Written by Richard J.Huggett

November 2006

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 needs.


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 by

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 a

Fenwick Iron Feather 9/10…it’s a big reel and holds loads of backing, and the drag system

is completely bulletproof…about £50 from Ebay. I can fit a WF9F line and over 100 yards of

30lb briaded Dacron backing onto mine easily, which gives me a good safety margin when

the fish makes that first powerful run.


wp0887488d.png wp11261b1e.png


Lines…I only ever use a floating line. I did play about with intermediates, but I found them

more hinderance than help, so I went back to my old favourite floater. I use nothing but

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 feel happier

with a more sombre coloured line then by all means do so.


wp28a95574.png wp922d3b0e.png


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 imitation

bread made by Partridge of Redditch. Dead easy to use, just tear off a small piece about the

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 useful at


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


Deerhair hedgehog



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 6 through

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 up about

8”-12” from the fly…this keeps the leader on the surface and helps with visualising when to

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 stuff.

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 up and

feeding confidently, target your fish and cast to it. You have the choice of casting to a

particular fish, or just casting the fly into the general area where the fish are feeding…both

methods will catch fish and I’ve found neither way to be more successful than the other.

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 is wise,

as the carp will spook after one has been caught, so having another area ready to fish will

pay dividends.


Don’t use small trout nets, they are a waste of space…I have a 36” diameter circular net

made by Keenets. This fits onto a two section telescopic carbon pole, and has landed fish into

low double figures without a problem. Slip a couple of six inch sections of foam pipe lagging

over the handle…one by the net head and one at the extreme end, these act as floats and

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 to

prevent injury to the carp when it’s on dry land. Fish safety is paramount and the more you

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 as possible.

Most commercial fisheries insist on unhooking mats being used nowadays, so better safe than

sorry. Mine is a large Shakespeare Cypry one, but there are many different shapes and sizes

available from different manufacturers. Get one that rolls up and strap it to your bag, that

makes it easy to transport.

wpfc7947cc.png wpcd906328.png

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 flies

being squashed, and the hooks always seem to stick in the foam at the very second when

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 the box

sections, that way the flies won’t be blown out of the box in windy conditions.

wp997eb5cb.png wp1156a450.png

The bag in the open position showing the supplied plastic boxes. I use the smaller ones as

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 with your

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 fish inbetween

anglers using conventional methods, they may possibly object to you taking the fish that they

have been after for hours!!



I would like to add my sincere thanks to my good friend Peter Varring Jensen from Denmark

for all his invaluable assistance with designing, tying and modifying the deerhair  pellet and

bread flies and to all those contributors from for their help with finding fly

patterns and tackle items for me.




May you all often see a sight like this!





© Completefisher 2006