¡Viva la Revolución!
Carp On The Fly TACKLE ON TEST RIG CLINIC REVIEWS FLY TIES
JOHN “MONTANA” JAY ZIMMERMAN TREVOR “McTAGE” TIM CREASY ADAM HOPE MARK ERDOSY JP LIPTON CHRIS VARGO TY GOODWIN JIM “MrP” PANKIEWICZ
BARRY REYNOLDS Foreword by
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Be Stealthy & Stalk The Take Carp in the Column Small Fish, Big Attitude
LATE SEASON CARP on the GREAT LAKES with KEVIN MORLOCK
DAN Frasier - Editor Raised in South Dakota, Dan was introduced to fly fishing on a family trip to Breckenridge Co. Coming home to South Dakota, he knew he wanted to fly fish but the only obvious species was carp. Dan taught himself to fly fish on those carp over the course of a decade. In the process he began to blog about his exploits and became friends with some of the most influential fly fishermen for carp in the game. Dan found the CarpPro.net forum and quickly became integrated as part of the team. When CarpPro began looking for an editor specifically geared for the Fly Fishing niche, Dan was brought in to fill that role.
TONY Cartlidge - Feature Editor Tony Cartlidge is a writer, editor, journalist, blogger and marketing specialist who started fishing as a kid in the city parks of Liverpool, England. He caught his first carp at age 12 and has been hooked since. Having lived in the US for almost two decades, Tony moved to Texas in 2008 and now targets smallmouth buffalo just as much as carp
DAVID Smith - Layout & Design After founding USCARPPROmagazine David soon realized that fly fishermen were targeting carp. He made every effort to connect with this branch of the sport through regular articles, even making the long trek to MI from his home in California to meet David McCool and wade the freezing cold flats of an early spring Traverse City. A bait angler for over 30 years he understands the rise of the sport and the passion carp anglers develop for their quarry.
For 4 years, CarpPro magazine has written about fly-fishing for carp as a legitimate sports fishing opportunity in North America and in that time we've witnessed a surge in popularity in the sport. CarpPro is the home of carp on the fly addicts and now they are coming out of the shadows, standing tall and leading the rough fish revolution! Fly fishermen are leading the way in legitimizing carp as a valid and worthy quarry and American fly fisherman are pioneering this branch of the sport, ahead of the traditional carp-fishing powerhouses of Europe and South Africa. The carp is not a dirty little secret, but a challenging and accessible sports-fishing target. Pound-for-pound, the carp is one of the strongest fighters of all fish, freshwater or salt, wary, canny, and worthy of respect. The carp succumbs only to anglers at the very top of their game. In addition to the magazine, the CarpPro website provides news and reviews, technical articles and tackle reviews, lifestyle features, multimedia channels and podcast programs, and all the tips, techniques and tactics necessary to make the most of the carp revolution. The CarpPro shop is where fly-carpers can find the tools of the carp trade and, in our active and engaged forum, readers, prostaff and flyfishing luminaries can mingle and exchange ideas and advice, talk products, discuss fishing access, swap fly patterns, show pictures and tell tales...and spread a little rebellion as they concoct a carpy coup d'état !
A HOME TACTICS & TACKLE MEDIA
EASY ACCESS STYLE
¡Viva la Revolución!
Contents 2 | Meet the Editor - Dan Frasier 10 | Carp Now and Then - Barry Reynolds 14 | Be Stealthy and Stalk - Adam Hope 20 | Shock and Awe - JP Lipton 28 | Red Carp - Tuck Scott 34 | Carping the Column - Mark Erdosy 42 | Choices - John “Montana” Bartlett 50 | Sweating the Small Stuff - Ty Goodwin
58 | Two Reasons - Kirk Deeter 66 | Reservoir Dogs - Jay Zimmerman 76 | Tackling the Carp Next Door - Nolan Majcher 84 | Flies - Christopher Vargo 96 | Do You Smart Phone Fish? - Tim Creasy 102 | Late Summer Carp in the Great Lakes - Kevin Morlock 108 | Who Gets It? - Trevor “McTage” Tanner 118 | Detecting the Take - Jim “MrP” Pankiewicz 124 | My Golden Bonefish Addiction - Pete Hodgman
Cover: Tim Creasy, GA, demonstrates both the humor and determination required to be a successful carper from the deck of his freshwater flats boat!
y mind whirrs at night. It runs circles with the various tasks of the coming day, or with the unfinished tasks of the previous. It follows logical possible outcomes to impossibly negative extremes and it spends immeasurable hours churning on permutations of life over which it has no control. I realize I'm not the only American who faces this. It is just that rather than turn to Xanax and "Real Housewives" to distract myself, I have flyfishing. Flyfishing is my meditation. When my mind runs away with itself and all focus is lost, I can always bring it back into High Definition with a fly rod or a vise. Standing by a stream, planning an approach upon a tailing carp, no part of my brain can be occupied with anything other than the task at hand. The mind must snap to focus and the world must fade away, because anything less than your everything will not be enough. Flyfishing does not let you live in the moment...life lets you live in the moment. Flyfishing demands you live in the moment. It is no gentleman, it forces itself upon you. I came to this sport through the back door. A trip with family to Breckenridge, Colorado involved a flyfishing lesson and
a day on the water. I can't say that I recognized it at the time, but this small exposure to flyfishing must have met some deep unknown need because I immediately knew that I wanted more. Back home, in South Eastern South Dakota, I took up a cheap fly rod and began my pursuit of the only quarry available; carp. See, we don't have cold water here. I chased carp and failed and chased them again. Slowly I sank into the carp on the fly world; a sub-culture of people willing to test themselves and
their preconceived notions against the most diﬃcult game fish in North America. Flyfisherman are a special breed, Carp on the Fly fisherman are a whole diﬀerent species. I looked online and in books for help. Barry Reynolds' "Carp on the Fly" was an invaluable resource, but I needed all the help I could get and I wasn't finding much. I found plenty of "Yeah, I secretly fish for carp" articles and some "carp are a real flyfishing target" articles, but very little in the way of information that was going to help me catch more of them. This edition of the magazine aims
to fill that gap. We have enlisted the help of the best flyfisherman for carp in the US and asked them to share their knowledge. We've asked for, and received, specific instructions from talented fisherman on how to catch carp on the fly. In that, we believe this magazine is unique. I've been a flyfisherman for a decade and, at first, it was a hobby. Eventually it evolved to become something more. Some fundamental part of who I am. Something required in order to appropriately define me. Eventually it reached the plane upon which it currently stands. It's not only a part of me, it is the part of me that maintains my sanity. A fair picture of my life can never again be drawn that does not show me with a rod and reel in my hand. Like many of you, the phrase "I'm a flyfisherman" says far more about me than simply indicating one of my past times. It says something about who I am. Flyfishing is who I am and that is why this edition of our magazine means so much to me. I can immediately connect with those for whom flyfishing is also an integral part of their being. We are a brother- and sisterhood with connections deeper than can be expressed by my poor writing skills. We wanted to give you something special, something that made you a better flyfisherman, and something that facilitated access to that deeper connection which we all feel to this hobby, this sport, this lifestyle. I hope you enjoy it.
CARPING Then and Now
âžœ 2012 | Barry Reynolds | CarpPro
Back in the late 70s and early 80s when I first began to tinker with carp on the fly there was virtually no place to turn for help. There were no books, no articles and no chat forums where someone could find information. Instead it was a case of learn while you go and adapt as you learn. The early years were both frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Frustrating because there were no short cuts to success but rewarding because I had the rivers, lakes and ponds to myself, meaning I had more shots at tailing, feeding unpressured carp to learn from. Fast forward 30-plus years and today there are books, magazine articles, web sites, forums, podcasts, TV shows, videos and DVDs all filled with a wealth
of information. We even have CarpPro prostaďŹ€ fly anglers all writing blogs and creating instructional videos. Those new to the sport can quickly become more successful without many of the frustrations experienced by those of us who pursued carp with a fly in the early years. Carp are much more widely accepted today both as a sport fish and legitimate fly rod opportunity and it seems the rest of the angling world is beginning to warm up to the idea. The first time I gave a seminar and first mentioned the possibilities presented by fishing for carp on the fly brings back memories as well. It was an overwhelming flop. While people hung around to hear me talk about fly fishing for pike, bass and other more notable species, the first mention of carp sent people scurrying for the door. They
an overnight success thirty years in the making.... a foreword by Barry Reynolds
literally could not get out of the room fast enough. I heard comments that ranged from “absurd” to “trash fish” and so on. You get the picture. Trying to convince people that carp were a worthy fly rod target was almost as frustrating as trying to learn how to catch them. Some twenty years after my first attempt
bonefish or redfish. No longer do I need to try and sell them on accessibility and that carp are close and convenient. The carp itself is doing the selling for me. Once you hook your first carp on the fly you are hooked yourself. It seems the carp only needed to be introduced to fly
I’ve heard “absurd” to “trash fish” and so on..... to introduce anglers to carp on the fly, I gave a presentation that saw more than 300 people cramming into a convention center meeting room to learn more. Times have changed and minds have opened up to the abundant opportunities the carp represents. No longer do I have to use cheap sales tricks and try to convince fly fishers by describing carp as the freshwater
anglers and it could handle all the convincing from there. What is not to love and admire about a fish that is readily available, grows to large sizes, will eat a fly, can make fly line disappear from a reel at an alarming rate, requires stealth, presentation and careful fly selection, and can be sight fished in skinny water? Carp can sell themselves just fine.
➜ 2012 | Barry Reynolds | CarpPro
It seems, after 30 or so years, the carp has finally arrived. Still don’t believe me? Consider the facts; fishing for carp is one the fastest growing facets of freshwater fly fishing and my once tranquil and unfished carp waters now find fly anglers in nearly every good hole throughout the year.
Carp flies are now readily found and sold at most shops and even fly lines have been manufactured specifically for targeting carp. And yes, it is now even possible to hire a guide for a carp-onthe-fly outing and to even travel to specific destinations to pursue the mighty carp. Yes indeed the carp has arrived and I for one knew someday the carp would reach the masses!
Barry Reynolds. The Godfather of flyfishing for carp, Barry Reynolds has written numerous highly acclaimed books including the groundbreaking "Carp on the Fly" and "Pike on the Fly". For years Barry has engaged in writing and speaking to promote the acceptance of less utilized species as respectable flyfishing quarries.
Adam Hope was born and raised in Pennsylvania. Graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Organismal Biology & Ecology from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and spends the majority of his time fly fishing and designing flies. Adam also contributes to the This River is Wild blog.
