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Fly Fishing for Carp Earns More Love

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February 13, 2012

Fly Fishing for Carp Earns More Love

By Kirk Deeter

Carp fishing with flies is going even more mainstream, as evidenced today in the New York Times. A piece by my friend and author of the acclaimed "Fifty Places" books Chris Santella shows how carp fishing is stepping further out of the shadows and into the spotlight, as it should.

After all, those of us who carp fish realize they aren't just "backup plan" fish. They're very worthy adversaries.

All this gets me wondering just what kind of an impact carp fishing can and will have on fly fishing in the future. Do I see carp being the main attraction in years to come? No. I think trout will always make the fly fishing world go around.

But I do see the number of American anglers who claim carp among their three favorite target species tripling within the next five years. 

By 2020, it wouldn't surprise me at all if "rough fish" fly fishing tackle sales approached the levels of dollars spent on saltwater-specific rods, reels, lines, and flies.

I think there will be more and more anglers whose first-ever experiences with fly rods revolve around carp.

I've said before, and I'll say it again, that for fly fishing interests to land on a real, fair, honest tournament fishing format, the species it will have to revolve around will be carp.

I also see fly shops in certain parts of the country--shops that are now 90 percent trout driven even though they're in places that are an hour or more away from the nearest trout water--flipping the focus and being over 50 percent carp and bass driven. To survive, they may have to be.

(By the way, this is a photo of Charlie Meyers and me, carp fishing several years ago. It was taken by Will Rice, who features prominently in the NYT story, and this fish was caught by Charlie on the lake Will mentions in the piece. As Will said to me this morning, "somewhere, Charlie is kicking back and having a laugh about the whole carp thing.")

 

Comments (17)

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from rdorman wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I think it's funny that you and merwin agree that fishing for carp won't ever be the top option because there are to many options in the USA...even though you don't agree that carp are garbage fish

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from Dcast wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I've been trying to catch carp on the fly for the last 2yrs and have yet to land one or get one to bite. What flies are you using? I have tried many different colors of wolly buggers, stone flies, crayfish, and many others with no luck. I feel I approach stealthy enough don't dunk the fly on their heads, I'm sure it is a combination of fly type and color, any tips?

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from Koldkut wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

There are still too many fly shops that will turn their noses up at the mention of any other fish besides Trout.

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from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

You're right, koldkut, and that's exactly why they're going out of business--especially the fly shops with that attitude that are within walking distance of a carp pond and 50 miles from the nearest trout water.

Dcast, apparently you should drag a piece of fried chicken in front of them.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I agree. To survive, fly shops need to have more of a wide-range of offerings to customers in the vicinity. There're only two fly shops left in town. I don't want to have just one option, or, heaven forbid, only online options.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Dcast, you've got the right flies, took me a good while to get the first one, after that, it's fairly easy. Just don't spend too much time trying to feed fish that aren't eating.

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from jbell6826 wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

So my question is who's article was written first, yours or Merwin's? I think the ego that surrounds trout fishing is absurd. I had a guy tell me it wasn't trout fishing if it wasnt caught on a fly. The way I see it is as along as people are out fishing what difference does it make?

I've never tried it but fly fishing for carp sounds like a fun time out on the water. I'd like to give it a try. They are fun to catch on a bow though!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

jbell6826: Kirk Deeter and I are friends and would most likely agree with one another 90 percent of the time about any particular thing. I don't think either of us knew ahead of time what the other was writing about today. Just worked out as it did.

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from Dcast wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Kirk, As ashamed to say it as I am there has been chicken in some local ponds and rivers!

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from labrador12 wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Back in the day we used to catch carp on doughballs, chicken livers were for catfish! Wouldn't a flesh fly be atractive to old rubber lips?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Traditionally, most species that are targeted by fly fisherman are catch and release. I hope carp are the exception. Though it would seem unnatural to see a fly fisherman toss a fish onto the bank.

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from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

John and I are indeed good friends, and I do more than agree with him on 90%, I seek out his advice and counsel. Still, our opinions split on this one--a fairly common thing to have happen among fishing buddies. I will say that it was just luck of the draw that we came down on opposite sides of the fence this particular day.

