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Carp, finally...

I'm happy for them. They're finally getting their due. Cyprinus carpio, that is, the common carp. The non-Latin name itself is even a bit of a slur. But now the carp looks well on the way to becoming a new glamour species. And well it should, though it's sort of a shame the word got out. Carp fly flingers now grace the covers of national fishing mags extolling the virtues of this "common" fish.

The picture at left is one of my first carp on the fly sometime back in the early eighties. Suffice it to say that from the first one, I was hooked.


It's all true..

All they say about the carp is true. Carp are not easy to fool. At least they usually aren't. The first one I hooked was by accident - he just ate a clouser i was stripping across a river eddy. It took me about 40 or 50 hours to duplicate the feat.

Carp are super-spooky, have excellent eyesight and a hyper-sensitive lateral line. Their sense of smell is also tops. They are also capable of warning other members of their school of danger by releasing a pheromone into the water.

Occasionally you'll read that carp are a good tune-up for bonefish. What a joke - the "common" carp is way tougher than a bonefish. A carp is smarter and stronger and tougher (though he may not be as fast). Gary Borger said that bass have about twice the IQ of a trout, and the carp double that of a bass. I'm not sure how you give `em the test so i can't say about that, but I do know I've had many more fishless and near-fishless days carp fishing than I have for most other species.

They will take a fly though, sometimes with an attitude. Another big plus for the carp is that it is often sight-fishing. My favorite fly  is the Rubber-Legged Dragon. It works great when the fish are grubbing on the bottom for nymphs since it rides hook point up. Carp feeing higher in the water will eat it to - the x-tied legs and light weighting give it a wiggling motion as it sinks.

We chase carp on the lake and on the Chattahoochee, but the other beautiful thing about the fish is you can find them almost everywhere. Catching them may be another proposition altogether.


And then, there's the grass carp...



Grass carp will take a fly, but ..... they are even harder to hook on a fly than the common carp. Grass carp are vegetarians (for the most part); and they are very aware of their surrounding above and below water. 

We catch them when they are "glooping" , slurping grass and floating vegetation. The casts must be long, quiet and unseen, leading the fish by 8-10't. Then, you animate the fly like a piece of vegetation; that is, not at all. Then you hold your breath as the big fish casually glides toward your fly.

If he eats, hold on! Below you see Norman, with a slight bend in his 6wt after a medium-sized amur ate his little Royal Wulff. In the bottom photo, Norm has landed the fish, but couldn't lift him from the water. The weight of the fish was threatening to flip that little Browning tube.












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