TACTICS It’s 5 AM and I just began my morning ritual. I traded my headlamp for polarized glasses and began creeping down the canal path. A faint bubble trail caught my eye, moving in for a closer look I wondered if it had been from a duck or what I was actually looking for. I stood motionless squinting through the morning fog trying to make heads or tails of the situation. It became evident that a carp had been feeding in the area. I was staring into a residual mud plume that had recently been abandoned. As I crept further down the path I became fixated on the water looking for the fish and a few seconds later I stepped on a twig snapping it in half. Instantly the water along the shoreline ten feet down the path erupted into a frothy boil. I had just blown my only chance of the day. It’s no secret that carp have excellent senses, they can smell/taste, hear, and see extremely well. To be a successful angler one needs to take all into consideration while on the water.
fly before engulfing it. This gives the fish time to recognize any unnatural odors on the fly. The more nose-to-nose refusals you get, the more you’ll think about what went wrong. Most anglers will overanalyze their technique, when in reality it was the cigarette they just smoked that blew their chances. One of the easiest
Be Stealthy & Stalk with Adam Hope
Let’s first look at their sense of smell/ taste. As fly anglers it’s easy to overlook the idea of masking our scent, but it really does help when dealing with nonaggressive fish. A non-aggressive fish will slowly come nose to nose with the
ways to render your fly odorless to the fish is to rub mud on it, really working it into the material of the fly. The best mud to use is from the benthos of body of water you’re fishing. Use a handful straight from the bottom, detritus and all. The carp are used to this scent because they root through the exact same mud while searching for food. Throughout a
day of fishing I will do this multiple times. Their ability to hear is the next sense one should consider while fishing. Carp are classified as otophysans. They have structures called Weberian ossicles attaching their swim bladder to their inner ear. This apparatus allows the carp to hear an array of sounds at frequencies that other fish cannot hear. The angler must consider this especially when fishing at close range. A stealthy approach is a must. One must move slowly while
keeping an eye out for any sticks or loose substrate that if stepped on could alert any nearby fish. Your footwear is something else to think about when trying to be stealthy. A prime example is if you wear waders. Make sure you wear boots without studs, especially if you need to navigate rocky terrain. Iâ€™ve found the best shoes to wear are those with smooth soles rather than deep treads. The smooth soles allow for quicker detection of objects under your feet. In general, try to eliminate all sounds while fishing. If you fish with others this means talking as well. My friends and I use a form of carp sign language while stalking the shoreline, nothing fancy--just enough to get the point across at a
TACTICS distance. The third sense the angler should consider is their vision. This sense is probably the most controversial and happens to be what I focus on the most. Since carp can inhabit all types of waterways, may it be a pristine spring creek or a stagnant retention pond, their vision is dependent on water clarity. My favorite spot to fish is a crystal clear deep water canal. The way I fish this spot is quite diﬀerent from most conventional carping techniques that call for weighted flies fished along the bottom to actively feeding fish. I fish unweighted flies to cruising or “prowling” fish within the water column at very close range. For a detailed description of this technique refer to the
article “Carping the Column” by my best mate Mark Erdosy. Mark and I have been fishing this spot together for several years now and in the process have caught many fish and spooked even more due to their keen peripheral vision while on the move. The shoreline is densely vegetated with a woody backdrop.
I began to experiment with my wardrobe
Since carp can see colors quite well and we have to present the fly at such close range, I began to experiment with my wardrobe. Some days I would wear solid bright colors, other days I would wear solid neutral colors. I began having more hookups wearing neutral colors and this sparked my interest even more to the point of obsession. Soon after I began
to wear camouflage shirts and I quickly realized that over the years the fish had learned to keep an eye out for the human silhouette on the bank while prowling for food. It also seemed to me
break up my silhouette. This greatly increases my chances of success.
that fish inhabiting smaller lakes and ponds become conditioned to their environment, not only their aquatic environment but to the adjacent terrestrial environment as well. They are able to notice objects that are out of place along the bank. When possible I use cover such as trees and bushes to
purchased a ghillie suit. As you could imagine, I got dirty looks and smart comments from other anglers, but little did they know what I was wearing actually had a purpose and worked extremely well. Iâ€™ve been wearing a ghillie suit for the past year now and wouldnâ€™t think of leaving the house
As I fell further down the rabbit hole my obsession got the best of me and I
TACTICS without it. Itâ€™s become an essential part of my carping arsenal, its light weight and straps easily onto my pack when not in use. The suit really does buy an extra few seconds to present your fly but
not be long before you own your first ghillie suit.
the rest is up to the fish. There are areas where the suit would be pointless, such as if you were fishing a golf course pond lacking shoreline vegetation and a woody backdrop. But if your favorite carping spot has pressured fish, clear water and dense shoreline vegetation try wearing matching camouflage. It might
presentation. Once you take their senses into consideration and become stealthier, your success rate will increase astronomically. Mine sure has.
Overall your success as a carp angler depends on many factors other than fly
Image credits: Mark Erdosy & Adam Hope @ www.theriveriswild.com
Shock Awe with JP Lipton AKA Roughfisher
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
“The key to catching big fish is fishing big flies”.
fish size. This is especially the case for omnivores like the common carp, whose feeding habits tend to be opportunistic.
I bet you may have heard some insanely oversimplified exhortation, similar to the aforementioned, on how to catch big fish, selective fish, over-pressured fish, etc. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter what
Of course, exceptions can be made when a fish is feeding, resulting in occasional deviations from the feeding habits of nearby fish in the pod/school. The simple rules of survival still apply: expend less energy than you take in. So any aberration in diet during a selective
angle the speaker is taking, as it is typically some contrived diatribe based partly in fiction, folklore, or superstition, like stating that the fish aren’t biting because they “lost” their teeth, or that bringing aboard a banana on a boat during a fishing trip causes bad luck. Yes, big fish can be caught on big flies, but so can small fish too. Effective fly size is typically more of a function of forage size and availability rather than
feeding episode is strictly due to the fact that the morsel was an easy meal. Furthermore, the size structure of the school of fish is irrelevant to the size of forage being selected. Once the most abundant and easily obtainable forage is depleted, the school will key in on the next easiest and abundant forage. What does this all mean to the angler? Simply put, if you want to catch big fish using big flies, go where the forage is big.
The Great Lakes have proven to be a dynamic environment producing large, mammoth fish, especially carp. The productivity common in the Lower Great Lakes, coupled with an influx of foreign invaders via seafaring freight vessels, untreated ballast water, and the lock and dam system, has provided for an unchecked ecosystem of alien fish. A prime example of this can be found in Lake Michigan, where introduced carp
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
become some of the largest wild carp found in North American waters, typically in excess of thirty pounds, with specimens over fifty pounds not uncommon. Normally ranging from 3” to 6” (up to 10”) in length, round gobies look similar to displaced native sculpins, however they possess suction cup-like abilities with their single fused pectoral fin, enabling
❝ The Great Lakes
have proven to be a dynamic environment producing large, mammoth fish, especially carp
are preying on non-native round gobies, which are feeding on over highly invasive zebra and quagga mussel beds. The carp is the apex predator in this system, with no true predators during the adult stage of their life cycle. Since all fish are capable of indeterminate growth, carp will keep growing throughout their entire life cycle. Feeding on the most widely abundant forage, round gobies, Great Lakes carp rapidly grow to
them to stay tight to the bottom in areas of current. Round gobies are also aggressive fish, voracious feeders, and have the ability to survive in degraded and impaired waters, an ability they share with the carp. The round goby is the perfect candidate to base a big, meaty streamer pattern on for sumosized Great Lakes carp.
Hook Mustad 34007, Size 2 or 1/0 Thread UNI 6/0, Red Butt Krystal Flash, Olive, Peacock, UV Pearl Tail Rabbit Zonker, Olive Abdomen Olive Dub Thorax Olive Dub Hackle Ruffed Grouse neck ruff or equivalent, Black Legs Olive Centipede Legs, Medium Head Olive Dub Eyes Wapsi Dumbbell Eye Painted, Large, Red
Wade any of the flats off of Grand Traverse Bay, Door County, or the Beaver Island archipelago, and it is evident that the round goby has established a strong foothold in Lake Michigan. Within an hour of my first outing on Beaver Island I witnessed a northern water snake take an eight inch round goby from within the rocky crevices of the rocky shoreline, all the while my flats boots crunched as I crushed the brittle shells of spent zebra and quagga mussels with every step I made. I felt like I was in an alien world; none of the fish and forage assemblages made sense to me as the majority of them were comprised of nonnative invasive species. The crystal clear water and emerald blue and green hues of the seemingly endless flats played tricks with my mind as I wondered if I had somehow gotten lost and ended up near the Caribbean or in Hawaii. It was only upon closer inspection of the tree
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
lines that I identified flora consisting of tamarac, pine, and white birch, not coconut palm, kiden, or mangrove, realizing that I was indeed in Northern Michigan and not the tropics. Centrally located in the continent, Lake Michigan is a trophy carp destination accessible to most Americans and Canadians, and a paradise in its own right. The size of the flies used to take Great Lakes carp can astound you; these are not your typical carp flies. Hell, these aren’t your typical flies period. Most folks think small and buggy when it comes to fly fishing for carp. I’d say that this approach works ninety-nine percent of the time. Not on Lake Michigan though. Think of your carp at an all you can eat buffet where everything is super sized, a meal fit for Paul Bunyan. I’m talking big streamers, three, four, five, six inches plus long, tied with plenty of fur, hackle, flash, rubber legs, and heavy dumbbell eyes or tungsten laced heads. Like half chickens you might toss at pike or
muskie but with enough weight to cut through a stiff wind or get down fast to the bottom, especially when fishing in water knee high or deeper. This isn’t chuck and duck style fishing; while these carp are more aggressive than most I’ve seen across the country, you still need to get the fly in the hot zone. The only difference between Great Lakes carp
and most others is that once a fly is spotted, these fish may actually chase it down. Aggressively! Eat or be eaten, these fish don’t mess around. I have developed a couple of different patterns for Great Lakes carp during my stays in Beaver Island and Traverse City, including the Mustache Ride and Landing Strip. These flies were
specifically developed for the freshwater flats and tributary mouths of Lake Michigan and their large predatory carp and smallmouth. Lake Michigan carp and smallmouth typically feed on round gobies up to 6 inches long. Larger than most commercially available carp flies, the Landing Strip measures out at around 4 inches in length (6 inches if you tie in a longer tail), maintaining a large profile and movement in the water with it’s long hackle fibers, rubber legs, and zonker strip tail, a key component to catching a carp’s attention. The Mustache Ride is a scaled down variation of the Landing Strip, substituting a marabou tail and, at 2 inches in length, this pattern mimics smaller sized round gobies. Tied in dark rust, light rust, tan, brown, black, or olive, these color variations are a great substitute for sculpin, bait fish, and crawfish imitations, even juvenile smallmouth, especially on waters outside of the Great Lakes. These patterns are also excellent fly choices when targeting largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskie. Tie one up and tie one on. And get ready for a little shock and awe!
follow JP @www.roughfisher.com
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
Hook Mustad 34007, Size 2 or 1/0 Thread UNI 6/0, Red Butt Krystal Flash, Brown, Root Beer, UV Tan Tail Marabou, Black Abdomen Dark Rust Squirrel Dub Thorax Dark Rust Squirrel Dub Hackle Ruffed Grouse neck ruff or equivalent, Black Legs Brown Centipede Legs, Medium Head Dark Rust Squirrel Dub Eyes Wapsi Dumbbell Eye Painted, Large, Red
Red Carp Bridging the Salt/Fresh Gap Capt. Tuck Scott
n the past, the separation of salt and fresh was a clear divide in my mind. I would head to some place like the Henrys Fork in Idaho, or the Pigeon in North Carolina, and feel a sense of peace and serenity that I just don’t get often times when in the salt. Mix sightcasting, hard-fighting fish, momentary shots, and the fact that fly fishing in the Low Country is a constant focus, and it is pretty easy to understand why serenity wouldn’t be the word I would choose to describe fishing in the salt. In no way is this a discredit to freshwater fly fishing; in fact, most of this view came from a lack of my own knowledge of fishing trout streams and rivers. It brings to mind Einstein’s quote, “He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.”
