UKCARP MAGAZINE 10 JANUARY 3RD 2012Carp use their mouths to sort their food. If the hook is sampled by the carp but is seemingly too big, then you could be doing yourself out of bites. By dropping your hook size down from, say, a size 6 to a size 10, you are reducing the chance of them spooking.Bait size is something you will also need to consider. It is important that your hookbait isn't huge in comparison to the hook itself. If you can strike a balance between the two it will stand you in good stead. If you are going to stick to a boilie approach, I wouldn't go much lower than a size 8 or 10 - obviously, the larger the boilie, the bigger the hook will need to be. If, however, you are using small baits such as single grains of corn, then you could certainly afford to use something like a size 12.MAINLINE AND LEADERSIf the clarity of your chosen venue is high, then it is a good idea to drop your mainline down in diameter. Providing the venue doesn't have heavy weed and snaggy conditions you will be fine.As long as the lake has plenty of flat, open water there should be no real threat of cut-offs. A mainline with a diameter of around 0.30mm to 0.33mm is ideal for snag-free waters. On top of this, you could take the ultimate step and switch to a fluorocarbon. Low-diameter monofilament lines are effective, but a fluorocarbon will be even more so.Carp are more than capable of noticing lines while moving in an area of the lake where anglers are present. This problem is worsened by a lack of colour in the water. Put simply, carp see better in clear water. A thicker, darker-coloured mainline will naturally become more visible - this can be avoided if you scale down.Along with your mainline, you also have the opportunity to drop the use of leadcore leaders and stuff like that. A lot of venues where these are a necessity during the summer don't require the extra strength that a leader offers once it gets cold. If the weed dies off, for example, it can give you an excuse to drop the leadcore. There are options such as fishing your mainline straight through, using small lengths of tubing or a clear Safezone leader instead. The same applies to this as it does the other aspects of scaling down. As long as you aren't faced with snags and the like it will be fine to change your leaders to something a little more subtle.RIGHT BALANCEWhen scaling down you need to strike a balance between all the elements you are changing. Try to ensure that you don't have any parts of your end tackle that appear crude while the others are all nice and subtle. Obviously, there are times when certain things cannot be scaled down, for example when fishing near snags. However, when faced with danger-free, open-water situations you can get away with scaling it all down. I must add that above all else during the winter, your location must be top priority. Make sure you are either fishing a venue that has plenty of carp in it or that you spend as much time as possible searching for the fish. Carp aren't as active during winter and their location can be locked down to very specific areas of the lake.This period of inactivity while the lake lays dormant is a time where extra measures are in order. Scaling down is something that can and will put more fish on the bank for you. Give it a try! "You could take the ultimate step and switch to a fl uorocarbon mainline"Supple braids such as Supernatural are hard for carp to detect while they are feeding.Happy my cast has landed on the money.A hard-won winter common.