Sunday, October 30, 2011

Matt's Bucket, The "Double" Davy knot and Synergy

A couple of weeks ago I posted a little bit about the 16-20 terminal knot.  I was hoping to generate a discussion and create some synergy with that post to the point where I was a little more argumentative in the comments than I would normally be comfortable with.  Based on those discussions it would seem that most people are in the same boat I have been in.  They have tied the improved clinch since dirt was invented and are reluctant to bust a move, particularly since most options seem to have serious draw-backs beyond strength.

A gentleman named Matt has started a new blog.  So far he is focusing heavily on gear reviews and how-to type content.  Good stuff if you are looking for a more technically bent blog.  He has brought my attention to a couple of recent posts that really have me excited; Tying the "Double" Davy Knot and Knot Testing.  Matt worked hard on these posts and they significantly expand upon my own puny attempt at knot testing.  I am sure he started his testing campaign before my post, but nevertheless, this is the kind of synergy I was hoping for. 

I have actually been using the 16-20 off-and-on in live action.  So far it has held up OK but I did lose one really nice carp where I felt like the knot did not hold up well.  Frankly it seems to be a good knot when tied correctly, but a difficult knot to tie and a very difficult knot to tie consistently.  And the Davy Knot?  Super fast, super easy, uses minimal tippet and would appear in my own preliminary testing to beat the improved clinch AND the 16-20.  I will have to work with it some more, but I think there is a new favorite to take over the business end of my rig.  Thanks Matt!

Friday, October 28, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: Wet-Wading In October

Between 6 to 8 inches of snow this week and a wee little bit of cold-induced laziness, getting out for some fly-carpin seems unlikely this weekend.   I will just have to share a couple of fun pictures from last Sunday.

After my sTankara experiment went right but also oh-so-wrong it was time to get serious.  Goofing off and being silly is fun and all that but I fish to catch fish.  Call it a lack of maturity if you will, but after burning the best part of the day I packed up the sTankara stuff, pulled out the normal fly-fishing gear and headed to a fresh stretch of river famous for holding numbers of relatively willing carp.

I also ditched the waders.  It was in the high 70's and I was wet-wading in late October!  You would expect the carp to be pretty active in these conditions but they were extremely passive.  Nevertheless I was able to coax (and I mean coax) a couple of carp to the fly. 

On the first fish every single carp in the area came running to see what was going on.  Almost every one of those dark shapes is a carp!  You frequently see other carp move towards or even rub up on a hooked fish during the spawn but in October?  Maybe this carp is popular, or maybe these carp were just gawking.
"OMG!  Did you hear?  Josh is hooked!"  "No way, lets go see!"
For the second fish I decided to try something new with my camera.  I used the rapid-shoot option to capture the release and them put the pictures together in a video Flip-O-Rama style.  If you don't have kids you probably don't know about Captain Underpants and Flip-O-Rama.  Your loss.

For those that might be curious about catching carp in the late fall both of these fish came on the drop from ambush with a super-soft under-hand pendulum cast dropped within 4" of the business end.  I need to get around to describing this method soon, it is deadly from an elevated ambush position. 

As the fall lighting fades to the dull haze of winter, fishing from an elevated ambush position becomes very important.  It does not always reek of glory but since you are very close you get a great view of the take.  On both these fish I got to see the carp surge forward 3", open their beautiful mouths and suck in the fly the rest of the way mid-drop.  Awesome!    

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do you sTankara?

"I felt like destroying something beautiful" - Fight Club

I started Sunday morning trying out an idea that has been rolling around in my brain for a couple of months.  I call it "sTankara".  sTankara combines some of the trendiest things going in fly fishing into one ridiculous package.  Tenkara, minimalism, fly fishing for carp and two-handed spey casting.  It starts with a 12'  "Uncle Bucks" graphite collapsible crappie pole  (12 bucks at Bass Pro) rigged Tenkara style and fished two-handed.  It ends with a carp.  Hell if I know what goes down in between.

Hooking two carp on my sTankara pole today brought some crushing clarity though.  First of all this may not be the best idea I ever had.  Second of all, attaching the line to the pole with a couple of over-hand knots will not and I repeat NOT get the job done.  Finally, I am gonna need a bigger stick or some smaller carp.  You didn't actually think I would give up just because it is a stupid idea did you? 

The action starts at 0:38.  Going to a section of river with bigger than average fish to try this out was as inexplicable as trying it out in the first place.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Want A Filtered Blogroll?

Would any of my fellow bloggers like a filtered blogroll that highlights suckers, Tenkara, pink elephants or whatever?  The Outdoor Blogging Network has recently added a section for guest-post blogging tips.  They were kind enough to accept a guest post on how to make a filtered blogroll using my yahoo pipe.  Its a good thing too because this place stinks enough without adding geek-juice.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scratch And Sniff Carpin

I frequently run into assertions that carp are ugly and stink.  Do they stink?  Do they smell worse than trout?  Dunno.  Honestly I never tried sniffing them.  Until Friday that is, when I decided to pay attention to some of the smells while out fly-carpin.  As a lucky bonus I caught a couple of carp and a nice 17" rainbow.  Time for a scratch and sniff comparison. 

