Detecting The Carp Take
Knowing when a Carp sees your fly and when he eats it, is very important. Although, Detecting The Carp Take may not always be as easy as you think. Carp often live in murky waters and can also be finicky eaters. This means that the “take” may not be as obvious as you think. Being able to tell the difference between a “spooked” carp and one interested in your fly is also very important. You do not want to waste your time on a fish that is already spooked and not in the mood to eat you fly. This article will walk you through a few scenarios and help you understand what to look for when Fly Fishing For Carp and Detecting the Take!
Detecting the Take in Clear Water
Fly Fishing for Carp in clear water can be very different that Fly Fishing for Carp in murky water. Clear water does give the angler a few advantages over the fish and allows for a more “visual” fly fishing experience.
1. Read the body language of the fish
The body language of a fish can tell you whether or not a fish is interested in your fly or is going to take it. A “happy” (non spooked) fish will exhibit the following behaviors:
- Slow Moving
- Backs Out Of The Water
- Tilted Up Looking at the Bottom
These fish will usually display these behaviors until one of two things happen. Either the fish will find something to eat (hopefully your fly) or he is spooked. When a muding fish “pounces” on prey, you will see a slight and quick sudden movement by the fish, this usually means he is on your fly. If he stops mudding at any time, blows up or swims away (even if he swims slow), then he is most likely spooked. A spooked fish does not always blow out of the area. In fact, they most often just look up, turn around and slowly swim away. Look for body language that changes, and then they continue to go about their business. This usually means they saw your fly and are interested in eating. If a fish changes directions, swims away or does not go back to their “happy” actions, then it is most often a fish that is spooked and not “happy”.
2. Watch The Lips!
In Clear Water, I most often watch the lips of the fish. This is the best way to definitively tell if the fish has eaten your fly. This is also my favorite way to fish for Carp. The take will be very obvious. A fish taking a fly off the bottom will suck the fly and all the surrounding material off the bottom like vacuum. So just simply watch for the fish to vacuum up you fly!
A Carp that eats a stripped fly or a fly just off of the bottom, will usually extend it’s lips a bit more and suck the fly it. This is the most obvious take a carp can make and their lips will be clearly visible and easy to see.
Detecting The Take in Dirty Water
Carp often live in rivers and reservoirs that do not run clear. Even if the water has some visibility, you cannot always see the fish’s lips or the entire body. In Murky and Off Color Water Conditions, you are looking for clues that the fish has eaten your fly. The chances of watching the lips of the fish and seeing him eat the fly are very slim. So you must rely on other behaviors and tricks in order to detect the take. Below are some clues to look for, as far as a “happy” and eating fish in off color water.
- Mud Plumes
- Wakes and Movement
- Dark Shadows and Shapes
- Moving Reeds or Foliage (Carp Often Mud Cat Tails and Grass)
1. Slowly Move The Fly
Since you cannot see the fish and the fish probably cannot see your fly, slowly move the fly into position. When I say slowly, I really mean slowly. Carp do not like erratic movements, and moving a fly too quickly will often spook the fish. Slowly moving the fly will do two things for you. It will keep a tight line, which will allow you to feel the take. And it also helps the Carp find the fly. In murky water, the fish relies on it’s lateral line and movement to find it’s prey. So SLOWLY moving the fly will help the Carp zero in on the fly.
2. Watch The Fly Line Tip
Once your fly has been presented to a fish in murky water. Slowly pull the slack out the line and let the fly fall to the fish. When the fish takes the fly, it will slowly swim away. Once he does this the tip of the fly line will move with it. It will not always be obvious and you really have to watch for the tip of the line to change directions or move.
3. Watch The Mud
Carp in Murky Water are most often more than happy to tail and mud on the bottom. I love to watch these mud plumes and follow the fish with those clues. Mud Plumes mean that a fish is actively eating and rooting up the bottom in the area. I use this clue, along with the two above, to detect a take from a hungry fish. If the mud cloud disappears or stops moving, then the chances are that the fish has stopped eating or just moved on.
Watching these clues and understanding the difference between a “happy” and a spooked fish will help you can catch more Carp On The Fly. Reading the body language of the fish and watching their actions will help you detect the take earlier and land more fish. Just remember to wait for a split second once you think the fish has eaten your fly. Many fish can be lost by pulling the fly away from a fish or pulling the fly away before it eats. Just wait for a second and the Carp chow down on it!
Want to learn more about Carp On The Fly? Check out the following articles:
Carp Leader and Tippet >>
The 10 Carp Commandments >>
Why are Carp So Hard To Catch >>
Why Fly Fish for Carp >>
What is Urban Fishing all About >>
Choosing the Right Carp Fly >>
Top Carp Fly Tying Videos >>
Carp Fly Fishing Denver >>