Types of carp

Types of carp

           What types of carp are there?

The main three types of carp which are most commonly fished for are the common carp, mirror carp and leather carp. There are also other species such as grass carp, crucian carp, ghost carp, koi carp and F1 carp. We will explore the individual types of carp, the size they grow to and their feeding tendencies.


Daniel Hughes





Common Carp

They can be recognised by their entire flank being covered with small scales in a replicated pattern. They have two barbules, one either side of the mouth. Carp anglers typically seek out mirror carp, due to their variation of scales and all of them looking so different and unique. But with common carp, you don’t get this variation, most common carp look very similar and anglers will tend to prefer the capture of a larger common carp, over a smaller fish. Where as most anglers’ are happy to catch smaller mirror carp than common carp due to the variation of scales and looks. Big common carp are often very sort after for carp anglers.

British Record: 64lb 6oz- The Avenue (2018)

World Record: 101lb 6oz- Lake Serene, France (2019)

Mirror carp

These carp will have large and small irregular scales scattered across their flank, some of these patterns can form known formations such as a Linear of fully scaled pattern. A mirror carp with a linear pattern would have one single row of scales running down the entire flank along their lateral line. The fully scaled pattern speaks for itself, the carp will usually have it’s entire flank covered in scales, sometimes all similar in size or varied. Most other mirror carp will have an irregular scale pattern, making each carp very different in looks.

British Record: 68lb 1oz- Cranwells lake (2016)

World Record: 112lb 14oz- Euro Aqua Hungary (2018)

Leather carp

The leather carp are very similar to mirror carp but with very few scales, they have a leather type effect to their skin and are very sparsely scaled. They can have 3-4 scales on them usually near the wrist of the tail and along the dorsal line and still be classified as a leather carp. They also have a punctuated dorsal fin, in the centre section of the dorsal fin, this means they will have missing rays, they will also tend to have a different ray count on the anal fin, usually 3-4, unlike mirror and common carp who have 6-8. Leather carp don’t recover so well to fin damage, they only have regeneration rate of 25% unlike common carp having 80% so old leather carp are more likely to have withered fins and fin damage. They are different to mirror carp genetically as they have less red blood cells & white blood cells which means they don’t deal as well with dramatic oxygen depreciation and disease. Leather carp can often be caught more in the winter due to their lack of fat reserves, which means that they need to feed more than other carp in colder months. On the other hand, mirror carp and common carp can use their fat reserves in the winter which enables them to remain dormant in the winter and therefore they won’t need to feed as often as what a leather carp would.

British Record: 54lb 8oz- Car Park Lake, Yateley Complex (2006)

World Record: Not Recorded

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Grass carp

Grass carp look very different to the above three species, these are different in shape, they look more like chub than carp. An elongated body with small scales tightly packed together which cover their entire flank. Unlike the other carp we have mentioned they don’t have barbules and have often been known to be very delicate surface feeders. They were initially introduced into British lakes from where they originated from which is China and Siberia. The reason for their introduction was for the belief they would assist with weed control. Initially it was believed they would ignore anglers carp baits, but as angling has progressed, numerous grass carp have been caught across the UK on anglers baits. They also grow to very large sizes in Europe, some very large grass carp have been caught in France.

British Record: 53lb 12ozLittle Moulsham Lake (2018)

World Record: 87lb 10oz- Piasuchnik Dam in Bulgaria (2009)

Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius)

The crucian carp are very sort after amongst coarse anglers, they aren’t the most common of species to catch, and a large crucian carp can be a very good capture. They don’t tend to get caught much over the 3lb barrier and they do not have barbules like the other carp mentioned above. Crucian carp are also known to be delicate feeders. Many coarse anglers who have float fished for them have claimed the bites can be very delicate and sometimes hard to detect. The crucian carp shape is slightly similar to a more traditional common carp, but they do have a similar scale pattern albeit the scales are very small, but they cover the entire flank, they also have a very distinctive lateral line with a golden tint to their body. They are a very hardy specie of carp, and are able to deal with poor water conditions, plenty of weed and extremely cold conditions.