To my fortune, about 4 years ago a few boards were laid in the bridge of my divide between fresh and salt, when I was fishing the South Holston, Tennessee, during an Orvis Guide Rendezvous. While there I got to fish with a retired local guide, Tim Landis. Watching him fish was like watching a heron. He wasted no cast, only moving his rod to sight cast, and hardly made a cast that didn’t get a positive reaction from a trout. It was an amazing thing to watch and be part of for me. Truthfully, I had no idea that both sight casting and diligent focus had the same place in freshwater trout streams as it does in the salt. The majority of that bridge was built two summers ago when I accepted an invitation to fish for carp in South Dakota from from friend and client, Dan Frasier. We wasted little time before the fishing began; get oﬀ plane, get lunch, drop oﬀ
bags at apartment, and drive to river. We waded across the first section that we were going to fish and before getting to the other side I saw the first “tailing” fish I had ever seen in freshwater; it blew my mind. What I didn’t know was that this fish wasn’t going to do much of the work for me like a redfish would. Place a crab or shrimp pattern in front of a tailing redfish and, 95% of the time, is going to close the gap on it. It is only left up to you to execute a good cast and proper strip. These carp proved that not only do you need that good cast, but you’d better also figure out a way to move the fly slightly enough that it stays in that strike zone for what seems like forever.
species; a wake pushed up from clumsy steps will often put both species down at best and bolt at worst. Both fish feed with a posterior mouth on the bottom, with reds feeding on shrimp and fiddlers while carp are feeding on crayfish and mussels. Both fish give you visuals through mudding, tailing, pushing, crawling and flashing. I was most surprised by the fight of a carp; the same bulldogging that a redfish will do as well as a pull that is capable of running a tight drag out into the backing.
“He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.”
So the salt vs fresh comparisons began, and I found that similarities were more frequent than any freshwater fish I had encountered before, especially when comparing these carp to our redfish. We wade to tailing redfish often, and the same care must be taken on both
That’s not to say there aren’t diﬀerences, there are, but they are minor and certainly don’t take away from the fact that fishing for one will make you a more eﬀective angler for the other. Reds can school to make huge shoals of fish depending on the tide and season, where carp are more often like our solitary tailers that we find on high tide. The strike zone for a carp is much smaller because they are unlikely to charge a fly like a red will. A red, zoned in and coming to get the fly, often makes for some of the best visuals in all of fly
fishing, while the precise nature and patience of leaving a fly on the dinner plate of a carp should be one of the most respected skills in fly fishing. The most recent connection I have made to these carp in relation to redfish is an example of how carp anglers are prepped for the job of hunting redfish. When Frasier was on my boat the last time I was amazed by how well he could see fish. I thought back to other carp anglers and realized they had better eyes than most. I feel the most useful skill that a fly caster on the front of my boat can have, assuming there is at least some casting ability, is the ability to see fish quickly. They don’t need to be the first one to see them, I should, but if I give them a direction of “eleven o’clock, sixty feet,” their hookup ratio goes up tenfold if they can spot that fish in a short window of time. The argument could be made that sight-casting to any species in any water would make you a better angler on redfish, but the carp oﬀers enough extra similarities, down to the dark color of their backs, which might prove extremely beneficial to prepping you for your next redfish trip.
Contact Tuck @ baystreetoutfitters.com
Carping the Column
with Mark Erdosy
Mark Erdosy Born and raised in Pennsylvania, currently residing in Delaware where he works as a history teacher. Spends his free time fly fishing throughout the MidAtlantic region and runs the This River is Wild blog
ired and defeated, I turned around on the canal path and began my hike back to the truck. After nearly two miles of walking I hadn’t seen a single sign of cyprinus carpio but during my hasty retreat I almost missed the only fish of the session, a large common that was slowly cruising in the middle of the water column. I led the fish significantly, landing my damselfly in its path. As the carp approached, its predatory instincts took over as it keyed in on the easy meal. A short while later, I released the twenty-pounder back into its deepwater lair. It was yet another cruising carp that fell victim to a mid-column presentation on fly.
behavioral characteristics of carp that will take a fly. Certain carp that are on the move need to be avoided. Depending on light conditions, barometric pressure, moon phase, and weather, carp will actively move from one feeding area to another. These fish move with a purpose and will not go out of their way to take a fly. On the other side of the coin are laid-up fish. These fish are stationary, near the surface, and often near some form of structure. Despite their laziness, these fish will take a properly presented fly...but that is a topic for later discussion.
Most conventional carping techniques call for weighted flies that are presented along the bottom to actively feeding carp. The water I frequent is too deep or filled with snags, mud, and weeds that make fishing the bottom almost impossible. On top of that, the fish are too spooky to be properly presented with any weighted fly. In order to achieve any success, my friends and I had to develop new flies and presentations to fool these golden ghosts. Un-weighted flies such as damsel and dragonfly nymphs became standard issue on the still waters in our area. We quickly discovered that carp actively feed not only on the bottom, but also on aquatic invertebrates throughout the water column.
In order to successfully carp in the column, one needs to understand the
The best behaviors for success come from actively feeding carp. These fish are “mudding” by rooting amongst the bottom for their food, creating a visible mud or bubble trail. After each nosedive, they will ascend in the water column to move to another area. This is when they are most susceptible to a fly angler and when they often reveal themselves in deeper water. However, fish don’t have to be “mudding” in order to be on the feed. Fish that are slowly meandering throughout the water column will eat a fly presented in the middle of the column. These “prowlers” are actively using their senses to find food and this behavior is common in carp inhabiting deeper waters. These two behavioral
characteristics are perfect for midcolumn presentations on fly.
you nail the presentation, the only task remaining is to feed the fish.
The most important part about fishing the water column for carp is the presentation of the fly. First, you will need to be at a correct angle that will allow you to present in front of the fish. The angle should be such that if you need to move your fly it will always be
Damsel and dragon nymphs exhibit a short darting motion when frightened. Depending on the clarity of the water, carp will be able to see your fly move in the water column up to 10 ft. away. When carp approach the fly, I like to impart a short darting motion, which
short darting motion ❞
moving away from the fish. The same rule applies to all predatory fish. The goal here is to serve up the fly on a platter. The fly will have to intercept the carp at the same water depth. The importance of this is paramount and the leading distance is determined by the depth and speed of the carp. In these situations, it is always better to overshoot your intended target area because you can always drag the fly into place and drop it in the zone. If your cast falls short, you cannot correct your mistake and you will have to recast. If
also sends minuscule vibrations in order to make the fly’s presence known. After that, I let the fly free fall to intercept the fish. When the fish is near the fly, I prefer to keep my eye on the fly and watch it get eaten. When the water clarity is low and it is diﬃcult to track the fly, I like to watch the carp’s lips. When they feed, their mouths will protrude to suck in their food. This is easily seen because the lighter colored flesh of their upper lip is exposed in the act of vacuuming. Keep
TACTICS in mind that larger carp can suck in prey from longer distances. This moment can often be the most exhilarating aspect of fly-fishing for carp. When it happens, hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
I See You!
Carping the column is not easy and you will gradually learn from your experiences to become a better angler. Not all carp water is equal and the spring creek-fueled ponds and deep canals of my home waters might present entirely diďŹ€erent variables than your carping hot spot. Armed with this new knowledge, it might open up new water to be fished and add another important weapon to your growing arsenal.
Image credits: Mark Erdosy & Adam Hope @ www.theriveriswild.com
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⁈ | CarpPro | 2012 | Review
Get the Edge with Sundog!
on cloudy days. These may well turn out to be my go to shades in lowlight conditions."
If you can't see 'em, you can't catch 'em and that just about sums fly carping up. Sunglasses are the most important piece of ancillary gear any flyfisherman for carp can own. Very clear, polarized lenses with good contrast and the ability to see colors are an absolute must. Stalking fish and getting in close is the key to successful carp on the fly angling and if you can't see the fish you can't stalk them.
John wasn't the only one that got a short shot at some preliminary testing. Trevor Tanner had a chance for a little fishing on the South Platte and reports, "The edge the photochromatic behavior on the Sundogs gives in low-light conditions is definitely noticeable. While I still rely on my old glasses in the early mornings and late evenings of very bright days, I go straight to my Sundogs if I anticipate fishing mid-day, to carp hiding in shade and under bridges or on over-cast days."
More importantly, being able to detect a take of the fly can be extremely diﬃcult. Good glasses are necessary because the carp often won't telegraph the take to you. Watching the fish and seeing when he takes a fly is the backbone of successful carp angling.
Dave McCool, CarpPro pro-staﬀer and owner/guide for Golden Bonefish told us, “My Sundogs cut glare better than any glasses I've used while hunting carp on the Great Lakes.”
CarpPro pro-staﬀ recently received and reviewed Sundog sunglasses from the Mark Melnyk signature series, with MelaLens™ technology. While it was too late in the season for extensive field testing, the initial trials are very promising.
Early results are encouraging and indicate that there is something to this new technology that Sundog employs to adjust to the brightness of the light. CarpPro will continue to report as reviews come back in so keep an eye on the website and podcast for reports.
Says pro-staﬀer John Montana, "Sunglasses are the most important gear in flyfishing for carp. Being able to spot fish and see the details down to the take is critical to success. These sundog shades have a new Mela-Lens that I was excited to try. The clarity is excellent and colors stood out as well. I can't wait to use these in the low light of spring or
If you want to try them for yourself, of if you are shopping for some last minute gifts for the angler in your life, Sundog is oﬀering CarpPro readers a 15% discount! Just go to www.carppro.net, click the Sundog link, and use code 15carppro to save 15% oﬀ the price of the Mark Melnyk signature series glasses!
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
Choices with John “Montana” Bartlett
ny parent with children understands that the key to dealing with a picky eater is giving your child choices. Rather than arguing or forcing them to eat what you want them to eat, give them a few options and let them choose. The power in having that choice is important, and often leads to peaceful mealtimes rather than battles of will and frustration.
simple and meaty, making fly selection less of a guessing game, and more of a sure thing. On those days, when the carp are chasing meat and hunting down your fly like a predator, we should all be thankful that we choose to pursue such an interesting and eďŹ€ective gamefish. But, what about the rest of your time on the water?
Strange parallel here, but this same philosophy can help when carp fishing. Iâ€™ve said it a million times, read it nearly as many, and heard it in spades wherever I go, but a good carp angler is well aware that the key to a successful outing is knowing the forage in the water you choose. Sometimes, the forage is
Time spent in areas where the carp have a multitude of options for forage and can pick and choose their meal at leisure with no need to hunt and kill actual prey, when fish are feeding at a slow and steady pace, can result in considerable frustration for a carp angler armed with only an artificial fly.
