Fly fishing for Carp is a blast! Whether you're targeting Common Carp
, Grass Carp
, or Mirror Carp - these fish are sure to test your fly fishing skills. Once hooked-up, these powerful fish will certainly test your equipment, knot tying skills, and arm strength as well. Fly fishing for Carp is currently one of the more popular forms of fly fishing because of the 'fight' these monsters put-up once hooked-up and for the abundance of these fish. To put it simply: they are everywhere!
Carp can be found in pretty much every state and in most waters - from high alpine lakes, fast moving rivers, to the local pond down the street. You’ll find them in deep pools, riffles, murky and turbid waters, marshy flats, manicured golf course ponds, flooded timber, and other areas with thick overhanging cover, or no cover at all! No matter the type of water and where you live (with a few exceptions) there are probably plenty of Carp nearby.
And when you are not willing to spend the time and energy to make a weekend getaway to your favorite spot, to trailer your boat up to the hills, spend the day on a crowded section of your trout stream, or deal with Sunday night traffic coming back into town - all you got to do is find a local lake
and chances are high you’ll find yourself with ample opportunity to fish to feeding Carp. Even if you only have a couple hours of free time - pick up your rod, net, and a couple flies and head out the door (but seriously, just don’t forget your net).
These fish are frequently compared to bonefish or redfish and are often jokingly referred to the ‘Rocky Mountain Bonefish’. And while they are certainly not, they do put up a serious fight and for those of us who haven’t had the pleasure to cast to actual bonefish yet, this is as close as it gets. When you do hook into a Carp on the fly, it is instant adrenaline, pure power, and mayhem. Although not the quickest of fish, these bruisers can take you deep into your backing and break you off in a hurry! Carp frequently weigh in excess of 40lbs and can get much bigger depending on the species you are targeting.
Are you day dreaming about stalking Carp at your favorite spot yet? Good! As the days get longer and warmer and as the excitement builds knowing Carp season will be upon us once again, here are 5 tips to get you ready for your next Carp outing:
1) Explore – Scout out the area a little and look over the water before jumping into the action. Find areas that are hidden and secluded. Look for areas with overhanging branches, tall weeds, cattails, etc. Look for the nastiest and swampiest areas – Carp will be there and the big ones too.
2) Patience – Have patience and just observe – read the water. Take time to just watch and look. No need to hurry and cast. Take time to locate feeding fish and make every cast count. Locate tailing carp and single cruisers and try to study their behavior. No need to blast a cast and spook all the fish. Additionally, there is no need to cast to large pods of cruising Carp – just have patience and wait for your fish!
3) Polarized Sunglasses – Have a couple pairs of polarized sunglasses; one for sunny conditions and one pair for cloudy conditions. As the weather will change on a dime, it’s best to be prepared for all situations. These will help you see the fish or the signals of a feeding environment (fresh mud clouds, bubbles, and tailing Carp). Going together with #2, stalking Carp with the right pair of sunglasses enables you to scan the water and really notice nervous water or even Carp cruising right off the bottom. I have often hooked up to the biggest carp that were literally sitting on the bottom but just barely visible.
4) Practice your cast – Before heading out to the lake, pond, or stream – take a paper plate and set it in the grass and make some casts from varying distances. How close are you? Are you hitting the plate every almost every cast? If you haven’t been fly fishing in a while, it may pay off to try this out to see where you stand before casting to that 40lbs Grass Carp you have been stalking for the past 5 years. There is no better time to land that trophy Carp than on your next cast! Why screw it up and spook it AGAIN?
5) Fly Selection – This is a tough one for me as there are a bazillion different Carp flies out there, in all colors, sizes, weights, and shapes. Bottom line: use what you know works but at a minimum have on hand yarn egg flies (green, orange, or pink), Barr’s Spork and a Carp Bitter. These 3 Carp flies are magical and will produce in most conditions for most Carp!
Mike is a Colorado native and grew up fishing for all species, during all seasons, with all methods.