Monday, December 30, 2013

Headstand Leech Proto Carp Fly Using Cohen's Carp Dub

Leeches are an important food element for many species of fish, including carp.  I have several friends that catch a good majority of their carp every year on leech flies.

Up to now I have always gone with a black Zimmerman's Backstabber when I wanted a leech.

The Backstabber is a superb fly and super easy to tie, but I much prefer to catch fish on flies I have designed myself.  As a result, I have been trying to come up with a leech of my own for over a year now.  I have tied up at least 15 different ideas, and I hated them all the second they came off the vice.  Unoriginal.  Ugly.  Too hard to tie.  Doesn't behave right in the water. You name it, I have screwed it.  What I needed was inspiration and that inspiration recently arrived when Pat Cohen from sent me a bunch of his new Carp Dub from Hareline.

Pat is one of my favorite on-line tiers because everything he ties has a high level of aesthetic artistry that is just beyond me.  Don't get me wrong, I think my flies are pretty spiffy and they catch the snot out of carp, but there is just no way they are as artistic as Pat's for the simple reason I am not as artistic as Pat.  So, when he sent me all that dubbing in the obvious hope that I would make something cool and carpy with it, I was a little overwhelmed and intimidated.  On demand  is NOT how the creative process works for me.  It works in it's own good time, and for no apparent reason.  If at all.  I also felt a little pressure to make something worthy of Pat freaking Cohen.  As a result I avoided my tying desk and the pile of carp dub on it for several days.

Finally yesterday I was walking by my desk when I happened to notice the "Northern Lights Black" looking at me funny.  You know, kinda out of the corner of it's eye and I just had to stop and actually take a closer look.  Pull a pinch out of the bag and feel it.  Put it under a light and check out the color variation.  "Micro-flash".  "Niiiiiiiice".  "squigglies".  "Ummmm Hmmm".  "Coarse but not TOO coarse.  "Ohhhhhh yeah".  Not really ideal for dubbing a tight body, but good for a buggy dub and PERFECT for a dubbing loop!  Twenty minutes later this was sitting there on the table in front of me.  Like magic.  A leech I don't hate.  A leech I like quite a bit.  And I feel it.

So this was version 1.0 of a Headstand articulated leach with a Cohen's Carp Dub dubbing-loop-body trimmed for a lateral - almost spoon-like profile.  Very sexy, but like I said above, pretty is not really my forte. What the fly does in the water is my thing and even as I was loving this fly I knew deep down that it would not do a head-stand as intended.  I used the shank from a size 12 dry-fly hook and there is just not enough natural buoyancy in this dubbing to lift that.

Fortunately my subconscious was on the job as I slept.  When I awoke this morning I knew exactly what I needed to do and hopped in the car for a quick run to the fly shop to get some tube tying stuff.  You know.  Stuff.  Whatever the heck stuff you need to tie tube flies.  After some consultation with David (one of my favorite shop guys because he is a born-again carper) and a quick buoyancy test in Anglers All's goldfish tank I bought this stuff:

Forty minutes later version 2.0 was off the vice and in the sink.  It now had a tail built on a 3/8" long piece of small tube fly tubing attached to the hook with big fly thread.  A quick dunk in the sink confirmed that version 1.0  (top fly below) flopped right over on it's side while version 2.0 (bottom fly below) did a decent (although not perfect) headstand.

Now I had a problem though.  I was REALLY feeling this fly.  Feeling it enough that I was going to be agitated until I got the chance to try it out.  Fortunately today was a really nice day and by 2:00 I had a little time to run to the river for some quick on-the-water winter testing.

I had some good shots in the next two hours and learned some things.

First of all I am on the right track.  I had at least 6 carp turn on the fly.  For winter carpin it was a very very positive response.

Second of all I think the fly might need to be a smidge smaller for winter carpin on the South Platte.  In other seasons and on other bodies of water I think it would be fine, but four of those carp lost interest in the fly after their initial positive reaction. In my experience, on the DSP that typically means that the fly is too big, being fished with too much movement or is too flashy.  In this case I am going for just an eensy weensy bit too big.

And finally I learned that although I THINK I am on the right track, I KNOW that the fly will actually already work as-is because two of the 6 carp were more than happy to eat the dang thing! The first was a little guy but I don't care.  The only feeling better than a winter carp is getting the stink off of a new pattern!

