McTage's Favorite Carp Flies

The following is a selection of my favorite carp flies.  To get more information click on the title to go to a blog post where applicable or click the Show/Hide More button for additional pictures, recipes, links and videos. Click on any picture to view an enlarged version.

For more ideas visit the 2012, 2013  or 2014 Fly-Swap pages.

If you roll your own, also check out my carp fly tying video library on you-tube.

McTage's Leather Trouser Worm Carp FlyThe Leather Trouser Worm was designed to be a durable alternative to the San-Juan worm that falls and rides hook-up and head-stands on the bottom.  This worm can also be fished on the strip or the swim.  It has exceeded my wildest expectations, become my go-to carp fly on the Denver South Platte and contributed significantly to our 2011 Carp-SlamV Championship.  Word on the streets is that it didn't hurt the 2012 champs much either.

McTage's Primordial Carp-Stew Carp FlyI developed the Carp-Stew to take advantage of the unique action of Swishers Rub-A-Dub.  It has a profile reminiscent of a baby crayfish and falls and rides hook-up.  The drop is level with a nice fluttery action and there is minimal jigging action on the strip.  The action and profile is intended to represent a generic baby crayfish free-swimming, fleeing or diving for the bottom and works well for all presentations that duplicate these behaviors. 

McTage's MMF Carp Fly
The McLuvin is designed to have a similar swimming action and head-stand attitude as the Trouser worm with a generic buggy / crayfishy color scheme and profile.  The McLuvin is responsible for my two largest DSP carp. 

Un-weighted Soft-Hackle Carp FlyVarious soft-hackles work great for carp.  John Montana introduced them to me when I visited him in 2011.  They have proven to be a flexible pattern that is easy to tie and extremely effective in many situations.  I particularly like them for slow-cruisers, sleeping and snoozing carp and any other situation where triggering a take mid-column is the key.

Sculpin Helment McLuvin Carp FlyThis is a variant of the McLuvin dreamed up by Eric Bebee at CATCH Fly Fishing.  The SH McLuvin is a pretty heavy carp fly perfectly suited for fishing deep tailers.  

McTage's Primordial Crust Carp FlyThe Primordial Crust (available from Montana Fly Company) is a meatier version of the Stew tied on a size 4 hook with rabbit strip running the length of the fly. The original design and the commercial pattern are extremely heavy for bombing to the bottom and swimming presentations in heavy current.  I also tie a light version for that flutters to the bottom on the drop.  The Crust has caught for my largest Colorado carp each of the past three seasons.

McTage's Chubby Chaser Carp FlyI designed the Chubby Chaser to combine Pat Cohen's Carp Dub with rabbit fur and my triangle head-stand style in such a way that it makes a fly with a wide flat profile that does a bit of a headstand and has really nice action on the drop and on the strip.  I have had particularly good luck with this fly for hard tailers putting up a dust cloud in silty bottoms.  The profile, color, head-stand and the micro-flash in the dubbing all work together to help a carp find it in their own silt cloud.

McTage's Foam Trouser Worm Carp FlyThe foam version of my worm uses foam plugs strung on light mono for the tail.  The end result is a truly upright fly with a unique action on the drop and the strip.  John Montana says that the foam version works better on the Columbia river and that certainly seemed to be the case when I visited in the summer of 2012.  It also works great under an indicator in moving water and seems to be particularly effective in the spring. 

Hares Ear Carp Fly
Hare's Ear Nymphs are a good nymph pattern that works when carp are finding other less subtle flies intimidating.  There is no particular magic for the hare's ear as compared to other nymph patterns, I just find it to be an easy and flexible tie that works and I have caught many carp on them.  Old-school natural works but I always carry some in olive and some with rubber legs as well in various sizes and weights.

Hares Ear Carp Fly
This fly is from John Montana at the blog carponthefly.  I got my first copy in the 2013 carp fly swap.  I like the fly and ended up catching allot of carp on it over the next year.  John uses it to deadly effect on the flats of the Columbia River in Oregon.  I have had allot of luck with it in ponds here in CO where it just seems to flat out work.  Based on the feedback I have seen on the internet in the last year and a half it just seems to work everywhere.  

Hares Ear Carp Fly
The SH Bunny is an excellent goby / sculpin imitation particularly suited to the great lakes. This was just about the only fly I used for my 2013 Lake MI trip.  On that trip I nearly averaged 20lbs.  The biggest carp I caught with this fly was a bruising 34.5lb monster that broke my previous personal best by over 10lbs!  This fly should be dropped into a cruising carps path with just a couple of small strips to draw attention. 

Egan's Headstand
Egan's Headstand Carp FlyLance Egan's Headstand from UMQUA is another excellent commercial pattern.  The combination of the original (to my knowledge) headstand design, a buggy profile and the bright head which is visible at a distance seems to work well, particularly in still-water.  The picture to the left is of sample I purchased, click Show/Hide more for a home-tie with a recipe and an underwater video of the commercial pattern.  

