Thursday, March 31, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: What Was I Thinking?

I took off for two hours today for some Carp on the fly at the local ponds.  Activity and aggression has been steadily decreasing since the explosion of feeding that happened at ice-off.  There are fewer shots and I have had to go way smaller on the presentation and way slower on the drop.

After about half an hour I found some Carp slumbering in the middle of this hot mess.  Why not?  I put on a un-weighted size 12 rubber-legged hairs ear, cast out past the mess and dragged through and around the maze until it dropped slowly past the carps left eye. 

As it turns out the worst possible thing happened.  The carp woke up, turned and immediatly engulfed the fly.  I set the hook and the next thing I know I am tangled around every single branch in the pile.  What was I thinking?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Mission

Well my wife is off to Berlin to visit a friend.  I am so extremely happy for her, it is going to be a great experience!  It doesn't hurt that as part of the deal I get to go fly-carpin the Columbia with John Montana from Carp On The Fly  in June!

This week I have several missions. 

Mission1:  My son is on spring break so I am taking off work for some quality father/son time.  Mission 1 is to take him carpin.  We will head to the store to get him a big-boy rod and some corn shortly.  He is 7 and has finally expressed some interest in fishing this winter.  He has caught a Carp, trout and gills but has never been particularly interested before.  I am very excited, and fortunately I know exactly where to go to get him into some juveniles.

Mission2:  Unfortunately Daddy is a little at a loss as where best to go to get himself into some bigguns.  My favorite ponds are working for babies and the river is undoubtedly an option - but I am sick of both!  I had an hour or two this weekend to scout a couple of my favorite small lakes and saw nothing.  I am sure that there are some isolated bigger fish moving up shallow here and there on the right lakes and slightly larger ponds but I have no clue where.  Zack has several 1hour activity sessions at Anderson Park in Wheat Ridge this week.  During those sessions my mission is to scout as many of the surrounding ponds, lakes and streams as I can.  Some I know a little.  Some I have yet to visit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How I Roll (My Fly-Carpin Kit)

A recent comment / question made me realize that I have never made any mention of gear or setup in this blog.  I considered keeping it that way because I am not much of a gear-head, but for fun this is my typical kit:

Rod:  9' 8-weight St. Croix Avid.
Reel:  Billy-Pate Bone Fish Anti-Reverse Reel.
Line:  A cheap (about 50 bucks or so) weight forward 8weight of some brand or another.
Leader:  9' 2X (8lb) RIO FlouroFlex tapered leader.
Tippet: Once the tapered leader gets cut back about a foot I add 1 to 2 feet of RIO FlouroFlex Plus 3X (8.5lb) attached with a Bimini Twist.
Net:  Pronar Collapsible Trophy series net.
Pack:  A really cool fanny-style pack I found on a super-sale with magnetic latches (no zippers).
Flies / Fly boxes:  A truly embarrassing variety.  I think I have issues.
Misc (Valuable):  Needle nose pliers, cuticle scissors, fabric tape measure, fishing license.
Misc (Wasted Space):  Hook sharpener, thermometer, various indicators.

If you look carefully the only top-of-the-line items are the reel and the leader / tippet.  The reel is probably over-kill (left over from a past Salmon / Steelhead addiction) but does seem to help land fish.  I feel the expensive leader / tippet makes a little difference for very difficult fish but that may be paranoia.

The Bimini Twist connecting the tippet to the leader is absolutely critical if you are using light tippet for big Carp.  For big Carp you really have 4 options.  Learn this or one of the other 100% knots, use significantly heavier line, use a straight tapered leader or get comfortable with the fact that you are going to break some fish off at the leader / tippet connection.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Eaten By The Bear

Its been a heck of a ride. Two and a half months (9 outings) without being skunked fly fishing for Carp. In the off-season! Nearly every opportunity to get out seemed to match up with prime conditions, feeding carp and me on my game. There were even days mixed in there that would nearly rate as banner on my home river - which is among the most challenging bodies of water for fly-carpin that I have fished. was 70deg yesterday and then snowed last night and then melted off as the morning went on. This made for odd conditions today and I made the wrong strategy choices on when / where to go. Like the old cowboy in The Big Lebowski said "Sometimes you eat the bear and well...sometimes the bear - he eats you".

As a general note the behavior of the Carp in both the ponds and the river I am focusing on right now seems to be shifting rapidly. I think they are moving towards a late afternoon feed which is odd since I was expecting that all winter and it never came around. Man I can't wait for the lakes to start producing. Sometime in the next week or two hopefully.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: Fishing with The Mikes

I left my fishing connections in MI when my family and I moved back to CO a little over 3 years ago .  No big deal, there is something to be said for fishing alone right?  Solitude and all that.  Except fly fishing for Carp alone all the time starts to suck after a while.

Yesterday I took a friend Mike and his friend Mike down to the river to show them a couple of my favorite spots.  Ridiculous.  I can't even remember my own name most of the time.  Am I currently Tage, McTage, Trevor or Fly-Carpin?  Eventually I figured out that using Mike and Mikey works for them at least. 
Mike and Mikey Enjoying Some Un-Natural Beauty

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fly-Carpin Enters The OBN / MFC Fly Designer Contest

Fellow members of The Revolution.  Imagine a time in the future where the world really is a better place.  The people of the world are free, well-fed and at peace.  Our environment and fisheries are safe and healthy.  Feels great doesn't it?  Next imagine that in a couple of years you receive your favorite fly catalog in the mail.  You run for your man-sanctuary, flip to page X and bask in the stench of the Carp Fly section.  Bursting with innovative and constantly evolving patterns by Fly-Carpers for Fly-Carpers.

