A nice looking crucian carp

These beautiful chunks of gold are quite shy fish that like to hug the margins and hide among lily pads and any type of cover. One of the biggest problems with crucian carp is that they breed fairly easily with goldfish.

This makes it hard to be able to tell a true crucian apart from hybrids. In this article, I will give you some pointers on how to tell them apart as well as some good tips for how to catch a crucian carp.

I shall also go into detail about which baits work well with shy wary fish and the best techniques for catching them. If you put in the work and research these fish can provide you with some great sport and some special moments on the bank.

Crucian carp love hiding amongst Lily pads

What is The Right Tackle for Catching Crucian Carp?

1. The Rod

The rod wants to be a nice light rod that isn’t too long in length. A light waggler rod between 10 and 12ft should do you nicely.

You don’t want anything too heavy because crucian, in general, won’t go over about the 3lb mark, and that is a good fish. Lengthwise nothing too long is really needed because most of your fishing will probably be done in the margins and not too far out.

2. The Reel

As with the rod, the reel doesn’t want to be too big and bulky in size, it’s not like you will be needing a bait runner system.

Brands such as Shimano, Daiwa, and Shakespeare all make some nice reels that will do the job nicely. When it comes to the size of the reel get one around the 2000-3000 kind of size. These will balance the rod nicely and are perfect for crucian fishing.

3. The Line

As stated earlier crucians are shy and wary kinds of fish. For this reason, you need to keep your tackle as light as possible, the line is no exception.

I use Maxima 4lb breaking strain. If it is a very snaggy venue it may be worth going up to 6lb in strength. This will give you a bit more of a fighting chance when the fish head for the snags.

What is the Lift Method?

Of all the ways of catching crucians, the lift method is by far the best. It involves a small float such as a waggler. It wants to be a light float of no more than 2bb. 

These are the size of split shot weights needed to make the float sit upright. The idea is to put all the shot down near the hook bait about 4″ away and plumb the depth so the weight is only just sitting on the lake bed. 

This ensures when the fish takes the bait it lifts the weight off the bed which in turn lifts the float and makes it lay on the water. 

That is your time to strike and hook the fish!

This method is very sensitive and perfect for shy fish.

When to Fish for Crucian Carp?

Almost all fish are most active at dusk and dawn. These times by far are the best times to target almost any coarse fish. Crucians are also most active at these times. That being said on certain days crucian are just at home munching their way through your bait in the middle of the day. 

A good overcast day with little wind, low pressure, and temperatures around 15 to 20 degrees would be perfect. Late summer and early autumn are my favoured times of year to fish for them, although they do get caught all through the summer months.

Overcast days are perfect for catching crucian

Where’s Best To Fish For Crucian Carp?

Crucian carp are predominantly still-water fish. It is very rare indeed to catch them from any rivers in the UK. Once you find a venue that holds these superb species my first port of call would to be find some cover.

Crucians aren’t too happy about being out in open water if they can help it. Lily pads provide the perfect cover for these wary fish and is always worth plopping a light float next to them. Once you learn how to catch crucian carp, lily pads will become your new best friend.

Margins are another place where I tend to target for crucian. If you have got a margin in front of you that is between a foot and 3 to 4 feet, to me that is perfect. Just be sure to keep nice and quiet if you are fishing that close in. Always be wary of walking around as well, it is surprising how loud the vibrations of your feet can be in the water.

Here is a list of 6 well-known crucian waters in the UK.

What is the Best Bait for Crucian Carp?

1. Luncheon Meat

Tinned luncheon meat is an awesome bait for catching crucian. Meat such as Spam is available in all supermarkets and is perfect for the job.

If not try a flavoured one from your local tackle dealer such as strawberry flavour. Just break a small bit off and hook it directly to your hook. I use a size 12.

2. Maggots

All tackle dealers will sort you out with your maggot requirements. They are sold by the pint and a couple of pints should keep you going all day.

I like to use red maggots when targeting crucian, but they will happily fall for bronze or whites as well.

3. Sweetcorn

Sweetcorn is another bait that is readily available from your average food shop. To save on money get big bags of it from the freezer section it works out a lot cheaper and is just as good as tins. Tackle shops also sell flavoured corn. I personally love fishing with sweetcorn.

4. Pellets

Pellets come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours. These are a good popular bait when it comes to catching crucian carp. I favour 6mm in size and the soft hookable type. These can be put straight on the hook and are simple to use.

How to Tell a True Crucian

A lot of anglers struggle to tell the difference between a true crucian and a hybrid. A hybrid means the crucian has crossbred with another species such as a goldfish. Some of these hybrids are fairly simple to tell apart, but others take a bit more research.

There are a few tips that can help you identify the differences between them.

  1. Scale Count; First and foremost is the good old scale count. True crucians tend to have between 32-34 scales along their lateral line. The lateral line is situated between the back of the gills right up to the tail of the fish. It is the centre of the fish as you look at it side-on.
  2. Barbules; Barbules are also important when identifying a crucian. Barbules hang down each side of their mouth and are used for searching along the bottom of the water’s bed. Crucians WILL NOT have any barbules whatsoever. Not even little stumpy ones, whereas a hybrid would.
  3. The Tail Fin; Another tell-tale sign is the tail fin. A crucian tail fin is almost straight or only very slightly forked from top to bottom. If it has a deeply forked shape, almost like a fantail it is almost definitely a hybrid.
  4. The Body; The body is another good way of telling if it is a true crucian. A good true strain will have quite a deep shape to it, almost rudd or small bream-like shape. The fish itself will also be quite soft to the touch. Mostly the hybrids will be quite rough to touch.

These 4 tips are not set in stone as such but they will certainly help you when trying to ID your fish.

Don’t be too upset if you end up catching hybrids and goldfish though. They may not be true crucians but they will still give you some good sport and are nice to catch.

A crucian carp being returned
A nice crucian carp being returned to the water

5 Facts About Crucian Carp

The British record for crucian carp is an impressive 4lb 10 oz at the time of this article. That really is a very impressive fish and would be an absolute joy to catch. This was caught back in 2015.

If you think that is big then you will be well impressed with the current world record crucian. This beast comes in at a staggering 9lb 8oz in weight. This was caught in the Netherlands in 2009 and was 22″ long.

According to research, a crucian can live up to around ten years of age. It is known for real healthy fish to live up to 15 years.

Crucian carp in large lakes have a lot more of a dish-shaped body compared to fish that live in small ponds.

In general crucian carp can tolerate lower levels of oxygen than any other fish.


Crucians are very shy wary fish that can prove hard to catch at times. Hopefully, this article will help you figure out how to catch a crucian carp and how to identify it if you do catch one. The buzz you will get from catching a few bars of gold is well worth putting the hours in for.

They may not be the biggest of fish species in the UK but they are certainly one of the nicest to go for. So get out there nice and early and get yourself some of these majestic creatures in your keepnet, tight lines and enjoy your fishing.

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