Monday, December 31, 2012

RIO Carp Line Review

A couple of months ago RIO and CarpPro asked me to review the RIO Carp Line.  RIO's Carp Line is one of the few carp specific products currently on the market and for Fly-Carpin to not voice an opinion on it would be ridiculous.  Besides, as I posted before, this was a chance at redemption.

When looking at buying carp specific fly fishing gear I think you should probably ask yourself several key questions.  

Is the product actually going to give you a technical advantage?  AKA is this going to help me catch carp?

This is of course an impossible question to answer definitively.  I can offer my opinion though and that depends.  Some help I am eh?  Seriously though I think it depends on the situation.  In my opinion they shaded this line towards overhand casting at mid to long range for flats style carpin.  This line has a definite finesse feel to it with good precision and delicacy that will certainly help in this scenario.  Since flats style carpin is what gives most people sugar plums dancing in their heads I think it was a great move.

When you shade a products performance towards one area you typically give up performance in another area.  The good news is that RIO didn't totally unbalance the performance of their carp line worshipping at the alter of the "Rocky Mountain Bonefish" nickname.  For the most part the RIO Carp Line performs acceptably for other presentations and scenarios.

That is good because although I too harbor irrational dreams of being a tanned and muscular bro-ha poling a boat around a sunny flat, much of my carpin is less....less....glorious.  I often utilize a mish-mash of non-traditional presentations in the short to mid-range that goes well beyond the traditional over-head cast.  Flippin, skippin, floppin, lobbin, draggin and droppin baby.  For most of these the RIO Carp performs fine.

I had the most difficulty in the areas of roll-casting, single handed spey casting and line control during various drifting presentations.  At first I had extreme difficulty with turn-over and timing on these kinds of presentations and they can be hyper critical on a river.

The good news is that I got used to it.  The other lines I am used to (RIO Gold and SA Expert Distance) require less rod-speed and different timing for these kinds of presentations and it simply took some time to adjust.  The roll and spey casts need a little sharper and energetic stroke with the RIO Carp Line and line control takes different timing.  In other words, a little annoying but something I can work around just fine.

Now, for some circumstantial evidence.  I first spooled the Carp Line in late October and have done pretty well since.  As a matter of fact I have been on fire with six outings in November and December without getting skunked, a couple of 3 fish days and my personal best DSP carp at 22lbs.  That is far from shabby this time of year, and may be one of my most impressive periods of carpin on the DSP.  Can I say the RIO Carp Line is responsible for this hot-streak?  Of course not.  I can say for a fact that it has not hurt though.

Concerning some of the details -

  • The line comes with a "cold water" formulation that has been perfect for my late fall escapades.  I noticed no issues with the coating in air temps ranging from the low 80's (crazy this time of year) to mid 40's.
  • This line comes with RIO's welded loops.  This will save you roughly 20 minutes making your own loop or some frustration with a nail-knot and is pretty cool.
  • The muted color is one of the advertised design features.  I scoff at that a little because although a drab color is important I fail to see how it differentiates this line from at least half the non-carp lines available. 

Is the product going to bring you a confidence advantage?

Personally, flies have a profound effect on my confidence.  I enjoy fancy gear (aka rods, reels, lines) as much as the next guy but it does not affect my confidence even a smidge.  Something about growing up fishing cool old hand-me-down bamboo rods and automatic reels held together with tape and bubblegum I suspect.

That is not the case for everybody though and honestly I can understand.  So yeah, I suspect that if you are starting out fly fishing for carp the RIO Carp Line might be a very good move.  If you have to honestly concede that having that specialized bit of gear makes you more confident I would say go for it on that basis alone.  Simply stated being confident when you are fly fishing for carp is INVALUABLE.

Is the simple fact that the product is labeled "carp" going to bring you pleasure?

I mean, cmon, you are dealing with a dude that would wear a fly fishing for carp t-shirt to a wedding if he could pull it off.  For me, the simple answer is YES.  I like fishing a product with the word carp plastered on the side of it allot.  I cannot deny that I find a small element of materialistic pleasure involved with fly fishing and this line feeds the need for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Industry Interview #2: Trout's Fly Fishing

This is the second in a five part series of interviews exploring the relationship between fly fishing for carp and the industry. This interview features Will Rice, Director of Marketing at Trout's Fly Fishing  (a fly-shop located at one of the epicenters of fly fishing for carp in Downtown Denver) and was performed in question / answer format via email.  A summary of all the interviews with commentary is also available in the recent CarpPro Fly Fishing For Carp Special.

