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What's the Toughest Fish to Catch on a Fly?

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March 13, 2012

What's the Toughest Fish to Catch on a Fly?

By Tim Romano

Over the weekend I did something I've been trying to do for a long long time. I caught a grass carp on a dry fly. Is it the the toughest gamefish on the planet? Probably not. Is it close? On a dry fly--in my mind it's pretty darn close. I caught not just just one, but two "grassies" and I lost a third massive fish most likely because I was on 4x this past Saturday. I actually gave up trying a few years ago, but at a family picnic over the weekend the chance presented itself and somehow it randomly happened.

I know, I know… All you carp neigh-sayers will say so-what, and all you carp freaks, if you have grass carp that readily eat dry flies I really don't want to hear about it. Plus I don't believe you.

In my circle of friends and anglers this was a big deal. You see here in Colorado we don't have permit, muskie (a few), milkfish, gt's, sheepshead, roosterfish or taimen to readily chase.

There are just few fish around that are that insanely hard to get to, have a really limited season on the fly, or are just picky, picky fish. The grass carp in my mind qualifies as one of the most difficult fish to stick on a fly. Most likely due to the fact that they are herbivores, are spooky as hell and talk to each other. The fact that these fish on Saturday actually ate dry flies and aggressively moved on them still has me completely perplexed. I'm chalking it up to pure luck and a little bit of determination.

It got me thinking though, there's got to be some regional fish that I'm not thinking about that I've never had the chance to try with flies. So I'm curious: What are your toughest, most difficult fish to catch on a fly? Lay 'em on me.

Comments (17)

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from Koldkut wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Catfish, I've done it twice. Grassies are hard and you have to play by standard carp rules x10. Spook factor x100 over commons. My best takes have all been super aggressive competitive strikes to get the food before the other fish in the school, surprisingly by slapping the water with the fly with a low fast cast that turns the fly over with some force, best done under trees where food is known to fall with a splash.

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from ckRich wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

I was going to say catfish as well. The only one's I have landed were by pure chance while striper fishing. Nice fish Tim, with that thick tail it must've put a sweet tug on the line.

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from bowman77 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

TIM; I never considered chasing grass carp with a fly, mainly because I never thought I had a chance. We have some monsters in our lake and I would love to chase them down this year with a fly. Any particular pattern, size you recommend???

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Bowman, it's one of those things that not even pro carp anglers want to talk about. I once asked an open panel of carp pros about it and not one of them wanted to touch the subject. Match the hatch, cottonwood seeds, grass clippings, anything that matches what's falling from the trees.....I've hit them on the nose with a hot wired prince and had takes when they were looking for falling vegetation.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Bowman?..Did Conrad Bowman catch them on a dry? I watched his show, aqnd he caught a lot of them on dries on a lake near San Diego?..or Sacramento?..forget which city, but there were a lot of carp coming up to dries.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Bowman?..Did Conrad Boman catch them on a dry? I watched his show, aqnd he caught a lot of them on dries on a lake near San Diego?..or Sacramento?..forget which city, but there were a lot of carp coming up to dries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

I have caught just about everything on a fly possible, in Ohio, except muskie. I will have to go with muskie. However, I hope to dedicate a few days soon to the endeavor.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

bauckhunter...Beat you never caught a sheephead on a fly.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

word was bet. Got a new, hi vis keyboard, and not very good with it yet.

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from rob wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Whitey on a dry.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Whitefish? I catch them all the time on midge patterns..lots of them.

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from varmit slayer wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Hands down hardest to catch on a fly is the Jellyfish....their take is so subtle most anglers miss the strike.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greg Madrigal wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I have heard that permit are the hardest as they spook super easily. I have never fished for them myself though, so I cannot compare.

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

Have yet to catch a walleye on a fly. Then again, maybe that's the point when it's so productive doing it with a 1/4 oz. jig and a leech.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Greg..Comparison there is how accurately you have to cast, and most of the time in the wind to even get a permit to look at your fly. A wee-bit off, and forget it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Smithhammer wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Strong work, Tim. Of course, the question begs to be asked, now that you've ticked that one off, what's next?

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from varmit slayer wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Hands down hardest to catch on a fly is the Jellyfish....their take is so subtle most anglers miss the strike.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Catfish, I've done it twice. Grassies are hard and you have to play by standard carp rules x10. Spook factor x100 over commons. My best takes have all been super aggressive competitive strikes to get the food before the other fish in the school, surprisingly by slapping the water with the fly with a low fast cast that turns the fly over with some force, best done under trees where food is known to fall with a splash.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

I was going to say catfish as well. The only one's I have landed were by pure chance while striper fishing. Nice fish Tim, with that thick tail it must've put a sweet tug on the line.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bowman77 wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

TIM; I never considered chasing grass carp with a fly, mainly because I never thought I had a chance. We have some monsters in our lake and I would love to chase them down this year with a fly. Any particular pattern, size you recommend???

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Bowman, it's one of those things that not even pro carp anglers want to talk about. I once asked an open panel of carp pros about it and not one of them wanted to touch the subject. Match the hatch, cottonwood seeds, grass clippings, anything that matches what's falling from the trees.....I've hit them on the nose with a hot wired prince and had takes when they were looking for falling vegetation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Bowman?..Did Conrad Bowman catch them on a dry? I watched his show, aqnd he caught a lot of them on dries on a lake near San Diego?..or Sacramento?..forget which city, but there were a lot of carp coming up to dries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Bowman?..Did Conrad Boman catch them on a dry? I watched his show, aqnd he caught a lot of them on dries on a lake near San Diego?..or Sacramento?..forget which city, but there were a lot of carp coming up to dries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

I have caught just about everything on a fly possible, in Ohio, except muskie. I will have to go with muskie. However, I hope to dedicate a few days soon to the endeavor.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

bauckhunter...Beat you never caught a sheephead on a fly.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

word was bet. Got a new, hi vis keyboard, and not very good with it yet.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rob wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Whitey on a dry.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Whitefish? I catch them all the time on midge patterns..lots of them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Greg Madrigal wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

I have heard that permit are the hardest as they spook super easily. I have never fished for them myself though, so I cannot compare.

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

Have yet to catch a walleye on a fly. Then again, maybe that's the point when it's so productive doing it with a 1/4 oz. jig and a leech.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Greg..Comparison there is how accurately you have to cast, and most of the time in the wind to even get a permit to look at your fly. A wee-bit off, and forget it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Smithhammer wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Strong work, Tim. Of course, the question begs to be asked, now that you've ticked that one off, what's next?

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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