5 Best Surface Fishing Rods For Carp

Last Updated on 29 February 2024 by James Bevan

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Surface fishing for carp requires different tactics and setups compared to other methods and as such, more specialist tackle is advised to get the most out of the method.

A key piece of equipment is a surface fishing rod designed especially for this exhilarating tactic.

The problem is there are quite a lot of options to choose from on the market in differing lengths and test curves.

This guide on the best surface fishing rods for Carp will help clear any confusion you may have and offers some great suggestions that are best suited for your fishing circumstances and budget.

Let’s get started

Quick Summary:

If you just want to see the recommended surface rods in this article then here they are with a quick link to a retailer that offers a great price…

Top Overall Surface Rod – Nash Flota Rota
Good Option Under £100 – Fox Horizon X3 Floater Rod
Budget Option – Wychwood FLTR Floater Fishing Rod
Telescopic Surface Rod – Korum Opportunist Surface Rod
Great For Stalking – Nash Scope Black Ops Sawn Off

If you would like more detail on what these rods scored and why they are considered the best you can skip straight to the reviews below:

What Is A Surface Fishing Rod

A surface fishing rod is also known as a floater fishing rod as it is designed to fish lighter, floating baits in an attempt to catch fish that are feeding on the surface of the water body.

They tend to have a lighter test curve than more conventional carp rods as the lighter tip helps in achieving the correct balance of fishing delicate floating baits, close in.

Rods with stiffer tips and higher test curves can quite often force lighter, soaked baits off the hook or hair on the cast.

What To Look For in a Good Surface Fishing Rod

The best surface fishing rods have some unique traits that make them perfect for this method. These include the following…

Test Curve

The ideal test curve of a floater fishing rod is somewhere between 2 and 2.5lb depending on the sized fish you are pursuing.

If you are fishing for smaller fish in a swim that is snag-free, then a 2lb test curve will suffice whereas if you are fishing for larger carp or are fishing near to snags then a stronger test curve of 2.5lb is more advisable.

The test curve of a rod is also a consideration when identifying casting distance. If Carp are feeding on the surface a fair distance out then you will likely be using a controller float to reach the required distance.

To maximise casting potential a higher test curve rod is advisable and to coincide with the light nature that this tactic exudes, I would recommend a 2.5lb test curve rod if fishing distances of up to 60 yards.

Top Tip: – If you need some more help on test curves for carp rods in general you can check out our full carp rod test curve guide and calculator here

Test Curve On A Surface Fishing Rod

The test curve is an important decision when choosing the right surface fishing rod

Rod Length

The length of rod you choose for your surface fishing will depend on the water you are tackling. Again, similar to test curve, the distance you are fishing can be a factor in the length of the rod.

Generally speaking, the longer the rod, the further the casting distance up to a point.

A 12 or 13-foot rod is proven to be the best length for maximising casting distance. As such, if you are fishing a water where the fish tend to feed on the surface some distance out, then this is the length rod I would recommend.

Conversely, if you know that the Carp on your chosen water tend to feed on the top close in, then the length is less important and you may opt for a shorter floater rod such as the popular 10ft option.

Shorter rods have the benefit of taking up less space but are also easier to manoeuvre and use in small, tight swims.

Action

The better surface fishing rods on the market are finely balanced to handle light and delicate floating baits.

By finely balanced I mean that they tend to have a more middle-to-tip action to them.

With this type of action, the line pick-up tends to be faster which is an important factor when surface fishing as the setting of the hook comes from the strike rather than the Carp hooking itself against a heavy lead.

This type of action also has enough ‘backbone’ to handle larger fish when required.

Considerations When Choosing A Surface Fishing Rod

In addition to the technical aspects of a decent surface fishing rod, there are other considerations to take into account before you finally choose. These include the following…

The Size Of The Water You Are Fishing

As mentioned previously, if you are fishing a large water where Carp feed further out and cannot be encouraged to feed closer in then you will need a floater rod that can handle a fairly heavy controller float and can cast it around the 60-yard mark.

A 12-foot rod with a mid-to-tip action and a 2.5lb test curve would be perfect for this such as our top choice, the Nash Flota Rota.

