Mugging Fish (A Complete Guide With Tips)

Mugging is a technique used while pole fishing to catch the fish swimming through your swim in the upper layers of the water. There’s a lot of controversy with this technique as some anglers don’t think it’s the right thing to do. In this article, we will explain what mugging is and give you some tips on how to catch carp using this method.


How Do You Mug a Carp?

Mugging carp can be a match-winning tactic, especially in the summer months.

When it’s really hot, you may find that the fish don’t want to feed that much, and instead, you will see lots of cruising carp that are more interested in sunbathing than feeding.

The way to catch these sneaky big carp is to mug them.

This works by using a small float on a rig set shallow. This then allows you to flick the float and bait right next to the fish without spooking them as the end of your pole will be far away. This will hopefully tempt them into taking the bait.

Where to place the bait will vary day-to-day. Some days the carp won’t react unless the bait is literally put right on their nose. On other days, you may have to flick it a foot or so away from them. All this will vary depending on what mood they are in, the temperature, and just how easily spooked the fish are at that venue.

What Floats Work Best For Mugging Carp?

There are various floats you can use and it’s all down to your own personal preference. There is nothing complicated about mugging and it really is a simple method to catch more fish.


The dibber can be a good float to put maggots and lighter baits right in front of their nose. Something like the ones below is good for this.

Carp Shallow

Personally, I like the carp shallow floats by Preston. You can always cut down a little bit of the stem to make this float a little shorter. This float would be perfect when using a heavier bait such as a 6mm or 8mm pellet.

What About Hooks And Lines?

You can go a bit stronger with this method when compared to others. The fish will likely just snatch at the bait that is presented in front of their nose. I would use a size 16 or 14 hook with a size 0.19 line.

When it comes to hook lengths I have seen different views on this. Some prefer a long hook length that sits right under the float. Others prefer a 2-inch hook length.

No Shot Down The Line

This might seem strange as most rigs require you to have shot down your line. However, with mugging you the bait to fall as naturally as possible.

However, you will still want the float to have some shot so that it sits correctly in the water. Therefore you should bulk all your shots right under the float.

Vary The Depth

Some fish might be put off if the bait is too close to the hook as it might spook them.

It’s wise to vary the depth in which you fish to see which is most comfortable for them. You may find you have to go deeper than you think. They are more likely to be scared off by the float than the hook bait.

Watch Out For Shadows

After float and rig choice, watching out for shadows is probably one of the most important. It’s not just your pole shadow that will spook fish, but I am sure you have all had a Segal fly over your peg on a summer’s day and seen fish become scared and swim off.

The same happens with your pole. The shadow from it can scare the fish.

That’s why it’s really important to look at the angle of the shadow that the sun is casting onto the lake. If the shadow is being cast over the left-hand side, then you want to try and mug the fish from the right so that the shadow isn’t going over the fish’s eye line.

Ideally, you never want the shadow of your pole to be near the fish. Instead, I recommend flicking the line in front of your pole towards the fish which keeps the shadow and pole tip away from the fish.

Target Groups Of Fish

Fish will swim past on their own, but also in groups. It’s a lot easier to target groups of fish than a single fish. It’s just like us humans, if there’s one cake left on a table and there are 3 people, all of them will want the cake. It’s the same with fish, if you drop a pellet in front of 3 of them, there’s a bigger chance that one of them will decide that they want it to stop the others from eating it before them.

The speed they are swimming through your peg will also dictate how likely they are to go for the pellet. If they are swimming slowly there’s more chance they will see and hear the bait. If they are swimming fast then it’s less likely they are interested in food.

Do The Fish Respond To Noise?

As mentioned above, sometimes they can, sometimes noise might spook them! Usually, you will know very quickly in the day which is working for you. Sometimes you may have to almost sneak the bait in, other days they might want the noise.

Can You Use Floating Baits To Mug Carp?

Floating baits can be used to mug carp and the best bait for this is a floating pellet or bread crust. However, I am not 100% sure if this is mugging, or just classed as surface fishing. Be sure to check the fishery rules as some fisheries ban floating baits as it can almost make it too easy to catch in the summer months.

What Baits Work Best To Mug Carp?


Personally, I prefer a single hook bait such as a 6mm or an 8mm pellet. This all depends on the venue and the size of the fish you are after. I think the pellet makes a nice noise when it hits the water which hopefully grabs the fish’s attention.


3 maggots on a hook can also work really well on the right venue so it’s always worth trying that if the pellet isn’t working. The only issue with this is that you may end up catching a few silverfish by accident as they are more likely to take maggots than a big pellet.


A wafter is a small pellet-shaped bait that’s very buoyant but doesn’t quite float. Therefore it sinks very slowly. This gives the carp plenty of time to see the bait and hopefully move in and eat it.

Baits To Avoid

Luncheon meat is not something I personally use to mug carp as it can fall it quite easily and if I am slapping the rig into the water there’s a good chance it could fall off.

Is It Allowed In Matches?

Yes, mugging carp is allowed in matches but there have been calls for some places to ban it. I think they only want it banned because they are the anglers who are not catching fish using that method.

You will see a lot of match anglers standing up in front of their box when mugging carp during a max. Standing up is allowed but moving from your box is not.

Also, using floating bait in a match won’t be allowed.