Year Of The Carp: Chasing Tail – Why I Fish For Carp

By Eric Johnson

I know why you haven’t tried it. It’s because you’re scared you might like it. Maybe you’ll like it so much that it will change everything you ever thought you knew about yourself. I’m talking about changing the type of fish you chase. So many fly fishers are looking for rising fish. They want to see that supple curve of a trout’s head break the surface tension and watch it sip down a fly in a smooth and practiced motion. I’m telling you now, that you should forget rising fish and start chasing tail full time if you truly want to expand your angling horizons.

The first time I ever saw a tailing carp was in the dog days of summer. I took my daughter to the park to play and in the pond near the playground I could see huge tails swishing on the surface near the shore of the pond. As I stepped closer I could see that they were feeding on the bottom of the pond, but they were hanging out in the shallows where I could see their faces clearly as the sucked whatever they were eating from the floor. My daughter’s playtime was over. I packed her up in her car seat and sped back home to get a fly rod. I fished for the rest of the night while my wife watched the kids at the park and waited for me to catch my fish so we could go home, but I left that night without success. Every fish I hooked was gone in an instant either I failed to set the hook or it spooked if I got too close.

Taking carp on the fly rod seems to me to be the most complete and thrilling form of fly fishing available to almost anyone anywhere. Carp can be found in all sorts of places: community ponds, golf courses, ditches, canals, rivers, and lakes. Sight fishing is a must have for carp on the fly; there isn’t anything more fun in fly fishing than being able to target the fish you want and then take that fish. We all love the thrill of the hunt, but nothing is more exciting than the take and the fight. The great thing about carp is that the take is so faint that you have to be very attentive to catch it, but when you do catch it with a clean strip set the water explodes and you better be sure to have your drag set properly, if it’s too light, you’ll be into your backing before you can believe it. If it’s too heavy your 3x tippet will snap like a twig.

Chasing tail forced me to improve the accuracy of my cast dramatically. It helped me eliminate the amount of back casting I was doing for fear of spooking the fish. It helped me really understand how to fight a heavy fish on light tippet. I am certain that I am a better trout angler for having worked hard to learn how to take carp on a fly rod. I hope you’ll commit to catching at least one carp on a fly rod in your lifetime and try to bring a friend as well, it never hurts to have a wingman when you’re chasing tail.

Stay tuned for more from Fishwest as we celebrate the year of the carp.  And for more information about carp fishing, visit our Pinterest board