It is apparent by looking at social media that Carp Time is the Right Time! For once I am totally in agreement with social media, fly fishing for carp is by far one of the most excited and most rewarding experiences a fly fisherman can have. For everyone that thinks that carp are a trash fish, not worth your time, please continue to think this so that I can fish them in your stead. But for those that already know how fun these fish are let’s take a moment and all agree that when you set the hook on a carp they sound like R2-D2 screaming. Ok, so they don’t literally make that sound, but I swear in my head, that is sound I always imagine them making when I set the hook.
Disclaimer: I am not expert on fishing for carp, I am a novice!
Here are some of the challenges you will experience if you have never fly fished for carp:
- Not using the proper rod can be disastrous.
- Not using the proper leader can be disastrous.
- Not using the proper tippet can be disastrous.
- They are easily spooked.
- They can see you coming.
- They can hear you coming.
- They put off a pheromone to warn other carp around them that there is danger.
- They stink.
- They will slim you.
- You must be able to cast to them accurately.
- They always swallow your fly; you will need forceps or barbless flies.
- You’ll never truly know what fly they are feeding on; they eat everything.
- You will get skunked fishing for carp.
So why are they so much fun?
Remember the biggest brown trout or small mouth bass that you ever caught; remember the fight that they put up. Remember how your line reel screamed as that fish tried to muscle towards its freedom. Now remember that pure joy when you finally netted that beast. This, my friend, is why carp on the fly has been getting so much attention. Carp are powerhouse fish- even the smallest will probably take you to your backing like a big trout or bass will do- you will have to fight them every step of the way to shore/boat. These fish get big, really big! Good luck if you are using a traditional trout net, because these fish will probably not fit into one of those.
Okay, okay, so maybe you are one of those that do not care for the fight that these fish display, nor how big they really can get. Instead you are more of technical fly fisherman; you dream of the perfect stalk, then the perfect cast, followed by a perfect mend, then a tight line, finished by the perfect take! Well carp do not suffer fools; they require all of the action and precision that a technical fly fisherman love about the sport and more.
Going back to the disclaimer; I am a novice when it comes to fly fishing for carp, but I am not a novice when it comes to fly fishing in general. Fly fishing for carp is a very humbling experience to say the least. You will have to be able to read water, stalk carp, and be very sneaky; the slightest noise or shadow will send these fish racing away. Also of note: carp often feed in packs and let out a pheromone when they sense danger warning the other carp nearby. If you scare one you scare the whole pod away as well. Well shit! Yep, even if you are good at reading, stalking, and being sneaky, you will have to choose the perfect fly, be able to sight cast with precision (within one foot in front of the fish), then you will have to slowly get your line tight, and patiently wait on the slightest tug (unless you are using a strike indicator, which can also be disastrous if it spooks the carp). Well SHIT! Like I said, these fish are a technical fly fisherman’s dream come true. Ultimately if your fly line, leader, or tippet touch these fish, if your fly line or fly makes too much noise hitting the water’s surface, if you are lazy, impatient, and do not respond to the slightest take all of the carp you were fishing for will disappear into a big cloud of mud. WELL SHIT!
Honestly it blows my mind when someone one (spin fisherman and/or fly fisherman) says they wouldn’t fish for carp. I always hear, “ugh, I wouldn’t eat them; why are you fishing for those fish?” Who the hell cares if they are not desirable to eat! When was the last time you went fishing solely for the purpose of catching to keep? Let’s be honest, you never went to catch to keep, you went fishing to catch fish- to experience the fight. If you want fish to eat, save yourself money on a fishing license and go buy a fish at the local supermarket. Carp fishing will not only humble you; it will make you into a better technical angler, rewarding you with the fight of a life time-that you earned- every time you hook into a carp.
P.S. If you are still not impressed with carp, please continue to not fish for them. It makes fishing a heck of a lot easier when I am not elbow to elbow with people.
P.P.S If you are interested in carp on the fly then I suggest you read/buy this book: Carp on the Fly: A flyfishing guide by Barry Reynolds, John Berryman, and Brad Befus