Carolina Pay Lake Tackle



By Gary Shears


This is a pay lake close to home, notice the aerator in the middle.
They run the areator several hours a day, sometimes all day if it is hot
especially in the summer months.

Some of the tools of the trade for pay-laking will be rod-holders, bite indicators, usually 3 rods, some only allow 2, net, and the right set up for your hooks, swivel, bead and sinker.


These 3 rods in the stands (left) show how they adjust, up, down or straight out.
This adjustble stand (right), with a kicker on it, that kicker is a life saver in dry ground!

First, the rod-holders. All of the holders are made specifically for the type of rod and reel you use. There are made by Carpers who can design and weld their own ideas into shape or know someone who can. I have never seen a "factory" made rod stand or rod holders at a pay-lake. I am sure they would work just fine, but most pay-lakers have always done this and actually havenít been exposed to many if any Carp magazines that sell them. Most of the holders have adjustments on them so they will tilt the rod up or down. They also have kickers on the legs so you can stomp them in the ground, this really helps in hard dry ground. Practically all stands now are built for bait-casting reels. Some are stainless steel, others are just steel. The stainless steel adjustables usually run a $100 a set of three. Many Carpers used to use bite alarm buzzers, these too are home-made from switches and buzzers usually gotten at local hardware stores, or electronic stores. But, since most of these guys sit right on their rods and reels, they really rarely ever use them anymore.


A typical setup, it has a bite indicator
that I made with the bell on it.

Bite indicators, there are numerous ways to make bite indicators. I like to put a pinch of play-dough on my line, about 3 feet out from the rip of the rod. After you put it on dip the dough in the water and let it slide down the line till it gets to where you want it. If it is wet weather I use a indicator I made myself. It is similar to a UK indicator but I put a small bell on the bottom, clips on with a bobby pin and pulls off when the fish runs. Some use small floats, just clip on the line somewhere between the eyes on rods and leave 6 inches of slack. Others use pieces of foam rubber or pipe cleaners twisted into a circle, anything light that will show a fish biting but not put much resistance on the line.


Pay Laker Bite Alarm, clips on the line
just like a bobbin indicator which it actually is
except this bobbin has a jingle bell

Rod and reels are also personal preference. 90% use bait-casting reels, usually Abu-Garciaís, in the 5500 or 6500 series. There is no rule on what line you have to use at most lakes, most use 14-20 pound test. I prefer 17 lb Trilene XL clear low visibility line. Rods are usually MH or H, in 7 to 7.5 feet in length. Any quality rod and reel will work fine, you want a reel with a smooth drag system and a rod that has some feel to it. A real stiff rod wonít cast as well and itís not as forgiving to a fish at the bank if it makes a final lunge while you are trying to net it.


Pay laker two piece setup, this is a
reel holder for a baitcasting reel.

The Net is most often a telescopic handled net. They sell these at all the pay-lakes you go to. If you donít have one first time or two, donít worry, one thing for sure, pay-lakers always help each other net fish. Even if it is a total stranger sitting beside them they always offer to help. If you have never netted before watch a few times before you start, always net head first and never spook a fish by trying to rush it. You can easily knock a fish off the hook by netting incorrectly.


This is the type of rigging I use, and what most all Carolina Pay-Lakers use.

The rigs we use in pay-lakes are fairly much all the same. The differences would be the sizes. We use 3-way swivels, slip sinkers, beads to protect the knot and hooks that are in the size you prefer. I like to use a 3/0 brass 3-way swivel (you can use 2/0 or 4/0), the slip sinkers I use are ľ ounce egg sinkers (any style or size of slip sinker up to ĺ ounce is used). Almost all lakes require a sinker to be used. The bead I use is a 10mm clear glass bead to protect the knot. Hooks are again personal preference, size 4 to 2/0 are the most commonly used. Many use Eagle Claw 1/0 double leaders. My preference is sizes 1/0 or 2, Eagle Claw wide bend, offset, plain shank and ringed eye. I tie my own leaders with the Trilene 17lb test, length being 3 to 4 inches on the leader.


Rock Creek Fish Lake, N. Wilkesboro, NC

The Lake, the floats on a cable divide the lake in half, this is what many lakes are doing these days to keep Carpers from throwing over half way across the lake. The sheds shown are for two Carpers each to use. The building at the corner of the lake is where you carry your fish so it can be weighed and called out on the PA system. It is aslo the store where they sell drinks and sandwhiches. The Carpers have to carry thier things to the sheds. I use a hand truck but many lakes have it so you can drive right up to the shed you draw to fish. The draw is usually 30 minutes before weighing time. As you pay, they put your number in a bowl, when your nunber is drawn you get to pick your spot.

I hope this has given some insight to pay-lake carping and maybe get someone started in the sport. It is a lot of fun and one of the most competitive forms of recreation you will ever do. Good luck, and forget a comfortable chair, these derbies run in 8 hour shifts.


By Gary Shears, August 1999, North Carolina, USA

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