Friday, December 18, 2009

Carp Fly Fishing a new old sport!

Part 1

Carp--fly fishing for freshwater Redfish!
Want some excitement in your life?
Pictures will follow soon!

Fly fish for Carp! Grab a 7-9 weight rod, and learn how to sight fish, from a flats boat or by stalking the shallows in stealth mode. Get yourself some great polarized glasses, a wide brimmed hat or cap, colored black or dark under the brim, and, in short, get equipped and learn sight fishing techniques. Hone your stealth approach by sound proofing your boat, and bowing, not to Tarpon but rather by bowing low to reduce your silhouette during the approach to sighted fish. Learn to minimize your false casting and use more of a sidearm cast to reduce the line flying high overhead (warning the fish) and if it all comes together you will be into the Red Bull of the freshwater flats, the Golden Shadow, aka the Carp!

Here’s one of many fine articles on the web since this first article was published in the late 90s.

Add to that article this one from the same fine source at Midcurrent and if you haven’t subscribe as it’s free! Here’s another article that applies:

Everything written here applies except the bit on sunglasses and with Carp and the varied bottom conditions you‘ll find, learn how to select the proper color, shade and tint of glasses. Here’s a third source: great blog with loads of info scattered throughout.

Let’s look at how we might go about chasing the Ghost of the freshwater flats.

Das Bote!
For your fishing platform, go for a flats boat if you have access to one. If not, a John Boat, suitably outfitted can do a great job. Use flush mounted and supported plywood, covered with a good outdoor, quieting, non-slip carpeting as the casting deck. Whether or not, you want to go to the trouble of a raised platform is your choice but I've seen every thing from tied down coolers to a commercial available casting platform used.

Same goes for a poling platform in the rear. One of the nicest Jon "flats," boats I've seen was outfitted with securely tied down and lid reinforced coolers fore and aft, and used an outboard and trolling motor setup to augment the pole ability of the craft.

Of paramount importance is to remove all excess fittings, etc from that front deck area as any obstruction there will catch flyline, trip you, or otherwise cripple your stealth, approach, or casting ability. Although many flats boats have a flush deck, I like a lip on my boat which keeps loose fly line from blowing or falling overboard to tangle in the trolling motor or other under hull obstruction.

Can’t go wrong with a boat such as this:

My boat was an aluminum John Boat (Bass Boat style) by Grumman, 16 ft with a polling platform and a flush deck up front. I’ve since sold it but am looking for another as they are heard to beat.

Styling or Das Boots!
For footwear, go barefoot! When on the boat and in casting position, any footwear that can catch a fly line will do so and that includes anything with shoelaces. If you do need shoes, use a square knot in the laces and take the loose ends and tuck them into the sides of the shoes. Keep a pair of flats booties, tennis shoes or diving boots handy for the times when it becomes necessary to go overboard and wade the last few yards to get into that "just right" position.

Some folks prefer to use a shooting basket and they are great but in tight quarters can be a hassle. Other like a larger waste can style of line container. One commercial offering, the Line Tamer, is a clear, bottom weighted, plexiglass tube affair and is good looking, very functional piece of support equipment. For the do-it-yourselfer, get a kitchen sized, preferably oval or round trash basket, two and a half feet high or so, put a 25 lb barbell plate in the bottom and "voila," your own line tamer.

Clean and uncluttered!
No matter what your craft, keep it clean and uncluttered. Functional, quite, easy to pole, a clean casting deck with sides to keep the line from blowing --if you guessed canoe--you have it right! A canoe or a flats boat raises the odds of getting into big fish. Take a look at the following links and info on fishing from a canoe or flats boat! You might notice a few more similarities between Red fishing and chasing the Bronze Bull!

Use a shooting basket which is a great aid when wading or casting from a boat!
(pictures follow below)

Here are two great sources for tips on fly fishing in general and also chasing Carp! most any of the articles on Bonefishing, Permit, Redfish and other flats species apply.

Outfitting your boat: platforms and line tamers plus a different hat!

Carping the flats: take note of the map/notes. general Carp info several good Carp articles and other fish such as Gar, Buffalo, Suckers and Cats!

Flies and Depth!

I carry a couple of fly boxes when targeting Carp. First is a box of bend back woolies, let me explain. I tie a bend back fly such as this: many of these have too slight a bend but look at the Redfish Minnow Bendback which is about right. I tie the wooly bend back with estaz under body and a Grizzly Hackle then use a variety of hair for the wing from orange to olive, mostly in duller colors. This makes for a snag proof fly that imitates a crayfish/worm, etc. Weight some with a wrap or two of lead for water that’s deeper than three feet and tie off with a red head. Use heavy hooks for some and tie off with a green head as these are for medium depths of 18 inches to three feet of water and lastly tie up some lighter ones for shallows of 18” or less.

The other box has a mix of common still water nymphs, crayfish, wooly worms and especially Dragon and Damsel nymphs as well as a couple of muddlers or sculpin flies.

Sight fishing!

Sight fishing is more hunting than fishing and many hunting principles apply. Stealth, camo, good, no great, optics, and more make up sight fishing.
Here are a few tips on sunglasses for fishing. Of course get the best quality, UV blocking, etc etc. that you can afford.

Polarized Fishing Glasses work, Absolutely!!!
First, if there is glare, and there always is, they help a lot by reducing its blinding effect. Second, even without glare they selectively reduce other reflections from objects above water, including clouds and even the sky (the reflected sky gives most of its blue color to the sea). Finally, light coming from under water is slightly polarized in the vertical plane (polarized on transmission). The end effect is that the water seems darker and more transparent! But remember, it only works if you look at the water at some angle and not straight down.