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
When I face those days (which for my home water is basically every day on the water) I fall back on presenting the carp choices. Put simply, I fish a two fly rig. I find three main advantages on my
occasional small crayfish. To complicate matters even further, the carp tend to zone in on specific forages in specific types of water. My mantra is and always has been to cover water, so the two fly rig allows me to have a fly specific to a
This Or That home water in fishing two flies at the same time. First, you can present two diﬀerent types of “forage” to the same fish. On my water, the main forage is freshwater clams, but the carp also eat a ton of aquatic worms, nymphs, and the
softer bottom (usually a worm pattern of some sort) as well as a fly specific to gravel/rocky areas (some type of soft hackle nymph). As I walk along the river, I don’t need to continually change my flies with each new water type I cross,
and can instead present the flies with confidence to every fish I see. My standard technique is to put one fly on either side of the feeding carp, giving the fish not one choice, but two. Letâ€™s face it, we all know how picky carp can be, so giving them two options is a surefire way to increase the odds that a specific fish will eat. The second advantage with a two fly rig is in detecting the take. Not all of us are lucky enough to fish for meat eaters often. Iâ€™ve seen carp move 15 feet on a rush to eat a big, 2 inch long rabbit strip monstrosity, but 95% of my carp fishing is done with the fly merely inches from the business end of the carp. Knowing when to strike, knowing when that fish has eaten your fly rather than a natural is the secret art to carp fishing with a fly rod. Detecting the take separates the men from the boys in my neck of the woods. Watching the fish is key, looking for gill flares, tails speeding up, changes
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
Drag and Drop in body posture, etc., but something we often overlook is using our presentation to force these visual cues. With a two fly rig, accomplishing that forced reaction (however small) is remarkably easy. All you do is present one fly on either side of the carp’s head. In order to eat, the fish will have to turn its head to one direction, or to the other. When you correctly present a two fly rig to a feeding carp, you just watch for the head turn. The third advantage of fishing two flies is mostly situational for me. Most carpers I know (including myself) prefer a shot where you are perpendicular to the fish. You can easily present the flies without spooking or lining the fish that way. Unfortunately, the carp don’t usually cooperate. Without a doubt, the toughest shot is when you are directly behind a tailing carp. It can be extremely diﬃcult to get the fly around the carp’s body without either lining the fish, or getting the line close enough for the
sensitive lateral lines to tip them oﬀ that something isn’t right. Using a two fly rig, and a standard “drag and drop” presentation, you can easily and cleanly present both flies to a carp that is facing directly away from you. The key is the drag and drop. I cast past the fish, and quickly drag the flies along the surface into position by lifting my rod tip. As the flies near optimal position you use the surface tension of the back fly to anchor that fly into position and can flip the front fly across the nose of the fish, allowing both flies to sink perpendicular to the feeding fish, and simultaneously pulling your leader and fly line out and away from the carp’s body. While this sounds a little complicated, it is unbelievably easy and I have caught countless carp using this drag, anchor and drop method. Once the flies are in position, you have not only avoided spooking the carp with your line, but you are right back onto keying on a simple head turn to detect the take.
| 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
As for rigging, I tie my back fly about 20 inches away from the front fly oﬀ of the eye of the front fly. If I plan on fishing flies with a lot of movement, I will tie the back fly oﬀ of the hook bend, but most of my fishing is done with little to no movement on the fly, and I find the front fly sinks and rises better when the back fly is tied oﬀ of the eye rather than the hook bend. As a general rule, I use one size smaller tippet to connect the two flies and, again, I match the variety of flies to the variety of forage. Pick your two main forage types, and run them both at the same time. There certainly is no magic bullet when pursuing carp on the fly, but using a two fly rig can help with some areas that are frequently a challenge. You give the carp multiple options for forage, allowing for your picky eater of a target to choose, rather than trying to force the fish to eat what you want it to eat. You get a clear vision of when the fish has made that choice by watching the head move to the left or right. Anything that simplifies detecting the take is a plus in my book. Lastly, you get a presentation advantage that can often mean the diﬀerence between spooking a feeding (but diﬃcult) target and catching that fish. By giving the carp choices, you can hopefully avoid an argument at the table, and increase your odds in an already diﬃcult game. Tight Lines!
John "Montana" Bartlett Author of the hugely popular "Carp on the Fly" blog. Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished Carp Flyfisherman in the U.S. John has earned himself the nickname "The Carpfather" among the leaders in the carp on the fly community.
follow John @ http://carponthefly.blogspot.com
Ty Goodwin of the massively popular finewater.blogspot.com has been flyfishing for 15 years. A Federation of Fly Fishers Certified casting instructor, Ty has taught classes for both LL Bean and Orvis and continues to teach for Orvis sponsored events. He has fished carp to the exclusion of all else for more than 3 years.
Sweating ➽ The ➽ Small ➽ Stuff ➽
2012 | Ty Goodwin | CarpPro | Tactics
➽ ➽ ➽ ➽
Big is good. We like big. Let’s be honest and say that this is one of the reasons, maybe the reason, we come to this carp fishing deal – big fish. The recent dispatches coming out of places like the Columbia River in Oregon and Beaver Island in Michigan are graphic evidence of this. A casual observer could easily get the impression that fly fishing for carp is all 20 pounders and 8 weight rods, an extra 100 yards of backing on the spool and a fly box stuﬀed with thick, meaty oﬀerings. While that is often the case, there are exceptions. Sometimes “big” simply isn’t in play, even in carp fishing. The reservoir where I do much of my fishing is a good example. Carp cruising the mud flats here average a little better than 3 lbs. They typically won’t eat or even tolerate a large fly, often spooking the instant it hits the water. And though game enough, they are easily overmatched by a big rod like an 8 or 9 weight. “Big”
just isn’t part of scenario here. So you adjust. You step back and change everything from your expectations to your gear. You get the trout fly box out and grab a handful of nymphs. You string up a 4 or 5 weight (or, if you’re really brave, a 3 weight). Then you go have some fun. They are fun by the way, these smaller fish, because it’s all the same really. Three pounds or 30 pounds, carp are tough to take on a fly. A small carp can, and will, refuse your fly just as definitively as a big one. Your heart may break a little less with the smaller fish, but not much. And by using lighter tackle, you’ll find yourself with a fistful of trouble on every hook-up. The playing field is leveled and the carp will more than hold their own. There will still be runs into the backing and nip-andtuck battles all the way to the net. Ever try to turn even a small carp from a brush-pile with a 4 weight?
Maybe you have a similar fishery near you. A place where the carp are plentiful but not quite the beasts you see on more fertile waters. A place where the carp will run from a #6 woolly bugger but readily move to eat a #12 Prince nymph. The kind of water where you feel a
little silly carrying that 8 weight thunderstick around. If you do know of such a place, and I suspect most of us do, here are a few things to consider to make your carp fishing there fun and successful:
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2012 | Ty Goodwin | CarpPro | Tactics
2012 | Ty Goodwin | CarpPro | Tactics
Gear – Carp in the 3 to 5 lb range were absolutely made for 4 and 5 weight rods. These rods are light enough to let these smaller fish show off a bit, but they have the backbone to handle hogs if needed. My “go to” rod for the reservoir I mentioned earlier is a 7’ 9” four weight. As for reels, I definitely recommend sticking with a good disc drag. It’s tempting to go with a click and pawl with these fish, but I’ve found that even a small carp can make a sudden hard burst and over run a click/pawl before you have a chance to react.
Fly selection – Carp are typically not selective. They’ll readily eat most nymph patterns – pheasant-tails, hare’s ears, soft hackles. Presentation and size are the most important considerations. In my experience fly sizes in the 10-12 range are about right, although I frequently catch them on much smaller flies like #20 midge patterns. If the fish are refusing and/or outright spooking on #10-12 flies, I have no problem dropping down to the really tiny stuff. Like I said earlier, this is all about adjusting.
Leaders – 2X and 3X tapered leaders work well for me here. I will occasionally go down to 4X or even 5X when using extremely small flies. If you’re thinking that carp fishing with a 5X tippet is a sketchy business, well, you’re right. But it can be managed with 3 – 5 lb fish if you’re careful. When using a light tippet like this, I’ll loosen the drag a bit and take a little pop out of the hooksets. When a carp breaks the 5x tippet, it’s usually with that initial explosion and burst when it feels the hook sink home. If you can weather that bit of chaos at the hook-up, you’ll be able to use the rod to protect the tippet. Usually.
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⚛ | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
Two Reasons By Kirk Deeter
hen I suggested in an online story for Field & Stream magazine that Michigan might oﬀer “the best flats fishing experience in America,” I did so for a simple reason: I meant it. Sure, part of the online writing challenge these days is to drive comments (and “page views”) through stirring up controversy. It can be muckraking of the highest order. Yet the thing is, I’ve honestly, genuinely, grown fascinated by the fish we often find swimming in the real muck—the common carp.
It wasn’t always that way. I cut my flyfishing teeth on the Baldwin River in Michigan, where the first brown trout was planted in the United States. I was taught to be a trout purist, and I still live for the moments when wily browns, rainbows, brookies and cutts sip mayflies that magically appear on a river’s surface. By good fortune, I was able to ignite a writing career by chasing those trout throughout the country (and later the world) to tell stories about all that. But something funny happened along the way. The more I travelled to meet and fish with various trout “gurus,” the
more I learned that many of them shared a closet passion for chasing common carp on the fly. The guides who would whack out long days in fabled trout
more diligence than their favorite dry-fly honey holes.
meccas like the Bighorn River, Snake River, Colorado River, or Delaware River, would spend sacred days-oﬀ chasing carp in backwaters, reservoirs and spillway spots that they guarded with
Bought their book. And learned that their “carp thing” ran much, much deeper than a novelty.
I met Barry Reynolds and Brad Befus.
And I also realized it wasn’t just the trout guides who felt this way. My buddy
⚛ | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary Conway Bowman, who earned his reputation by chasing mako sharks with flies oﬀ San Diego, is now an unabashed carp junkie. My mentor, Charlie Meyers, the late, great outdoors editor of the Denver Post, would eagerly jump at opportunities to chase “ol’ rubberlips” (as he called them), even if that meant fishing a golf course pond. Why is that? It all boils down to two reasons. Good anglers understand these reasons, and the rest are seemingly relegated to excuses and rationalizations that usually involve the words “trash fish.”
Reason Number One is the simplest and most important: Carp are usually (but not always) harder to catch than almost any species of fish you can chase with a fly rod. I’ll spare you the detailed biology lesson, but many of you already know that carp use all their senses. They feed by smell. They feed by taste. They see things. They hear things. And they feel things. Now, at its essence, fly fishing is a onesense trick. You show a fish a fly. Make that fly behave just so. And if the fish reacts favorably to what it sees, it eats the fly. That’s it. Simple deal.
Which means, however, in a carp-fishing scenario, the angler has all senses working against him or her. If a carp sees you (or your shadow) before it sees the fly, it’s going to leave. If the carp hears or feels you grinding your feet on the rocks or splashing in the water, it’s going to leave. If the carp smells something it doesn’t like, it’s going to leave. And if the carp tastes something it doesn’t like (and research suggests that carp can remember the “bad taste” of a fly or a metal hook, which is why they are hard to hook repeatedly), you guessed it… it’s going to leave.
⚛ | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary And not only is that carp going to leave, because they secrete pheromones to communicate with other carp, when that carp leaves, it’s also going to bring all its buddies along the escape route. So in terms of honing fly angling skills like stealthy stalking, spotting fish, making long delicate casts, and realistic fly presentations, carp fishing is top of the game. On top of that, it’s almost impossible to “pattern” carp. In the trout world, for example, we know that if we grab onto certain factors, we can almost expect success. “I know the trout likes to live in this seam behind that rock. I know that when ‘Bug X’ falls from the sky, I should use this fly pattern. Therefore, if I put this fly pattern behind that rock, and make it float without much drag, there’s a really good chance I’m going to get bit.” The same is basically true with bonefish. “I know that bonefish will move in this direction across that certain flat when the tide is falling. I know they’re grubbing for small shrimp in the sand. If I make the cast that puts this shrimp pattern in the proximity of that bonefish cruising the flat, and twitch it just so, there’s a really good chance I’m going to get bit.” I don’t know if there are any “really good chances” in any carp scenario. Only hunches. And on some days, the hunches all pay oﬀ, and on others, they don’t work at all.
A smart angler embraces that. It hones the game. And if you hone your game to the point where you can catch carp with even slight consistency, there will be no trout rivers or bonefish flats that should ever intimidate you.