The Size Of The Carp You Are Fishing For

What makes surface fishing for carp so exciting, apart from the sight of a big Carp taking your bait, is the fight.

Carp tend to fight harder when caught on the surface especially when caught with free-lining tactics, i.e. with just the line attached to a baited hook.

The reason for this is that there isn’t a heavy lead or other rig components helping to wear the fish down.

So if you know there are big fish in the water especially if you are fishing anywhere near snags, then a rod with enough power and strength with a higher test curve is recommended.

Swim Type

Carp do like to feed in less pressured areas of a lake. Quite often these areas are difficult to get to or fish in which means there is less angling pressure.

Braving the uncomfortable nature of these swims can often be rewarding. If this is something you are looking at pursuing then a shorter rod should be considered.

A 6ft rod such as the Nash Scope Black Ops Sawn-off is an ideal option for very tight swims with lots of vegetation as you will be able to manoeuvre and generally fish more effectively.

Conversely, a large, open water swim may draw you to using a standard 12-foot surface rod as these tend to offer the best overall balance of power, casting ability and ease for playing fish.

Choosing less pressured swims can often be rewarding

Braving difficult swims with less angling pressure can be rewarding

Budget

You don’t have to mortgage your house to buy a decent floater fishing rod these days. There are some very good options in the tackle shops that don’t break the bank.

However, you do sometimes get what you pay for.

The budget options featured in this article will point you in the direction of a rod that balances value for money and performance nicely.

How The Best Surface Rods For Carp Have Been Chosen

The rods recommended in this guide have been tried and tested by experienced carp anglers and have delivered good performance when tested.

User reviews have also been researched to ensure anglers of all abilities and with differing requirements are all considered.

Here are 5 top choices:

#1. Best Overall: Nash Flota Rota

Daiwa Infinity X45 Spod Rod picture
Overall Rating8.3

Out of all the surface fishing rods reviewed, the 12-foot Nash Flota Rota takes pole position with an overall rating of 8.3.

This specialised rod blends casting power and playing finesse through its 2.5lb test curve and 1K weave backbone.

Multiple hook points are a unique, but really useful feature of this rod and a lightweight build makes surface fishing easy work.

While pricey compared to some, the Flota Rota justifies its mid-tier cost through quality components and purposeful design that aims to maximise the surface fishing experience.

Simply put, if you really love floater fishing and want the best-dedicated rod for the job, this thoughtfully-crafted Nash rod should float your boat.

I struggled to find any flaws in this meticulously designed bit of kit that’s seemingly perfect for dangling dog biscuits.

Pros

  • Purpose-Built for Surface Fishing: The rod has been specifically designed for surface fishing, ensuring that all its features are tailored to maximise performance in this specific area.
  • Balanced Power and Finesse: While the rod is powerful, thanks to its 1K weave backbone, it also offers a forgiving tip. This combination provides both strength and flexibility, allowing for effective casting and playing of the fish without over-stressing the line or hook.
  • Lightweight Design: Extended fishing sessions can tire out an angler, but the Flota Rota’s lightweight construction means reduced fatigue, allowing for longer and more comfortable sessions.
  • Optimal Length and Test Curve: The 12-foot length and 2.5-pound test curve offer an ideal balance, making it versatile enough for various surface fishing situations.
  • Enhanced Casting Ability: With the Flota Rota, casting mixers becomes seamless and efficient, making it easier for anglers to get their bait exactly where they want it.
  • Effective Shock Absorption: The rod can adeptly handle aggressive lunges from fish, ensuring fewer lost catches, especially when the fish are close to the net.

Cons

  • Specific to Surface Fishing: While its specialised design is a boon for surface fishing, it may not be as versatile for other types of angling. Anglers looking for a multi-purpose rod might find it limiting.
  • Traditional Test Curve: The 2.5-pound test curve, reminiscent of older rods, might not appeal to anglers who prefer stiffer, more modern rods.
  • Limited Range: The Flota Rota is only available in a 12 foot 2.5lb test curve version but what you do get is a real quality product for your money

Also Available From These Reputable Retailers

£139.99
£159.99
Awin1.com
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For more information, you can always check out our full review of the Nash Flota here.

