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nick k 03-06-2013 08:03 AM

Carp flies and tactics
Hey all. I know we have the "Carpin" thread going but this is geared towards anyone starting out on carp such as myself. I wasn't aware until recently that I live near some really great carp waters. I have never targeted carp before but am now looking forward to trying my hand at it. I was wondering if anyone could give me the basics of what I'll need, such as:
  • Rod weight
  • Leader/tippet size
  • Must-have flies
  • Extra gear
  • Strategies to hooking up
  • How to play the carp once you're hooked

Really any advice would be great. Thanks in advance.

brookfieldangler 03-06-2013 08:14 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
You are starting on a slippery have been warned :secret::D

Rod size - depends on your average fish. If you are going up against 5lb fish with the occasional 10lb'er....a 6wt. 10lb average with the occasional upper teen fish...a 7 would work. Anything above that an 8 is the way to go. The biggest reason for the heavier rod is so you have enough backbone to turn that fish around - if you don't, he will just keep going...and going...and going

Leader/tippet - I typically go with 6 to 7 feet of level leader (6 to 12lb test)

Must have flies - backstabber, carp carrot (soft hackle), egg pattern, a few natural nymphs, and some top water stuff for the occasional opportunity when they are surface feeding (caddis, mayfly, stimmies, etc...)

Extra gear - a net is handy as is a scale. Dont forget sun protection. The best carp fishing is during the brightest and hottest weather.

Strategies for hooking up - it takes practice but 99% of my carp fishing is all visual. The more you do it, the more you will recognize a take.

Once your hooked - just hang on. For the most part, the fish is in control or your leader (or rod) will be snapping. Put enough pressure to slow them down and they will usually cooperate. After the first run, they are typically a bulldogish fight with a lot of give and take.

nick k 03-06-2013 08:27 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
Great advice, thanks for taking the time to explain it all. I'll have to whip up some of those patterns.

fichy 03-06-2013 09:11 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
Nick, welcome to the addiction. I generally use a 6 wt with a reel with a good drag. I chase them in clear water for the most part, so I use a 12' with the last 3-4' being 3x fluorocarbon. You can go shorter in less clear conditions. Nymphs, wooly buggers (carp love crayfish if they're present in your waters) and egg/sucker spawn flies will all work.I would also never be without carp worms/San Juan worms with a beadhead or small beadchain in red, pink and chartreuse. I generally tie on 2x strong/heavy nymph hooks- they will straighten light trout fly hooks. Look for fish feeding, rather than cruising. Polarized sunglasses are a great help. You can spot fish tailing, or in murky water look for bubble trails (carp rooting in the sediment releasing methane bubbles) or discoloration from the surrounding water called "muds". If you can determine the direction or orientation of the carp, cast slightly ahead and to the side . I wait maybe 5 to 10 seconds and give the fly a slight twitch if I see or feel no response. Keep your line taught as carp are very quick at rejecting flies. If you can see them tilt up on your fly, strike! If you're fishing blind, strike at the first sign of tension. Flies with beadchain that ride hook-up are excellent, as they snag much less. Small Clousers can be effective, too- carp will eat minnows. One of the largest carp I've ever seen was busting a school of yellow perch! I've caught several over 20 lbs. using clousers in the 3-4 inch range. Not the norm, though. Carp are not overly fast swimmers and they'll roll rather than jump. Keep pressure on them, change directions of pull to confuse them, keep your rod tip down and let them tire themselves out running against the drag and fighting the rod butt. A large net is handy, though you can carefully beach them. Don't use a lipping device like a boga-grip- it'll do damage. There's many different scenarios and foods carp love - they truly are omnivorous- I could write pages and pages of what's worked at times. Get started and you'll learn a ton as you go. One more tip- carp are very cautious and have many defense mechanisms. They release pheromones when they get frightened to warn other carp out of the area. Lots of times, they are the apex predator in a body of water and will move off slowly when they've figured out you're there. They will NOT feed and you'll have to move on or wait them out. Move slowly and cautiously. It's as much hunting as fishing. An absolute blast. :) I fish north of Beantown in the salt quite a bit. I've seen some monsters in the Merrimack and I've heard the same for the Charles. I'm concentrating on stripers, so I've only caught a few near the coast.

brookfieldangler 03-06-2013 09:19 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
Those pheromones are actually not released simply because the fish is spooked. In other words, if you spook a fish and he bolts, the pheromones most likely have NOT been released.

They are called Alarm Substance Cells (ASC) and actually more of a mechanical release. If you grab a carp or step on one, then those ASCs would be released because you would be physically rupturing those cells. To sum that up, those cells are only released when physically ruptured.

With that knowledge, if you spook a fish from the area, sit tight, the fish will be back.

fichy 03-06-2013 09:44 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
Thanks for the correction. I had read that somewhere, and it seems to be incorrect. My observations from 50 years of carp fishing, 25 with a fly rod may have a little validity, but maybe not. I've watched countless times one carp move numbers of others off a flat when they are spooked. Probably more from vibration and water displacement. In my experience, carp spooked in clear water will be hesitant to return to an area to feed for 15-30 minutes. I usually move on. That's a generality , and carp behavior varies as much within a species as I've ever seen. Having no scientific background, it's just speculation on my part.

brookfieldangler 03-06-2013 10:02 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
Also having no scientific background, my info comes from Dr. Nicholas Gidmark, scientific adviser for the US Carp Pro Magazine.

It is possible that a spooked fish could release it though due to physical contact with an inanimate object like a rock or log, perhaps even another fish.

The point is that there has to be some physical contact in order for those pheromones to be released.

nick k 03-06-2013 10:14 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
All great information here. Very interesting behavior out of carp. It is possible that carp also have "follow the leader" behavior, as many animals do, and take physical cues from spooked fish, as well as biological ones. Either way, I will try my hardest to be ninja-like when going after carp.

brookfieldangler 03-06-2013 10:18 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics
They definitely can have that behavior from my experience.

If one fish gets spooked, their instant and explosive response likely spooks the other fish and a chain reaction ensues.

I have also seen, on many occasions, where a hooked fish has a straggler or two that seem to follow the fish wherever it goes. I laugh every time I see that.

nick k 03-06-2013 10:28 AM

Re: Carp flies and tactics

Originally Posted by brookfieldangler (Post 533773)
I have also seen, on many occasions, where a hooked fish has a straggler or two that seem to follow the fish wherever it goes. I laugh every time I see that.

I have also seen this behavior with many other species. It normally seems to be a case of relatives or mates to me, as the followers are often much different in size or apparent gender. Sometimes as well, for specific species, the followers are looking to take a bite out of the hooked fish.

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