Within the past few years, fly fishing for carp has seen a huge surge in popularity. What was once labeled a worthless and trashy fish is now something anglers of all skill sets chase.
Carp were originally a cheap food source because they multiplied very fast and were very durable. Their hardiness and growth allowed the carp to populate the local water very quickly. Carp thrive in un-kept water throughout the United States, and this contributed to their handle as trash fish.
There are anglers out there that happily refer to the humble carp as the golden ghost or golden bones. They draw district comparisons between the saltwater Bonefish and the freshwater carp. This is a stretch. Carp don’t leap out of the water like Smallmouth bass, and they’re not a pretty fish like the brook trout is. Carp don’t make blazing runs like Bonefish or Steelheads. Instead, you get a rubber-mouthed, coarsely scaled bottom feeder. The fish has very large and round eyes that give it a constantly surprised look.
The surge in popularity among fly fishing circles is due to the carp’s strength when you manage to hook one and their uncanny ability to avoid being caught. Carp fly fishing presents a unique challenge and a puzzle that thousands of anglers are desperate to overcome by hooking their own carp. Once you start fly fishing for carp, you’ll see the puzzle is much bigger than you originally thought. Some anglers are convinced fishing for carp is just as challenging as fishing for Bonefish.
As a species, carp are very intelligent, and anglers are convinced the fish learns how to evade capture. With the recent surge in popularity for carp fly fishing, it’s almost a guarantee that the carp will continue to learn and get more challenging to catch. This is part of the reason why you can find carp in almost any water across the United States and Canada.
A lot of fly fishing for carp involves stalking the fish in shallow water. This adds a fun element to your fishing, and the carp will charge away once you manage to hook it. When you combine the sheer challenge this fish poses with the ability to learn, it’s easy to see why fly fishing for carp is quickly taking over some anglers.
The new tools and techniques will evolve to help the anglers capture the elusive carp, and this lends more excitement to this style of fishing. Carp are also readily available, and this makes carp fly fishing a sport the whole family can enjoy. You don’t have to travel far to find lakes or streams packed with this fish. They could be right in your own backyard.
Are you ready to get everything you need to capture the elusive golden ghost? If so, read on to find out everything you need to know about hooking the humble carp.
Fly Rod for Carp – Redington Path II Outfit Fishing Rod
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This is a medium-fast action rod that will work well in saltwater and freshwater. It comes in nine different sizes with wooden reel seats on six weight models. When you get to seven weight and above, the reel seat switches to a more durable anodized aluminum reel seat.
The rod features alignment dots that make it quick and easy to put this rod together, and they’ll save you valuable time when you’re out trying to catch your carp. The rod flexes and bends without creating weak points or snapping when you hook a heavier fish. When you need to transport or store this rod, it has a durable Cordura rod tube. Inside the tube are rod dividers that keep each piece in place when you have it in the bag.
- Available in a few sizes
- Has wooden or an anodized aluminum reel seat
- Comes with alignment dots
- May not flex enough
- Tube isn’t very durable
Fly Reel for Carp – Redington RISE Fly Fishing Reel
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This reel comes with a compact and smooth carbon fiber drag system. The body is a durable and corrosion-resistant anodized 6061-T6 aluminum that has CNC machining. You can pick from four sizes to match your fishing style, and the oversized drag knob makes adjusting it easy.
- Comes with ergonomic handles
- Available in four bright colors
- Has an ultra-large arbor
- Can wobble
- Soft-touch handles can wear out
Fly Line for Carp – Piscifun Sword Fly Line Weight Forward Floating Fly Fishing Line
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This line works well for beginner and expert anglers. It has a bigger diameter and a longer head to help you get accurate casts. The braided core gives you lower memory in every weather condition, and it has a slick outer coating to help the line go and come back to your rod smoothly.
- Comes with a welded loop
- Available in 10 sizes
- Has a slick outer coating
- May not cast as aggressively as you need it to
- Not strong enough for bigger carp
Different Types of Carp to Catch on the Fly
Did you know that there is more than one type of carp? You have common carp, and this is what most nurseries choose to stock and release. Mirror carp have irregular scales and a more rounded shape than common carp. Leather carp have no scales. Instead, you get smooth, leathery skin. Larger leather carp are rare because they have such a slow growth rate. Ghost carp have a metallic sheen to their scales, and you can catch them with shades of silver, gold, or white on their scales.
For the best results, you want your carp fly to be wiggly and small. Woolly worms, crayfish imitations, trout-style nymphs, and woolly buggers in size 6 through 10 are very effective. You want to fish these flies underweight in very shallow water. When you go into two or four feet of water, switch to bead-head or lightly weighted versions of the flies. This way, they’ll drop down in the water right in front of the carp.
You want to use dull colors on your flies. Look for flies that are black, tan, olive, and shades of brown. Rainey and Umpqua are two fly wholesalers who offer carp flies that can imitate everything from canned corn to crayfish. Popular car flies include:
- Rubber-Legged Dragon – This yellow and black fly mimics the look of a dragonfly. It works very well in muddy water.
- Mean Old Dirty Frisco – Ty Goodwin came up with the design for this fly. It has a slightly larger profile, but it sinks very slowly. It works well with freshwater carp.
- John Montana’s Hybrid Fly – Designed to mimic a fly, this lightweight carp fly has large eyes that double as sinkers with soft and flowing streamers.
- Hogan’s Carp Bait – This brightly colored fly is slightly bulkier for deeper fishing. You can cruise this fly along the top of the water before sinking it right in front of the fish.
How to be Successful While Fly Fishing for Carp
One of the best things you can do to increase your chances of landing an elusive carp is to have the correct fly pattern and weight. Carp have specific food sources and feeding patterns they like more than others. If your fly mimics them, you have a greater chance of the carp taking the fly. Do your research and see what is in the body of water you want to fish. This will give you a great indication of which fly patterns and weight to use.
Your fly presentation is another huge point you have to keep in mind. If you accidentally cast too hard and your fly smashes into the water, it’ll scare the carp away. The drag and drop method is one of the most popular ways to fish for carp. To do this, you drag your fly away from where the carp is. Once it gets a decent distance away, let it sink. This will mimic the carp’s prey fleeing from it.
It’s also important that you pay attention to how the carp is acting. If they’re splashing on the topwater, they’ll ignore you. Fast moving pods are another one to avoid because something spooked them. You want to see singles or slow moving pods. If the carp’s head is down and their tail points toward the sky, this means they’re feeding. In turn, you have a greater chance of landing one.