A bonus 17" Rainbow Trout:

Even in the middle of the city trout smells of familiarity and comfort, the kids pond in Tin-Cup CO and family tradition.  It also smells like Grandpa, the best high-country fly fisherman ever.  He was THE trout ninja.   I am crying right now, which is unexpected.

Catching said trout on a fly you designed: 

Since the Primordial Crust is scheduled to be commercially available from Montana Fly Company next year as a "Carp Fly" this just reeks of irony. 

A fly-caught Carp:

The sweet perfume of the fly-caught carp speaks of discovery, adventure, resiliency and un-tapped beauty and grace.  Actually, minus the romantic BS it just smells like slightly urbanized river water.  Just like the trout.  What the heck did you expect?   

Catching said carp on a carp fly you designed:

Pure satisfaction!

Emergency potty break...
 With no toilet paper to be found.
Ignore the faint aroma of urban neglect and it mostly just smells like shit.  Obviously. 



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Carp Kit Update

My getup for fly fishing for carp has evolved a little bit since I first posted about it earlier this summer and here is an update with a little more detail.  This is actually pretty embarrassing when I list it out.  Somehow in the past 5 years or so I have evolved from a guy who openly scorned techno-weenies to a total poser. 


Rig 1:
  • 9' 8-weight St. Croix Avid. 
  • Billy-Pate Bone-Fish Anti-Reverse Reel.  Once you have gone AR it is hard to go back.
  • 8 weight Scientific Anglers Expert Distance line.  Which probably means I can cast 71feet instead of 70.  Pathetic.  My lame excuse is that I like the taper for carp.  Allot.
Rig 2:
  • 9' 7weight Sage One rod.  (Carp Slam Loot!)
  • Lamson Lightspeed Hard Allox Reel.  (Carp Slam Loot!)
  • 7 Weight Rio Gold fly-line.

  1. Micro-fibre lens cleaning cloth for cleaning glasses and camera lense
  2. Flybox 1 - Standards
  3. Flybox 2 - Oddballs
  4. Flybox 3 - Prototypes and flies on the list to try 
  5. Flourflex plus tippet spools from 0 to 5x
  6. Knot-Sense UV glue.
  7. Various Flouroflex tapered leaders
  8. Hook Sharpener
  9. Cuticle scissors
  10. Hemo's
  11. Various indicators.  Rarely used.
  12. Some small BB lead weights.  Rarely used.
  13. Electronic scale.  50lb capacity, I am either an optimist or a fool.
  14. Promar Collapsible Trophy triangular series net.
  15. Olympus Tough Underwater point and shoot camera.
  16. William Joseph fanny pack with magnetic latches and no zippers!  I hate zippers.

  1. My lucky greasy and smelly Carpe Carpio hat.
  2. Costa Del Mar "Wave Killer" sunglasses.  Glass lenses, amber tint, blue mirror finish. 
  3. Simms wading socks. (Summer)
  4. Columbia wading shoes. (Summer)
  5. Columbia fishing shirts.  Definite poser gear but are nice in the heat.  (Summer)
  6. NorthFace pants. (Summer)
  7. Simms waders.  (Off-season)
  8. Korkers wading boots.  (Off-season)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

CARPTORIOUS: Hello Off-Season, Where you Been all My Life?

The weeks on end of predictable weather, wet wading and aggressive carp are gone.  They have been for at least a month now but I have been in denial.  Well it snowed and drizzled all day yesterday.  This morning I had to scrape the frost from my windows prior to going fishing and my state of denial can no longer sustain itself. 


I have failed to admit the inevitable, but I have also been looking forward to it in a sadistic way.  Last year I put in allot bit of time and effort and worked out how to catch carp in the river through the off-season.  It took some time (several months) to get the feel for how things work but in the end last off-season was probably the most rewarding fishing I have ever done.  Every fish landed felt like a triumph of epic proportions.  On multiple fish days I felt like I had climbed Everest, and in the end I came into the spring a much improved carper. 

Given all that what do you think I did on a brisk fall morning after the first snow of the year?  

Me thinking:  Nice lead-in, now cut to dramatic pictures of me holding huge carp....Oh yeah I screwed up all the pictures....badly....

Despite a blown river, the end of the season and disturbingly awful photography it was a good morning.  A very good morning! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vegas in April??