Reason Number Two is all about accessibility. Carp are everywhere, from urban rivers to mountain reservoirs. Odds are, as you read this, if the common carp isn’t the fish swimming closest to you right now, it’s pretty darn close. Because carp have been able to thrive and multiply in places where other fish couldn’t, they’re often considered “nuisance species.” I certainly wouldn’t argue that there aren’t places where we might be better oﬀ with fewer carp. But I can’t knock carp for being resilient. And I’m glad that any fly angler in America can go find them with ease. In fact, in this day and age, when trout anglers are so worried about things like access, and pressure on their rivers, I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say that the common carp may be an ally of the trout. If carp become “gateway” fish that lead newbie fly anglers to trout rivers and saltwater flats, and in doing so, help foster an appreciation for fly fishing and conservation of all species, that’s great. If carp help diﬀuse some angling
“Carp eat you up like crack, and what’s dangerous is a dealer always lives close to home.” — Joe Cermele, Fishing Editor, Field & Stream magazine
From the upcoming release by Kirk Deeter, Editor for Angling Trade and TROUT Magazine:
“The ‘why’ of carp fishing boils down to two things: because carp are virtually everywhere, and because carp can make you a good fly angler.
Coming Spring 2013!
This is a ‘how’ book designed to help anglers who already get at least one of the two reasons ‘why.’ I think the more trial, error, and ultimately, success you experience with carp, the more apt you’ll be to consider them ‘golden gods’ rather than ‘trash fish.’ In other words, all the pieces come together, and the rest takes care of itself.”
Like us at Facebook/Stonefly Press to enter a drawing for a free 1st edition, author-signed copy of Fly Fishing for Carp
⚛ | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary pressures in the process, that’s also a good thing. And if carp can be the catalyst to make certain fisheries more exciting, relevant and interesting… so much the better. Which leads me back to Michigan— Beaver Island in particular. When an angler can stand in knee-deep, gin-clear water, and cast at cruising fish… and with a little skill and a lot of luck, sightcast to, hook, and land over 100 pounds of hard-fighting fish in a day… and do so in almost total solitude… well, I’d call that a flats-fishing experience for the ages. With all due respect to my friends in the Florida Keys, or Louisiana’s redfish marshes, or the striped bass rips and
shoals of New England (and I hope you won’t disinvite me for saying this), I’d say carp fishing in Michigan is right up there with the best any place has to oﬀer. So fly fishing for carp isn’t a fad. And it isn’t a novelty. It’s been around for decades. It may never be “mainstream” and there will always be detractors. But the savvy angler won’t care, because there are plenty of us who understand its charms, if only for two simple reasons. Kirk Deeter is the editor of TROUT, the publication of Trout Unlimited, the editor of Angling Trade, which covers the business of fly fishing, and an editor-atlarge for Field & Stream magazine.
Jay currently works as a guide, instructor, writer and fly designer. You can add that to his resume which includes: archaeologist, Infantry paratrooper, commercial Halibut fisherman, Alaskan hunting guide, carpenter and contract fly designer for Umpqua. he published the book â€œIn Neck Deep: Stories for a Fishermanâ€? in 2004. Oh and he catches carp....lots of carp
Starring Jay Zimmerman
Taking carp on the fly is not a new thing, or a fad here on the Front Range of Colorado. We are the birthplace for this angle of the sport. It has only recently become common practice amongst a larger portion of fly anglers across the country, however. And, from where I stand, it has been fun to witness and be a part of the rapid evolution of the culture that can only happen once voices and minds from across the country join in. With any new culture comes new languages, new styles and new techniques. As this tradition grows it becomes stronger, more accepted and more diverse. Take trout fishing, for example; as the bedrock species of our overall sport, it has had the time and opportunity to become infinitely diverse. We have dry fly purists, nymph fanatics, streamer junkies, lake experts and smallstream gurus. What I see happening on the carp scene is a three-way branching in personalities of carp fishermen, based almost entirely on a regional or “home water” influence. I see River Carpers, Reservoir Carpers and Great Lakes Carpers and each faction has their own heroes, flies and secrets…and each one is rich and getting richer. I am a reservoir dog here in Colorado and proud. I live within an hour of the South Platte in Denver (maybe the most well-known carp river in the West), but my home waters, and where my heart lies, are the mud flats of the countless man-made lakes on the Front Range. These waters are numerous, everchanging, and each with a slight
diﬀerence in personality to keep a carp angler interested, on their toes…and humble. In this article I have condensed most of what I have learned from years of reservoir carping techniques and equipment. I like a lightweight, yet powerful 9 foot 6 weight fly rod with a soft tip. I want a good mix of accuracy and muscle. On any given carp flat you will be expected to make multiple precise casts from pointblank range to 80 foot bombs oﬀ the top of a dam. Although I will often drop down to a 5 weight when the light is bad or the water is too oﬀ color to see into the water far enough to make long casts necessary. I will, however, never take out a rod heavier than a 6 weight. In fact, some modern 6 weights are too stiﬀ to make practical carp rods. You are much more likely to be faced with nothing but very short shots that need to be very quick, accurate and delicate. You just can’t do that with a heavy rod. I use only one type of fly line: a weight forward floating line. But there are a ton of makes and models of fly line fitting this description hanging from pegs at your local fly shop. I have cast almost all of them. The biggest problem with most of them is over-weighting. It might read “6 weight” on the bottom corner of the cardboard box, but in many cases it is really more like a 6 ½ weight. I think too many fly line companies are making aggressively weighted fly lines because
too many rookie fly fishermen are buying high end rods that are too fast for their level of casting skills. Overly weighted lines will help load a stiﬀ rod, or dampen it, so that a hack caster can still get a fly out from under their boot. The problem is these overweighed lines land sloppy and hard on still water. I use what amounts to a 9 ½ foot 3x leader. I start with a 9 foot 2x tapered leader, trim oﬀ a foot of the tippet and then add a foot and a half of 3x fluorocarbon tippet. I add the fluorocarbon because it is so much more abrasion resistant than nylon or mono. Even the tiniest nick or abrasion will spell doom with a heavy carp and a hard strip hook set. The best still-water carp flies are sparse, simply tied and usually about 1 inch to 1¾ inches long. Most are weighted, but only slightly (they need to sink, but land in the water quietly). I prefer to use lighter weight flies when sight casting to carp on shallow flats in reservoirs; one weighing from .2 grams up to .5 grams. Many of the best carp flies are tied so that the hook point rides up to help it resist snagging in shallow water. The most eﬀective colors are black, dark olive, brown or rusty brown. Few carp flies are obvious mimics of something in nature, but are very suggestive once they are fished. They can look like a damselfly nymph, crayfish, leech, or anything else a carp might fancy. The brilliance of
these suggestive fly patterns is not in the absence of painstaking detail, but in the liveliness, or animation once it is wet. These flies work because they take advantage of a very intelligent fish’s imagination. The two flies I use most are the Carp Bitter and the Backstabber. Taking Shots at Feeding or Cruising Fish This is the most diﬃcult. There are two options in presentation for fish moving away from a fly caster. The first is a curve cast (side arm it and check the cast at the last minute) and either twitch the fly as soon as it sinks to the eye level of the carp, or let it sink and stall the fly and hope the fish notices it. The second option is to make a straight cast alongside the retreating fish and hope the fish turns into the fly in the natural course of its meandering. When faced with a broadside shot lead the moving carp with your cast much like wing shooting a high flying waterfowl. Make the cast and either twitch the fly aggressively past the carp’s face or slow play the fly by letting the fly sink and then giving it subtle, suggestive movements. The behavior of the carp will dictate which retrieve you use. Spooky, nonaggressive fish will call for the subtle approach. Hungry, highly aggressive fish can be a lot of fun. Try to bounce
Guest Starring Erin “Miss Red” Block
the fly oﬀ the nose of the carp during the retrieve! If the carp is cruising by too close, use a side arm cast that mimics a facing shot. This is the ideal
situation. In this scenario cast your fly past the carp on the opposite side of your casting arm. This lets you to draw the fly alongside the fish and then just out in front, allowing the carp to intercept the fly. If the carp are acting spooky, lay the fly on the same side as your casting arm and hope the fish turns that way naturally, or notices the fly and
turns to eat it. Always keep in mind that carp are more likely to speed up to take a fly than change their direction of travel. Often you will find carp with their heads down, tails up,
rooting around in the mud for food. In deep water the only tell-tale sign may be air bubbles breaking on the surface (gasses on the bottom disturbed by the feeding activity). Cast well past the bubbles, let your fly sink to the bottom and slowly drag the fly into the area you believe the carp to be. In shallow water you must be more careful. Stop and
observe awhile—long enough to decipher what direction the fish is facing. Look for the shape of the large, upturned caudal fin, or a gradual migration of the mud ball. Above all, you don’t want your leader to brush against the fish during your retrieve (that will often result in a spooked carp) although, if you are on a high bank or in a boat and directly above the mud ball, touching the carp with your fly will sometimes get its attention. The fish may believe your fly is a crayfish spooked up from the bottom.
the hook the startled carp will more than likely launch into the air like a baby tarpon!
When carp are exceptionally hungry they will move into very shallow water to get at the foodrich shoreline. It is not rare to find a solitary, aggressively feeding fish along the banks of a reservoir in water so shallow its back is out of the water! (This activity should not be confused with group spawn behavior.) This can be a very exciting situation, because you have found the hungriest, most vulnerable carp in the area and it will eat almost anything, so long as it isn’t spooked by a clumsy cast. You have two choices. The easy cast is to the deeper water immediately behind the carp and hope it either does an immediate about face or turns toward you, allowing you to draw the fly alongside the fish. The harder cast is to thread your leader between the carp and the shore, then swim your fly into the kill zone. The take can be spectacular! This cast forces the carp to charge into only a few inches of water to take your fly, and once you set follow Jay @ www.coloradoflyfishingreports.blogspot.com follow Erin @ www.mysteriesinternal.blogspot.com
⁇ | CarpPro | 2012 | Review
Over the last month, I've had the opportunity to test the RIO Carp Line. Living in Texas, the weather has held long enough to get some carp flyfishing in, although only on a limited basis. Thus far I am impressed with the results. They shooting head of the line is heavy enough that it loads the rod and shoots well, even with a limited amount of line out of the tip of the rod. It’s also heavy enough to cast into and across a significant amount of wind but still lands gently enough to delicately present the fly. The loop it throws turns over and straightens the leader very well, making presentation of a carp fly easier. As a novice fly angler, I still find that I get my timing wrong, letting my wrist loose and trying to overcorrect part way through the cast. The RIO Carp Line seems to handle my mistakes beautifully. This truly is a floating line and picks up quickly on the roll cast and, as an added bonus, the drab olive color of the line is perfectly masked in turbid waters yet not so dull I can’t see it. I believe it makes me a better carp on the fly angler but the real proof will be when I can put it through its paces some more in the Spring
Tony Cartlidge - CarpPro Editor
â—‰ | 2012 | CarpPro | Commentary
Tackling the Carp Next Door with Nolan Majcher
If you are a diehard trout fishing purist who gags when they hear the words "carp" and "fly fishing" in the same sentence, this article is not for you. Now, if you have an open mind and catching ten-pound fish a few miles from your house sounds good, keep reading. Don't get me wrong, trout fishing is great. However, most of us don't live in Missoula or the Catskill Mountains. We have to travel hours for a shot at decent trout fishing. What if I told you you could grab your gear, walk to that creek that you pass everyday on your way to work, and have a good chance of hooking a fish that will pull you into backing? You'd have to be crazy not to. So you're interested, but you only have trout gear and are not about to drop a grand on a new rod and reel set up. Not a problem. Most trout fishermen have at least a 9ft 5wt and probably a heavier streamer/nymph rod. Either of these will work fine. I like lighter rods simply for the softer presentation. Your trout reel will work fine and floating weight forward line is all you need. As for leaders, a basic 9ft leader tapered to 3x is perfect.
