Tuesday, November 25, 2014

CARPTORIOUS: November to Remember

I have caught hundreds and hundreds of carp since starting Fly-Carpin.  I have posted about quite a few of them.  At some point, however,we have all been here before.  I saw a carp.  I cast at a carp. The presentation was perfect, I timed it just right and I caught the carp.  

Nevertheless I need to write about this November.  I need to write in order to remember.  To remember the differences.

You see, after you have done this long enough, carpin is like the movie Groundhog Day.  Everything repeats over and over, except everything is actually just a little different every time.  If you look hard enough you find that every single year is different.  Every month, every day and every single carp is different.  

This carp was resting with three others 15 feet from the bank in the back eddy of a small seam in 8" of water.  It was the smallest of the bunch, but because it was between me and it's bigger brethren it was the best shot.  Nothing new, except I had never seen a single carp in this section of river. Evidently construction had driven a well-know pod of carp downstream from their normal holding water.  

That is not all that was different though.  As usual I presented the fly with a drag and drop.  The current was a little more energetic than I expected though, and the fly ended up landing a good 6" upstream of where I wanted it.  Then things got a little crazy as this carp charged the fly with summer-like vigor as soon as it hit bottom.  That is certainly unusual in November, but to my surprise she somehow changed her mind and put on the breaks.  I usually avoid the term he or she for carp - but this was clearly a she.  Changing her mind is, after all, a females prerogative. 

And this is where everything is different.  Just a year ago I would have stripped the fly, or twitched the fly, or wiggled the fly.  I would have somethinged the fly in a desperate attempt to re-capture the magic.  I would have failed.  This time I just left the fly (a Chubby Chaser Leech) sitting there on the bottom, tail up and gently wiggling in the current.  A split second passed, and then another and finally an eternity as she held in position and carefully inspected my fly.  Then my fly just disappeared. 

This carp above was circulating in a clear pool.  I must have presented the same fly to it 15 times.  On the sixteenth it just swam through the fly and ate it so quickly and subtly that if I didn't see the fly go in it's mouth I would have never known.

This one was tailing in inches of water in a sewer outlet where I have never seen a carp.  The carp was so shallow that when it charged it threw a wake.  Feeding all those crazy primordial belly scales must make it hungry.

I was blind jigging my fly a couple of inches off the bottom in a deep run next to the bank as a steady stream of carp swam by.  I never saw the take, or the carp for that matter, but it actually worked and my line just came tight.

As much as everything is the same, it is always different.  I will remember.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fly Fishing For Carp Survey Results: Carpin's Dirty Little Secret

Fly fishing for carp has a dirty little secret. I am willing to share that secret but you gotta promise to keep it between us OK? Actually, I change my mind. Please share the hell out of this because I think it could really help people new to the game gain critical perspective.

The secret is this: It turns out that you don't have to cast very far to catch carp. As matter of fact it turns out you barely need to be able to cast at all - at least in the traditional sense. I bet some of you don't believe me, but that is OK because I come armed with data!

The following graph charts the distances where the 200+ respondents to our recent fly fishing for carp survey catch the most carp. Well over 50 percent of the respondents fly fishing for carp survey catch most of their carp at less than 20 feet. Almost 90 percent of the participants catch most of their carp at less than 40 feet. Most shocking of all perhaps, about 17 percent of them catch most of their carp at dapping range!!!!!

Chart of Survey results - At what distance to fly fishermen catch the most carp
The Internet has spent years and years convincing us that only master fly casters can catch carp on the fly.  Well, sorry to disappoint, but at least when it comes to distance it just is not true!  Personally I would actually counter that even trying to catch them at any significant range is usually counter-productive and damaging.

Now, that does not mean that a certain level of skill doesn't help - just that distance has absolutely nothing to do with it!  Getting close and presenting the fly are actually orders of magnitude more important.  Instead of practicing casting a line 80 feet you should first work on mastering your crouching tiger stalking heron. Once you have gotten the hang of getting close you should master several different short range casts and presentations that make a huge difference - some of which can be seen here:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carp On The Fly On The SUP: Episode 5

Not only was this my biggest carp of 2014 (so far), it was one of the best takes I have ever gotten, and it all went down on my Standamaran SUP.

For some details - You may notice that the carp initially starts to swim towards something that is NOT my fly (a Sculpin Helmet McLuvin).  I actually believe that the fish had detected the disturbance my fly was making during the drag part of the drag and drop and was moving towards that disturbance to investigate.  That is an aggressive carp!!!!  Way more aggro than I am used to around here.

At the time of course, all I knew is that it was not moving towards my fly, so I popped my fly a little off the bottom and then let it drop still.  The carp noticed my fly at that point and turned slightly to the left and accelerated to attack.  Sight fishing?  In clear water?  From a SUP?  To an 18lb carp? That attacks your fly like a bass?  And then smokes your drag?  Life doesn't get much cooler than that.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Carp On The Fly On The SUP: Episode 4

In this latest video I landed one of my biggest mirror carp ever and at that time it was the biggest carp of the year.  That is awesome in an of itself - but what is even cooler is that this carp was a topwater sunner in chest deep water.  This was essentially an open water sunner - which are often virtually impossible on foot.  I made the Standamaran SUP with the intention of being able to target carp in different scenarios - and here is one example of how it worked out.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Carp On The Fly On The SUP: Episode 3

Somebody recently asked me if Standup Paddleboards are the future of carpin.  I think that may be pushing it, but they certainly open up new waters, opportunities and scenarios for catching carp on flies, and that is why I made my Standamaran SUP last winter.

In Episode 3 of "Carp On The Fly On The SUP" I hook a decent ~12 to 13lb carp tailing on a small sand flat surrounded by waste deep water that is extremely difficult to access on foot.  I would have never had a shot at this fish without a SUP - and it was a really fun fish to catch.  

Note:  If you look carefully you can see a much much bigger fish tailing in the background that I never noticed in person because I saw this fish first and got focused.  A MUCH bigger fish.  I just noticed it.  And yes, I cried.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Carp On The Fly On The SUP: Episode 2

In this episode of Carp On The Fly On The SUP, Chris Galvin got in on the action with a rented SUP.  It was his first time ever on a SUP - let alone fly fishing from one, and he landed a total beast of an 18b carp.  He also fell in in the process.  For the record I was laughing with him not at him.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Carp On The Fly On The SUP: Episode 1

This September I had a brief two week window where I was catching some very good sized carp in an area of waste deep flooded brush from my Standamaran.  It took me a while to get around to blogging about it because I was lucky enough to get some of my best go-pro footage yet chasing these carp and it took some time to edit the video.

This is the first episode in a series of videos about the experience:

As you can probably tell, it was really challenging to land these carp.  I ended up using mainy 1x  and cranking my drag down and sticking it to these fish from the second I hooked them.  If you showed mercy - any mercy at all - they would destroy you.  

For the most part I was using black leech patterns like Chubby Charsers and Martin's Carp Bitters.