Saturday, May 2, 2015


It has been a really really really good pre-spawn for me this year.  My best ever actually, but I am getting word of early spawning all over the Denver Metro area.  As your waters phase in and out of spawning season across the country remember - if you can ignore the spawners and find the wallflowers this can be one of the most productive times of the year.

Wallflowers are carp that are either resting or actively feeding during the spawn and they can often be found just on the edge of, or outside of, the main spawn.  These are positive fish and can be extremely good targets!  Just don't get sucked in by the fast cruisers and active spawners - its a rookie mistake.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ten Tips for Catching Carp In Muddy Water

I probably get more questions about catching carp in turbid water than anything else.  It is a tough topic but I will give it a shot.  Some of this comes from my own experience - some of it is based on discussions with other experienced carpers.

1)  Don't Settle For Chocolate Milk:  If you are trying to catch carp in really muddy water and having difficulty, the first step may be to look for the clearest water you can find.  That may sound like a cop-out, and it is to a certain degree, but bear with me for a bit.

The first thing to realize is that if you are fishing big water, water clarity can vary dramatically in the same body of water.  The location of the inlet, the wind direction, local vegetation and local bottom composition all change local water clarity to a certain degree.  If you spend the time to explore your water and pay close attention I think you will be surprised how different the next bay over can be.

The second thing to realize is that in many parts of the country the next carp pond is just a bike ride away.  Be sure you have exhausted your options before resigning yourself to fighting the good fight.

That being said you may legitimately have no recourse.  If all you have access to is dirty water, that is all you have.  All is not lost!

2)  Fly Color:  In dirty water I tend to prefer black flies.  Or black.  I hear black works as well.  It turns out that if there is any light penetration at all the color black is one of the easiest colors for carp to see in dirty water because it creates contrast.  

Surprisingly enough (to me at least), egg yarn colors also seem to also do well.  I don't know if that is because they are bright or typically include fluorescent UV effects but I know of quite a few carpers that do very very well with brightly colored egg patterns in turbid water.

3)  Lighten Up Man:  Generally the cloudier the water, the more likely I am to fish a lighter fly.  I have found that in low visibility it helps if you fly doesn't plummet for the bottom because it gives the fish more time to notice the fly mid-column when it has a chance of creating a contrasting profile.

4)  Flash Dance:  I used to use a bit of flash in my flies if I was expecting dirty water, and in general I think it helps a bit.  I don't as much any more because I can usually find clear water at some point in the day and want my flies to work there as well - and there is nothing worse in clear water than anything but subtle micro flash in your carp flies.  For a long time a black backstabber with an olive body with significant flash in the dubbing was my go-to fly in dirty water.

5)  Shallow Hal:  Be sure and check the shallowest water available in your water first thing every time you go.  Carp are actually extremely light sensitive, and they tend to be more willing to feed shallow if turbidity shields them from the sun.  As a result, in very dirty water you are much more likely to find them with their tails, or even backs, out of the water.  If carp are feeding in 6" of water you can almost always see them and they can almost always see your fly.  Also, your odds of finding super shallow carp go up if water levels are rising or high rather than dropping or low.

6)  The Suspense is Killin' Em:  IF you can find the fish tailing shallow enough that you can find them and IF you can sneak up close enough to dap them, the suspended dap is absolutely deadly in turbid water.  In the suspended dap you hold the fly under your rod-tip just a few inches off the bottom near the head of a tailing carp.  This insures that the fish has the best chance of detecting your fly and works so good.  Ohhhhhhhhhh so good!  And yes, it would seem to follow that suspending your flies just a smidge off the bottom with and indicator would work......I just haven't tried it, but that brings us to:

7)  Indicate This:  I know of several experienced capers who catch allot of fish in cloudy stillwaters using indicators.  Some of them suspend the fly.  Some of them put it on the bottom.  The key is that even when you do find the right carp in the right scenario in muddy water it can still be excruciatingly difficult to detect the take.  An indicator can help!  Another alternative is to watch your leader for any slight motion.

8)  Set Early, Set Often:  If you would prefer to skip the indicator and try and detect and time the take using whatever visible cues are available then I would advise that you should be liberal with your hook sets.  The fundamental truth is that if you NEVER set the hook you will virtually NEVER catch a carp in dirty water so you better make sure you are setting the hook at the slightest hint of a take.  All of the following (and anything else mildly suspicious) should be treated as a hint of a take:
  • Speeding up or slowing down of tailing rhythm.
  • A tailing fish who's tail suddenly disappears - It may seem like they have spooked, but they have often actually just leveled out in order to make a move on your fly.
  • A change of direction while tailing or cruising.
  • ANY change in speed while slow cruising.
You will foul hook a few more fish - and as we all know those don't count.  I am sorry, it sucks, but I don't know how you avoid that if you have any real intention of catching a fish except for possibly using an indicator.