By fate I have a unique chance to possibly participate in this important step forward.  Roughly one week after I started Fly-Carpin and one day after I joined OBN the Montana Fly Company and Outdoor Blogger Network teamed up to announce a Fly Tying Designer Contest.  Only the bloggers of the OBN are eligible and the winner will have his fly included in the MFC Catalog, receive royalties and become a paid fly designer.

What a great opportunity for all involved.  OBN made some member bloggers happy which truly seems to be important to them.  MFC gets some sweet flies submitted and some great press.  And who knows...remember that awesome catalog of the future?  Maybe some of McTage's creations are included inside and the MFC logo is on the cover!

Here are the flies I am submitting.  These flies were all designed specifically with Carp in mind.  Naturally they will work for other species as well, but this is Fly-Carpin and Fly-Carpin is what we do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

McTage's Leather Trouser Worm Carp Fly

Update 9/1/2011:  The preliminary name of this fly was "Leather Head-Stand Carp Worm".  The final name is "McTage's Leather Trouser Worm Carp Fly".  A fly gets a goofy name when it earns it! 

This post gives the details on the leather version of the Trouser Worm.  This is essentially the same fly as the foam version except it uses the leather from a rabbit strip as the tail instead of foam.

The leather has some advantages over the foam.  While the action on the foam version is stunning I suspect it may occasionally be over-the-top for Carp in certain moods.  The leather still has great action but it is slightly more subtle.  Using leather simplifies the process and there is something to be said for natural materials. 

There are also some disadvantages.  If you are looking for a full-on headstand all the time then the foam can't be beat.  The leather loses a little buoyancy and drops the full headstand after it is fished for a while.  Fortunately It still falls, rides and lays hook-up and the leather usually sits slightly off the bottom.  This is probably good enough for most situations.

  1. Hook:  Size 8 Scud hook.
  2. Bead:  3.25mm Tungsten (put on backwards)
  3. Eyes:  #6 Stainless bead-chain.
  4. Body:  Red Amnesia Mono filament
  5. Tail:  Red rabbit strip with the hair trimmed down to about 1/8" length
Go Fly-Carpin!
(Hard to see the fly....he took it deep!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

McTage's Foam Trouser Worm Carp Fly

4/25/2013 - This post has been updated to reflect an evolved version of the Foam Trouser Worm.

This post details the Foam Trouser Worm, a later post will explain the leather version.

The standard San-Juan Worm may be a good carp fly.  It may even be a great carp fly, but I find it awkward to fish for carp and it lacks versatility for different presentations.  In order to have a better carp fly I wanted to improve on the standard San-Juan Worm in several major areas. 
  1. Fall, strip and sit hook-up.  A hook-down carp fly is just not natural.  The idea to go full head-stand came later.
  2. A fly with some decent action that can work on the drop, twitch AND strip as the circumstances dictate.
  3. A fly with some decent durability.
The Foam Trouser Worm and it's leather variant satisfy all these requirements..

  1. Hook:  Size 8 Scorpion Gaper.
  2. Thread:  UTC red waxed 280
  3. Bead: 3.25mm black brass bead
  4. Eyes: #6 Stainless bead-chain.
  5. Body:  15lb Red Amnesia Mono filament
  6. Tail:
    1. Uni Big Fly Thread, red
    2. Spirit river extra small glass bead
    3. 2.7mm black brass bead
    4. 14 1/16" thick, 1/8" diameter foam plugs made with a hole punch. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: March Carp Stillwater Action!

There is definitely such a thing as "The Bogger Effect".  There has to be.  I have been on a major roll fly fishing for carp since the second I started blogging.   
Today catching a carp was the last thing I had planned.  Last night I finally figured out the foam version of my worm.  It is pretty sweet - I included a YouTube video of the bath-tub test below.  I plan on submitting it to a contest in the next week and at least wanted to bang around the final version before I mailed it off.  The Mommasita was kind enough to authorize an hour or so of testing at the local ponds.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: Fly Fishing for Carp, Better Than Working

I get every other Friday off but this one is supposed to be cold in CO while Wednesday was in the 60s.  Fortunately I was able to switch it and head out for some mid-week carp on the fly.  Things started well.  Very early in the day I found a very nice sized carp tailing in light current.  It looked to be on the order of 15lbs. Easily the biggest carp I have seen tailing shallow in many months. 

I wanted to drop one of my prototype head-stand worm flies about 1 foot beyond and 2 feet above him and strip-bounce it across the bottom slowly through his field of vision.  I was about one small strip from the zone when a much smaller carp jumped out of his shadows to grab the fly.  I tell myself that when fly fishing for carp in the winter any carp is a bonus, but I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little disappointed to catch the 5lb baby instead of his mid teen bigger brother. 

After that a steady stream of surprises came out of no-where.  Trees instantly grew new limbs eager to claim my flies.  Other fishermen (the first I have seen in 4 months) appeared out of nowhere to fish what had started to feel like my own personal stretch of river.  I did hook three more (all on the worm) but a stick in the water cost me one while a nick in the line (or wind-knot?) aided another. The final fish lost - well that was just incompetence.  Oh well...better than a day at work, and so far the head-stand worm is proving to be a quality carp fly.   

On a brighter note let it be known that on this the 3rd day of the 3rd month of 2011 at least 3 of my favorite still-waters lost their lid - not that long now!