And on your "what flies to use" question Dcast... carp are so unpredictable--sometimes extremely finicky, sometimes like hogs at a trough. I have caught them by rolling a Babine double-egg fly across a dirty pond with a two-handed Spey rod in downtown Denver (it's a long story that involved a pink school bus, several carp nuts, and a Bloody Mary). I've also caught them on large streamers... and a Copper John nymph with rubber legs can be deadly too. Or completely worthless, given the day. I think that's part of what turns people on to--and off of--carp fishing with flies.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

As long as nobody lobbies for a carp fishery at the expense of trout then go ahead and fish for the trash if that is what floats your boat. I just don't ever see myself becoming interested.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tony Cartlidge wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Carp are increasingly becoming a viable target for fly anglers in the US and, in some ways fly anglers are the evangelists of the sport in the US. At US Carp Pro magazine,several of our pro-staff target carp as their primary objective. US Carp fly anglers, including our pro staff and Barry Reynolds, who we interviewed recently, are ahead of the curve even compared to the Euro-powerhouse carp fishing scene and are bringing carp into the mainstream as a valuable sport fish. Add to this the growing numbers of carp anglers joining local, carp-specific, fishing clubs, such as the ones run by Wild Carp Companies, the popular but somewhat underground PayLake scene in the Carolinas and adjoining areas, and the hosting of more and more carp tourneys for prize money, such as on renowned bass-lake, Lake Fork in Texas later this month, and I think carp fishing is going to become more popular than ever.
It may be a maligned fish in some quarters, but one thing that is not in question is its fighting prowess and the readily accessible sporting opportunity it offers to many.

Tony Cartlidge
USCARPPROmagazine Features Editor
www.uscarppromagazine.com - FREE to read Online

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

i never really fished for carp on the fly until a few years ago when i accidentally hooked into one on my 5wt walmart special in a pond behind dick's sporting goods in longmont, CO. after landing that one i was hooked. i couldn't believe how much fun it was fighting that thing! you just have to do it at least once!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dlitten wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Please no more articles on how great carp fishing is. Let the purist turn up their noses at something they know nothing about. I repeat Carp are not any fun to catch. They live in stretches of water surrounded by trash, needles, bums, etc. Again, carp aren't fun if you haven't fished for them you probably shouldn't waste your time.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Smithhammer wrote 2 years 8 weeks ago

I find it hilarious that carp are dismissed as an "invasive" fish. Are they any more "invasive" than brown trout, who aren't native to N. America at all? Or rainbow trout in 90% of their transplanted, non-native range? Or brookies anywhere in the West?

Even more dubious is the definition, "trash fish." I'd love to hear a good definition of this term - one that wouldn't also apply in some way to a number of other species that anglers hold in high esteem. Remember when bonefish were considered "trash?" It wasn't that long ago.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

You're right, koldkut, and that's exactly why they're going out of business--especially the fly shops with that attitude that are within walking distance of a carp pond and 50 miles from the nearest trout water.

Dcast, apparently you should drag a piece of fried chicken in front of them.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

John and I are indeed good friends, and I do more than agree with him on 90%, I seek out his advice and counsel. Still, our opinions split on this one--a fairly common thing to have happen among fishing buddies. I will say that it was just luck of the draw that we came down on opposite sides of the fence this particular day.

