Winter Tactics – Nick Hövelbrinks

The dark, cold and damp weather is challenging me. In any case, it is not that easy to maintain the carp fishing passion between December and March. However, I will share my tips and tricks to keep your motivation high on the bank and catch more carp.

Unwrap the target with cold fingers



Is the basic framework for success, especially in winter. Keep your motivation high and have fun. I recommend working out a detailed plan for every session with your fishing buddy. Winter is teamwork and social time.

According to experience, you need more tackle in winter. If you go fishing very spontaneously you might forget the equipment you need for exactly the situation you are into. Additionally, you can coordinate and share equipment with your mate. This decreases your tackle weight on your barrow and keeps interactions and communication at a high level. First outstanding advantage is decreasing the risk of letting something you need at home. Secondly you can push each other to visit the bank even in horrible weather conditions. All these lead to higher efficiency in your angling.

Stay warm and dry

It is not fun to freeze. Choose good shoes and a wind- and rain(snow)proof outer clothing layer. For warmth a thermo base layer and thick insulated mid layer is recommended. During high activity working e.g., setting up your shelter or carrying your tackle it is a big advantage to take off your outer or mid layer to avoid sweat.

A portable gas heater for your shelter is a thing I would not want to miss in my winter angling for longer sessions. Dry your clothes or heat up yourself is very easy with this little tool. But pay attention, it is still open fire and dangerous. It is also not safe to run it at night during your sleeping – danger of suffocation due to oxygen consumption. Your sleeping bag should be designed for the winter temperatures at your location.

You should also not neglect hot meals and drinks in your winter angling. Food provides your body with energy to keep you warm and energized. Having a hot meal and good coffee or tea is a real session safer in dark and cold times.


In the deepest winter there is no daylight for two-thirds of the day. But illumination is essential for efficient and precise working. That’s why you should have the right lamp ready for the appropriate use case.

  • A small and light head torch for all fast actions at night. I always wear it around my neck.
  • A strong light for precise working like sharpening hooks or searching activities.
  • An orientation and ambient light for your activities in your shelter.

Choosing the right bait and feeding strategy

Until this chapter we have looked after your own wellbeing. But now it’s time to catch some cold-water carp.

The metabolism of the cyprinids is slowed down in cold water. This means that activity and perception are also reduced. So, our bait should be adapted to this condition.

The first and very important thing is that you must reduce the quantity. The bait quantity depends always on water temperature and stocking density. Then I am going to increase the attractivity of my bait in two main aspects.

Small quantities of treated baits is my choice on cold days


Visual Stimulus:

Also, the vision of carp is reduced in cold water. That’s why high visual baits like UV-active Pop-Ups could be the key to success. Moving life baits like maggots with their high contrast to dark water grounds are a real game changer in some situations too.

Make your own stick mix in a few seconds



Gustatory and olfactory stimulus:

The bait should be more soluble and softer in consistency. So that the carp can detect the food better and it is easier to eat and digest. I like to use groundbaits, doughs and liquids. My self-made boilies have a higher proportion of fish attracting components e.g., soluble extracts or enzyme treated meals.

It is always more promising to bring the bait to the fish and not the other way round. In winter this strategy is even more important than in other times of the year. Once I know where carps could be, I put a small amount of highly attractive food into their area. Due to small amounts of soft or even liquid bait and the high accuracy, a X-Spod is the perfect tool for baiting up in winter.

Lovely almost linear


Have fun and a lot of stunning winter carps,




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