The second was a whole different story.  Big.  Real big.  As a matter of fact if the second fish was just half a pound heavier I could have closed out 2013 the same way I closed out 2012.  With a super-rare-for-me twenty!

Not a bad start for the Headstand Leech.  Not a bad start at all, but as you may know a fly doesn't earn a quirky name, recipe and place on the favorite flies page around here until it proves itself worthy. Two carp does not worthy prove!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Carp Fly Fishing Guides - Tennessee

You are viewing the Tennessee section of the carp fly fishing guide directory. Return to the guide directory map to select a different state.

Location: Piney Flats, TN
Waters: Nolichucky, Holston Proper, and French Broad Rivers
Other Species: Trout, smallmouth, largemouth, striped bass, hybrid bass, and musky
About: "Carp - the most under-rated game fish swimming.
We have been fly fishing to them for years now but they are quickly becoming a popular game fish to chase. They are smart, challenging and a fun fish to catch with a fly rod. If you have never fly fished for them before, put your ego aside and come on a trip with us at EFO!"

Friday, December 27, 2013

Carp Fly Fishing Guides - Arizona

You are viewing the Arizona section of the carp fly fishing guide directory. Return to the guide directory map to select a different state.

Location: Pheonix, AZ
Waters:  Urban ponds
Other Species: Brown, Rainbow & Apache Trout. I also specialize in large SMB, LMB and Striped Bass on flies or swimbaits.
About: "I guide urban ponds for grass carp & commons except during spawn when we find commons in our big lakes shallow. Trips are either from shore, drift boat or 22' Ranger Cayman. Full Orvis Helios gear supplied."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Carp Fly Fishing Guides - Utah

You are viewing the Utah section of the carp fly fishing guide directory. Return to the guide directory map to select a different state.

Location: Lehi, Utah
Waters: Those convenient to Wasatch & Uinta Ranges (SLC)
Other Species: Pike, Tiger Musky, Trout and others
About: "Carp are a wonderful beautiful fish that seem to become more so the more I pursue them. Are they invasive, resilient, and detrimental to some habitats, species and ecosystems?  Yes.  Do they possess all the qualities I desire of a sportfish? Absolutely!  I thoroughly enjoy my lonesome carping grounds. If heavy, tough and shrewd are intriguing to you then I may be persuaded to have you along."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Carp Fly Fishing Guides - California

You are viewing the California section of the carp fly fishing guide directory. Return to the guide directory map to select a different state.

Location: Oxnard, CA
Waters Northern end of LA County to the Southern section of Santa Barbara County
Other Species: Surf Perch, Corbina, Flounder
About: "I have four excellent areas to carp fish within 5 minutes of my house and all are a mile from the beach. We are the only ones fishing for carp here, the waters are loaded with common and mirror carp  (3-12lbs).  I supply leaders and flies for the outing that runs $200.00 for 5 hours and we fish year round. Only wind and the spawn stop the fishing."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fly Fishing For Carp Theorem: The West Bank of the Front Range

Lets stop and pretend for a second that you have just sauntered up to a new lake.  Where do you start?  What is the best section for catching carp on the fly?  If you really want to learn that lake you are going to walk the whole bank many times over many season, but what is the most likely shore-line to start?

I have noticed a trend in the Denver metro area of the front range that might help.  I started noticing a couple of years ago that most of my favorite lakes and ponds seemed to generally favor the west bank.   It wasn't a 100% thing, but in general it seemed like the western half of a lake or pond was almost always the better half for catching carp on the fly.

This was just a theory really.  A feeling if you will, but it seemed to be pretty reliable.  In order to test out the theory I sat down today and put together a spreadsheet where I rated the eight sections of shoreline (N, NE, E, etc. etc.) of my favorite 18 ponds and lakes in the area.  I tried to do the ratings as fast as I could in order to get my first impression.  Like taking a test if you will - your instant response is your most honest feeling.  The rating was from 1 (sucks) to 5 (rocks).

Once I took the average of the ratings a clear trend appeared.

It would appear that at least subjectively the theory holds true.  The western half of my favorite ponds and lakes clearly got a better average rating.  WHY????!?!?!?!?!

My first thought is that the mountains are to the West here and that in general the ground is sloping from the West to East.  That means that the shallows and inlet are more likely to be on the West half of the lake or pond.  It would seem to make sense.

