Carp on the fly

Insanity or the ultimate stalking experience ?

By Julian Young

Year after year we strive to find something different to present carp with, different baits, rigs, hook sizes, floats, just about anything. Carp learn to associate certain sounds, objects (sight), and tastes with a threat. On some waters carp learn to be suspicious in certain areas of the lake but not in others. 2oz weights have a distinct sound when they hit the water, on some pressurized waters the plop of weights can spook Carp, although I suspect that this is limited. What normally appears happens is that the Carp turn round to look for the cause and if nothing moves they soon forget about it. Recasting, a moving shadow or the movement caused by the straightening of a float can definitely spook them at this stage. However, leaves, twigs, ducks, and who knows what continuously land in the water; all are perfectly normal and will not so raise more than an carp's eyebrow. How much more of a dramatic change in presentation could you ask for than to fly line? One this is for sure, carp have virtually never seen a fly line; let alone heard the gentle splash it makes as it lands on the water. All of this is to the fly fisherman's advantage, carp have virtually no knowledge of any associated treat.

A standard fly rod, around a 7 or 8 weight with either a double taper or weight forward floating line will produce good results. The floating line helps, it keeps the line away from the fish who will swim under it apparently not even realizing it's there. If they do notice it, they probably assume it's a piece of floating reed or something. A rod lighter that a 7 weight does not have enough back bone when it comes to playing Carp. Remember you are probably used to fishing a rod with around a two and half pound test curve and now you have dropped to a pound or less. It is quite surprising how light a leader you can get away with. The comparatively soft fly rod provides very high levels of buffering. Start with 9 foot leader with a 6lb tip. You can use a lighter tip, but your chances of losing a strong fish will increase.

You don't have to use flie's, a fly rod makes an excellent tool for casting various different types of bait. The traditional fly fisherman would shy away from ideas such as super-glue and dog biscuits. With a fly rod; you have the opportunity to cast one 20yds from the bank without controller to make a large splash as it lands. Another option is corn on a small hook, size eight for example will sink the corn with no problems. Floating baits will require the leader to be greased so that is floats, sinking baits need a sinking de-greased leader.

Conventional trout flies can be used; large whites can be mistaken for bread floating on the surface. Carp are often the curse of the American fly fishermen, who pick them up on a nymph whilst fishing for lake trout. This can also be used to our advantage. Patterns that work include; blood worm, pheasant tail nymphs, hares ears and olive nymphs, to mention a few. To fish these you will need a very slow retrieve with lots of pauses. A floating line and a sinking leader is best, provided it is not too deep. For deep water a sinking line can be used but this increases the risk of spooking the Carp. A small twitch is enough to get their attention and a small coating of diluted flavor before you cast, whilst not necessary, will help to get a strong take. One fly which is particularly effective and was designed for carp by Tom Conner is the Corn Fly. This consists of a small cube of yellow foam mounted on the hook in a similar fashion to a hair rig. The foam is dipped in flavor before casting and is allowed to sink to where the fish are.

Tactics are very similar to stalking, slow movements and a light foot fall are essential. Use what vegetation there is as cover and wear dark cloths that blend in. Location is definitely king in this game; you need to target individual or small groups of feeding fish. Random casting will not bring results. Polarized sun glassed are essential not only as visual aid but they add a safety factor when you have a hook in the air. Once the target carp has been spotted, there are three main tactics that can be used; which one to choose will depend on their behavior and your casting abilities. The first is to drop the fly "on the fishes head" and allow it to slowly sink. Don't worry about the fly touching the fish, it will feel it, and will probably turn and taste it, if it doesn't a slight twitch of the fly can often provoke a response. The second is to over cast the fish and slowly and gradually retrieve through to the point where the fish are feeding. This method is particularly effective when carp are end up feeding on the bottom, as casting direct to them will only result in the fly being "blown off-course" by their tail finning. The last method is for surface or near surface fish. Cast the fly about six to twelve inches ahead the fish. Moving the fly gently away from the approaching fish ,only an inch or two, will probably result is a definite take if only out of curiosity.

Small flies can often work better than large ones, size 12 is about right. Larger ones can spook fish. since a small hook is very sharp and has no bait in the way, it will penetrate deeply, filling the hook bend. This action combined with the damping effect of the soft rod reduces the strain on the hook and is therefor less likely to result in a bent or de-formed hook. Carp don't chase flies, nor do they take and run immediately. Once they have realized something is wrong, they move off with the hook still in their mouths, you will see the line start to move with them and now is your time to strike gently, after that they really do move. You will need to give line, forget using this method near snags. Letting the fish take all your slack line so that you can play the fish off the reel is essential. Line played in the hand can be very jerky and result in hook pulls. After that is down to you.

They will probably think you are insane, but you will be the one holding the fish.

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