- Published on Monday, 16 July 2012 11:59
- Written by Bob Carlson
The rivers are running high, the Trout in the lakes are lethargic but we still want to go fly fishing in freshwater. Where can we go ? Let's try fly fishing for Carp.
It had always seemed that this was a difficult fish to catch on the fly but after Rob Doyle gave an excellent presentation on how to do it in the South we thought we would give it a shot in the North. Wow! the fishing was fantastic and they really pull string.
To give it a try first find a commercial Carp lake where the owner will allow you to fly fish. There needs to be a good head of fish not just one or two big ones. These fish are used to being fed and also used to human presence but a stealthy approach is still needed.
Now get the kit together – we find that the Carp we encounter, mainly Common and Mirror but also Koi and Ghost, can be handled on a #7 weight outfit. You may prefer #8 or #9 weights if there are a lot of snags like lily pads or sunken branches or big fish. A floating line is best and for best handling of the bulky flies a short headed line is best but a standard WF line will suffice.
We use 9ft tapered leaders of 8lb breaking-strain and add a short tippet of about 3ft of appropriate copolymer or fluorocarbon depending on the presentation. A box of Pedigree Chum mixer biscuits or other brand of similar biscuits is needed along with deer hair flies (about 10mm) to imitate the biscuits. If you tie your own flies its vital to have strong hooks and there are lots of Carp hooks out there.
Essential kit you may not have includes an unhooking mat, weigh sling, decent scales, catapult, large landing net with long, strong handle (we find the new rubber mesh nets great as they don`t smell badly in the car). Forceps, debarbing pliers, floatant, plenty of paper tissues and a dessicant powder to dry the flies are also needed.
An old towel is useful as the fish sometimes thrash around on the mat and a damp towel placed over the head stops this.
Get everything set out in advance and don't forget the camera. You could catch the fish of a life time and without that piccie no one will believe you!
We have found that you have to attract Carp to your swim so catapult dog biscuits out. If the fish are there they will soon find them and start feeding. Keep putting offerings out until they are taking the biscuits very confidently. You will find that every sea gull, goose, swan etc will home in on the free offerings but soon the Carp will come and then you can get excited. Its time to fish.
Its not long distance casting as you need to see your fly among the free offerings so a cast of 30 - 40ft is ideal. DO NOT retrieve the fly. Be patient and let the Carp find your fly. It can be very frustrating as every biscuit except your fly is taken. Is the fly riding too high, too low, drifting at the wrong speed, is the leader visible?
Get more biscuits out and sooner or later a fish will come to the fly . It may just poke it. They often do but then return and take it. The bite is not like that of a Trout. The Carp opens its mouth and sucks the fly in and may blow it out very quickly. That’s why you need to see exactly what the fish is doing. You will miss plenty of takes but then the magic feeling of being connected to a Carp will happen.
The Carp we catch are usually in the 8 – 10lb class and once hooked they go off onlong , powerful runs. Don’t try and stop this first run. After this you can get some control over the fish and you must not allow the fish to plough through a conventional anglers tackle otherwise you will not be popular!. Know your gear and use plenty of sidestrain including if necessary a bit of “down and dirty”.
Dog biscuit patterns are the best way to hook your first Carp but we have also caught on Klinkhammers, buzzers, damsel nymphs, hares ear etc so be prepared to ring the changes.
Recently the North West region of GAIA held a CPPD day at Stocks Reservoir and we did a brief presentation on fly fishing for Carp and Roger Miles, an excellent all round angler, came up with some great suggestions which we will be trying out this year . With Carp experiment and be prepared to think out of the box.
If you get the Carp feeding confidently then fly fishing is a great way of having fun with powerful fish when Trout are not feeding well. Carp love sunshine (what's that?) and warm water so why not give it a shot. You will be hooked.
There is currently a growing interest in this type of fly fishing and it does no harm to have a basic knowledge of how its done as its always useful for instructors to know in case clients enquire about it or want a guided session.