Another thought is that it might also be related to the sun going from East to West but I don't see how that would be directly related.

So, on the front range (area to the east of the Rocky Mountains) it would seem that you should start on the west half of the lake.  How about in your area.  Have you noticed any trends?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Carper Former Known as McTage

So what is up with the McTage thing anyways?   Who in the flock of seagulls is McTage?  And who do you think you are, Prince?  I agree - it is weird.  It is confusing.  It is a little odd.  It is, however, me.

My full name is Trevor McTage Tanner because my father is a bit of a duck.  Odd duck that is.  Before I was born he was pondering names and invented McTage (pronounced McTegg) out of the hippy nether.  His favorite politician was named McSomethingOrOther and he wanted to put a tag on me.  Thus McTage.

He intended McTage as my first name.  Wiser heads prevailed at birth but weirder heads won out over time and I went exclusively by the nickname "Tage" (Pronounced like Tegg) for most of my life.  I stuck with it through thick and thin and baffled teachers and bullies and you name it.  I didn't switch to "Trevor" until I was 24 years old and figured out that both co-workers and women would always find it less confusing.

On the internet I have always been the one and only "McTage" though, and that is simply how I think of myself.  In my own head Trevor Tanner is almost just a nickname.  Tage or McTage is just who I am.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Magic Number Twenty

The number twenty holds a certain reverence in the fly fishing world.  A 19" trout is nice but a 20" trout is BIG.  A 19" Bass is pretty sweet but a 20" bass is a beast.  A 19" carp is puny while a 20" carp is ... still puny.

Around here that is why we talk pounds.  If you measure your carp in pounds, suddenly 20 is magic again.  I hook a 20lb carp and I know it.  Instantly.  About three shakes of a monkey's butt later the whole world knows it.

"Twenty - Twenty - Tweeeeentyyyyyyy!!!!!!!"

Truth is I don't catch all that many 20lb carp, but my first carp of 2013 was a DSP personal best 22lb.  That was a good sign and I had my best year so far for twenties.  Here they are, in no particular order and with a 30 thrown in for good measure:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Standamaran: Building Pontoons

I have been making slow by stead progress on the Standamaran project.  In case you missed it the plan is to build a stand-up paddle-board over the winter but to make it a stand up catamaran with two pontoons instead.  That way I can fly fish from it standing up.

It started with building two 8" x 8" x 10' foam beams by gluing together 2" thick foam boards which I cut from a 4' x 8' x 2" piece of foam from Home Depot.  This foam is extruded polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) and weighs about 1.5lb per cubic foot.  For the glue I used 3M spray on Styrofoam adhesive.

POST PROJECT EDIT:  After completion of the project I can confidently state that the 3M styrofoam adhesive was a mistake.  Because the foam is completely non-porus this kind of glue NEVER completely dries in the middle of the pontoons.  5 months later when doing the fill coat the styrofoam adhesive was STILL slowly outgassing.  Just enough to create dozens and dozens of tiny bubbles and pits in the hot-coat.  It was more of a cosmetics issue and annoyance than a functional issue but for anybody following my lead, I would use either Gorrila Glue or Epoxy or some other kind of glue that catalyzes instead of drying.  Of course, the best option would be to actually order billet foam large enough to make the pontoons out of one piece.

I then sanded the sides with 40 grit sandpaper and formed the front and back tapers.  The front tips of the pontoons will have a long taper in the top view.

The aft end of the pontoons will have a shorter tear-drop taper in the top and side view.

This is what the pontoons looked like at this point.  On the final product there will be a platform between the two pontoons of course.

The next step was to put a keel on the pontoons.  This is at least partially in order to (hopefully) reduce drag a little but there were two other reasons.  First of all I needed to reduce the volume of the pontoons a little.  As it was the Standamaran was only going to draft 3" or even less.  I was worried that a 3" draft wouldn't be enough for it to track well.  I also wanted there to be a 3" wide strip going down the whole bottom of each pontoon that I can heavily reinforce when I glass them so that there is something strong that will hit bottom first.  The pontoon on the right has had the keel shaped in, the one on the left has not (looking from aft).

The next picture shows the front from one pontoon (left) and the aft of the other (right) after shaping the keels.

Next I will radius all the hard edges, make the platform and then it will be time to glass it!