Carp on the Fly

Here are 20 tips to make you a better angler

Rob Kolanda
Rob's great success is due to well thought out tactics and planning - he doesn't waste good shots.

1. Look at the water color and bottom of the lake pond or river you're fishing; match imitations with like tones. For instance in weedy lakes I'll start with olive imitations, rock or dam faces-browns and sand or mud bottoms I'll use different shades of tan. Find confidence in a few patterns but make sure you tie them in different colors if you plan on fishing different venues.
2. Tie your favorite patterns in a couple of different sizes. Muddy water allows for bigger imitations sometimes including flash, while low clear conditions require smaller more innocent patterns sparse of flash. 4's and 6's accommodate most conditions for me.
3. I find that a leader of 8 to 10-feet seems ideal in most lake or river situations
4. Always pull or strip set after a carp takes before elevating the rod. Many fish are missed on the typical"trout set".

Jay Zimmerman
When I asked Rob for input his initial response was "If you see Jay Zimmerman fishing towards you don't get behind him because he's already vacuumed up all of the fish. Jay's strength is getting the right presentation at the right angle."

1. Let the weather dictate your fishing day…if it is going to be raining or overcast, consider going after trout instead. If the weather channel is calling for a hot and sunny day, but with winds picking up in the afternoon, get up early.  The wind will limit the visibility and kick up mud on the carp flats.  Plan to be domestic or whatever in the afternoon…
2. Always maintain your leader! You should develop a nervous tic…constantly run the tippet material through your fingers as you are walking up and down the banks looking for your next carp.  If you feel a knot, or even the slightest abrasion STOP and rebuild your leader!
3. Don’t get discouraged! I know that sounds like something from some new age self-help, boost your self esteem book…but it helps.  I remember John Madden always saying, “An NFL quarterback has to have short-term memory…when something bad happens…forget it by the next play and regain your confidence.”  True with carp fishing as well.
4. Line and fly control is paramount!  What you do after your fly is in the water is more important than your cast! Move the fly in front of the fish!  Make it easy for the carp to eat! Cast fast!  Often the window of opportunity is very short…as soon as the carp drifts out to deeper water you may not be able to see him.  If you can not see the fish, you can not cast to it!  Always have some line off the reel and your fly in hand…and be ready! Gun drawn!  Hammer back! Locked and loaded!

Jon Speigel
Jon is a hunter - he picks out a specific target and does not get distracted

1. Stealth in approaching the water is absolutely key. Never run up to the edge of the lake and start looking for fish. Soft walking - these fish have ears!
2. Blind casting is wasted time. Hunting individual carp is far more successful.
3. The weight of the fly is very important. When a heavily weighted fly lands with a big splash don't be surprised when the fish speeds off or slowly swims away. Flies like Jay Zimmerman's Backstabber land softy in still water.
4. Wearing drab clothing can help. Wearing a bright color can result in spooked fish

Patrick Knackendoffel
Patrick is an experimenter - never afraid to change tactics or try something off-the-wall and more often than not, it works

1. It is important not to get too close to fish and spook them, however closer shots will allow for more accurate presentations. The distance threshold can be quite variable, ranging from 40 or 50 feet to 8 feet. This threshold is usually a function of conditions and fish behavior, and can change daily. Don't be afraid to blow up a few fish at the beginning of the day in order to get a feel for what the fish will let you get away with under those particular conditions.
2.Presentations to a fish should be the equivalent of feeding a baby. Babies don't chase down a spoonful of applesauce. Put the applesauce in their face. Make them see it and then let them come those last few inches to eat it.
3.Hook sets are often relatively intuitive and patience is critical. Most fish that truly eat the fly will take a few moments to get all of it in their mouth. Many "missed" carp are due to premature hook sets.
4. Have the discipline not to fish to every single carp you see. Pick your battles and focus on specific fish that may be actively feeding or are displaying aggressive body language. Don't fish a leader length, fly size, or rod that you are uncomfortable with. Whatever rod you cast well, use it. Keep your gear fine tuned but simple. Good opportunities in a day of carp fishing can be quick and limited. Avoid fussy rigs and stay ready for those few good shots in a day.

Paul Prentiss
Paul's best attribute is persistence and accurate distance casting. He'll continue to fish even when conditions are marginal.

1. Find the head of a feeding fish and cast off to the side in the direction you think the fish is headed - too close and you'll spook the fish or too far away and he won't see it or bother investigating. Give your fly minimal action as the fish approaches and watch his body language for the take.
2. Consider fishing with two flies - use different styles and sizes spread 24 to 30-inches apart. Use appropriate sized leaders 3X or better - My favorite for 90% of my fishing is 2X Fluorocarbon from RIO.
3. You need flies that will get down quickly but you don't want them to cause too much disturbance when fishing shallow water. This means you need weighted and unweighted versions…don't be afraid to try dry dropper setups.
4. Best times to fish are mornings on a sunny day. Worst times are afternoons when its windy and overcast. That being said I have had good fishing in the shallows when the wind strung up food.

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