Zimmerman's Backstabber Carp FlyJay Zimmerman's Backstabber is my favorite commercially available pattern, although I roll my own.  This is a very easy tie that fishes very well on the drop and the strip.  The black / olive version with a little bit of flash in the dubbing is one of my favorite flies for tailing fish in dirty water.  In general I prefer a slightly smaller dumbell and shorter marabou throat than the UMQUA offering.

Jaime's Krazy Carp Fly
Jaime Kaminski's Krazy Carper is a very easy pattern to tie that works great for carp.  A heavily weighted version with a bright orange body, lead eyes and brown rabbit strip is one of my favorites but this fly can be worked up in many color combinations using different body materials.  The bold or just plain lazy can even go ultra quick and dirty with this fly.  It doesn't get much easier than eyes and a rabbit strip!

McTage's MMF Carp Fly
The MMF is a stubby variant of the Clouser Foxee Red Minnow tied with commercially available arctic fox.  When I lived in MI I believed this was the only carp fly I would ever really need.  It does not seem to work as well in CO but for aggressive carp preying on fleeing baby crayfish it is truly magical.  This is also a great all-round warm-water pattern, and in various sizes and color combinations accounts for my personal best for many species.


  1. Really love the worm man , very well thought out. I primarily fish the Susquahanna river here in Pennsylvania for Musky but after seeing some of these bugs and thinking about the battles I've had with the golden ghost as a kid chuckin corn I think I'm gonna try these guys out with some of your flies this year. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Mike. Welcome to the revolution! Although you are in the middle of your own revolution with the Musky aren't you? Only cuaught one of those on the Fly when I lived in MI, I whish I had put more time in on it.

    I hear PA has some excellent Fly-Carpin if/when you get around to it!

  3. What kind of foam discs do you use on the foam worm? Where can one buy them? I'm a carp addict from Ft Collins. Love your blog! I've been asked a couple years now to fish the Slam, but didn't like the format. Don't know if they've changed it.

  4. Pb - I make the discs. Go to a crafts store and buy a 1/8" hole punch and some sheets of foam. You can get all the foam you can imagine for practically free at a craft store. Then use the hole punch to make the discs.

  5. McTage! Sorry it took me so long to get back at ya. I never got this message till I was checking out carp flies on a google search, just dumb luck. How was the carp hunting for ya this year? The Musky hunt was intense shook hands with quite a few but only got one to hand. Looking forward to another sweet season. just love your flies brother keep up the good work. Check out my blog when ya have a chance, it's bigflychucker on blogger.

  6. Your blog is very informative for such people who like carp fishing like me and all the pictures are beautiful but I have some questions about carp fishing What are the differences and/or advantages between using a pod set-up, a goalpost or quad set-up and just a plain rod-rest set-up? Or is this just a personal preference?

  7. I enjoy reading your page. Lots of information and tips. I fish for large carp in South African waters. See website for some pics and stories of South African fishing.

  8. Replies
    1. Sorry to hear that daniel. As an aside after several hundred posts and several thousand comments your's is either the first truly honest one or trollish snide one. Interesting either way.

    2. It was only boring for daniel as its ony his first year in high school and he promised his mom he would learn to read this year . Just not enough pretty pictures for him. :):):)

      South Carolina

    3. It was only boring for daniel as its ony his first year in high school and he promised his mom he would learn to read this year . Just not enough pretty pictures for him. :):):)

      South Carolina

  9. Which of these flies would be most successful in the warm waters of Oklahoma?

  10. HI mc Tag,

    View Questions, hope It is not boring.
    1. Lets say water is clear, and you can see the Carps head in 3 feet of water, what two colors would be your choice?
    2. If the water is murky, and you can only see the carps head in a foot of water... what two colors would you use?
    3. What is your take on flash/dubbing for the body of the fly. Good or Bad....?
    4. On smaller carp, 1lb to 4lb. Do you find that they want smaller vlies?
    5. If you find the carp is difficult, but are eating, would you down scale, lets say from a size 8 fly to a 10/12 ? Same fly? or would you go for another pattern?

    Thanks for your time, and great blog. Not a hole lot of anglers in South Africa going for carp on fly, so I use you and John Montana, Mr P Wendy Barrel for guide lines.



    1. 1) Olive, Rust (With the caveat that a red Trouser Worm is NEVER far from being tied on)
      2) Olive, Black
      3) I never use krystal flash or flashabou or whatever. I think that it is almost always detrimental. I do, however, sometimes like a little micro-flash in my dubbing. Something very subtle!
      4) Not really, but I am not fishing anything over 1 1/2" for carp in my area. Small carp take up to that size just fine and I actually think they are more inclined to take slightly larger than that than medium sized carp. Little carp are very very very interested in growing into medium carp.
      5) Sometimes down to 10 but personally I rarely go down to 12. Usually though, I change the presentation, then I play with the color, sink rate and pattern before I worry much about size.

  11. I like what you said about the flies and I have some myself but have only fished for Carp a couple of times and I'm still a learner. How come the hook needs to face up? Is there something about how the carp sucks it up? Or is It more to keep your fly from getting caught in junk at the bottom?


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