The 2021 Guide to the 6 Best Fishing Bite Alarms (Catfish and Carp)


Here, listen… What’s that sound like? I’ll tell you exactly what it is. A monster on the end of your line!

As fights with fish go, you can’t really beat a battle with a carp or catfish!

But to hook them, you’ve got to be on the ball, which is why you’ll need the best bite alarms on the market.

I want to help you catch a few big ones, so I’ve assembled a list of solutions to let you know when you’ve hooked a beast.

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Bite Alarms – A Quick Overview

Gone are the days of squinting looking at a rod tip. Now you can kick back and relax safe in the knowledge that you’ll hear the fish before you see it.

Here’s the thing.

Bite alarms work. They are pretty black and white. Either you have a bite, or you don’t.

Here are the different types and how they work.

fisherman with fishing rods and reels carp fishing

Electronic Bite Alarms for Carp and Catfish

This is the most common type that you will see. Electronic bite alarms might come in different shapes and sizes, but they work the same way.

The line is held as part of a switch system. Tension on the line closes the switch in a circuit. Once the circuit is complete, a small buzzer sounds to let you know that you have a bite.

These are great as you can often adjust the tension required to trip the switch.

Bells

Bells are the simplest form of bite alarm.

The way they work is pretty simple. The bell is attached to a point on the rod. When a fish bites, this pulls the line that causes the line to twitch. This twitching moves the rod and therefore causes the bell to ring.

The good thing about this type of bite alarm is that they are simple to use and set up.

And the downside?

You tend to get a few more ‘false’ hits, and they can be trouble in windy conditions.

Visual Bite Alarms

Visual bite alarms are varied. Some will merely make your rod tip a little easier to see, especially when fishing at night.

But the story doesn’t end there.

You can actually get ‘swinger’ style carp bite alarms. These sit in a cradle and are held up by a slack line. When a fish bites, the line is pulled from the cradle, and the alarm falls in a way that is pretty hard to miss.

These are fairly cheap, and if you are looking for an alarm that is visual but not as affected by poor weather, these can be really good.

Now that we have had a quick run-through let’s see some examples of each.

Top 6 Best Fishing Bite Alarms 2021

Lixada Digital Fishing LED Alarm

Alright, this looks like something you’d find in a special forces toolbag.

It’s a full kit that comes with a total of 4 bite alarms.

Here’s what I say.

That’s really great value. These could be good bite alarms for catfishing and are some of the best bite alarms for carp fishing.

Here’s why.

First off, the kit comes with a handy foam-lined carry case. This is super useful when you are transporting all of your gear to the swim.

You needn’t worry about them getting wet. They are super weather resistant.

The kit actually comes with a tiny receiver that connects easily to each alarm. You can be over 100 meters away and still be able to ‘hear’ your alarm when you get a bite.

And here’s a cool feature.

If you want to pair up the visuals with your alarm, each switch also contains a separate port to insert a fish swinger. This is great as it makes sure you don’t pick up the wrong rod and miss the fish.

Pros

  • Great value with four alarms in one pack.
  • Easy to carry storage case.
  • Wireless technology.

Cons

  • Four alarms plus the receiver means a lot of batteries.
  • They are a little fiddly to set up.

Takeaway

This one is for the serious anglers. It isn’t cheap, but you are practically guaranteed to never miss a bite – some of the best bite indicators on my list for sure.

Freetoo Electronic Fishing Bite Alarm

Now, this is something a little different, and you get a lot for the money.

Different? How?

They are pretty innovative. The bite alarm clips to your rod, and a loop of line is wound through a spool. When a fish takes this rotates the spool and triggers the alarm.

And here’s the thing…

They light up too! These make the perfect night fishing bite alarm as they make it super easy to locate your rod in the dark.

I really love how compact they are. No messing around with wires, cables, or receivers. They take tiny little batteries that should last a while too!

Pros

  • Really easy to use.
  • Long-life batteries.
  • Light and sound in one easy package.

Cons

  • You can’t set a drag for the switch triggering.
  • They can get in the way when you are reeling in.

Takeaway

I like simple solutions. When it comes to fishing bite indicators, they can sometimes get a little too complex. This is a great middle ground. You get the light and sound without any messing around.

Wingsflying Overwatch Fishing Bite Alarm

Here’s another clever solution.