9)  Subtle Cues:  When trying to find carp in dirty water you often have to look for more subtle visual cues.  Learning these cues can be a useful advanced skill in clear water too, but they are an absolute necessity in dirty water.  These include:
  • Tiny micro-wavelets in the surface caused by a carp feeding just under the surface.  When you learn what too look for these tiny little wavelets can be visible from a shocking distance in calm water and are unmistakable.
  • When carp feed on the bottom they often create a stream of bubbles because they liberate methane trapped in the bottom as they feed.  In general you are looking for bubble streams that are erratic and move.  The ones that are a steady stream of the exact same size in the exact same spot with the exact same rhythm over time are just little methane seeps.
  • Even in extremely cloudy water you can usually detect subtle changes in clarity that indicate a carp, or several carp, are feeding in an area.  When you detect that subtle change stop and take your time.  Often a tail will become visible with enough patience.
10)  Faith:  As always my final piece of advice is to believe.  If you don't believe that you can catch carp in dirty water you never will.  Keep looking, keep learning and most of all keep trying.  It will come.

Other resources:  I have always liked this article on muddy water carping.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Carp Fly Fishing Guides - Wisconsin

You are viewing the Wisconsin section of Fly-Carpin's carp on the fly guide directory.  Return to the guide directory map to select a different state.

Location: Southern Wisconsin
Waters:  Southern Wisconsin
Other SpeciesTrout
About"You'll get a half-day of fishing with a guide that knows the area, the fish, where to find them, and how to catch them. Whether it's getting your first carp, improving techniques, or going for the big one, I'm here to make your guided trip the best experience possible."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

TMD Swap - Stankify

Recent carpin has been so good for me, and today started so well, I decided to see if I could catch a carp on each and every fly I received in the The Midwest Drift fly swap.  I didn't pull it off, but man did I make a show of it!

When I was putting on the fly swap I would have such an weird emotional connection to the flies I received that I almost never fished them.  In an odd way I would associate the flies with all the hard work from putting on the swap and any time I would lose one it was a negative experience that just wasn't worth risking.  

This is better.

Ben's Underfuzz: 

Collies HS Evening Star:

DeMoss' Mixed Bag:

Mr P's Black Betty:

Rinehart's Hybrid Variant:

Updshall's Truckstop Charlie:

Zach's Butterball:


Friday, March 13, 2015

Carp Fly Fishing Guides - Pennsylvania

You are viewing the Pennsylvania section of Fly-Carpin's carp on the fly guide directory.  Return to the guide directory map to select a different state.

LocationFleetwood, Pennsylvania
Waters:  Susquehanna River and tributaries
Other SpeciesTrout, Smallmouth Bass, Pike
About"Located in Pennsylvania among legendary trout and bass waters an often overlooked and epic carp fishery is gaining ground. Nick Raftas of Sky Blue Outfitters guides for carp in the heart of beautiful Amish country in southeastern Pennsylvania, where carp grow to epic proportions in lowland rivers and creeks."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

If It Didn't Eat, It Didn't Count

So far I have made a conscious effort to not dictate any rules about what is, or is not, fly fishing for carp on Fly-Carpin.  Don't get me wrong, I have some strong opinions about scent, chum, weighing versus guessing, boga grips and other issues, but who the hell am I to tell anybody else what to do?

I heard some intel from a local carper today that I just have to make a stand on though.  Evidently some new recruits to the Denver cell of the Revolution have been overheard spouting the following nonsense:  "If you can't make them eat it, make 'em wear it".

Perhaps it is a joke, but it was described to me as real intent.  I don't know about you but I just threw up in my mouth.

So, lets just go on ahead and lay down Fly-Carpin's first ground-rule for non-poser membership in the Fly Fishing for Carp Revolution:

"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"

I guarantee you that I have 100% concurrence from every single hard core carper who has spent significant time perfecting the art of getting them to eat.  If you are snagging carp on purpose, and you think that you are accomplishing something...well you aren't doing what I do.

So, to be clear, if you want to do what I do.  If you want to do what anybody who truly has a passion for fly fishing for carp does.  If you really want to take on the challenge, then repeat after me:

"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"
"If it didn't eat, it didn't count"

Period.  End of story.  Non-negotiable.  That is not to say that you will not snag the occasional carp on accident.  It happens to everybody, but it is nothing to be proud of.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ten Keys to Carp On The Fly in the Winter

Until sometime in the past five years or so even the most hard core of us fly carpers would put aside dreams of big lips and gold scales in the winter.  No longer. Nowadays, many of us from all across the country treat fly fishing for common carp as a year round endeavor.  It turns out that because of their amazing temperature range, carp are one of the most viable winter fly fishing species not named Trout!    

So, how can you catch common carp in the winter?  Here are the top 10 keys:

1:  Faith (AKA hardheadedness):

The first key is to just believe that it is possible.   I can't stress enough how important faith is.  If you don't believe, you won't commit.  Chasing carp in the winter may be viable, but it is not necessarily always easy.  Commitment gets you past the steep part of the learning curve, when it will often seem like it just isn't going to work.  