#2. Best For Under £100: Fox Horizon X3 Floater Rod

Daiwa Infinity X45 Spod Rod picture
Overall Rating8.1

Scoring an impressive 8.1 out of 10 in testing, the Fox Horizon X3 Floater is rated a top affordable pick for under £100.

This specialised 12-foot rod offers precise, smooth casting thanks to its lightweight yet powerful carbon fibre build. I was easily hitting the 50-yard mark with a medium-sized controller on a windy day with this rod.

Where it really shines though is when playing fish. The carbon fibre backbone has enough reserve power to battle large carp despite the softer tip.

I always feel in control of the fish I’m playing when using the Horizon Floater and I can confidently apply pressure rather than just going along for the ride.  The tip of the rod cushions the head shakes and dives of the fish nicely while the lower section could lean on them when needed.

Packed with features that perform well above its modest price tag, the X3 Floater floats your boat without sinking your wallet. This thoughtfully designed rod hits the sweet spot between price and performance for anglers seeking excellent quality without paying a premium.

Pros

  • Lightweight high modulus carbon fibre blank provides good balance and sensitivity
  • The tip has enough play for surface fishing while the lower section provides a solid backbone for fighting fish
  • Quality cork handle delivers comfort, grip, and classic looks
  • Smooth, reliable cast for accurate controller / bait delivery
  • Matte black finish gives it a stylish stealthy aesthetic
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • The guides are basic grade however this does keep the cost down
  • The light nature of the rod may struggle against larger fish
  • Only available in 12 ft length currently, no other size option

Also Available From These Popular Retailers

£107.99
as of 16 April 2024 17:51
Amazon.co.uk
£109.99
Awin1.com

You can find additional information in our complete review of the rod here.

#3. Best Budget Option: Wychwood FLTR Floater Fishing Rod

Daiwa Infinity X45 Spod Rod picture
Overall Rating7.9

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it; this ain’t your high-end performance beast but for those casual surface sessions? It’s got your back.

The rod’s balanced and lightweight blank comes into its own here. It’s no secret that you’re not wielding the best carp rod on the market, but the through action does give you a fair bit of feedback and actually, playing mid-doubles was quite fun.

Casting-wise, the custom-spaced, braid-friendly guides pull their weight. They’re not groundbreaking by any stretch, but they let you cast with a fair amount of ease. I wasn’t smashing any personal best distances, but I got my bait where I needed it.

But considering its score of 7.9, just a touch below the top scorers, the Wychwood FLTR definitely punches above its price tag. So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly surface rod that gets the job done without burning a hole in your pocket, this one’s worth considering.

Pros

  • Budget-Friendly: A decent performer without breaking the bank
  • Balanced & Lightweight Blank: Offers good feedback, especially for a rod in its price range.
  • Full Cork Handle: A nod to traditional rod designs and provides an adequate grip.
  • Versatility: The model comes in both 10 and 12-foot versions to suit different fishing circumstances.
  • Hook Keeper Ring: A practical touch, especially when moving between spots.

Cons

  • Feel & Finish: Although functional, it lacks the luxury touch and finesse of higher-priced rods.
  • Limited Distance: Doesn’t allow for extremely long-distance casts.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: While traditionally designed, it may not appeal to those looking for a modern look.

Also Available From These Well-known Retailers

£44.99
Awin1.com
£64.90
2 new from £64.90
as of 16 April 2024 17:21
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To learn more, check out our detailed review of the Wychwood FLTR Floater Rod here.

#4. Best Telescopic: Korum Opportunist Surface Rod

Daiwa Infinity X45 Spod Rod picture
Overall Rating7.8

The Korum Opportunist Surface Rod is an affordably priced rod that offers some great features for surface and stalking fishing.

First off, I really feel that this rod is very versatile. I know not all anglers are fans of the extendable type rods but it does allow you to use it in a variety of different fishing circumstances.

In testing, I used the rod in a fairly large, open swim but I can absolutely see the advantages of a 12-inch packed-down rod being set up in a tight, overgrown spot that probably sees less angler pressure.