So your gear's good, but what about flies? Carp only eat dough balls and duck turds, right? Actually, a carp will eat just about anything that will fit in its mouth and lives or finds its way into the water. Worms, nymphs, minnows, crayfish, fish eggs, toilet paper (witnessed this myself), seeds, midges, and mayflies are all on the menu. So grab your fly box and start digging around. I know you have a San Juan worm, black or olive wooly buggers, and some small dries. Other good patterns include hares ears and egg patterns. Don't be afraid to experiment. Like I said, carp eat just about anything. So you have your gear and flies ready but where do you go? Carp live just about anywhere. I've caught carp everywhere from small creeks in Pittsburgh that receive sewage overflow to the pristine Bighorn River in Montana. Chances are good that most of the water around you holds carp. It's all about doing some leg work and finding the water that fishes the best. My favorite water is mediumsized creeks with lots of shallows, but also enough deep holes to provide cover for the carp. Ponds and lakes can be awesome fishing
â—‰ | 2012 | CarpPro | Commentary
â—‰ | 2012 | CarpPro | Commentary
â—‰ | 2012 | CarpPro | Commentary too. Park ponds are known to be carp producers. When tackling a big lake, look for shallow coves and feeder creeks. Carp will often migrate to the shallows where feeder streams enter to forage in the mud. Don't forget to travel up these feeders as carp will enter them for the abundance of insect life. I have caught many carp out of feeders that you can jump across. The key is to focus on shallow areas where you can see the fish. Google Earth is a great tool for locating good carp prospects. Get an idea of some potential spots and start walking. Don't be afraid to get muddy! So you are on some promising looking water with fly rod in hand, but now what? Oh, I hope you remembered your polarized glasses because your going to need them. Catching carp on the fly is a sight fishing game. You need to constantly be searching for fish and visual cues of carp activity. We all hope to see a back or tail out of the water, but it's not always that obvious. Keep on a constant lookout for subtle giveaways, such as swirls, mud clouds, nervous water, and bubbles. If you are lucky, you may come across some carp sucking oďŹ€ the surface. These guys will give you one of the greatest dry fly challenges out there.
In general, a carp will not move far for a fly. You need to get your fly in his feeding zone. The size of this zone depends on the conditions. It takes some experimentation on the water to determine how much room you have to work with. This being said, you can't simply drop your fly on the fishes face. A carp in clear, skinny water will blow up and hightail to deeper water at the first sign of danger. Often a sloppy presentation too close to the fish is enough to send him running. The best approach is to cast slightly past the fish and creep the fly into its zone. Once the carp is interested in your fly, leave it sit and let the fish work to it. Watch the fish closely for the take. In ideal conditions, you will see the fish suck up the fly. However, if the fish is not positioned perfectly, you can watch for gill flares, tail twitches, and body movement. If visibility is really bad due to muddy water or glare, don't be afraid to try using a small indicator. The next time you get the itch to hit the water but can't make a day trip out of it, don't resort to alcohol and day dreaming. Grab your gear and get after one of the most challenging freshwater fish out there. The best part is, you can get out and do it right now with the gear you already own.
Flies Christopher Michael
Born in Fullerton, California but has lived in St. Louis, MO the majority of his life. Graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry from Knox College in Galesburg, IL. He has been fly fishing and tying since he was 12 years old and spends the majority of his free time casting to warm water species of the lower Missouri River. Catch up with Chris at www.Missouriflies.com and buy flies for Carp!
#1 Squirrel Tail Flies Description: Made from one of my favorite carp materials, squirrel tail, the "Rough Dub Crayfish" (center) is one of the best common carp patterns I tie. Some equally deadly squirrel variations include(front to back) the no weight, hook point up "Blind Squirrel", Squirrel Tail Clouser, and "Hammerhead Rough Dubs". These patterns are primarily intended to be crayfish but bait fish and insect analogies could be drawn.
When to use: If I see common carp, I tie on a size 6 or 8 "Rough Dub Crayfish" ASAP because the fly almost never fails, something I attribute to the look of the squirrel tail in the water. The Rough Dub is also a top pattern for Grass Carp and just about everything else depending on how the fly is tied. If your fish are shallow and very spooky, you can try the "Blind Squirrel". On the other hand, if your fishing the great lakes the "Hammerhead Rough Dub" can be a top producer.
| CarpPro | 2012 | Bugs
| CarpPro | 2012 | Bugs
#2 Special Ops and Dragons Description: My next best pattern group is the "Special Ops" (3 front center and back) "Rabbit Ops" (mid) and Dragon family (rear). These flies can represent a Mulberry, leech, nymph, crayfish or baitfish. The "Black Ops" is my best grass carp fly, and takes every species in my waters.
When to use: I use these flies interchangeably with the "Rough Dub Crayfish" when fishing for either grass or common carp. If one fly doesn't work, the other usually will. Black is not always my favorite color for common carp but it is good for off color waters. If the mulberries are dropping I throw a black or brown "Special Ops" over everything else and get slammed by catfish, grass carp, and commons as well. If plain Jane doesn't get it done, the "Dragons" have a little extra flare.
#3 Backstabbers Description: (left to right) Backstabber, Dubbed Creek Stabber, Headstand Backstabber, Creek Stabber. Backstabber type flies are great all around warm-water flies. I tie some very sparse, and with different configurations of the body, wing, hackle, and eyes to get different effects. I think of crayfish and bait fish when this pattern is in the water, but it could also be an insect. When to use: Backstabbers are always a solid option no matter what the conditions or the species. Although I've taken the original fly in a more delicate direction, I have had good luck on grass carp, even when throwing larger lead eye versions.
| CarpPro | 2012 | Bugs
| CarpPro | 2012 | Bugs
#4 Buggers Description: These flies are basically dubbed wooly buggers, and represent leeches, bait fish, crayfish, and nymphs. Black is my favorite color, followed by brown. When to use: Use these any time of the day or night on any species you can think of, it will probably work.
#5 Rabbit Strip Flies Description: "Creeping Muskrats" (front) 'Hammerhead Sculpin" (Mid left), "Creeping Zonker," "Zonkers," "Bunny Stabbers". Made of Rabbit strips, these flies are soft and have lots of action in the water. I typically use rabbit on larger patterns but smaller backstabber type flies can be tied using this material as well. Imitates larger bait fish, leeches, and crayfish. When to use: I personally use rabbit strip flies in low visibility when I need to get a fish's attention with something large and undulating. Rabbit is a good Sculpin/Gobie material anywhere large bait fish are on the diet.
| CarpPro | 2012 | Bugs
✰ ✰ ✰ Do you Smartphone Fish?
✰ With Tim Creasy
âœ° | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
Let me explain that title for a second. This is a subject I have been thinking about for sometime now and hopefully my thoughts will set your mental wheels in motion about how you fish and approach your fishing spot. Now I am not suggesting you use a smartphone to pull up Google Earth--a great tool--and other mapping apps to find new spots! I’m talking about taking a “smartphone mindset” to the water. Let me explain. With today’s technology, we live in an “instant” world. Facebook, Instagram, text messages, Breaking News alerts, company emails, personal emails, etc. are all in the palm of our hands. Within a matter of seconds, we can get anything we need and get “instant gratification” with just a few keystrokes. Now stop and think about that for a minute. Do you take that mindset to your favorite fishing spot? I did and sometimes still do. For over 14 years I worked for a “corporate machine,” and the last 3 years of that job were a living hell. When they hand you the company phone, your mindset changes. You no longer have a 9to-5 job; you have a 24/7 job. Even while I was on vacation and fished, I always wondered if
✰ | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
something was happening at work or how many emails I missed or who was trying to reach me. My mind was on work and not fishing. It aﬀected my fishing and the way I fished. As a fly fisherman, you’re told or taught to “read the water” when you get to a stream, but with an “instant mindset” or the smartphone lifestyle, do you rush right into an area and start hurling bugs or casting away without really taking a look at what’s going on around you? When I started sight fishing for carp over 3 years ago, I was doing that very thing. I would run to my spot, put the trolling motor down and have at it. I would troll right over fish and spook numerous fish, wondering why I wasn’t catching anything. “Why did that fish spook oﬀ my fly? Why did that fish stop in his tracks when I put the fly near him? What’s going on at work?” All these thoughts were going through my head; my mind was somewhere else and not really in tune with my surroundings. In addition, with the social media firestorm, Facebook, for example, suddenly becomes a field of competition. Since I am a very competitive fisherman, the competition begins when my
friends are posting pictures of fish. Consequently, that need to equal or to outdo that picture of their catch can lead to missed reads and end up being a frustrating experience of fishing for the day. By the time this article comes out, it may be your oﬀseason or if you’re reading this in a warmer climate and can still fish. I want you to take a few minutes and reflect on past trips. Were you getting frustrated when you didn’t catch fish right away? Were you moving from spot to spot but not catching fish? Don’t get me wrong, I realize that sometimes the fish are not biting and that’s why it’s called fishing and not catching, but nevertheless, reflect back on those trips and do a mental review of those times on the water. Think about some of the things that caused you to possibly miss fish and then do what I’ve been doing for the past few months:
Put your phone away & on vibrate If you’re a First Responder or medical personnel, then this is
probably not an option; otherwise, rid yourself of those alert tones when you get an email or some type of notification.
Enjoy your time outside Take a few minutes to look around and take in the beauty of the great outdoors. Maybe it’s the sunrise or sunset, or maybe it’s the trip to your favorite fishing hole. In any case, take a look around and you might get the chance to see wonders like this.
Sloooooow down! And when you think you’ve slowed down, slow down some more. This is some advice I try and live by, but sometimes it’s hard to do! Maybe you need to change up your retrieve or maybe you need to change the fly. Whatever the case may be, before you head to the next spot, try and change up your tactics one more time before you move. This one change could make all the diﬀerence in the world. Also, if you’re sight fishing carp or any fish for that matter, try and take some time to see how the fish are moving in the area. Some fish are just cruising and not interested in the fly, but some are cruising and feeding. Taking a few minutes to “check the fish’s attitude” can turn your fishing experience around. A well placed fly ahead of cruisers/ mudders or feeding fish will likely result in a bent rod and screaming drag like this! So folks, the outdoors is yours to enjoy. Get rid of that “smartphone mindset” and take it slow and easy. Relax! Let that fishing experience for the day be enjoyable, and hopefully it turns into a day of “catching” instead of just “fishing.” Learn from your time on the water and use that knowledge for future trips. Also, ensure a future for our sport! Take a child or young person fishing and get the pleasure of having them there
✰ | CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
and teaching them about fishing, while also fostering our future as fishermen. I’d like to thank CarpPro for allowing me to write this article and hopefully I’ve put a thought in your mind about slowing down and enjoying your time on the water, which will hopefully equal more fish!
Theres No app for that!
Late Summer Carp in the
Great Lakes with Kevin Morlock
✈ | 2012 | CarpPro | Destination During the spring, Great Lakes carp are willing to do almost anything to escape water temps in the 40’s and 50’s and seek out shallow back bays, river mouths, harbors and pond-like lagoons where the water is warmer than in the main lake. At this time the carp have another urge pressing then toward shallow water, spawning.