I know, I know, the requisite level of faith can be hard to come by.  After all, fly fishers as a society have thought of carp as a warm-water species for a long time.  Well, they are not.  Because they have the widest temperature tolerance range of any North American freshwater sport-fish they defy shallow labels such as "warm-water" or "cool water".  Common carp are whatever they need to be, which is why they have managed to populate nearly every puddle of water below 7,000 feet in the nation. 

Perhaps I can help you believe a little.  Consider these facts:
  1. I myself have caught a carp every month for three years running.  Actually I have only missed one month in the past 5 years!  Although we have some unusually warm days here in Denver, due to our elevation we are typically considered to be in the same "cold" climate zone as the upper 1/3 of the United States.
  2. I have personally caught a carp while it was snowing.  I know of several people who have done the same.
  3. I have seen carp tailing under shelf ice.
  4. Carp live and thrive in 11 Mile Reservoir in Colorado - which sits at 8602 feet in elevation.  
Does this sound like a warm-water species?  Stop thinking of them as such and it will go a long way in bringing you faith.
2.  Running Water Helps.  Allot:

Most of my winter carp on the fly happens on the Denver South Platte River for two reasons.  First of all, most of the still-waters freeze in the Winter around here.  Second of all, even when they don't, it is much more rare to find an active winter carp in still-water than running water. 

It seems as though carp in still-waters can huddle up on the bottom and essentially hibernate.  In rivers though, they have to swim, and if they gotta swim they gotta eat!!  As a matter of fact, in the most productive areas of the Denver South Platte they actually put on weight during the winter.  Lots of weight.  Several pounds at least.

As far as I can tell, no matter what your climate, if you have carp living in running water that does not freeze over you can catch them in the winter.

Update:  A friend pointed out that the river can't be too large.  In large slow moving rivers like the Columbia, carp can just find a deep dead hole to hunker down in just like in stillwater.

3.  Warming Trends:

You may be surprised to know that the trend in the weather is often more important than today's high temp.  Winter Carp are much more likely to be happy and feeding if you are in a warming trend.  The first nice day in an big upswing works, but the day after that is usually better!

4.  Not So Low Overnight Lows:

You will be shocked to know that the over-night low is often ALSO more important than today's high temp.  The reason is that no matter how nice of a day it is, the water is a massive heat sink and it takes time to warm it up.  If the over-night low was 42 it takes a whole heck of allot less time to warm it up to active levels than if it was below freezing.

It seems like once or twice a winter we will get an over-night low in the high 40s or even low 50s here in Denver followed by a nice day.  On three occasions I have caught it, it has been one of my best fishing days of the entire year every time.

5.  Above Average High:

Carp are very adaptable, and they seem to adjust to their circumstances.  What constitutes a nice day seems to rely heavily on what is average for your location and time of year.  If you live in Texas and it is 50 degrees in the winter the carp are probably fairly unimpressed.  In Denver, I can tell you first hand that they are pretty happy with the situation.  In South Dakota you are in for a banner day if you can escape the biblical amounts of snow melt.  

In the depths of Winter here in Denver I usually draw the line at about a 42F high.  I have caught them colder but that seems to be the point where it gets ridiculously difficult.  I also personally start to turn into a total whiny-baby wuss if it is much colder than that.

6.  Big Ol Nasty Crayfish:

Well, NO.  Absolutely NOT.  I mean, I know crayfish flies are fun to fish, and the "carp only eat crayfish" mass delusion is at least as strong as the "carp are a warm-water fish" mass delusion but CMON!!!! crayfish are dormant in the winter, give it up.  I catch most of my Winter carp on Soft-Hackles, Leaches and Worms.  Egg patterns are also reputed to be ridiculously extremely effective.

7.  Down-Size?

Down-sizing your flies may or may not help in the winter.  Most people agree that it does, but I find that I don't actually bother most of the time and my most productive fly over the past two Winters has been a rather meaty size 6 Chubby Chaser Leech.  

8.  Stop Moving Your Damn Fly Already!!!!!

I don't move my fly very often anymore regardless of what time of year, but learning to present the fly and leave it rest for a moment or ten has made a big difference in my Winter catch rates.  Carp are rarely interested in chasing down dinner this time of year, stripping your fly is even less productive than usual.

It has gotten to the point where I find that I will actually leave my fly still for a full second or two. As I described in this post, I often find that a carp will take my fly after a long, almost uncomfortable pause.

If you do finally decide that your target has not noticed your fly or is otherwise uninterested you may want to give the fly a small twitch.  A very very small twitch.

9.  Find the Warm Water

Any river (and some lakes) has local areas of slightly warmer water.  Carp are very very good at finding these local hot spots.  Or not so-cold spots as it may be, because just a degree or two can make a very big difference in carp activity.  Examples include:
  • Water treatment plant inflows
  • Power Plant Discharges 
  • Freshwater Springs
  • Sewer Discharges
  • Dark bottoms subjected to sun-light
10.  Faith

Did I say faith twice?  Huh.  It might be important.