These work by rotating the line around a bobbin. As the bobbin turns with line tension, it triggers the alarm.

And get this.

The alarm is 80dB! There is no chance that you or anyone else asleep around the lake, are going to miss them!

As with my previous suggestion, these actually clip onto the rod. They also include a small LED light for easy rod identification.

I like them as they don’t hold the fishing line at a weird angle. If you catch a big fish, this means it is less likely to break.

But there’s a catch…

These are not waterproof. So they are for fair-weather bite indication only. Not a deal-breaker, but inconvenient when you have to watch for the rain as well as a bite!

Pros

  • Really great value.
  • Loud bite alarm.
  • Easy to mount and use.

Cons

  • Again, these get in the way when reeling in.
  • They aren’t waterproof.

Takeaway

As a cheap solution, these are pretty decent. I wouldn’t trust them in fast-moving water, but for still waters, they could be ideal.

LED Night Fishing Rod Bait Alarm

Want an altogether simpler solution?

Check this out.

It’s pretty simple. Bright light and a motion-activated bell! Clip it on your rod, and away you go. I love that they are so easy to use, and with 40 in a single pack, you should have enough to last you a few seasons at least.

You might think that you can’t alter the sensitivity of these bite alarms.

Here’s why you’d be wrong…

Where you clip the bell determines how much ‘wiggle’ it takes to set it off. Clip it close to the rod tip to make it really sensitive, or clip it further down on windy days.

You’ll need to stay close to your rods to hear them. They are useful if you want to just sit and chill, but I think for night fishing (which can often be the best time to catch catfish), you might need to consider another solution.

Pros

  • Simple and effective.
  • Easy to use.
  • Great value.

Cons

  • You will have to remove them when reeling in. This can get a little tedious.
  • A hard enough bite might cause them to fall off.
  • They can’t be used when casting.

Takeaway

Alright, they aren’t perfect, but they do work. These are some of the best budget bite alarms on my list. You get loads in a pack, and they can be quite effective. However, don’t come back to me when you cast one into the lake!

Mounchain Fishing Swingers Indicators

Remember how I talked about visual aids for bite detection?

This is what I meant.

These swingers sit on a rod rest bar and are held up by a clip. When the line is pulled tight, they drop and swing.

This option has a little extra.

It also includes a wire to pair up with an audible alarm. This is really useful as it helps you identify which rod has got the bite.

They are actually pretty reliable. It takes a good pull to unseat the clip. When paired up with an audible alarm, they can be pretty deadly.

Pros

  • No mistaking when you have a bite.
  • Really easy to see.
  • Pretty foolproof.

Cons

  • They can be a little fiddly to set up.
  • It’s a binary system. Once you’ve had a take, you have to manually reset.

Takeaway

These would be a great option to pair up with the Lixada set I suggested. They do rely on you having a rod rest, however. You don’t need to unclip them to reel in either!

Berkley BAFPB Fish Pole Bell

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best.

Do you know what I love?

American-made quality. Get this.

It’s a brass bell that is made to hang on your line. Consider it the better-quality version of the LED lights I suggested above.

You can actually hear these from a fair distance away. They aren’t the cheapest per unit, so if you are kicking out 3 rods, they might just get a little pricey.

And whatever you do…

Please remember to unclip them before reeling in, or you are going to have a bad time.

Pros

  • Simple and effective.
  • Excellent quality.
  • Completely weatherproof.

Cons

  • While they aren’t expensive, cheaper solutions offer the same thing.

Takeaway

If you are looking for a trouble-free and easy solution, these will fit the bill nicely. It doesn’t win any awards for technology, but they do work, so who cares?

Complete Guide to Fishing Bite Alarms

Alright, so you are thinking about buying a bite alarm or two…

You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t?

But you want to know what’s the best? Let me offer you a few pointers while you shop around.

electronic fishing bite alarm on fishing rod

Where are You Fishing?

You may be wondering how this makes a difference. A bite alarm is a bite alarm… Right?

Wrong.

Depending on the location, you might find that one bite alarm performs better than another.

Anywhere with a strong current could pull the line sufficiently to set off a bite alarm. For that reason, you are going to want something that isn’t too twitchy.

Granted, you might have some pretty heavy tackle. If you haven’t, check out my essential carp rod and reel guide, there are some really great options if you are just getting into the sport.

