Carp Fly Fishing Tactics and Information
Catching a Common Carp on a Fly is no easy task. Many anglers make just a few small mistakes and these mistakes cost anglers fish time and time again. These mistakes are made by guides and novices alike. Carp are much different creatures than trout and the fly fishing tactics are different as well. This short write up will address the small mistakes anglers make and help you fool this tricky fish. OBEY the “10 Carp Commandments” and catch more Carp!
#1. Thou Shalt Always Make Downstream Presentations
Downstream presentations are key in catching Carp on the Fly. Many anglers take the traditional upstream approach and this approach is the kiss of death. An upstream presentation means that the fly splashes in front of the fish (spooking it), the line lands on top of the fish (also spooking it) and the fly is stripped back to and over the fish (once again…also spooking it). Cast your fly down, across and in front of the fish. Then pull your flies to the fish and drop them in it’s face. That is how it is done!
#2. Thou Shalt Not Splat Your Flies
A bad presentation is why Carp do not eat your fly. Your fly must land softly and away from the fish. The “splat” and residual rings (made from your fly landing) will spook fish every time.
#3. Thou Shalt Not Strip Flies Fast
Most anglers strip Carp flies way too fast. Slow it down. Carp usually want the fly to just slowly fall in front of them. A quick strip will send a carp on his grumpy way and spook him for good. A small and slow strip is only needed when the fish does not see your fly.
#4. Thou Shalt Stay Out of the Water
As fly fishers, we all love to be in the water. But Carp do not like us in the water. Simply wading into the water and sending ripples across the river, will scare every carp in the area. Stay out of the water if at all possible. Sometimes you have to get in, just do so SLOWLY and QUIETLY.
#5. Thou Shalt Walk Slow
Walking too fast is a very common mistake. Walking fast means you make lots noise and stir up fish before you ever get to them. Walking fast also means you are not looking hard enough. Carp are elusive creatures and will show themselves with subtle hints. Walking slow allows for you to pick up on these hints (tails, muds, wakes, nervous water and silhouettes) and be more stealthy.
#6. Thou Shalt Pay Attention
Being asleep at the wheel is the reason for many lost fish. Many anglers have their fly eaten and spit out before they even know it. The key to becoming a good carp fisher, is the ability to read the fish’s body language. Paying attention to the small details and how fish react to your fly is key in catching more carp. Pay attention and become “one with the fish”.
#7. Thou Shalt Strip Set!
The traditional trout hook set will pull the fly right out of a Carp’s mouth. The saltwater style “strip set” is a much more effective technique. Once you think a Carp has eaten your fly, make a long slow strip and see if he is there. If there is something there, hold tight for just a second until the fish hooks itself. Holding on for too long will snap the line, just a second of tight line is all that is needed. Anglers who trout hook set on any sign of an eat will either snag the fish, spook the fish or rip the fly out of the mouth.
#8. Thou Shalt Wait For the Eat
Every angler that I have taught how to fly fish for carp, has thought the fish ate way before it really did. When a Carp eats, it is deliberate and slow. It is not like a trout, it will happen much slower and will more intent. Look for the mouth to open, that is your key. Once you see that, wait a second. Carp eat slow and you do not want to pull the fly out of it’s mouth. If you think the fish ate, use the long slow strip set. If he didn’t eat, then slowly continue to strip the fly in and recast.
#9. Thou Shalt Pick the Feeding Fish
Fishing to the wrong fish is the most common carp fishing mistake. So do not cast to sunbathing, resting or sleeping (yes…carp do sleep) fish. Choose fish that are face down in the mud and eating. Sunbathing fish will reject your fly 99-100 times. They are easy to snag, but not easy to catch in the mouth. I typically ignore fish that are high in water column and try to choose fish that are nose down on the bottom.
#10 Thou Shalt Treat Carp With Respect
Many anglers still see Carp as a trash fish. Well, they maybe in some peoples eyes. But I, and possibly you, love to catch them on a fly. If we would like to continue to do so, then do not snag them, throw them on the bank and mistreat them. They are a resource and one that demands respect and care.