This is just a quick insight to my personal methods and the tackle I use for carp
fly fishing. I’ve developed and fine tuned the methods and tackle I use and I’m still
developing them. Carp on the fly is still relatively new in the UK and things are
changing rapidly. New flies and new ways of using them are appearing almost daily…rods,
reels and fly lines are being introduced regularly by manufacturers and fly anglers
everywhere are modifying the presently available tackle to suit their own personal
Carp on the fly rod….as you’ve probably guessed, a passion of mine. I reckon pound
for pound a carp fights far more doggedly than a trout any day. That first long run
is absolutely awesome!
The equipment needed for fly fishing for carp is totally different to that needed
for surface fishing with conventional tackle. You don’t need to carry enough equipment
to fill an articulated truck, all you need should fit into a small bag, along with
a bait bucket for the mixers or pellets, a landing net, an unhooking mat and that
should be about it.
Opinion varies as to rods for carp, some tend to use a lightweight setup and
others prefer something heavier. The lightweight rod and reel, often down to a
No4 rated outfit, is fine if you are fishing in snag free waters and have the room
to let the fish have it’s head. If there are lilies, marginal plants or any other
snags then you should really use the heavyweight set up to ensure you some form
of control over the fish. I mainly fish water where snags are present, so I stick
to the heavy tackle. The last thing I want is to leave a carp tethered in a snag
my broken line, so if in doubt, then go heavy.
I use a 9’ Shakespeare Atlantis #8 rated rod…plenty of power to cast a big
deerhair fly and more importantly, plenty of poke to control an angry carp.
It is a saltwater rod really, and has a cork foregrip as well as a fighting butt,
which I personally find useful to hang on to when the carp decides to fight it
out under your feet.
Reels…well, you need a bloody good drag system and a large capacity for carp. I use
Fenwick Iron Feather 9/10…it’s a big reel and holds loads of backing, and the drag
is completely bulletproof…about £50 from Ebay. I can fit a WF9F line and over 100
30lb briaded Dacron backing onto mine easily, which gives me a good safety margin
the fish makes that first powerful run.
Lines…I only ever use a floating line. I did play about with intermediates, but I
more hinderance than help, so I went back to my old favourite floater. I use nothing
Shakespeare Gliders in #WF9F Hi-Viz, they load the rod up nicely, float high and
are easy to
see at twenty yards or so. Carp don’t seem to put off by Hi-Viz lines, but if you
with a more sombre coloured line then by all means do so.
Flies…again, a very personal item. I fish to catch fish, I’m not a purist! I use
spun deerhair flies
tied to represent pellets, mixers or bread. I’ve also just started using some floating
bread made by Partridge of Redditch. Dead easy to use, just tear off a small piece
size of a 50p coin, cut a slit in one side, superglue it to the hookshank and whip
a few turns
of clear 3lb mono around it. Job done, it floats for hours, doesn’t come off the
hook and looks
very realistic on the water. Another benefit of the artificial bread is that it’s
porous, so you can
flavour it easily by dipping it in a liquid flavouring. Carp are particularly fond
of sweet flavours
such as strawberry, honey and banana, so an overnight soak in this can prove very
I have used flies such as Olive Boobies, Poppers, Pheasant Tail nymphs, etc, but
my deerhair specials out fish them every time.
Deerhair and marabou bread flies
Imitation mixer superglued to the hook
Partridge of Redditch bread fly
My deerhair pellet flies
My flies are tied on big strong hooks…I use Mustad C70SD Big Game Lights in sizes
to a size 2. The pellets are tied on the smaller sizes, the artificial bread goes
on the bigger
hooks. Barbless of course…I crush the barbs down on the Mustads.
To use a deerhair fly, grease up the leader with Vaseline from the butt section right
8”-12” from the fly…this keeps the leader on the surface and helps with visualising
strike. The last few inches you need to treat with any good line sinkant to keep
it out of view
of the carp as they approach. I use the original Dick Walker ‘Leedasink’, it’s good
Give the fly a touch of fly floatant[I use Gink]and it will float high in the water
for a long time.
Take a bucket of mixers or pellets with you…throw out a dozen or so to get the carp
feeding confidently, target your fish and cast to it. You have the choice of casting
particular fish, or just casting the fly into the general area where the fish are
methods will catch fish and I’ve found neither way to be more successful than the
Once you have the carp feeding on the pellets or mixers, just keep their interest
levels up by
feeding a dozen or so more mixers every now and then. Feeding two separate areas
as the carp will spook after one has been caught, so having another area ready to
Don’t use small trout nets, they are a waste of space…I have a 36” diameter circular
made by Keenets. This fits onto a two section telescopic carbon pole, and has landed
low double figures without a problem. Slip a couple of six inch sections of foam
over the handle…one by the net head and one at the extreme end, these act as floats
assist in keeping the net above water and easier to use.
Always use an unhooking mat, the bigger the better, but anything is better than nothing
prevent injury to the carp when it’s on dry land. Fish safety is paramount and the
can do to look after the fish, the better. Keep it wet, and if your unhooking mat
rolls up, then
weigh the fish inside the mat, a quick picture and get it back in the water as soon
Most commercial fisheries insist on unhooking mats being used nowadays, so better
sorry. Mine is a large Shakespeare Cypry one, but there are many different shapes
available from different manufacturers. Get one that rolls up and strap it to your
makes it easy to transport.
I don’t bother with the usual style of fly box, but prefer the open style of a lure
box for the
ease of use. Trout style fly boxes are not deep enough to prevent the bushy deerhair
being squashed, and the hooks always seem to stick in the foam at the very second
you are trying to get a fly out in a hurry, so the open lure box wins hands down.
A tip here is
to buy a sheet of self adhesive magnetic foam, cut it into pieces and stick it into
sections, that way the flies won’t be blown out of the box in windy conditions.
The bag in the open position showing the supplied plastic boxes. I use the smaller
fly boxes and the larger ones for fly tying material storage,
It should go without saying that before any fishing takes place you should check
intended fishery that fly fishing is permitted. Some carp fisheries will allow to
fly fish when the
fishery is quiet, some allow it at any time and some will not permit you to cast
a fly at all.
Most commercial carp fisheries are not designed for fly fishing, so check it out
first, make sure
you have room for your backcast, and that there suitable swims. Don’t try to fly
anglers using conventional methods, they may possibly object to you taking the fish
have been after for hours!!
I would like to add my sincere thanks to my good friend Peter Varring Jensen from
for all his invaluable assistance with designing, tying and modifying the deerhair
bread flies and to all those contributors from completefisher.com for their help
with finding fly