What Are Mirror Carp and How to Catch Them

Carp fishing is popular all over the world, with the larger specimens being notorious for putting up a serious fight. 

The Mirror Carp, in particular, is renowned for being Europe’s largest carp species and can achieve incredible size and weight. They have a broad powerful tail, which allows for long runs and lengthy battles. 

Mirror Carp feed on a variety of plant and animal life. They are known to feed on smaller fish, insects, fish eggs, worms, water plant seeds, crayfish, planktonic crustaceans, and mussels. They are considered to be bottom feeders but do at times feed on the surface.

Where do you find Mirror Carp?

Europe is abundant with Mirror Carp, and they are commonly found in Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, England and the Netherlands. 

The Mirror Carp is a hardy freshwater species, and has certainly proven its survival as one of the fittest as it is able to adapt and thrive in even the poorest conditions. 

The Carp is an adaptable species, and can make almost any foreign freshwater environment its home. Being a species that can survive, and even thrive, in some pretty poor conditions, they have become an invasive species in some countries

If you are looking for Carp, you could probably find them in most sloughs, lakes, rivers, reservoirs and dams. I tend to have the most success in the murkier shallow water, and this is probably because the cloudy water can give them some protection against predators. 

If you know your bottom-feeders, then you know a Mirror Carp. They are a bottom-feeder through and through and will often stick to the lower water column. But, when they head out to feed, they might just venture out to the middle or even, in rare cases, the upper columns. 

Either way, you’re more likely to have success when you stick to the lower columns. Always use the water clarity as a yardstick when targeting a Mirror Carp. Because of the protection it offers, the murkier water should give you the best chances for success. 

Another little tip to bear in mind is that this species could be on lookout for food when there is an inlet, whether unnatural or natural. Check all these boxes when targeting a Mirror Carp:

  • Shady
  • Murky water
  • Shallow water

And if you can combine all that with an inlet, you will be in it to win it!

When targeting Mirror carp in a river, I like to cover all areas. I will leave one rig close to the bank in shallower water (preferably in a shady spot), and I will leave one rig in the deepest part of the river. 

After a while a feeding pattern will become evident (either shallow or deep) and I will concentrate all my energy into that particular area.

Now you know where to target the Mirror Carp, the next question is when. As is the case with many freshwater species, the dawn patrol is the way to. 

If you don’t get lucky in the early morning, you could try the late afternoon as well or even at night. Carp are known to bite in both the early hours of the morning, the late afternoon and at night as well. 

What is the best time of year for Mirror Carp fishing?

Carp can be targeted all year round but the best time of year to catch them is during spring. 

Similar to most species, Carp tend to move into warmer water at the beginning of spring. Usually, the larger fish in the ecosystem is the first to move to shallow black-bottom areas of the river, lake, or reservoir. 

Now that you know the when and the where, let’s take a look at your equiptment and other essentials that will help you catch a Mirror Carp. 

Tips for catching Mirror Carp

  • When targeting Carp there are a few tips and secrets that may help increase your hook-up rate.
  • Location is key, Carp tend to inhabit dirty and murky water. They are also quite skittish and spook easily when the water conditions are good.
  • Choosing the right bait is important. Carp rely heavily on their sense of smell, so if the bite is slow maybe switch things up and offer some scent to attract them. There are numerous types of artificial dips and oils to greatly enhance your chance of catching.
  • If you have to use a shiny hook, cover it up with your bait! Carp tend to shy away from a shiny and shimmering hook. 
  • Chumming can be a game-changer, there are numerous ways to do this with a slingshot being the most popular method.

What is the best bait for Mirror Carp?

Sweetcorn is hands down the best and most versatile bait. I prefer the canned version and always keep a spare can in my tackle box. 

You can also use sweetcorn to chum the water, this can be done with a slingshot or a feeding bag. Before casting you should cover your hook, by inserting as many pieces of corn that the hook will allow. The fish tend to love this sweet treat. 

What is the best Reel for Mirror Carp?

When targeting Mirror Carp, a large bait-feeder or bait-caster reel is ideal. This size spool will allow for ample line, the drag is sufficient for large carp, and the large spool assists with casting distance.

What is the best Rig for Mirror Carp?

Mirror Carp

The best rig for targeting Carp is the “Hair Rig”. These clever rigs are tied in such a way that a small loop comes off the back of the hook. 

The bait is held in place with a plastic stop, and the bait is threaded onto the looped line with a baiting needle. 

This is a simple rig to tie but if it’s new to you, there are numerous videos online to guide you step by step.

How to tie the “Hair rig” in 4 steps:

  1. Take 10-12″ of line and make a simple loop at the end. Trim the tag end.
  2. Thread the other end of the line through the hook’s eye from the front to the back. Leave around 1/4″ of line with loop hanging.
  3. Holding the looped end of the line against the back of the hook, wrap the other end tightly approx ten times around the hook.
  4. Making sure the wraps are tight, thread the end of the line through the hook’s eye again from the back to the front and pull tight.

When choosing a mainline, often it comes down to preference. I prefer using a 30lb – 40 lb braided line, this line is super strong with zero line memory and offers long casting capabilities.

A 20 lb Monofilament will also do, monofilament is almost invisible underwater, it is very forgiving and offers significant stretch and flex when hooked into a large Carp.