Fly-Carpin: Please tell us about any current participation in the fly fishing for carp sub-culture that you are excited about as an organization. Does Trout's sell any products specifically designed for carp? Do you participate in or support any carp events or activities? Have you had any interesting interactions with the community?
Trout's Fly Fishing: Trout’s Fly Fishing recognizes the Denver South Platte as our home water. This urban section of river is one of the most renowned, hardcore, and prolific clear water carp fisheries in the United Sates. Trout’s has been a proud sponsor of Denver Trout Unlimited’s annual Carp Slam event for a number of year’s and all of our employees are avid and self admitted carp junkies. 
In addition to being a long term sponsor and strategic partner supporting the Carp Slam, Trout’s Fly Fishing hosted our first guided trip on the South Platte this summer – dubbed the “Urban Carp Extravaganza.” We took five clients out who never fished for carp before in the blazing peak of August heat and had a blast chasing carp in skinny clear water. We shuttled guides and clients up and down the river in the infamous Pink Bus and ultimately had five fish come to hand. For anyone who fishes the DSP, that’s not a bad day on the water.

As far as products go, yes - Trout’s Fly Fishing caters to carp anglers. From fluorocarbon tippet and a wide variety of commercially tied flies that are specific to carp, to fly lines, rod and reel combinations , Trout’s has the gear in our shop and our online store to outfit anglers who want to target carp. Most importantly, Trout’s provides solid, real-time information about the carp fishing in Denver to customers in effort to help make their time on the water more productive. We’re happy to answer questions in our shop, online on our blog or facebook page and we’re just a phone call away if our customers are on the road or on the river.
Fly-Carpin: Does Trout’s have any near-term plans to expand your reach in the carpin’ community that you would like to share? New product releases, events, activities, etc.
Angler Dan Kagey, Photo by Will Rice
Trout's Fly Fishing: At Trout’s Fly fishing our mission is to make the sport of fly fishing more accessible to everyone. Carp are just about everywhere surrounding the mile high city, easy to access, challenging to catch, and a blast to chase with a fly rod. It makes a lot of sense to introduce customers to carp fishing if they are interested in fishing options close by, looking to elevate their game, or just looking for a change of pace from high country trout.

We have a ton of customers ask us about the best way to prepare for a saltwater trip where they plan to pursue bonefish, redfish, or permit. One of our first pieces of advice: go find a carp in the river, study their behavior, present a fly without spooking the fish, get ‘em to eat… and then hold on. That’s pretty good practice for a saltwater environment. 

Fly-Carpin: In a more general sense how does Trout’s view the long-term future of fly fishing for carp and how does that future relate to you? Examples would include: Do you anticipate a growing market with changing demand for product and marketing strategies? Do you have any thoughts on what the relationship between the general industry and the community might change and grow?
Trout’s Fly Fishing: Carp fishing is not for everyone – we get that. We also get that carp fishing has an amazing addictive quality that is not always found with other species. Carp are big and hard fighting, they are very challenging to catch on a fly, and they are heavily concentrated in rivers and other still water environments across the United States. At Trout’s we have recognized that the carp fishing sub culture is made up of die hard anglers who like to have fun on the water and can sustain a healthy dose of self punishment – and then go back out for more. We know it because we’ve all gone through that learning curve– and we continue to fish for carp because they continue to challenge us as anglers. Most importantly, we enjoy talking to our customers about fishing for carp and helping them to get through the learning curve as quickly as possible.
Fly-Carpin: I am also personally curious if any of your executive, marketing or product development staff has any experience with targeting carp on the fly.
Trout’s Fly Fishing: The entire staff here at Trout’s Fly Fishing has extensively fished for carp. We’ve all designed flies specifically for the Denver South Platte and the surrounding carp fisheries. We have all experimented with different rod, reel, leader and tippet combinations. Our staff prides ourselves on fishing hard for a wide variety of species and carp are one of our favorites – especially right here in the Mile High City.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Biggun For Christmas

Yeah, Santa has brought us a little snow and has not been overly generous on the weather lately.  I can't complain though.  Can't complain one bit, because yesterday he brought a:

I may have to talk with Santa about a new camera too because what followed was ridiculous.  Combine my state of adrenaline rushed anxiety with a 12 second timer and you get a comedy of errors.

Picture 1:  Obligatory and boring "in the net" picture.  I do this with every big carp now so that I have at least SOMETHING to remember it by after the "19lb Mirror Debacle of 2012".

Picture 2:  Biggun wriggles wildly while trying to lift it into position resulting in the ever charming "have you hugged a biggun lately?" photo.

Picture 3: Biggun wriggles wildly while extracting it from the net resulting in the penultimate action-style "have you dove head-first into freezing water to rescue your biggun lately?" photo.

Picture 4: Angler is now nervous (and cold) and goes for a safe 12 seconds or less pose resulting in a truly classy "have you been pictured in a compromising position with a biggun lately?" photo.  Thankfully the photo was out of focus saving both parties (whoever they may be) considerable embarrassment.