It is natural to assume that electronic bite alarms fit the bill. However, In my experience, including river and sea fishing, I’d say a manual ‘clip on’ style alarm is the better option.

You can attach it further down the rod to reduce sensitivity, and it only takes a minute or two to work out where to place it.

Electronic alarms are the better option for still waters. Aside from a fish biting, there is nothing that will move the line.

What Size Fish are You Targeting?

You find Catfish and Carp in different places.

Catfish can be caught in still waters and flowing rivers. In alignment with my guidance above, you would better be served with a bell-type system when fishing for catfish in moving water.

For carp or Stillwater catfish, any system will work.

The size of the fish is important too. If you are only targeting smaller species or are fishing in a place where bites are delicate, make sure to invest in a great a strong Carp line and a sensitive alarm…

Why?

Because its better to be constantly at your rod for the odd false positive than to miss more bites because the bite indicator isn’t triggered.

angler with rod and reel fishing carps in lake

When do You Fish?

How do the times when you fish make a difference to your bite alarm?

Let me explain.

If you fish at night, you will need a bite alarm that identifies which rod has taken the hit. There’s no worse feeling than being awoken by a bite alarm and then playing a game of ‘guess the rod’.

Look for features on bite alarms, such as lights that are specific to each rod. Most of the systems above have this feature.

Bite Alarms for Different Fishing Styles

Are you a guy (or girl) who sits an inch away from your rod eagerly awaiting a bite, or do you treat your Fishing as some downtime and like to recline away from your rods?

Your answer dictates the type of bite alarm you need.

If you are any considerable distance away from your rods, you will need a loud and obvious system. Receiver-based electronic bite alarms are a good choice.

You will also need a bite alarm sensitive enough to give you enough notice that you need to be back at your rod quickly.

Ease of Use

The final point is choosing a bite alarm that is easy to use.

Remember…

You are there to catch fish, not fiddle with a bite alarm, so the easier it is to set up and use, the better.

I actually prefer the cheap clip-on bells over any other method. They take seconds to set up and are actually really reliable.

fisherman carp fishing on a sunny morning

FAQ

Still, got questions? Don’t worry. I’m here to help.

Here are some commonly asked things about bite alarms.

What’s the best fishing bite alarm?

The honest answer?

Whichever allows you to hook the most fish. This will vary depending on the venue, species, and fishing style. For a technologically advanced solution, look at bite alarms like the Lixada wireless set. They are pretty great and let you set up multiple rods.

For something more basic, and especially for catfishing, I like the clip-on Berkeley-type bells. When you hook a book, old catfish, you can’t fail to miss it.

Want to see some adrenaline-pumping takes with bite alarms. Here’s a quick compilation. Man, this makes me excited!

Do you need a bite alarm for carp fishing?

If you check my list of carp fishing essentials, you’ll see that a bite alarm is pretty crucial.

You don’t have to have one, but I found that I missed far fewer bites once I gave one a try.

Staring at a rod tip is all good and well, but with the wind, the odd picky ‘nip’ at your bait, and bad eyesight, it can sometimes be difficult to tell.

A bite alarm cuts out any doubt.

What is a drop-back bite?

A drop-back bite is when the fish takes the bait and swims up or toward you. Instead of pulling the line, it causes the line to go slack.

Bite alarms are a really effective way to spot drop-back bites. In fact, they are one of the only ways you will be able to spot it. I’ve done some research and found a really cool video that explains what they are all about.

Take a look. It’s less than a minute long!

What is a bite alarm receiver?

A bite alarm receiver is used in electronic systems. It’s a wirelessly connected device that receives information from your bite alarms.

Depending on the model you choose, you can get bite alarm receivers that vibrate or light up without making a sound. These are useful if you are fishing with other anglers around you and don’t want to disturb others.

How do you set up bobbin style bite alarms?

Carefully! No, in reality, they are actually really easy to set up. I find them super effective, and it is almost as much fun as watching a float.

Here’s how to do it:

Summary

There are a few different bite alarm systems to choose from, they all work in different ways, but the best bite alarms have one simple function… To help you catch more fish.

Choose your system wisely, in keeping with the species, style, and location, and you should be able to see real rewards.

While you are here, why not browse through the rest of my site. I’ve got a wealth of information about the best catfish rods and reels and some really interesting baits to use for carp.

Which bite alarm system do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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