Does it matter the time of the day?
Yes. Maximum polarization is obtained when the sun is at about 37 degrees from the horizon (in theory 100% polarization at the Brewster angle). If the sun is very low or very high the sunglasses will be of little help in filtering the glare in calm seas. A rule of thumb would be that polarized filters limit the glare from calm waters for a sun altitude between 30 and 60 degrees (but see next question). Anyway, it should be stressed that polarization won't help in looking directly at the sun (except in decreasing the overall intensity of everything by half). Coupling this with the tip above it pays to be on the water between around 9:30 to about 4:30 with a break around lunch. Keep the sun to your back as much as possible.

When the sea is ruffled the sun reflection becomes the familiar glitter, an elongated pattern of shimmering water stretching towards the sun. Because different parts of the glitter are reflected from different wave slopes, the degree of polarization varies from place to place. In those conditions the sunglasses will also help for high or low suns and the benefit will depend on where you are looking. As a side note, the width and length of the glitter together with the altitude of the sun can be used to compute the height of the waves without ever getting close to them!

Yellow or orange Provide less overall brightness protection, but excel in moderate-to-low level light conditions. They provide excellent depth perception, which makes them perfect for skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports. They also enhance contrasts in tricky, flat-light conditions. such as found in fishing and hunting.

Amber, rose or red Makes the world seem brighter. They provide excellent low-light visibility and enhance contrast (perfect for skiing and snowboarding in cloudy conditions). The vermillion, rose or red also enhance the visibility of objects against blue and green backgrounds, which makes them ideal for fishing grassy bottoms while amber lenses and brownish excells for sandy lake or stream beds).

Dark amber, copper or brown Blocks high amounts of blue light to heighten contrast and visual acuity. Particularly useful to improve contrast on grass and against blue skies. baseball, cycling, fishing (especially in waters with grassy bottoms) and against sand.

Gray Color-neutral, which means they cut down on overall brightness without distorting colors. These darker shades are intended primarily to cut through the glare and reduce eyestrain in moderate-to-bright conditions. all outdoor sports in bright light conditions.

Three kinds of light are associated with sunglasses: direct, reflected, and ambient. Direct light is light that goes straight from the light source (like the sun) to the eyes. Too much direct light can wash out details and even cause pain. Reflected light (glare) is light that has bounced off a reflective object to enter the eyes. Strong reflected light can be equally as damaging as direct light, such as light reflected from snow, water, glass, white sand and metal.

Ambient light is light that has bounced and scattered in many directions so that it is does not seem to have a specific source, such as the glow in the sky around a major city. Good sunglasses can compensate for all three forms of light.

So as you may have figured out, the color of the fish, the color of the bottom, the color of the surrounding foliage or background, the color of the sky and more all dictate the colors of your polarized lens. I’ve narrowed mine down to a pair of very light yellows for early and later, or low light conditions and a pair of brownish yellow for general sight fishing. I do carry a third pair at times for open water/very bright conditions and these are a dark neutral grey.

Lastly on optics, get good side shields and wear a hat or cap with a dark underbill so that your eyes are enclosed in a cocoon of dark. The last thing you need is reflections or light coming in from above, under or around your glasses.

The Quick Cast!

This cast does a couple things for you including minimizing rod and arm movement, and quickly getting the fly out to Carp at distance. To start the cast, peel off about 30 feet of line from the reel, pinch the fly with barb outwards between the index finger and thumb of your line control hand and allow the long loop of line and leader to float out behind you on your casting side. Upon spotting Carp, stay crouched and orient your body to casting position for that fish, drop the fly and roll cast simultaneously to aerialize the looped line. Double Haul, with a both a backward and forward shoot to increase line distance and then into your forward cast, shooting to reach the fish. Use a side arm movement following the roll cast to keep rod and line low. When doing this from a boat, do not allow loop to increase to a length that could tangle with the prop.


When wading, shuffle do not walk, and shuffle ever so lightly keeping the lightest of contact with the bottom. Move slowly, keeping one foot planted until you are sure of footing for the other. Wear enough boot or bootie to protect your feet. In all but the sharpest of rock bottoms, I prefer flat booties, the moccasins of the shallows. These an be bought large enough to fit over stocking foot waders if the water’s a tad cold. Wading boots are fine but a bit crunchy so opt for a soft rubber or felt sole. Imitate the Great Blue Heron, keeping any unnecessary arm and head movements to an absolute minimum. Look a lot, move a bit. Keep rod low and keep your balance as the minute you lose it the results are arm waving which is a no no. Use shirt pocket binos to scan the outer fringe of your vision as these will pick up a tail or a back much faster than the naked eye. Learn to identify nervous water caused by fish movement subsurface and small wakes

Always be practicing casting, especially for accuracy, before and as you go, especially when there’s no apparent fish to be disturbed, as this is a distance combined with accuracy battle and you’ll need the edge of being able to feather and drop a fly lightly out at 50 feet quicker than you can imagine.

1 comment:

  1. Part two will include more on how to including flies, methods, and more. By the way, my first fly, circa 1949 or so, was tied as a Mulberry imitation out of TShirt material and soaked with Mulberry juice for color and odor. Later iterations used kite string. Thanks to Blind
    Eddy, my cousin Buddy and an old colored gentleman in Springfield, Ohio's Snyder Park lakes in Springfield for cultivating this at an early age.