Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fly Fishing For Carp Survey Results: Carp Fly Preferences

In this post I would like to review the results from our fly fishing for carp survey as they relate to carp fly preferences.  You can see the Google auto-generated results from the survey here.

There weren't many earth shattering surprises when it came to preferences on carp flies, and frankly I don't think this post is going to change how any experienced carpers look at their fly box much.  I do think that it will be very helpful for beginners looking for a starting point.

The first question in the survey relating to carp fly preference was favorite size.  I don't think anybody would be surprised to see that size 6 and 8 dominated.  Eighty Percent of the participants favored size 6 or 8!

I was a little surprised, however, that size 14 even made even a modest showing - not because they are not productive, but because it is hard to have faith in such a small fly for such a large fish.  The truth is that every serious carper I know of who has given small size 14 flies a serious try has been successful and one of my personal goals is to explore the lower limit of the size spectrum this winter.

We also asked participants for their favorite carp fly color.  Olive, Rust and Black accounted for over 75% of the participants preferences!  For me, the only real surprise there is that black was so close.  I have only this year really discovered how extremely effective black can be.  I actually responded with olive for this question myself but black has been making a massive push for my top affection all year.

Also note that I lumped all the egg colors together to accentuate the fact that there is a small but VERY passionate sect of the revolution that swears by various egg yarn colors.

survey results chart - Favorite fly colors for carp on the fly.

The only other point of interest is that I suspect Red is a little under-rated.  I recently took the time to figure out what percentage of carp I have caught on different colors and Red was right up there. I suspect that with how popular the Hybrid is that these days allot of people are probably treating red as the secondary color in their flies.  I hope so, because I guarantee you that if you don't have some form of red worm in your arsenal you are missing out on what can be at times the most deadly carp weapon.

The final survey question relating to fly preferences asked what the angler's favorite carp fly was and let them fill in the blank.  Survey nightmare!  It turns out that everybody and their brother has their own custom carp fly.  The answers were all over the place!  In the end all I could do was dig through the data and try and find common themes.  The next chart has any flies where I could find a common theme repeated more than three times.  For example: 
  • If the participants said "blah blah blah bugger blah blah blah", well I called that a Woolly Bugger. 
  • If the participant said "My version of a hybrid", well I grouped that with Montana's Hybrid. 
  • If the participant chose different random ways of saying "Un-Named Damsel Fly" that got grouped with "Various Damsel Fly"
  • Etc. Etc.
The post-processing on this one was very very manual - and had some subjectivity involved. Additionally almost 50% of the participants couldn't fit into this graph.  Many favor their own unique creation, others quite honestly didn't know yet and so many of the well known named flies only had one or two participants name them that the chart would have been fifty feet wide if I didn't cut if off at 3 or more repeats.  
In other words the data is pretty sketchy, but nevertheless it is clear that Montana's Hybrid, Zimmerman's Backstabber and about a zillion different variants of the venerable Woolly Bugger are very very popular carp flies.  

Egg flies also made a shockingly strong showing....shocking unless you know somebody who consistently kicks your ass with them.  Lookin at you Medina.

survey results graph - Favorite fly patterns for carp on the fly
So what does this all mean?  Well, like I said, probably not much for experienced guys.  Most anglers with more than a couple of years of experience fly fishing for carp are going to find this interesting and possibly thought provoking but far from earth shattering.  For newer carpers I hope this helps allot.  It certainly would have helped me about 15 years ago.


  1. Still exploring black, but also as an egg as well as a buggy type fly.


    1. black egg? Hmmmm....I think I dig it.

    2. Im currently planning my first carp trip to my old home waters in NC. This has definetely given me some direction at the vise. Thanks!


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