Last night my wife got second in a quarterly poker tournament at our WPTL amateur poker league and won a seat in the 3 day yearly tournament in Vegas in April.  My first thought was that I need to work extra hard to win a seat too.  My second thought was that I needed to work extra hard to NOT win a seat.  I have heard bad things about fly fishing for carp around Vegas, but I have also heard some intriguing things.  Lake Mead?????..... 

FLY-CARPIN WINTER RESOLUTION #2:  Dig up the dirt on Vegas area Carp Fly Fishing.  Any and all help welcome!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The 16-20 Knot? Never Heard of It.

For some reason fly fishermen put significantly less time and focus into their knots than our saltwater brethren.  Even those that play in both fresh and saltwater will tend to use more sophisticated rigging when fishing the salt.

Obviously freshwater fish are usually smaller and weaker than saltwater fish.  Most of the time it just doesn't make much sense to put to much time and effort into rigging for freshwater.  Those of us that fly fish for carp, salmon, steelhead and a couple of others need to make a better effort.  As a matter of fact I need to make a better effort.

I am pretty happy with my tippet knot.  I use a Bimini twist to a double surgeons and basically never lose fish at that connection.  Where I need work and help is at the fly.  I have been using the good old improved clinch since I was about 9 years old.  It is not the best option, but I am comfortable with it and can tie it quickly and very very consistently. 

It is time for a change and has been for quite some time.  Unfortunately I have had a hard time making a switch.  The main problem stems from my unholy and probably irrational addiction to flourocarbon in the 2x to 4x range for carp.

You can find lots of great data (and I mean data not conjecture) on the Internet for flouro in heavy saltwater gauges.  The answer seems simple and that is the San Diego Jam Knot.  Unfortunately I have worked and worked with that knot but either can't get it tied correctly or it just doesn't work in smaller sizes.

You can also find a ton of information on the internet comparing knot strengths in mono.  This article by Art Sheck is simply amazing.  If you use mono read this (pay special attention to what he says about tippet knots) and stop there.  The problem is that flouro and mono just do not and I repeat absolutely positively do not perform at all the same when it comes to knot strength.  I spent several hours the other night running similar trials with 3x Flouroflex plus.  Either I am not tying most of the fancy knots in his article correctly or they just dont work as well in flouro because the good old clinch smoked them all....except the 16-20!  With the 16-20 it killed the clinch on the first trial and every trial after that where I got the knot to pop when I sinched it.  Sweet. 

Anybody else use this knot?  I am pretty pumped about it.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

September is Saved!

2011 has been a great year for me and so far I have caught around 4 times as many carp as 2010.   The learning curve has started to get friendlier. Until September that is.  All delusions of fly fishing for carp grandeur came crashing down in September.  As of September 29th I had caught one carp.  As in one more than zero, a whole bunch less than lots!

This is however, not a story of self pity and loathing.  There were 30 days in September, and that 30th day provided vindication and relief.  On Friday I arrived at the river at 8:30AM.  It was too early to easily spot fish so I went straight to a classic ambush location.  Feeding fish are readily available here tight to a bank of boulders but they get heavy pressure and the cover is inadequate.  If you want to sneak up on the fish you have to crawl down to the bank as slowly as possible taking advantage of the light brush when available.  After taking a good 10 minutes to slither down I was in position.  So far so good, there were about a dozen fish holding tight to the boulders roughly 10 feet away.  Most of them were still in an early morning snooze, but three or four where in a slight nose down attitude and one fish was tailing hard so tight to the boulders that his head was actually under an over-hang.

I was nearly on my belly using a clump of 10" tall grass to hide most of my profile.  I couldn't get off a cast though and had to partially raise my torso just to make an attempt.  Raising my head a couple of feet blew my cover and all the fish slowly but emphatically ghosted away.

But wait.  Remember that one fish tailing with his head under a boulder?  He could not see me and was intent enough on something delicious that he failed to notice all his buddies making for parts unknown.  I lobbed a lightly weighted Trouser Worm 3 feet past the stone over-hang dragged it back and let it drop slowly through the gap in the boulders at the bottom of the picture above.  The drop was about 6" to the left of where I imagined it's head to be.  With just a slight flick of it's tail the carp changed directions and after a brief pause I set the hook into resistance. 

What a relief.  I have caught many carp on flies this year, but even though this is a cookie cutter DSP carp (just under 9lb) this may be one of my favorites.  After all, it busted my September slump!  After that I was able to relax a little bit and get into a better flow and by the end of the day I had caught 2 more in the river.  I may talk a little more about one of them in another post because I would like some thoughts from others on how to deal with one particular scenario.

On the way home I stopped off at a local pond and nailed a couple of smaller fish on a prototype carp fly I am working on.  Progress has been slow.  Although the various iterations have hooked some fish here and there (including one in Oregon by John Montana) they haven't landed a fish yet.  I am not certain they are getting the response I am looking for and it was nice to get a couple of really savage takes with a happy ending.  This latest iteration is a combination of prototype 1 and 3.