I don't know when or how this passion for flyfishing
for carp started, but maybe it was born long ago.
I was fishing a Ntional Trout Tournament on a beautiful
lake, surrounded by farmlands; fishing hadn't been exactly
cooperative, so I started walking along the shore towards
a place where no people were fishing. The water had
flooded the corn fields so the otherwise gin clear
water was a little stained because of the soft soil.
By the roots of a corn plant I could see some activity.
I couldn't see the fish, however I knew something was
going on there. I tied on a large black nymph. The
cast was not a long one, it must have gone 40 feet and
the fly hit the stem of the plant and fell into the water.
What happened next was really amazing. As the fly hit
the bottom I felt a little tug on the line. I set the
hook and there was an explosion of water and the fish
took off for deep water. There I was, a 15 year old
boy staring at his reel melting and his flyrod bent
like I have never had seen before; the fight was
long, maybe twenty minutes. Finally I landed the
fish. By this time lots of people had gathered
around to see what was going on. When the other
fishermen saw the carp they all started to laugh!
But it didn't matter, I took my fish to the scale
where it weighted 16.5 pounds! It was a really big
fish, everybody had told me how ugly and slugish carp
were. Later that day I managed to hook and land a
10 pound rainbow which give me my first National
Championship. But let me tell you, it wasn't half
as strong as the carp I had caught earlier. Since
that day I have been chasing carp with my flies and
I haven't found anything like a slugish carp, they
are always strong, vigorous and big.
Let's face it, what do anglers seek on a gamefish?
First of all they should grow big, second they should
take artificials and third they must provide a good
fight. In carp you find all those atributes. I think
the main reason for a fly fisher not to seek carp,
is most of us think of carp as bottom feeding, mud
eating fish that live in very polluted water. That
isn't completely right. Yes carp feed sometimes on
the bottom and yes they live in water where no other
fish could, but they also live in pristine lakes and
rivers and feed on the surface and anywhere in between!
Carp can be as selective as any trout I have met. Spooky?
Well have you ever been to a bonefish flat? Then you
might have an idea how spooky carp can be.
Another myth is that carp are slow fish. That is
not true, in fact carp can be faster than sockeye
salmon. Moreover, carp don't know when to stop
fighting, they keep fighting up to the end when
they are in the net and even then they keep fighting.
I think something else that keeps anglers from trying
to catch carp on flies is that most flyfishers are
not really convinced that carp take flies and that
is a major issue. To solve this problem let's
analyze the carps diet. It's true that carp can
eat plants, but they do what we can call bycatch
when they hunt their food. The main food source
for carp are nymphs, damsels, dragons, mayflies,
stones, caddis, crustaceans such as amphipods and
crayfish. When fruits and seeds are falling to the
water they take them from the surface as they do
aquatic insects. Carp also take advantage of the
terrestrial insects that find their way into the
water, so you can see a carps diet is much like
trouts. Taking this into account, why should a
carp couldn't be taken on flies? There is no
reason except that some fly fishers have
preconceptions that limit angling opportunities.
I hope you are convinced that carp can be taken on
flies and that they are a worthy opponent; let's
analyze the techniques to catch this magnificent
The most excitng thing about flyfishing for carp
is that its almost always sight fishing. In order
to do this you should be able to locate carp first.
You might be thinking if carp eat almost everything,
they could be anywhere! And the answer is yes, they
can be anywhere, but as with other fish species, they
need two things, food and protection. We will start
to look for them in places where shallow water meets
deep water, second we will look for them in places
where food items are abundant, where there is aquatic
vegetation, soft bottoms or gravel bottoms. It wouldn't
hurt to take a sample of the aquatic life and do some
observation before we start casting and walking along
the shores. Carp feed much like bonefish, you can find
them tailing in really shallow water or rooting in the
shoreline vegetation, or mudding in a shallow bay, and
you can find carp clooping on the surface taking insects
or seeds or fruits.
In order to succeed at catching carp you must be a
very acurate caster; if you are not now, you will be
after fishing for carp. Sometimes long casts to a
target of one square foot are needed, because the
window of a clooping carp is very narrow. At other
times you should perfectly time your presentation
with the movement of carp to intercept it.
Speaking of equipment, you should already have what
is needed. Most trout flies will catch carp, as well
as some saltwater patterns. For most of the cases,
a 7 weight with a floating line and a reel holding
150 yards of backing will be enough. Just make sure
that your knots are really good because carp will take
you to your backing. I strongly suggest you use braided
leaders because they are more sensitive than monofilament.
The tippet should be fluorocarbon and not smaller than
3X because carp have great vision and can get very
leader shy. Another useful item is a stripping basket
since carp fishing is done better walking the shores
and flylines have a special fondness for every brush,
branch and rock they can tangle with. Another important
thing that you shouldn't leave behind is a landing net,
a large one because carp are usually bigger than other
gamefish and since they don't know when to quit;
controlling a big carp by hand is a hard job.
As you see, carp are gamefish, and one of the best
things is, you can find them almost everywhere.
I'm pretty sure that there is a pond or lake close
to where you live that holds carp, don't underestimate
the waters potential. I have caught fish exceeding 20
pounds in small city park ponds. So take your fly rod
and your flies to the limit, accept the challenge FLYFISH for carp!
~ Xavier "carp" Molina