The world of fly fishing is a changing one. It sees new fishing flies, new gadgets,
improved rods and reels, and techniques. These techniques are
more and more often being applied to different species of fish.
As fly fishing has almost nothing to do with actually eating
fish anymore, fly anglers are more open to honing their skills
against species of fish they will never eat. One of these
species is carp. Yes carp. Long considered a trash fish, the
evolution of the sportsman has seen re-classification of fish
species. As more and more pressure erodes some of our cherished
fisheries, fly anglers have turned to carp and other species as
a chance to practice our passion while easing the pressures of
traditional fly angling eco-systems.
Carp fly fishing has taken on a cult appeal, and that cult is
growing. Like bass, carp are plentiful, like bass carp can be
found in ponds just a hair larger than a mud hole, while bass
have long been a venerable game fish, carp have not. Carp were
never considered pretty, although passionate carp anglers around
the Great Lakes consider them beautiful, so as with most things
beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don't think they
probably taste particularly good. But they do fight, and they do
grow huge. And they love the warm water, but are also found in
Carp are survivors, they tend to stalk the shorelines and flats
of lakes, where they have little competition, for sight-fishing
there is none better. Similar to fishing for bonefish in
technique, the most likely success will come from sight fishing.
However, here lies the rub, carp are very skittish and alert,
and will run or cease feeding at the slightest disturbance. I
prefer to cast to carp to the left or right of me, I do not like
to position myself directly in front. An accurate soft cast one
to two feet in front of your intended target is your best bet.
Two to three casts is probably all you get, for they will notice
you and move on. Allowing your fly to fall to the bottom, works
well, and then giving your fly a soft tug. Carp key in on puffs
of silt, as that indicates food. The angler must keep their
leader tight here, as the carp's 'strike' can be maddeningly
As for gear, think big. Carp are not to be pursued with your 3
wt. Think salmon gear if you have it, 9 or 10 weight rods, but
depending on the average size of the carp in your area, you
might get away with 7 or 8 weight. With lots of backing on the
reel. Tippet should be at least 3x, and more comfortably 2x or
As for flies, well the nice thing about carp is they are not
overly selective, but your best bets are always with actual food
imitations that the fish eat. For carp, crayfish, damsel and
dragonfly nymphs, worms are all good bets. Scuds and hare's ears
are likely prospects as well. And by all means do not forget
that lake standby the leech, a sunken leech tugged neatly off
the bottom, is a morsel only the wariest of carp will ignore.
After the strike the real fun is beginning, carp fight like
nothing else. They are fast, smart, and tireless. An angler
netting a carp knows it has met a match that is not likely to be
experienced again soon. They will strip you down to your backing
faster than any other fish out there. And not back down easily.
About the author:
Cameron Larsen is a retired commericial fly tier and fly fishing
guide. He now operates The Big Y Fly Company.
http://www.bigyflyco.com/flyfishinghome.html He can be reached
at email@example.com. This article will appear in the Big Y Fly
Fishing E-Zine at
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