What is the best Rod for Mirror Carp?

When choosing a Carp rod there are two things to consider. The first is length, this is important for casting distance and sensitivity when fighting the fish. 

The second thing is strength, graphite rods offer superior strength, durability and are lightweight. 

When targeting large Mirror carp, I recommend a 12ft, medium-heavy, light action graphite rod with a 2.5lb Test Curve.

What do Mirror Carp look like?

The Mirror Carp’s scales are what catches most anglers’ attention, and they are even what gives rise to this species’ name. 

The Mirror Carp has patches of scales that appears irregular, and these irregular scales are dispersed over the body. The tail has the most scales, and they become lighter and sparser along the body up to the high back. 

Their bellies and fins are white or yellow, and their back’s are a distinctively darker brown color. 

The tail is the real standout though, with some fish having a striking red tail while others are endowed with a lighter, rusty brown tail. 

With a large mouth and extendable lips, you can easily picture these bottom feeders scooping up their food as they swim along the bottom. 

Thanks to their large mouths and lips, they can gobble up an impressive amount of food straight up off the bottom. 

Their mouths have a barbel on each side which gives them a sense of direction in muddy water. But their vacuum style mouths and feeding habits aren’t the only distinctive qualities, the Mirror Carp has large fins, its tail fin is wide while its dorsal fin tends to be long. 

Both the pectoral and pelvic fin are also large. And the anal fin? Yup, you guessed, it’s a large fin too, but is rounder than the others. 

If you reel in a Mirror Carp, you will notice that they tend to be a plump species. Because the Mirror Carp is a species that has been bred and stocked in smaller bodies of freshwater, they have build a staunch reserve of fat. 

The larger Mirror Carp can look comical, with a round plump body and a head that almost appears too small in proportion to its body. 

Can you eat Mirror Carp?

Mirror Carp is edible, and if prepared correctly it is damn tasty. If it is not prepared correctly, it can offer a very fishy smell and flavor. 

So, if your dinner guests complain when you bring home a Carp, you can let them know they can blame the chef, and not the fishermen. 

That being said, It is a versatile fish and can be prepared in several ways. 

Carp make up a large portion of diets throughout the world, especially when cooked correctly. But first things first, you need to know how to clean it correctly before you can cook it. 

How do you clean Mirror Carp?

Cleaning the Mirror Carp is all about taking out the trash. Here’s how to remove the intestines, descale, and fillet. 

  • When cleaning your catch, the first thing that you will need to do is scale it. The fish can be scaled by drawing a knife across the body, staring by the head, and finishing by the tail. It is important to constantly apply downward pressure to dislodge the large scales. When done, rinse the fish in freshwater and dispose of the scales.
  • With a sharp knife, it is advisable to first fillet the fish before gutting. This will minimize clean-up and odor. Make an incision behind the gill cover, and then slice down firmly until you feel the backbone (or spine) with your blade. Lift the fillet with your weaker hand and slice down towards the tail, be careful not to puncture the body cavity, and remove the fillet.
  • Turn the fish over and repeat.
  • Next, you will have to remove the skin, this is because there is a “mud vein” that you need to eliminate. This “mud vein” is just beneath the skin. With the flesh side up, gently start cutting along the width of the fillet until you can fit the blade between skin and flesh. With a downward pressure, slice along the length of the fish, holding the skin back with your weaker hand. Dispose of the skin.
  • Lastly, you need to remove the mud vein, this is done by making a v-cut on either side of the dark lateral line. Then you must remove the meat and vein running along with it and dispose of it accordingly.

What is the difference between Mirror Carp and Common Carp?

Mirror Carp

Experienced Carp Anglers can tell you what Carp they have on their line, long before they have brought the fish to the surface. This is due to their different fighting behaviour. 

Common Carp fight much harder than Mirror Carp, and their movements when hooked are erratic and explosive. Mirror Carp fight and behave in a slow and more controlled manner, relying mainly on strength and stamina to escape.

Common Carp features a body that is long, lean and torpedo-like Their scale pattern is regular and full-bodied. Mirror Carp features a body which is high-backed, full and round. The scale pattern is irregular and scattered all over the body.

Mirror Carp usually tend to hold deeper in the water column than Common Carp, this is an important tip when targeting Commons.

The largest Common Carp ever caught weighed in at 101lb’s 6oz, it was caught in France 2019. The largest Mirror Carp on record weighed in at an astounding 112ld’s 14oz, it was caught in Hungary 2018.

Scientific research suggests that Mitochondrial DNA differs between the Common Carp and Mirror Carp.

Conclusion

Targeting Mirror Carp can be a relaxing and fulfilling experience. They are beautiful freshwater fish and can be targeted in rivers, streams, dams, lakes, and reservoirs. 

The Mirror Carp is responsible for the past few British records and can achieve impressive weights of up to 60 pounds.

The best bait for targeting Mirror Carp is sweetcorn. This bait is versatile and a spare can should always be in your tackle box. 

Carp are notorious bottom feeders, so chumming is a great way to attract them to your casting zone. This can be done with a slingshot or a feeding bag.

Mirror Carp is edible and can be quite tasty if prepared correctly. The flesh is versatile and makes up the staple of numerous diets around the world.