With test curves of both 1.75 and 2.25 lb, it allows for light surface fishing baits. I personally prefer the 2.25lb test curve as it’s just about right for the tougher carp battles. However, if rivers are your scene, especially chasing after small Carp or doubling up as a Barbel rod, the 1.75lb might be your pick.

For the money, the Korum Opportunist Surface Rod performs really well coming out with an overall rating of 7.8.

Pros

  • Extendable blank, ideal for tight swims.
  • Compact size (just 12 inches), perfect for travel.
  • Lightweight with a well-balanced feel.
  • Anti-frap tip allowing for fewer tangles.
  • Sleek, visually appealing design.
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Lacks a degree of power for larger fish.
  • Potential issues when fishing near snags.

Also Available From These Credible Retailers

£34.99
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as of 16 April 2024 17:51
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£49.99
Awin1.com

For more info why not take a look at the full review here.

#5. Best For Stalking: Nash Scope Black Ops Sawn Off

Daiwa Infinity X45 Spod Rod picture
Overall Rating8.1

If you prefer a very short carp rod for your fishing or are in need of a specialist rod for stalking surface-feeding carp then look no further than the Nash Scope Black Ops Sawn Off.

The Black Ops is a premium version of the popular scope range and oozes quality throughout. The ALPS reel seat is finished off beautifully in a black coating and provides a solid, and custom-looking base for your reel.

The 50mm butt ring alongside the 16mm anti-frap tip guide helps provide a smooth, accurate and tangle-free cast.

The sawn-off version is available in a 6-foot length and for floater fishing the 2lb test curve option will suffice.

Pros

  • Quality carbon fittings (backstop, line clip)
  • Two-piece rod with a retractable butt section, so it packs down very easily
  • 50mm eyes and 16mm anti-frap tip guide make for smooth, effortless casting
  • Blank uses extreme strength high modulus carbon and strengthening cross warp, making it incredibly hardy while staying remarkably lightweight.
  • Rod has a very slick, distinctive ‘stealth’ look
  • Handle’s paracord grip stays in the hand like velcro and is very easy to hold when wet
  • The Scope Black Ops provides performs exceptionally when stalking carp

Cons

  • Small selection of lengths/test curves available
  • Less than ideal for fishing larger venues as rod is on the shorter side

Also Available From These Fishing Tackle Shops

If you would like more information on the Scope Sawn Off check out this page.

FAQs

Here are some of the frequently asked questions we get on the topic of the best surface fishing rods for carp:

Can you use a normal carp rod when surface fishing?

Yes, you can use a normal carp rod for fishing on the surface, however, specially designed surface fishing rods are more refined and balanced for this particular type of angling style.

If you are going to opt for a conventional carp fishing rod then ensure it has a mid-to-tip action with a test curve that is more on the lower side.

What is the best test curve rod when surface fishing for carp?

The best test curve rod when fishing for carp on the surface is between 2 and 2.5lb.

The lighter test curve caters for the lighter lines, lighter baits and lighter rigs that are generally used in floater fishing.

What length rod is best when surface fishing?

There is no one-size-fits-all length that is best for surface fishing in general. It largely depends on the circumstances you find yourself in at your chosen swim.

A tight swim with lots of overhanging vegetation may benefit from a shorter rod of 10ft or less.

If you are fishing open water and are having to cast a fair distance to feeding fish then a length of 12 or 13 feet will be better suited.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to surface fishing for carp, selecting the right rod is more than just a choice; it’s a cornerstone for success.

The unique demands of surface fishing mean that not just any rod will do. A specialised surface fishing rod brings a level of precision and responsiveness that can’t be matched by standard equipment.

It’s tailored to handle the intricacies of floating baits whether it’s casting them out efficiently or striking effectively. This is about more than just catching fish; it’s about enhancing your entire fishing experience.

By choosing a rod specifically designed for surface fishing, you’re not only increasing your chances of catching Carp but also ensuring that every moment by the water is as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

I hope this article has helped you make an informed choice.

Tight Lines!

You can check out these rods and more in our surface fishing rods review category.

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