When spawning is done and as the summer progresses, the near-shore main lake has warmed toward a pleasant 70 degrees and areas that, weeks before, were teeming with thousands of carp now contain almost none. Without the urge to spawn or seek warmer water most carp find little reason to risk or simply bother with shifting shallow during the day. While this trend is true with most of the carp, it is not true for all carp. There are still fish to be found in shallow areas, though not the same areas you found them in early spring. In late summer you will find carp on shallow reefs, small islands and prominent points, anywhere that oﬀers quick access to and from deeper water. It seems that even with deeper water at a cozy 70 or so degrees,
some carp are still interested in moving shallow to feed in slightly warmer water. Late summer is all about going deep or going home, at least from a sightfisherman’s perspective. Many peak season carpers tell me that they just cannot find carp late in the season and I’m certain that, in many cases, it is because they’re searching where they found them weeks before. The fish just won’t be there and if you are not willing to find and target fish in 3-10 feet of water, then you’re just not going to find many carp late in the season. It needs to be said that the colder the main lake temperature, the longer carp remain shallow. I’ve found that both the further north you travel and the cooler the summer equate to better lateseason fishing. Shifting our attention from spawners, sun bathers and cruisers in less than a foot or two of water, catching tailing fish up to ten feet down demands a change in gear, rigging and flies. Deeper fish demand we throw heavy flies on a long leader and of course there is always wind to deal with so, for me, the nod goes to a nine or ten weight. Leaders should be in the 9 to 13 foot range and short sink tips or intermediates are worth considering. For late season our flies are heavy, often with large lead eyes and even additional wraps of lead wire. It seems that in the early season bunny and
✈ | 2012 | CarpPro | Destination
Kevin Morlock has been a full time guide for around fifteen years, calling the Pere Marquette River in west Michigan his home. In summer Kevin migrates to Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan guiding for carp and smallmouth on the crystal clear flats.
marabou are staples, but late season we avoid these and other water soaking materials because adding a bunch of lead to a soaked sponge creates a fly that just won’t cast. We also use slimmed down patterns; flies that, when tied on with a loop-knot, will turn head down and sink to the bottom quickly.
Late season carp in the Great Lakes may not be an option everywhere but I’m certain there are more carp available than people realize. By looking deep you might be able to double the length of your carp season. July and August have become my favorite time for Great Lakes carp because, for me, nothing beats hunting tailers. http://www.indigoguideservice.com
CARPPRO PODCASTS Starring...Golden Bonefish! Rocky Mountain Redfish! Hillbilly Bones! The lowly carp seems to have acquired several nicknames within the flyfishing community, names that flyfishers use to describe the sporting prowess of their preferred target. Truth is we prefer to call them by their real name. Carp fishers are quite possibly the evangelists of catch and release carp fishing in North America and CarpPro prostaffers include such well-known names as John “Montana” Bartlett, Trevor “McTage” Tanner, Dave McCool, JP Lipton and others. We have regular fly-fishing features
“A first for the fly carping community” EPISODES 1-3 AVAILABLE NOW FREE!!
and interviews with carp on the fly leaders such as Barry Reynolds, and now... podcasts! With host, Dan Frasier, the CarpPro FlyCast is our regular fly-fishing focused podcast, featuring tips and tricks, guest interviews, tackle reviews and more. Our Personal Tails podcasts are a series of spoken essays that talk to the common themes we all experience as lovers of the sport. For podcast participation and advertising opportunities contact email@example.com.
➜➜ ➜➜ Fly Carpin’ & CarpPro’s Trevor Tanner asks, “Who Gets It?”
“Carp is the fastest growing segment in the industry.”
| CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
t may be the most over-used adage in fly fishing. True or not, for the past year fly fishing for carp has felt like a wave on the edge of full crest. Whether that wave crashes into worthless froth or hangs ten remains to be seen. To this point growth in fly fishing for carp has been fueled by the pure passion of a select group of oddballs. In the future it will need more support from the industry. The fly fishing industry has helped turn species such as steelhead and bonefish into fully established and revered gamefish. They can do the same for carp. In order to understand if they can and will begin to increase their participation in the sport I requested input from a broad cross-section of the fly fishing industry including:
• Tom Rosenbauer - Director of Marketing at Orvis Rod & Tackle (allencompassing)
• Bruce Olson - New Fly Manager at Umpqua Feather Merchants (flies)
• Simon Gawesworth - Marketing Manager at RIO Products (lines and leaders)
• Will Rice - Director of Marketing, Trout’s Fly Fishing (fly shop)
• Eric Beebe - Owner at CATCH Fly Fishing (flies)
Perhaps the most interesting question I asked was if any of their staﬀ had any experience fly fishing for carp. I wanted to know if they “Got It” and I found their responses stunning. Every single one of these companies has at least one key staﬀ member with carp experience. In many cases this experience was extensive and may tilt towards passionate. Tom Rosenbauer’s from Orvis responded: “It would be tougher to figure out who in our product development and marketing staﬀ does NOT love carp fishing. Most of us prefer carp fishing
over trout fishing—unfortunately we live surrounded by trout streams and we have to drive an hour for good carp fishing. But we do it—before and after work and on days oﬀ.” To put that in perspective, the director of marketing for one of the largest fly fishing companies in the world, which was built on the back of the almighty trout, went on the record about preferences for carp over trout. Bruce Olson’s response for Umpqua was also encouraging: “All of us. Our President and our sales manager last summer were
Tom Rosenbauer from Orvis “Get’s It”
either going out before coming to work or after work. Our fly products specialist, he fishes with Jay Zimmerman and John Barr a lot and he fishes for carp a lot. There are just so many opportunities on the Front Range. I know of ten guys who work with us who fly fish for carp at some time or another.” When I asked for general insight about the future of fly fishing for carp and how that relates to the industry, every response was positive. The belief that fly
fishing for carp will continue to grow seems universal to the point of resembling dogma. The statement by Will Rice at Trout’s stood out: “Carp fishing is not for everyone - we get that. We also get that carp fishing has an amazing addictive quality that is not always found with other species. Carp are big and hard fighting, they are very challenging to catch on a fly, and they are heavily concentrated in rivers and other still water environments across the
| CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
United States. At Trout’s we have recognized that the carp fishing subculture is made up of die hard anglers who like to have fun on the water and can sustain a healthy dose of self punishment – and then go back out for more.” This is a nuanced and complicated statement. Although it implies growth based on enthusiasm and passion, I felt that it also gave pause for concern. Based on this question I reviewed all of the interviews, and every single one alluded to the die-hard or advanced nature of fly fishing for carp. It is unlikely that carp will ever be a gateway fish but those of us promoting the sport might have a tendency to exaggerate slightly. Clearly the industry is buying in to this perspective, perhaps to a fault. The personalities of the movement might want to reconsider the level of hyperbole. The industry clearly “Get’s It” and anticipates growth but does that enthusiasm translate into new carp specific product releases? Flies are a diﬀerent discussion, but when you limit the discussion to gear (rods, reels, lines and gadgets) I found no indication of near-term product releases. As Simon Gawesworth from RIO products put it: “We only have the carp fly line at the moment. There are no plans to develop anything beyond that at the moment, as it is not exactly a popular
fly line, nor a popular branch of fly fishing – yet.” It is natural that RIO is not targeting new products since they already have one, and apparently it is not selling well “yet”. The “yet” in his incredibly candid statement stands out. RIO is still actively marketing the RIO Carp line and perhaps even making a push. RIO’s was the first entry into the market that I am aware of and you can think of it as the canary in the coal mine. Their recent behavior and
that “yet” indicates that RIO remains optimistic that the canary will eventually sing. Orvis and Trout’s live at opposite ends of the distribution chain. Neither indicated any knowledge of future gear related products. Instead they mentioned that they have lots of quality gear perfectly suited for carp. From Will Rice at Trout’s: “As far as products go, yes - Trout’s Fly Fishing caters to carp anglers. From fluorocarbon tippet and a wide variety of commercially tied flies that are specific to carp, to fly lines, rod
and reel combinations, Trout’s has the gear in our shop and our online store to outfit anglers who want to target carp.” From Tom Rosenbauer at Orvis: “Of course standard rods, reels, and leaders (…), sunglasses, etc work great for carp. We also have a really good selection of carp-specific flies” I find it hard to disagree. The mish-mash of freshwater and saltwater gear currently in use for carp seems to be getting the job done. I have to conclude that if your inner five-year-old screams for immediate attention from the gear manufacturers, you may end up disappointed.
participants reported supporting carp fly fishing tournaments and activities. Orvis is not only supporting several tournaments, they have started their own. From Tom Rosenbauer at Orvis: “We sponsor the carp tournament in Denver, we sponsor Conway Bowman’s Carp Throwdown in San Diego, and our company store in Portland, Oregon, runs a carp tournament every year called Carpocalypse. We are still in the planning process on more carprelated events and marketing but I do know that the Portland store will run another Carpocalypse tournament next year and we plan to continue sponsoring the other two.” Fly shops are at the front lines of supporting community activities because of their direct involvement with local clubs and customers. Will Rice at Trout’s indicated that:
This is not to say that the gear manufacturers and distributors are not extremely interested in our business. Instead, it would seem that their participation in the movement might come in more cultural areas. All of the
“In addition to being a long term sponsor and strategic partner supporting the Carp Slam, Trout’s Fly Fishing hosted our first guided trip on the South Platte this summer – dubbed the “Urban Carp Extravaganza.” We took five clients out who never fished for carp before in the blazing peak of August heat and had a blast chasing carp in skinny clear water.” These exertions of “soft power” are key contributions and may prove to be more
➜ ➜ ➜
| CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
“Soft Power” From Will Rice and Trout’s Fly Fishing
valuable and fun than rods and reels with “carp” stickers plastered on the side. Additionally many rumors and rumblings outside of these interviews indicate that this kind of cultural support may accelerate rapidly in the next few years. It is when we start to talk about flies that the story gets really interesting. All of the companies I interviewed with any involvement in producing or distributing
flies (Umpqua, Orvis, Trout’s and CATCH) reported having flies specifically designed for carp in their current catalogs. Two (Umpqua and CATCH) anticipate new carp fly releases for 2013. Of course, you can’t really start a serious discussion about flies of any kind without starting with Umpqua and per Bruce Olson at Umpqua:
Eric Beebe from CATCH “Gets It”
“When we first came out with our carp section, all we had to put in it was some trout flies that we knew would carry over for carp and some
| CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
bonefish flies. Now, it’s not like we have a huge carp oﬀering but now we’ve got 31 diﬀerent flies that we recommend for carp.” Umpqua has been in the market for several years now. They already have one of the healthiest carp fly selections currently available and Bruce indicated that Umpqua will continue to come out with new patterns every year including three colors of Barry Reynold’s Carp Bitter in 2013. He also indicated that their carp selection sells well which stands in stark contrast to the reported
success thus far of RIO Carp Line. When asked if they had a carp fly selection, Eric Beebe at CATCH Fly Fishing responded: “Currently, in this year’s catalog, no. Next year we plan on adding a total of around 300 new patterns and 125 to 150 will be for carp.” In order to clarify why he was planning such a big push, Eric added: “Well I am a carp fisherman myself and it’s a way to branch out. To get people into fly fishing who don’t normally have a trout fishery in their states. Carp fishing is pretty much in
all 50 states in some form or another and it’s a way to reach out to future fly fishermen.” As a relatively recent start-up, CATCH Fly Fishing represents the other end of the spectrum in the fly sector. I find their position on carp flies ambitious, exciting and while working on this article I agreed to join their design team in order to help. Orvis has also entered the carp fly market with 6 new patterns and Trout’s reported having many carp specific patterns on the shelf.
It seems that the industry sees more opportunity in the fly segment and for that we should be grateful. A healthy, diverse and growing carp fly market will certainly help growth. Taking up fly fishing for carp can be diﬃcult enough as it is without the necessity of adding fly tying into the mix. In summary it would appear that we may have to wait for a while or perhaps forever for gear specifically designed for carp. Fortunately we can expect continued and even accelerated support from the industry in the areas of activities, tournaments and providing carp flies. This will continue to bring new
New Blood Via Trout’s Carp Extravaganza ("Angler Dan Kagey, Photo by Will Rice")
| CarpPro | 2012 | Commentary
blood into the movement and I find that to be a very positive development. To be sure, some in the carping community may cast a suspicious eye
flycarpin.com over the next month where he will be publishing each interview in full.