Picture 4: Biggun finally recognizes my considerable resolve to get a halfway decent photo of my personal best DSP carp.  The picture snaps halfway through the process of lifting it but I have just enough time to say cheese and it comes out half-ass decent anyways.  Somehow it looks twice as big in the "have you hugged a biggun" picture.  That one gets posted to facebook.  Naturally.

So, you may be frothing at the mouth wondering why I am wasting your time with bad photography instead of giving you the dirt.

I caught this carp on Friday blind casting an Olive McTage's McLuvin.  Between a trace of snow-melt stain in the water and a complete lack of sun nothing else but blind-casting was an option.  I was stripping the fly in as slowly as I possibly could while maintaining contact with the fly when suddenly I made contact with something else.  Something large and in charge.  Something with HEFT!  The battle lasted at least two minutes which is extra-ordinary and when I lifted the net I knew immediately that it would go 20+.  As a matter of fact it was 22lb and 32" which is my largest DSP carp to date by two pounds.  In December.

Thanks Santa.  In return I promise to not eat your cookies this year. Well, maybe just one.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

McTage's McLuvin Carp Fly

I have been working on this fly since August of 2011.  The original goal was to have a fly that takes advantage of the positive attributes of the Trouser Worm without being  The Trouser Worm is so amazingly effective that I thought combining it's basic action with a cray-fishy profile could be a deadly alternative.

Initially, I wanted a bulky profile with this fly, but that just didn't work out.  Instead, after having success with several different iterations and getting trounced on others I have whittled the design down to a lighter, sparser and more delicate version of Option A in the video linked above.

This fly has the same unique rocking action as the Trouser Worm with a sparse but buggy soft-hackle profile.  The sparse profile and delicate micro-pine squirrel allow the fly to get down (particularly with a loop knot) without requiring too much weight and the base design of this fly will use a brass bead instead of tungsten.  This allows for a more delicate presentation in medium depths and/or moderate current.  It is probably slightly too heavy for long-range ultra-shallow still-water applications but will work at moderate range using indirect presentations such as a drag and drop.  It is also too light for heavy current, which will require substituting a tungsten bead.

It has gotten a very positive reaction on the Denver South Platte this fall, and has earned a name which will be "McTage's McLuvin".  Like the Trouser Worm, the McLuvin was specifically designed to be effective for virtually every presentation including a dead drop, twitch, sitting,  stripped or slow swimming.

McTage's McLuvin
Tying Instructions:

Materials List:
  • Hook:  Size 8 Tiemco 2457 caddis
  • Thread:  140 denier burnt orange Ultra-Thread
  • Bead:  3.25mm black brass bead
  • Eyes:  #6 stainless bead-chain
  • Tail:   Brown micro-pine squirrel
  • Body:  Rust Brown "Nymph Free-Range" Dubbing** (
  • Collar:  Small brown Hungarian Partridge
  • Head:  Pink Shrimp UV Dub

**At the time of this post I am not positive "Free-Range" dubbing is still available.  I am trying to confirm if the "nymph" dubbing listed on singlebarbed is the same stuff with a new name.  If not I will be on the hunt for a substitute.  Keith Barton at has confirmed, his "nymph" dubbing available for order at his online store is in fact the same thing as his famous "Free-Range" Dubbing.

Bathtub Video:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Industry Interview #1: Orvis Rod & Tackle

This is the first in five part series of interviews exploring the relationship between fly fishing for carp and the industry.  This interview features Tom Rosenbauer, Marketing Director for Orvis Rod & Tackle and was performed in question / answer format via email.   A summary of all the interviews with commentary is also available in the recent CarpPro Fly Fishing For Carp Special.

Tom Rosenbauer with a Lake Champlain Carp
Fly-Carpin:  Please tell us about any current participation in the fly fishing for carp sub-culture that you are excited about as an organization. Does Orvis have any products specifically designed for carp? Do you participate in or support any carp events or activities?  Have you had any interesting interactions with the community?
Tom Rosenbauer:  We are actually going to begin advertising in Carp Pro magazine in January.  We feel that although carp fishing will never become huge (they aren’t as pretty as trout and they are tough to catch), carp fishing will become more popular.