And on your "what flies to use" question Dcast... carp are so unpredictable--sometimes extremely finicky, sometimes like hogs at a trough. I have caught them by rolling a Babine double-egg fly across a dirty pond with a two-handed Spey rod in downtown Denver (it's a long story that involved a pink school bus, several carp nuts, and a Bloody Mary). I've also caught them on large streamers... and a Copper John nymph with rubber legs can be deadly too. Or completely worthless, given the day. I think that's part of what turns people on to--and off of--carp fishing with flies.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tony Cartlidge wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Carp are increasingly becoming a viable target for fly anglers in the US and, in some ways fly anglers are the evangelists of the sport in the US. At US Carp Pro magazine,several of our pro-staff target carp as their primary objective. US Carp fly anglers, including our pro staff and Barry Reynolds, who we interviewed recently, are ahead of the curve even compared to the Euro-powerhouse carp fishing scene and are bringing carp into the mainstream as a valuable sport fish. Add to this the growing numbers of carp anglers joining local, carp-specific, fishing clubs, such as the ones run by Wild Carp Companies, the popular but somewhat underground PayLake scene in the Carolinas and adjoining areas, and the hosting of more and more carp tourneys for prize money, such as on renowned bass-lake, Lake Fork in Texas later this month, and I think carp fishing is going to become more popular than ever.
It may be a maligned fish in some quarters, but one thing that is not in question is its fighting prowess and the readily accessible sporting opportunity it offers to many.

Tony Cartlidge
USCARPPROmagazine Features Editor
www.uscarppromagazine.com - FREE to read Online

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dlitten wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Please no more articles on how great carp fishing is. Let the purist turn up their noses at something they know nothing about. I repeat Carp are not any fun to catch. They live in stretches of water surrounded by trash, needles, bums, etc. Again, carp aren't fun if you haven't fished for them you probably shouldn't waste your time.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I think it's funny that you and merwin agree that fishing for carp won't ever be the top option because there are to many options in the USA...even though you don't agree that carp are garbage fish

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I've been trying to catch carp on the fly for the last 2yrs and have yet to land one or get one to bite. What flies are you using? I have tried many different colors of wolly buggers, stone flies, crayfish, and many others with no luck. I feel I approach stealthy enough don't dunk the fly on their heads, I'm sure it is a combination of fly type and color, any tips?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

There are still too many fly shops that will turn their noses up at the mention of any other fish besides Trout.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dleurquin wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

I agree. To survive, fly shops need to have more of a wide-range of offerings to customers in the vicinity. There're only two fly shops left in town. I don't want to have just one option, or, heaven forbid, only online options.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Dcast, you've got the right flies, took me a good while to get the first one, after that, it's fairly easy. Just don't spend too much time trying to feed fish that aren't eating.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbell6826 wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

So my question is who's article was written first, yours or Merwin's? I think the ego that surrounds trout fishing is absurd. I had a guy tell me it wasn't trout fishing if it wasnt caught on a fly. The way I see it is as along as people are out fishing what difference does it make?

I've never tried it but fly fishing for carp sounds like a fun time out on the water. I'd like to give it a try. They are fun to catch on a bow though!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnmerwin wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

jbell6826: Kirk Deeter and I are friends and would most likely agree with one another 90 percent of the time about any particular thing. I don't think either of us knew ahead of time what the other was writing about today. Just worked out as it did.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Kirk, As ashamed to say it as I am there has been chicken in some local ponds and rivers!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Back in the day we used to catch carp on doughballs, chicken livers were for catfish! Wouldn't a flesh fly be atractive to old rubber lips?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

Traditionally, most species that are targeted by fly fisherman are catch and release. I hope carp are the exception. Though it would seem unnatural to see a fly fisherman toss a fish onto the bank.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

As long as nobody lobbies for a carp fishery at the expense of trout then go ahead and fish for the trash if that is what floats your boat. I just don't ever see myself becoming interested.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 9 weeks ago

i never really fished for carp on the fly until a few years ago when i accidentally hooked into one on my 5wt walmart special in a pond behind dick's sporting goods in longmont, CO. after landing that one i was hooked. i couldn't believe how much fun it was fighting that thing! you just have to do it at least once!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Smithhammer wrote 2 years 8 weeks ago

I find it hilarious that carp are dismissed as an "invasive" fish. Are they any more "invasive" than brown trout, who aren't native to N. America at all? Or rainbow trout in 90% of their transplanted, non-native range? Or brookies anywhere in the West?

Even more dubious is the definition, "trash fish." I'd love to hear a good definition of this term - one that wouldn't also apply in some way to a number of other species that anglers hold in high esteem. Remember when bonefish were considered "trash?" It wasn't that long ago.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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