the hook is free, remove it along with the lead and the mainline away from the fish. Now cover the fish back with the net or the retaining cover before removing the rod from the mat area. Don’t leave it next to the fish to get trodden on!

Applying antiseptic to carp

Once everything is cleared from the fish, it is time to apply your antiseptic or iodine to the carp’s mouth. Don’t forget to check the body for damage too.

If you need to apply antiseptic to the body then use a clean cloth to dry the area first. This helps the antiseptic to adhere to the area. You may need to leave the product on the fish for a few minutes for best effect. Stay with the carp during this time and make sure its eyes are covered and control any flapping.

3. Weighing the carp

blanking carp fishing

To prepare for the weighing of the fish, you need to carefully slide the carp out of the landing net. I always free the head first and either roll the carp out, or lift the carp with one hand just enough to slide the net out towards the carp’s tail. Doing it this way prevents the risk of catching and tearing fins with the mesh.

Now we can introduce the pre-wetted weigh sling which should be next to the mat. To begin with, slide the carp away from you so there is enough space to lie the sling alongside the fish but still be on the mat. Now open the sling towards you and then roll the carp into the sling. Lift and slide the carp using the sling so that it is back in the centre of the mat. Slowly lift the sling and see how the fish lies in it. The fish can either be upright or on its side but should not be upside down! Just before the final lift, check that the pectoral fins are flat against the body. If the sling has zip sides then do these up to prevent the carp from sliding out the front or back. With the weigh sling handles in one hand, grab the scales and hook them through the sling handles. If you’re using a weigh crook or two man bar, then introduce this now and hook the scales onto it.

No we can lift the assembly either holding the top loop of the scales (not the sides!) or with a two man bar or a weigh crook attached to a sturdy landing net pole. I’ve been using a weigh crook for many years, they are small, lightweight and at less than £20.00 a good buy. I use it for any carp over 20lbs and using according to the instructions makes the weighing of a carp safe and accurate. I use the one made by Reuben Heaton.

Always keep the carp over the mat during the weighing process and as close to it as possible. Once you’ve noted the weight, carefully lower the carp back over the mat and un-attach the scales and crook.

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