We sponsor the Carp tournament in Denver, we sponsor Conway Bowman’s Carp Throwdown in San Diego, and our company store in Portland, Oregon runs a Carp Tournament every year called Carpocalypse
Of course standard rods, reels, and leaders (9 foot fluorocarbon and most people add some length to them), sunglasses, etc work great for carp.  We also have a really good selection of carp-specific flies.
Fly-Carpin:  Does Orvis have any near-term plans to expand your reach in the carpin’ community that you would like to share?  New product releases, events, activities, etc.
Tom Rosenbauer:  We are still in the planning process on more carp-related events and marketing but I do know that the Portland store will run another Carpocalypse tournament next year and we plan to continue sponsoring the other two.
Fly-Carpin:  In a more general sense how does Orvis view the long-term future of fly fishing for carp and how does that future relate to you? Examples would include: Do you anticipate a growing market with changing demand for product and marketing strategies? Do you have any thoughts on what the relationship between the general industry and the community might change and grow?
Tom Rosenbauer:  There will be a changing market but I am not sure how much we need to change our product line to meet it.  But the fact that we are advertising in Carp Pro should let you know we’re serious about the market.  Will the conventional carp fishers cross over into fly fishing?  I am not sure of that.  For 30 years people have said fly fishing for bass will “explode” with all the conventional guys getting into it, but most bass fly rodders are people who fished in salt water or for trout with a fly rod and fish for bass in the warmer months of the year.  So I would not hold my breath for thousands of spin fishermen to grab a fly rod.
However I do think fly fishers who target steelhead, bonefish, and spring creek trout will treat carp fishing as a new challenge that they can do in the off season.  Carp are not a beginner’s fish.
Fly-Carpin:: I am also personally curious if any of your executive, marketing or product development staff has any experience with targeting carp on the fly.  If so can you tell us about it? 
Tom Rosenbauer:  Your last question is easy.  It would be tougher to figure out who in our product development and marketing staff does NOT love carp fishing.  Most of us prefer carp fishing over trout fishing—unfortunately we live surrounded by trout streams and we have to drive an hour for good carp fishing.  But we do it—before and after work and on days off.  We have a group of carp fishers that includes people from marketing, product development, finance, and inventory control.  Plus the owners of the company, the Perkins family.
Fly-Carpin (Follow Up Question): That you have some carp flies in your catalog was a surprise to me, and I try and stay abreast of that.  Good ones too, not just bonefish flies re-categorized for carp.  I find that exciting. How long have you had them and do you fore-see adding more? 
Tom Rosenbauer:  We added them because we love carp fishing and we feel it’s a growing area.  Simple as that. So we went to a couple of our fly designers who had some great carp patterns.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CarpPro Carp On the Fly Special Edition

Winter got you down?  Cabin fever already kicking in?  Getting a fix may have to wait a month or too but in the meanwhile here is a little something to ease the pain.  CarpPro Issue #1

The fly fishing for carp special edition we have all been so pumped about.  It is huge.  It is comprehensive.  It is the biggest baddest carp on the fly publication since the book "Carp On the Fly".

And yeah. I am in there.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

CARPTORIOUS: A Casual Winter Day

This fall has been pretty ridiculously good around these parts, but over the last several days we have had a cold spell.  I sense that the weather seems to have finally turned a corner of sorts towards the cold depths. 

I think the carp can sense a difference as well.  The fish behavior yesterday had shifted noticeably in the two weeks I have been absent from the river. They were hiding deep whenever possible and I really only saw 4 or 5 fish all day and only two were positive. The cover has finally disappeared, and the leaves are gone along with the grass. At one point the wind decided to get serious and for the first time this season I was mildly under-dressed all day.

I was far from optimistic and quite lazy about the whole expedition. I didn't make it to the river until 10:30 and when my wife asked me nicely to leave early at 2:30 to pick up my son at school I was game.

Somehow, someway I still managed two fish.  Looking back on the day I am shocked but very pleased.  The first fish I caught blind casting very early.  I was very slowly working (small 2" slow strips with long pauses) a modification to the foam trouser worm that I have been working on. It turns out that if I replace the final foam plug with a plastic bead it improves the action a little bit and the take on this carp was like getting hit by a 10lb smallmouth bass.  I don't always blind cast but when I do I want a take like that!

For quite a while after that the day lived up to my expectations with few fish sighted and no viable shots.  Then late in the day I spotted two lonely bubbles pop to the surface a fair distance up the bank where no bubbles should be. After a careful stalk I was in position to take a peak and there it was. A dust cloud filled the space between two large boulders with a large tail waving lazily just outside of the blind canyon those boulders created.  I only had a 2x2 foot window through the brush to work with for view and access. I had to draw my fly (A McLuvin) nearly all the way to the end of the rod, stick it through the window and then wiggle enough tippet out to get it to the fish. The first two "dunks" drew no reaction of any kind and it was clear that the carp could not see the fly in it's own dust cloud. On the third "dunk" I suspended the fly just forward and above the leading edge of the dust cloud and jigged it lightly. The carp did that cool little 2" back-track that they occasionally do, lifted it's head and charged. 

Winter has taken it's toll.  When I saw that tail waving and first saw the shoulders on this fish I was sure it was over 15 pounds.  We are a long way down the path from the fall beer-belly season though and it ended up weighing just under 13.