British Record: 4lb 10oz- Johnsons Lake, Milford, Godalming (2015)

Europe Record: 8lbLake at Strössendorf Germany (2005)

Ghost Carp

The actual name for the ghost carp is in fact ‘Ghost koi’ due to the fact they came to existence from a mirror carp breeding with a metallic Ogon Koi. The reason they are referred to as ghost carp is due to the nature of their colouring’s and markings, giving a ghost like appearance when they swim through the water. Some ghost carp are darker in colour with metallic markings on the head of the carp which often gives their location away when they swim under the surface in lakes. They will often swim with other carp and can give away larger shoals of carp which you might not be able to see. Due to the genetic nature of the ghost carp, they tend to grow a lot larger than the traditional koi carp, plenty have been seen to grow over 40lbs in UK lakes. Ghost carp can be mirror ghost carp and common ghost carp, both can vary in colours from white, gold and gunmetal grey, these colours may change slightly as the carp age.

How do you identify a ghost carp?

Ghost carp can be identified, by the metallic markings on their head and across their body. The metallic colours often come in shades of gold, white and silver. The metallic colours are set against the original dark colours of carp, which is what identifies them as a ghost carp and it is this that causes the ghost like effect on the head of the carp. The koi carp will often have more extravagant colours, likes oranges, whites, reds and blacks. They don’t tend to have metallic patterns on their heads.

British Record: 53lbBerkshire’s Wellington Country Park (Not officially recorded as a record)

World Record: Not Recorded

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Koi Carp

There are over 100 different variants of koi carp, they were initially bred in Japan in the 1820’s for their different colours. The koi is a symbol of love and friendship in Japan, they are often bred to be kept in ponds in the UK as an ornamental species , they have barbules like common and mirror carp and they also come in different colours; the famous white, red and black colours can be seen on koi mirror carp and koi common carp. They are also kept in some lakes in the UK, some anglers don’t actually enjoy fishing for them as they view them as more of an ornamental decorative specie of carp which shouldn’t be caught. Some lakes have been specifically designed for anglers to fish for Koi carp and people will visit them purely for that. With their bright colours, this does put them at a disadvantage and they can easily be picked out by predators, which can be another reason not to keep them in large fishing lakes.

British Record: Not Recorded

World Record: Not Recorded

F1 Carp

What does F1 carp mean?

F1’s are a new breed of carp which have become very popular but also quite controversial in the angling industry. The breed of the F1 carp is a cross breed of a a Crucian carp and a Common carp, they are great for match and coarse fishing lakes as they don’t grow very big in size, they feed prolifically all year round and they are also resilient to some common diseases such as KHV.

The F1 carp have become very attractive to commercial fishery owners, due to the fact that anglers can get a bite all year round. Some fishery owners are not so attracted to the new breed of carp and have decided to keep the traditional species of carp in their waters, due to rumours of faultiness and issues with the cross breed.

British Record: 7lb 14oz Boundary pool, Manor Farm Leisure (2016)

Whats the difference between an F1 and a traditional carp?

F1 carp are very similar to the traditional common carp, they have a distinct lack of barbules which comes from the cross breed with the crucian carp. Traditional common carp have four barbules and the F1 carp only have two which are a lot smaller. They also do not grow to the same size as traditional carp, the lateral line count also differs between the crucian carp and F1 carp. The crucian carp has approximately 32 to 34 scales along their lateral line, with the F1 carp having approximately 35-36. The F1 strain of carp are very fast growing but they will they tend to max out at weights between 6-9lb, they reach this weight a lot faster than traditional carp.

How do you tell how old a carp is?

Some lakes which have stocked the carp from 1-2 years of age, will be able to monitor the carps ages purely from knowing what age the carp was when it was stocked into the venue. If you didn’t know the age of the carp when it was stocked or you caught a carp which was unknown, there are other ways in which you can figure out a carps age. The most commonly used structures on carp to determine the age of the carp is the scales, otoliths (ear bones) and hard fin rays. You can learn a lot from just one scale on a carp, you can determine the age of the carp, when it has spawned, it’s growth and history.

The Environment Agency work out the fishes age with the use of the fishes scales, the main reason for them using this method is that the fishes health isn’t put in jeopardy when they test. With the other processes, preparation has to take place in order for other methods of testing. The scales of the carp do not require any preparation before they are used to be able to test the carps age. The way in which the age is figured out is through studying the annuli (rings) which are within the carps scale.


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About The Author

Daniel Hughes Dangler

Daniel Hughes

CEO & Co-Founder

Being out on the bank and catching a fish is just a bonus for me, what I really love about angling is it provides us with the ability to be at one with nature and appreciate what most do not get to see. I discovered my passion for angling at the age of 9 and it has never left me, carp fishing has always been the core of my angling but I will never turn down the opportunity to target other species and enjoy what our waters have to offer.

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2020-07-22T01:12:34+01:00April 28th, 2020|Carp, Fishing Tips|