So, you want to try your hand at chasing carp on the fly this Summer, you want to feel a freshwater fish empty your reel only to run right back at you? Well, we’re here to help you out by sharing the essential gear and tactics you need to fool and land one of these powerful, and sometimes ugly freshwater fish.
A Reel With Smooth Strong Drag
Carp are strong fish that have boundless energy (due to the fact that they don’t build up lactic acid in their muscles) and love to make long head rushing runs at full speed whenever there’s a fly stuck in their face. So your reel choice becomes more important than your rod. Many carp on the fly anglers use rods as light as 3 weights to chase these cowboy bonefish. In our opinion having a large arbor reel with smooth drag is more important than your rod weight. Even small 5lb carp are capable of insane strength so protecting your tippet is imperative at all costs, don’t be afraid to let them run a little bit at first while you try your best to catch up, its a helluva ride.
A Diverse Fly Selection
Despite their appearance, Carp are some of the most intelligent and picky fish out there. They have insane senses of smell, feel and sight which can make them tricky to fool if you don’t have the right flies. Carp live in all sorts of places and they can eat just about anything, so you need to dial in on what the carp in your fishing area are actually eating. I have caught them on everything from tiny #18 trout nymphs to 3-inch long streamers. When you get to your fishing spot, pay attention to how and what the carp are feeding on, is it leeches? nymphs? corn? maybe even dry flies? All of those questions will show you what to cast out to your target, and what to have in your fly box.
Polarized Sunglasses & Hat
Most of Carp fishing on the fly is sight fishing which means having a pair of good polarized sunglasses will greatly improve your odds of spotting a carp and successfully sneak up on them. Because of their size, carp are relatively easy to spot from a decent distance, and seeing them before they see you is key.
A Stealthy Approach
As we mentioned earlier, carp have superpower senses, because of their size they make easy targets for many surface dwelling predators, so they are always looking over their shoulder. When you spot happy feeding carp, it’s key to first decide how you are going to approach them. First, you want to figure out which way they are facing and plan your approach accordingly. You want the fish to have its head facing away from you so you can move in closer to make your presentation. Now some may scoff at the idea that bright clothing spooks fish, and it may not spook all of them, but wearing muted natural colors is certainly beneficial when sneaking up in close on these wary fish.
Unless you’re throwing dry flies to carp feeding on the surface, you’re going to want to use fluorocarbon. Fluorocarbon is clearer than monofilament and sinks faster which are major benefits when trying to convince carp to eat a fly, especially when they are on the move. We recommend using our zero-twist leader set up so you can quickly change your tippet out if you need to size it down when the carp are being frustrating and refusing flies.
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!