Trevor blogs extensively about fly fishing for carp at http://www.flycarpin.com. Additionally, he is on the CarpPro prostaﬀ and recently joined the CATCH fly fishing design team. Keep an eye on
on further growth. I understand that perspective. Who wants to wade through a crowd to their favorite carp hole? On the other hand I have come to the realization that for many years flycarpers lived a lonely fishing existence. There is nothing quite as humanly pleasing as shared experiences so I say; “bring on growth and bring on the industry.”
Trevor “Got It” years ago!
Trevor "McTage" Tanner is the author of the highly respected blog "Fly-Carpin''. From his haunts of the South Platte river in Denver, Trevor has earned acclaim as one of the most technically proficient fly fisherman for carp going; an expertise that was demonstrated with his winning Carp Slam 2011.
Detecting the Take
Remembering Two Days in June
with Jim “Mr P” Pankiewicz
◎ | 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
Hours of slow wading through
cloudy water and in hard wind have made my legs tired. It is the early season; plain and simply I am struggling. I want desperately to see tailing fish from a suﬃcient distance so that I don’t scare them. I want to cast to them. It isn’t happening for me. For the fish I do see, I am not “choosing to get close” to them as much as I am “finding myself close” to them. I am almost stumbling on some of the fish. Partly it is that I am rusty; I have to retrain my eye in the early season. Partly it is the color of the water and partly it is the darn, devil clouds. The sun, the sun; where is the sun? I find myself so close to some carp that I hold the rod out and just drop the fly in front of the fish. In these conditions, even up close sometimes, all I can see is just the blurred shape of the carp’s body. The slight turn to the side or the movement forward is the clue to set the hook. In the morning the wind was blowing hard; now, late in the afternoon it is howling. The sky is still overcast. Because of the cloudy water often I am not able to step over or around the rocks. I kick so many rocks my toes hurt and I am almost constantly nervous about falling. My boots have gotten heavy; I have had enough fishing for today. Even though the Columbia River is a mile wide in some places, when water is
released at a particular dam it makes a noticeable diﬀerence in the water level and the water clarity. As I leave the river I can see that the water level is going down where I am fishing. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? When I am tying carp flies in the winter, what I visualize is my favorite fishing conditions--warm summer days; blue sky, mostly clear water, a slight wind, and tailing fish that aren’t too close to each other. I see myself spotting fish from a distance, moving into position, and making smooth, well placed casts. I see fish take the fly I am tying, I see myself set the hook, and I see the water explode with the splashing fish. I hear the reel sing the carp song. Alas, imagination does not always mirror reality. Today’s fishing reminded me that, while what I daydream about has actually happened many times, it most certainly does not always happen. There are plenty of days for me when fly fishing for carp is challenging and frustrating. High, cloudy water, gray sky, and strong wind made it a battle today. While I caught fish, today I felt I was almost constantly struggling. I was fishing, and for that I am always grateful. I caught fish and for that I am also grateful. It was still not very satisfying. Just catching fish is not what gives me so much joy in carp fishing because such an important part of the experience is visually detecting the take.
The next morning brings slightly cloudy skies. There is some wind but not like yesterday when it aﬀected my balance while wading. My anticipation is high; conditions appear to be a good deal better. Instead of dropping the fly in front of the fish, today I may get to make some actual casts to carp; the kind where I shoot line. In short order I see a fish tailing at casting distance and I am fully engaged. This fish looks to be over 15 pounds. Not taking my eye oﬀ the fish, moving slowly into position, I drop the coils of line from my left hand. My first cast is a darn good one. The stripped Carrot gets to the carp’s dinner plate; I am fully expecting the fish to make a short move to the side and eat the fly. He sees the fly and does indeed make a move. My shoulders and my arms drop. The carp has turned and is slowly fleeing. He made my fly as a fake on the first look. Even with this refusal I am already enjoying myself more than the day before. I can see the fish. Now I am a hunter; I am a predator. Wading, scanning, peering through the water, I am on the prowl for feeding fish. I get
◎ | 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics casts at three more tailers. They were great targets. All of the fish turn from the fly. An inkling of doubt begins. Is today going to be a diﬃcult day even with the better conditions? Am I going to miss every fish? Have I forgotten how to do this? In shallow water another tail breaks the surface. The tail moves back and forth like a sultry geisha seductively waving
line and beginning the backcast does not alarm him. The next cast is better. With just a few strips the fly is out near the edge of the carp’s dinner plate. He moves forward; it really is such a small amount. The subtle movement is not a shout or even normal talking; it is just a single, whispered word. With that small whisper, the carp speaks to me and I know it is time to stick him!
Taken her fan. The fish is pointing away from me at a 45-degree angle. A better angle could be had by moving over but I choose to stay still. I do nothing to alarm the fish; I make my cast from where I am. I’m nervous because four tailing fish have spurned me. Being extra careful not to spook this fish, I cast too far to the right. Stripping the fly does not get it near enough to the fish. I continue stripping well past him so that lifting the
Through the day many tailing fish and some slow cruisers get the opportunity to eat my fly. A good number of them take the opportunity and I am thankful. Once, all that I see is the line straighten without feeling anything in the rod tip; I set the hook and immediately feel the weight of a nice fish. Another time I see the white of a carp’s mouth as it opens and closes; that is the whisper I need to hear. One fish shouts at me; clearly and
“I Took too Long”
decisively he moves forward and to his side to grab the fly. He speaks to me out loud and I thank him out loud as he peels line oﬀ the reel. Some carp that have their noses down simply wag their tails and I know they have found my fly. A visible cruiser shows me a quick flash of his side to signal the take. There are two more behaviors that signal a take that I don’t see today. These behaviors are the most subtle of all. I need to be fairly close to the fish to
◎ | 2012 | CarpPro | Tactics
see this and the water needs to be clear enough to see all parts of the fish. There are times when I detect the take by watching the carp’s fins. The dorsal fin will elevate or the pectoral fins will spread out and that will be my clue to set the hook. Even in clear water, these behaviors really are whispers. Perhaps I will see them on my next trip. I can always hope. I finished the second day very, very satisfied. I caught fish both days (more on the second day) but the second day was so much better because I was casting to fish and I could see the takes. It took time for me to learn to visually detect the take from a carp particularly the very subtle ones. Both in fishing and in life the take is the premier moment. Fly fishing for carp and visually detecting the take enhances that premier moment. Visually detecting carp takes is the best. Mr. P. is a USCARPPRO Pro-Staﬀ member. He lives in Bothell, WA and fishes primarily in central Washington and Oregon. You can see his blog at http://themrpblog.blogspot.com/ He has created and produced the video series “Lessons from the Carp Lodge” which can be found on YouTube. Also,check out the video “The Best Thing About Fly Fishing for Carp”.
To watch “Take” click here
I have a severe addiction to hunting Golden Bonefish. It’s a Tuesday morning in June. The day looks great, and I hope that the day will be full of large hard fighting carp. The sun is high and the water is flat. I could not ask for more than that. I am pumped. Before I head out, I tie up a few of my go-to flies. They are called Fishy Pete’s. The fly has been refined over the years
time. The materials I use provide quite a bit of action even in very calm water. I tie them in various weights to cover the spectrum of water depths we see up here. Sometime the carp are in deeper water around 4 - 5 feet, and sometimes they are in 1 foot of water or less. I typically use the lighter flies in the shallow water. The lighter weight allows me to present the fly to the fish in without spooking them.
My Golden Bonefish Addiction as I work thru my Golden Bonefish fishing addiction. Unfortunately, I can’t say the addiction sucks, because I love to catch carp. The fly is simple and easy to tie, but the fish seem to love it. It’s simply a basic crayfish pattern in a rusty color. Rust is a key color for us here in the Great Lakes. It contrasts well with the bottom, and the clear water. The pattern consists of a few basic materials (see the list below) and once you tie a few you can really kick them out in no
with Pete Hodgman Guide @ GoldenBoneFish
Packed with some tasty flies, and my 8wt, I jump in my truck and head out to the flats up here. The last few days the weather has been cold and windy and this warm up is just what the doctor has ordered. As I reach a favorite spot, I slap on the waders, grab the rod and start hiking out to where the fish typically pod up. As I hike across the flats I stop to check the water temp. Prior to the colder weather the temp has been in the
❉ | CarpPro | 2012 | Tactics
mid to upper 60s. I can’t tell you how important water temperature is to the whole equation; it can make or break a day. As I read the temp gauge, my heart sinks. The cold weather has pushed down the temp from high 60s to low 60s. That’s like a cold shower for the carp. They are not going to like it. As I make it over to the flats where the fish typically pod up, my fear is realized. There is not a fish to be found. Two days earlier there were over 100 fish up on this same flat. My clients ended the day both with high single digit fish, and if you count the ones that got away, the numbers were easily in the upper teens. Ok, not is all lost. I find a rock, sit down and regroup. The key is to find water that is warmer than what I am finding here. If I do that, I will find fish. There are a couple of tactics I use. The simplest way is to simply wait it out. As the day proceeds the sun will warm up the water and its likely the fish will be back once that happens. But I can’t handle that! I need to hook up and soon! The crappy weather over the last couple days has me in Golden Bonefish detox mode. I need a fix. My second tactic is to look at other factors that will lead me to warmer water. That’s what I am going to do. What I find is, when we have these weather fronts that bring in colder water temps, there are areas that tend to be protected or less aﬀected by the weather. What you want to do is think a bit about the weather over the last few days, and give some thought to where there might be pockets of protection that
tend to preserve the water temps better. In the areas I fish, we have what we call trenches where the fish come up from the depths. The fish move along those deeper trenches towards shore and ultimately find their way to the flats. Some of these tend to be more protected by either islands or the curvature of the shoreline. Over the
years I’ve found this tactic to be a game saver. The diagram above shows the diﬀerence between two spots. The first is unprotected, and the second has some protection both in terms of an island and shoreline. I have to get hooked up, so I jump in my truck and head out to scope out a few of these more protected spots. As I pull up to the next spot I am a bit nervous but confident that the water will be warmer. Again, as I wade out to the spot, I check the water temp. Bingo! 67 degrees. Now we’re talking. As I round the corner to the spot where I suspect the carp are, I am greeted with a pod of 30-40 fish. And they look like they are eating.
❉ | CarpPro | 2012 | Tactics
Fishy Pete Pattern ✤ Daiichi 1530 4, or 6. ✤ Rubber Legs (Feelers) tied in at bend of hook. ✤ Dumbbell Eyes, or Bead Chain Eyes for weight – tied so hook rides up. ✤ Rust Schlappen Feather – tied in at bend of hook by rubber legs. ✤ Rust Dubbing W/Sparkle up the shank of hook. ✤ Wrap Schlappen Feather up the shank of hook & tie oﬀ. ✤ Rust Rabbit Strip – Pierced thru hook, pushed down to bend of hook (over Schlappen feather), laid down up the shank of the took and tied in by the eye
The key to approaching the pod is with the utmost care. These fish are feeding but they look pretty wary. I plan my tactics and walk around to the other side – very gingerly. The fish are in shallow in about 2 feet of water. I tie on one of my lighter Fishy Pete’s. After a couple of double-haul’s I quietly land the fly on the edge of the pod nearest to me. I don’t want to place it in the middle for fear of
spooking the whole pod. I let the fly sink, and give it the slightest twitch. Nothing. Another twitch, and I see one of the fish turn on a dime, swim over, and suck it up. Game on. After two runs into the backing, I finally land a nice 15lb fish. It does not get any better than this. I round out the day by picking up another 6 fish. I got my fix--at least for today. Tomorrow I will need another fix.
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