The Marker Rod – Are they Needed?
With the advent of castable sonar devices, bait boats and online information, is there a need for a Marker Rod anymore while carp fishing? Those new to carp angling will think that a specific rod just for marking and scouting out swims is an added expense they could do without, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Personally, my marker rod rarely leaves my vehicle. There have been many occasions when I’ve been driving around where I spotted a new possible fishing area. It’s nice to have the marker rod on hand to pull over and give a quick lead about to see what’s out there. Before we get into the pros and cons of the Marker Rod for Carp Fishing, let’s quickly outline the basics.
What is a Marker Rod for Carp Fishing?
A Marker Rod is a specialized carp fishing rod anglers use to scout new fishing areas. A proper marker rod paired with a feature finding lead and float can quickly tell an angler important details about certain bodies of water. Depth, bottom substrate, distances and aquatic vegetation can all be determined within a few casts with a proper marker rod setup for an experienced carp angler.
Lake and river conditions are constantly changing. Whether it’s weed growth throughout the seasons or summer storms and waves moving debris, it’s always wise to have a cast about with a Marker Rod and Lead to determine what’s beneath the surface.
How is a Marker Rod Different from a Regular Carp Fishing Rod?
Although they look very similar, there are some key differences between a dedicated marker rod and a regular carp fishing rod. Marker rods are designed for casting long distances with accuracy but with enough sensitivity that anglers can feel what their lead is coming in contact with through the rod tip.
Marker Rods have additional markings on the blank just above the reel seat. These markings are normally 6-inches, 12-inches or 24-inches. These markings aid in measuring depths with a marker lead and float at long distances.
Medium or Fast Action
Marker rods are designed with a medium or fast action. This allows the tips to recover quite quickly when a lead is being pulled across the bottom creating greater sensitivity and ease in determining if it’s rock, silt, sand or boulders.
Sensitive Tip Section
Marker rods’ tips are normally more sensitive than a regular carp rod. Where regular carp rods are meant to bend easily and fight fish effectively, marker rods will have a stiffer tip section to feel tiny details through the line.
Marker Rods are made out of longer blanks to aid in casting further. When scouting out a swim, your marker rod must be able to reach all the fishable locations to determine if there are any hazards, such as snags or heavy weeds.
Marker rods are very similar to Spod Rods, and it can be beneficial for anglers to invest in a Spod and Marker Rod Combo where the same rod can be used for both Scouting and Baiting.
How to Use a Marker Rod for Carp Fishing?
While it’s possible to use a regular carp fishing rod and any lead to cast about to scout certain swims while carp angling, using a proper marker rod and lead setup is optimal.
Marker Rods should be used with braided lines. Braided lines have less stretch than monofilament or fluorocarbon lines, increasing the sensitivity and accuracy of the feeling through the tip of the rod.
Although you can use a normal fishing lead to feel about with a marker rod, using a lead designed for the job is beneficial. Marker Leads are heavier and are designed to give the most feedback.
Marker floats go hand in hand with marker rods. Anglers can quickly determine the depth of any area by letting out line and measuring the distance on the marker rod markings one foot at a time.
Once you cast to a desired area, place one hand mid-way up the marker rod while keeping the other near the reel seat. As you slowly pull the lead back across the bottom, you should be able to feel through the tip of the rod what the bottom feels like. It will take some time and practice, but with enough experience, you can quickly tell if the bottom is clear, weedy, rocky, silty, etc.
Why Use a Marker Rod for Carp Fishing?
There are many benefits to using a marker rod and lead to scout a swim before fishing. When I started targeting carp, I thought it was impossible to tell what was underwater just by dragging a lead across the bottom. The quickest way to learn is by experience. After many years, I can confidently feel the lead across the bottom in any swim to tell what I’m fishing over.
Find Clear Areas
Simply feeling the lead down can determine if you’re hit a clear spot or a weed bed. One of the most important skills anglers should learn is to feel their lead donk on the bottom on every cast. If you’re bait isn’t presented, your catch rate will surely suffer. Some areas I target are 5-foot-wide holes in weeds. It can be tricky to hit them, but you’re almost guaranteed a bite when you do.
Determine Vegetation Type
Fishing in weed is sometimes unavoidable. Sometimes with a marker lead and rod, you can pull in some of the aquatic vegetation to determine if it will hold carp. Some types are sparse and easy to present a bait in, while others are too thick and will completely cover your hook bait.
Find and Avoid Snags
A quick feel about with your marker rod is important to determine if there are any snags or dangers present in the areas you’re targeting. Carp are known for heading straight to submerged rocks, thick weed beds or logs when first hooked. If you find a snag, you can target a different area or adjust your tactics to prevent fish from reaching it. Not only to increase your catch rate but for fish safety as well.
With a marker rod, float and lead setup, you can cast to almost anywhere and determine the depth within a few seconds. Cast, reel your float down to the lead, then measure the amount of line you let out with the 6-inch increment marks on the marker rod. Add them up, and you get an accurate depth.
Marker Rods and Leads vs Castable Sonars
I have all the new technology and gear to scout carp fishing areas, but it has let me down so often that I always opt for the marker rod and lead setup. I’ve lost count of how often my Deeper Castable Sonar has had difficulty finding a connection or lost its battery charge mid-use.
My most memorable experience was fishing in a 5-day tournament. I began to cast about with the Deeper when we arrived at our peg. Unfortunately, it couldn’t get a signal. Luckily, I had my marker rod setup and could find suitable fishing spots quickly and efficiently.
A marker rod should be in the arsenal of any dedicated carp angler. If you only target carp a few times a year, I recommend just using your regular carp fishing rod to find clear spots on any outing. If you’re like me and are always looking for new carp fishing spots, I highly recommend picking up a dedicated Marker Rod.
As mentioned above, a great way to save money is to look for a Spod and Marker Rod Combo. Spod and Marker Rods are fairly similar, and there are some great options for a combination 2-in-1 rod that suits both scouting and baiting effectively.
For more information on all types of carp fishing rods, check out our article in What to Look for in a Carp Fishing Rod or if you’re looking for recommendations, feel free to read out Best Carp Fishing Rod Resource.