Guide to Carp Leads

Guide to Carp Leads

What leads are best for Carp fishing?

Carp fishing leads come in many different shapes, sizes, and weights. But which one should you use?
Well, it all depends on where you are fishing and the conditions of the water. There is no right or wrong answer, but each lead serves a unique purpose.

Carp leads

In Carp fishing, a lead system refers to the way the fishing weight is attached to your mainline. 

Tying the lead (weight) directly to your mainline is not safe and can put our beloved Carp at risk if your line were to snap or the fish became snagged.

Many Carp anglers use lead systems that allow the lead to be dropped when a fish is hooked or when the line snaps. 

Carp fishing rigs will either use a semi-fixed lead system or a running rig lead system. Using a “fixed lead” tied directly to the mainline is a big no-no, and will not be allowed on the vast majority of fisheries.

There is no way for the Carp to escape the lead and the rig if the line were to snap whilst using a fixed lead, as well as the fact that the lead could get snagged in rocks or weed, leaving the Carp tethered.

Types of Carp fishing leads

So, before we get into the details of lead systems, it is important to understand the differences between the leads and what each one is generally used for. 

For most Carp fishing a lead that weighs between 2 - 3 ounces will suffice. It is important to use a lead that weighs at least 2 ounces, as this will help to set the hook into the mouth of the Carp when it picks up the hook bait. 

Heavier leads, such as 4 or 5-ounce leads, come in more useful when you are either casting long distances and need the extra weight to punch the rig out there or when you’re fishing the margins. 

When fishing in the margins it is recommended to use the heaviest lead you can get away with, using a semi-fixed lead system. Again, the weight of the lead pulls the hook firmly into the Carps’ mouth, resulting in a secure hook hold. 

Leads used in Carp fishing will either be in-line or swivel.

Flat Pear lead

This lead can be used in nearly any Carp fishing situation. This is a great “all-rounder” lead. 

These leads are available in both swivel and in-line versions, however, many anglers much prefer the swivel flat pear leads. 

The compact shape of these leads means that the Carp will feel the full weight of the lead as soon as it picks up the hook bait. This lead tends to give great hook holds because of this.

The in-line version of the flat pear lead is perfect for use with solid PVA bags. This is due to the slim shape, easily fitting into the PVA bag whilst leaving enough space to fill the rest of the bag with small particles of bait. 

These leads, however, are no good for long-range fishing. These are best used when casting less than 80 yards. 

The flat pear lead is essential when fishing on sloped lake beds. The flat surface means that the lead will not roll or slide like other leads, such as the pear lead or tournament lead, may do. This helps to keep your rig in a perfect position.

Pear lead

Pear leads are also a great all-rounder and firm favorite amongst many Carp anglers. These leads are also most suited to short to medium range Carp fishing.  They are also widely available in a square pear shape.

The shape of the lead allows for great accuracy as well as a really solid “donk” when the rounded surface hits the bottom of a solid lake bed. These leads are particularly responsive whilst “feeling the lead down” when casting.

Like the flat pear lead, these pear leads also give a great hook hold. One key drawback of using these leads, however, is that they may sink in softer lake surfaces, such as silt or weed. 

This could pose issues when using shorter hook links as the hook could be dragged down with the weight, meaning that your rig may not be fishing effectively or even at all.

In-line leads

As the name suggests, in-line leads thread directly onto your mainline. These leads can be cast fairly accurately up to around 80 yards. 

The in-line lead is the only type of lead that should be used with solid PVA bags. This is because the in-line system is neat and compact, making it easier to shape a perfect solid bag. 

In-line leads are most effective when combined with a short hook length. The short hook length and in-line lead combo help to create the ultimate hook hold.

The Carp will feel the full weight of the lead when it moves away with the hook bait, with the more dense swivel end of the lead being picked up first.  

Much like the pear leads, in-line leads should be avoided when fishing over softer lake surfaces. This is because the lead is likely to sink into silt or weed, meaning that the short hook length is likely to be buried also.

Gripper leads

There is rarely a situation where these big, cumbersome leads will be necessary. With that said, when you need them, you need them… 

These leads are truly awful to cast and would not be suitable for fishing at any range at all. However, there really is no lead like them when fishing fast-flowing waters.

These leads are particularly useful for fishing large, fast-moving rivers where other leads could easily be dragged out of place by the current.

The lumps on these leads give excellent gripping properties, hence the name "gripper lead".

Distance/ Tournament leads

These casting leads are designed with long-range fishing in mind. They can easily be cast well over 100 yards by an experienced Carp angler. 

Combining these leads with a helicopter lead system really helps to get those extra yards on your cast. 

The aerodynamic, tapered shape makes these leads easy to cast long range and accurately whether you’re using them with a helicopter rig or a more commonly used lead clip system.


Backleads are like the Marmite of the Carp fishing world. Anglers tend to either love them or hate them. 

Unlike the other leads we’ve discussed, these leads are not part of your rig. These leads are not designed for casting. 

Typically, these leads clip onto your line after your rig is in position in the lake. 

The main use of backleads is to ensure that your mainline is pinned to the lakebed. This is useful for a number of reasons. 

Many fisheries are fished constantly all year round, meaning that the Carp are well aware of the anglers’ lines and the dangers of them.

Pinning your line to the lake bed is a great way to create an edge over other anglers who may not be so subtle. 

Lots of Carp are easily spooked due to constant angling pressure so disguising your rigs any way you can is a great advantage. 

Another benefit of using backleads is that you can pin your line down right under the rod tip. This makes it easier to land fish in tight, compact pegs as the fish is less likely to swim through your other lines. 

A major drawback of backleads, however, is that they may reduce the amount of feedback received on the bank as they can act as a swivel for the hooked fish which could swim from side to side rather than taking any line. 

Click here for Carp Lead Clips: Explained

Posted by George